Dell, NetApp to roll out competing storage devices

The former allies in the market for special-purpose storage devices will introduce competing network-attached storage products Monday.

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Dell and Network Appliance, former allies in the market for special-purpose storage devices, will introduce competing products Monday.

Dell will introduce its PowerVault 735N, a single- or dual-processor storage system designed to connect via ordinary computer networks. Dell designed and builds the network-attached storage (NAS) machine, unlike the Quantum-designed PowerVault 705N.

At the same time, Network Appliance, the leading seller of NAS products, will introduce new mid-range and low-end products and all but phase out models based on Compaq's Alpha chip in favor of the less-expensive Intel Pentium III.

Dell and Network Appliance once were allies, with Dell selling NetApp products under its own name. But the companies parted ways last year. Dell believes it can make more money selling its own products.

The new Dell 735N uses a version of Windows 2000 Advanced Server with many unnecessary components removed to increase performance, said Dan Blizinski, who heads Dells NAS product development. It's designed to fit chiefly into networks of Windows machines but can communicate with Macintosh and Unix machines as well.

The 735N comes with advanced software features that allow the machine to take snapshots of the file system and allow one machine's files to be mirrored on other systems, Blizinski said.

The device has room for as much as 1.44 terabytes of data. Prices range from $9,999 to about $41,000.

The NetApp machine, the F820, is a lower-end sibling to the F840 that replaces NetApp's F760, said Chris Bennett, director of hardware products at NetApp. Where the F840 can store as much as 6 terabytes of data, or 12 when paired in a cluster of two machines, the F820 can hold 3 terabytes or 6 in the clustered configuration.

Although Dell is a competitor, NetApp is aimed mostly at taking market share from EMC, which sells more expensive storage systems, Bennett said.

A F840 with 2 terabytes of space, a typical configuration, costs about $212,000, NetApp said. The company also introduced a new low-end product, the F85, designed for branch offices of large corporations and costing about $17,400 for a typical configuration with 216GB of capacity.

NetApp also introduced a caching server with 486GB capacity that helps customers distribute data stored on a central server to "caches" of information scattered across the Internet.

A typical C3100 caching server, the company's new mid-range product, costs about $40,000, the company said.

NetApp is following its "center-to-edge" strategy--selling the central data storage devices as well as the remote caching systems and the software used to manage the whole network. The strategy has been key to winning new customers, executives said during a financial conference call Thursday.