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November 02, 2007


Karan Bheda

Not sure where to put this question. I hope its in the correct place and right people reading this to be able to answer my question.

I'm looking at a different options for WORM archiving right now. Of course the first player in the game is the G5 Centerra. It's reportedly bulletproof, and when the auditors come through testing your compliance, their sales shtick is that "they just look at the centerra and wave it through".

So what got me thinking about the NetApp "Archive and Compliance Solution" is that it offers everything Centerra does, without locking you into the API that Centerra does.

One of the biggest problems with the Centerra is that you are locked into their technology. Once you start archiving to centerra, it's a nightmare to get off it should you decide to years down the line. This is because there is no "filesystem" per-se to migrate off of. Everything going to the centerra has to go through their API.

The Network Appliance product however offers a CIFS/NFS solution, so saving files to the archive can be as simple as copying files to a directory.

This means that not only can you browse the filesystem and copy anything out of it you want to, but that you can also migrate out of it with a minimal of fuss if you need to.

The CIFS/NFS solution also makes it more compatible than the Centerra. Since the Centerra CAS system requires the Centerra API, a limited number of applications work with it. Now as of this writing the Centerra meets my needs, however who knows what the higher-ups are going to decide to bring in. And if they bring in a new application that A- requires archiving of data, and B- doesn't support the Centerra, then we're screwed and have to go out and get something new anyway.

Now the other bonus is that it's my understanding that the price point of 4TB (Usable - Replicated) of NetApp storage is much more pleasant than 4TB (Usable - Replicated) of Centerra storage.

Now I know that most of my readership are Hitachi/NetApp people, so i know the way the responses to this are going to go. My question is actually this:

Does anyone (other than my EMC sales team) see a compelling reason to stick to the Centerra?

Chuck Hollis

Hi Karan -- let me try.

Some people just need a file system where they can "lock" it from being written to.

If that's the case, there are several choices from EMC, NetApp and probably a dozen others. You'll pay less for these options every time.

Other people have different requirements. Some industries take "compliance" very seriously, and auditors will not accept a simple filer with selectable write-protect.

Others see themselves storing far more than 4TB, and are worried about managability and scalability for many millions (or billions) of objects. File systems do OK for a while, but when things get really big, they get harder and harder to manage.

Others are archiving from many applications, and want a fair amount of metadata with their stored objects, beyond what file systems can offer. They'll use this metadata to implement retention, or search, etc.

None of these may be issues for you, so if that's the case, stick with a simple filer.

As far as APIs, etc. using the word "proprietary" is probably competitor FUD. The API is available to anyone, and last time I looked there were over 400 applications that were using it. Including the ones you might want to write.

Migrating data on or off is pretty much the same as with a filer -- you read and write to the device. If you want, you can present a Centera (only one "r") as a file system using an optional device known as CUA -- Centera Universal Interface. Most people don't go with that one.

Centera's API already is supporting XAM, which is the SNIA-supported "open" version of the API. It's not widely available from other vendors yet, but I expect better availability from industry players as we get into 2008.

We have customers who use our Celerra product (NAS) and the write-protect feature. And we have customers who use Centera. And some who use both for different parts of their environment.

Understanding your unique requirements is probably a good first step to figuring out which meets your needs better.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Chuck Hollis

  • Chuck Hollis
    SVP, Oracle Converged Infrastructure Systems

    Chuck now works for Oracle, and is now deeply embroiled in IT infrastructure.

    Previously, he was with VMware for 2 years, and EMC for 18 years before that, most of them great.

    He enjoys speaking to customer and industry audiences about a variety of technology topics, and -- of course -- enjoys blogging.

    Chuck lives in Vero Beach, FL with his wife and four dogs when he's not traveling. In his spare time, Chuck is working on his second career as an aging rock musician.

    Warning: do not ever buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.

    Note: these are my personal views, and aren't reviewed or approved by my employer.
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