Demystifying NetApp’s StoreVault

Posted on July 28, 2006

If you haven’t heard yet, NetApp has started a new division: StoreVault. The idea here is to start competing in the largely unaddressed $5,000 to $20,000 storage market for Small and Medium Business (SMB). In the standard NetApp product line they of course have low end options such as the FAS200 line but those start at around $20,000 and go up based on licenses and disk choice.

For all intents and purposes, the StoreVault is a cheap FAS250 that is only avaiable with SATA disks. Its got a single Intel processor, a single gigabyte of memory, maxiumum capacity of 12 disks (unlike 250’s 14) and can not be expanded with additional shelves (FAS270, unlike the FAS250 can be extended). So the only real choices you have are with reguards to what size disk and how many. You can use between 4 and 12 disks choosing to use either 250GB SATA or 500GB SATA.

Availability is currently very limited. Integrated Archive Systems is currently the only VAR in the Bay Area thats qualified to sell them and they can only purchase from a single distributer. However, IAS assures me that they can still secure discounts on the product, just not the size discount you’d normally expect on enterprise class products.

Getting info on StoreVault is difficult right now. StoreVault is effectively a completely seperate division within NetApp, complete with its own sales force which isn’t currently online. If you talk to your NetApp Sales Manager you won’t get very far, they can’t and won’t talk much about, except to be nice to you, and attempts to dig deeper all lead you into a brick wall. Those people in the StoreVault division that should be talking, aren’t… at least not yet.

I’ve been trying oh so hard to get an eval unit or a demo so that I can share some real details and cut through all the confusion, rumor, and guesswork thats floating around right now, but NetApp won’t help me and I can’t find anyone in the StoreVault division to talk with. IAS is going to see what they can do and so I’m hoping they can get me an eval to discect for all of you.

Pricing, of course, is the most important question. So far I’ve learned of two “Express Ship” solutions, which I take to mean that its boxed and ready to go. Those two configurations are:

  1. StoreVault S500 4TB: 8 500GB Disks: $12,000
  2. StoreVault S500 2TB: 8 250GB Disks: $7,758

The second question is then, “whats broke?” Its OnTap “StoreVault Edition”. From the spec sheet [PDF] that the advanced enterprise licensed options like SnapMirror, SnapVault, even SnapClone perhaps, are unavailable. But its unclear as to whether thats because they aren’t enabled or NetApp simply won’t sell you the licenses… which seems more likely, in which case…. well, use your imagination.

Rumors are flying around, people are looking for answers, very few are coming. I’m trying my damnedest to fill the gaps, we badly need a solid alternative to Nexsan in this space, but folks don’t want to talk. Some of the rumors that I’ve heard, none of which I can support or endorse at all, are that there is no CLI (I find that unlikely), an S800 is coming soon, and that OnTap is actually 100% intact so long as you plug in keys.

Despite all the questions, there is one thing you really need to know, and I can show you quite simply:

StoreVault is to NetApp as LinkSys is to Cisco. NetApp wants this business to be entirely seperate and entirely self-sustaining. Thats why they put up so many brick walls. The diffrence of course is that LinkSys product sells at Fry’s for $100… StoreVault isn’t expensive but you don’t throw $10,000 at a storage solution your unsure about especially when it has a non-refundable policy.

If anyone from StoreVault is reading this… help me help you! Competing against yourselves is fruitless and avoidable.