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11/15/2004
04:48 PM
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Network Appliance Offers Up Flexible Storage

The vendor adds features to its storage appliance to quickly bring back online storage that had been dedicated to an underused application.

Network Appliance Inc. today unveiled software functions designed to fill some gaps in storage flexibility.

The vendor now offers Data Ontap version G7 on its storage appliances. The software is designed to let customers manage information across all forms of storage, including Fibre Channel-based storage area networks long in competition with NetApp appliances. Multiprotocol support is a big development for Network Appliance, which built its products as replacements for file servers on the IP network.

FlexVol is provisioning storage to help customers quickly retrieve unused capacity after setting it aside for an application. Customers still waste thousands of dollars a pop on capacity unleashed for some in-demand application that winds up being underused. With FlexClone, customers no longer have to duplicate capacity for testing; the new software function will let them set aside just enough capacity to store changes in test files.

An independent analyst says such capability could be technology that no other vendor yet provides. "Other tools assume a one-way faucet and you never shove it back up the pipe," says Anne MacFarland, and analyst at IT market research firm the Clipper Group. This "lets customers use storage as they need."

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