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Things looked so different just a year ago. Adaptec's Snap Server network-attached storage (NAS) systems operation was not in a healthy shape and recently appointed Adaptec president 'Sundi' Sundaresh decided to offload it.

Adaptec was losing money and needed to rebuild its business. The commoditising NAS market did not look a good one to be in. It was a bitter result coming just two years after acquiring Snap Appliance for $100 million in 2004 and building up a systems business.

Sundaresh would sell the operation as a functioning one though; no fire sale of assets. Indeed, Adaptec went ahead and did pump more cash into the business, as we found out when talking to Russ Johnson, Adaptec's general manager for international sales:" We have allocated more engineers to it. We have a strong roadmap with great products in the file and block area coming. It's not a distress sale in any way, shape or form."

To prove that it was still a working operation Adaptec announced a new enterprise NAS product line, the 500 series. It was well-received and proved popular. Techworld reviewed the 520 in July, summarising it as a good and affordable NAS product and commenting: "Historically, the Snap Server family of storage appliances has been one of the longest term players in the SMB and mid-range NAS markets, and has consistently offered one of the most comprehensive ranges of products."

In fact it became a game-changing product for Adaptec, because its success prompted the firm to stay in the networked storage and build out the product line. So, in July this year Sundaresh said: "A lot has changed since we originally decided to divest our systems business last year. Adaptec has brought in an entirely new management team, we've analyzed our business and made many significant changes to the operational model, and we've improved the company's execution and fundamentals. We've also investigated several potential growth opportunities. We anticipate that by building on the Snap Server platform, we'll be able to significantly improve our time-to-market in some of the new product areas we've identified."

"The success of the new Snap Server 500 Series has exceeded our expectations ... Several factors, including our future company strategy, the Snap Server product roadmap currently in development, along with the strength of the Snap Server technology, brand, and channel, just simply outweighed the offers we received for the business."

New Snap Servers

So now we see two new Snap Servers; the 110 and 210, for small (110) and larger (210) workgroup needs. They have the same Guardian O/S - no Windows Storage Server here - as the 500 line. That has three members: 550 for department and division level needs with a SANbloc 550 Universal Expansion unit; 520 for medium needs; and 510 for the smaller departments.

We should note that the new products can be used either for small and medium enterprises (SME) or for the distributed workgroups of larger businesses.

Adaptec product manager Ken Claffer says: "It's a complete line operating from the SME's edge to its data centre."

The 500s have Opteron processors; the 110 and 210 VIA ones. The single O/S helps multi-site customers. The capacity limits are 160-500GB for the 110 and 500GB-1TB for the 210.

Claffer says: "Both the 110 and 210 have embedded iSCSI target capability and can serve either block or file data. At the end of the day, it is about solving customers’ data management problems – they shouldn’t have to deal with block vs. file, one platform can handle it all." This iSCSI functionality is a selectable option.

He would have liked to have said that it is: "The first unified block and file solution for the SME budget" but news came out on the same day as the HP AiO systems with the same mixed NAS/IP SAN capability. Their NAS protocols only extend to CIFS and NFS whereas Adaptec has added Apple's AFP.

Data Protection
Protection abilities include RAID level data protection, Access Control and authentication with optional anti-virus support. Claffer said the Guardian O/S: "has the brains to implement a through disaster recovery plan through supporting file level replication and snapshot technology - these Snap Servers can easily transfer data between other Snap Servers, delivering through edge to core data migration/disaster recovery."

This would work in the following way:

- Low cost Snap storage servers deployed in remote offices
- Snap EDR (Enterprise Data Replication) is centrally managed with Agents on remote storage servers
- Auto client back-up to local snap box via StorAssur
- Consolidate back-up of remote locations
- Replicate data among multiple sites
- Distribute data to multiple sites

Claffer also emphasises the 'legendary ease of use' of the Guardian O/S saying "Users will be up and running in minutes. They're truly plug-and-play."

There will be a fifth member of the family introduced in October. My feeling is that almost certainly will be another workgroup-level system.

Performance

Performance is excellent. Independent testing by Veritest showing both systems, 110 and 210, having higher bandwidth and faster response time numbers than systems from Dell, Iomega or the Buffalo TeraStation. "They are excellent results," Claffer said: "The Snap Server 210 and 110 exhibited the best response times of any NAS device tested, generating response times ranging from 7 percent to 62 percent better then the competition."

In more detail: "In our test configurations, the Snap Server Coming in October produced the highest peak throughput score of the NAS devices tested at 252.902 Mbit/s with a load of 12 clients. The Snap Server 210 achieved a peak throughput score of 232.967 Mbit/s with 16 clients. The Snap Server 110 achieved a peak throughput score of 203.995 Mbit/s with 12 clients."

And the competition? "The Dell PE830 Celeron with RAID5 achieved a peak throughput score of 125.380 Mbit/s with 8 clients. The Dell PE830 Celeron with RAID1 achieved a peak throughput score of 133.554 Mbit/s with 8 clients. The Dell PE830 Pentium D achieved a peak throughput score of 121.632 Mbit/s with 8 clients. The Iomega 200 D achieved a peak throughput score of 153.850 Mbit/s with 12 clients and the Buffalo TeraStation Pro achieved a peak throughput score of 32 Mbit/s with 4 clients."

Pricing

Pricing is as follows:

Snap Server 110
- 160GB - £299
- 250GB - £349
- 500GB - £499

Snap server 210
- 500GB - £599
- 1TB - £999

Systems are available immediately from Adaptec's channel partners.