Fast file access, the fundamental premise of Network Appliance's (NTAP) file server hardware, will now get faster and easier with new operating system support for high bandwidths and new administration tools.
Ontap version 4.0 now supports ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) and full-duplex 10/100MB Ethernet connections. The new software support for Ethernet can mean twice the throughput with a reduced need for more adapters, according to Ed Chow, software product marketing manager at the company.
Support for the emerging Gigabit Ethernet technology may be in the works as well. Network Appliance demonstrated one of its Network File System (NFS) servers, or "filers," supporting a Gigabit Ethernet connection at Networld+Interop last month in Atlanta. This "big pipe" support may lure more backbone customers to Network Appliance.
"The fatter pipe is the general direction people want to take," Chow said.
A new, still-unnamed Web-based administration tool will also be available in December. The tool will let an administrator monitor a filer or several filers in real-time via Java-based applets that can display graphs and trigger warnings.
The tool also includes an installer that lets administrators clone the configuration of a filer and install that configuration on a newly added box with only minor changes. Support for Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), to provide hooks into network and systems management platforms, is included.
Network Appliance has become a fast-growing NFS server player by expanding from its traditional niche in recent months, natively supporting Microsoft's CIFS file sharing protocol as well as HTTP, the standard protocol for the Web. This multiprotocol support is now available with version 4.0 as well.
Ontap 4.0 will be available later this week. Prices are based on what protocols are supported; support for all three file sharing protocols is priced from $4,900 to $13,700. Customers with company maintenance contracts will receive the upgrade for free.