Snap Appliance is entering the mid-range storage market with its first products since being acquired by Adaptec last month.

The new Snap Server 18000 is designed for divisions within large businesses or as secondary storage within a data center. Snap sells more NAS units than any of its competitors, but they are nearly all in the low-end of the market. It hopes its new product will help its expansion into the middle market.

The box boasts from 2TB to 30TB of storage capacity and uses Snap's proprietary Guardian operating system, which can handle block and file information.

Dan Werthimer, chief scientist for the University of California Space Sciences Lab in Berkeley, recently installed a Snap Server 18000 to hold 6TB of data. The device has proven resilient enough to handle business-critical data, he says. "It's our main database for the [email protected] project, so it has to handle a lot of real-time transactions," says Werthimer, who also has Network Appliance file servers.

Snap has improved its Guardian operating system by adding support for symmetric multi-processing servers; the Network Data Management Protocol, which allows network-based backup of NAS devices; and enhanced support for iSCSI. Snap's iSCSI implementation now supports host bus adapters from Intel, Adaptec and Alacritech on servers running Windows, Red Hat Linux and Solaris.

The company has also expanded its replication software with byte-level asynchronous duplication of data across distance. Called Server-to-Server Synchronization v2, the software now allows the bi-directional replication of data between NAS devices. Snap Server 18000 also ships with BakBone's embedded NetVault software, Computer Associates' eTrust Antivirus and native snapshot technology.

Snap Server 18000 uses dual Intel Xeon processors and inexpensive 7,200rpm Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) disk drives. It has redundant, hot-swappable components and battery-backed non-volatile memory for fault-tolerance. It is equipped with software called Instant Capacity Expansion, which allows for the dynamic and uninterrupted provisioning of data as 4TB expansion devices are added or removed from the array.

Analysts say Snap's Snap Server 18000 likely will compete with storage devices from big name vendors. "Snap is going to compete with Microsoft Storage Server 2003 boxes, but will start to encroach on Network Appliance filers and IBM's AIX box," said Brian Babineau, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group.

A 2TB Snap Server 18000 will cost $15,000; a 4TB expansion array, $18,000. Both are expected to be available later this month. A Fibre Channel host bus adapter will be required to link Snap Server 18000 to the 4TB expansion array. Server-to-server synchronization will cost $1,300 per NAS appliance.