May 01, 2000 [Network Appliance et al.]
Appliance announced it will start shipping its first Internet caching
device priced below $10,000. The company expects to start shipping them
later this month.
Appliance's new system, the rack-mountable NetCache C1100, is due to ship
in the U.S., Europe and Asia by the end of May, priced from $5,950.
lower price and smaller size should encourage businesses to deploy caching
appliances more broadly within their organizations, company spokesman
Adam Trunkey said. For example, a large investment bank could deploy C1100s
at overseas branch offices to distribute analyst reports more efficiently.
box is also suitable for ISP point-of-presence (POP) deployment and supports
Internet protocols including HTTP, FTP, and NNTP, as well as the three
leading streaming media formats, the company said. The NetCache C1100
also supports caching and content delivery protocols such as Web Cache
Control Protocol (WCCP), Network Element Control Protocol (NECP), and
the Internet Content Adaptation Protocol (ICAP).
system ships with one 9G-byte hard drive, 256M bytes of SDRAM, dual 10/100Mb
Ethernet ports, and supports multiple T1 connections for HTTP caching
and multiple T3 connections for streaming media.
this point, in addition to its leadership in the NAS and caching markets,
NetApp has been known for its higher prices. This announcement is an attempt
to garner market share in the lower price ranges as well. This is a mixed
blessing for potential customers.
C1100 is a high performance caching device (as tested by "IRCache", a
group of University of California/San Diego employees, whose "Bake-Offs"
are considered the primary tests in the caching industry). The IRCache
"Second Bake-Off" showed that the NetApp appliance performed the best
in terms of Hit Response Time, and near the top for Time to First Miss
(TTFM) and Time to First Hit (TTFH). TTFM and TTFH are indicators of how
fast a caching appliance can recover from a shutdown, power hit, or similar
major system problem. [Note: the unit tested by IRCache was not labeled
as the C1100, because Network Appliance had not yet named the tested product.
However, it is clear that it was the C1100.]
this performance comes at a price. Out of the twenty products being tested
by IRCache, the NetApp unit finished no higher than fifteenth in price/performance.
The metric used by IRCache is "$1,000 Can Buy", and covers requests/sec
and hits/sec, and NetApp's results among the worst in sub-$7000 price
range. We question the value of providing superior performance in a low-price
unit, if the price/performance metrics come out poorly. We believe that
the lower-price market is concerned more about value and less about high
performance (although neither should be sacrificed for the other).
Smaller users who need top caching performance but don't necessarily care
about "bang for the buck" should consider the C1100. Network Appliance
is a strong vendor, and customers should be reasonably satisfied with
the product, once they understand the caveats. Potential customers might
also ask Network Appliance for current, validated test scores, in the
event that the IRCache figures have been surpassed significantly.
who can live with slightly lower performance, but want significantly more
for their money, should consider the alternative offerings. Dell's 130-B
(which was tested at the same time as NetApp's unit) turned in significantly
higher price/performance than the (presumed) C1100, with lower (but not
significantly lower) performance - but the 130 is no longer sold by Dell.
It has been replaced by the PowerApp.cache series, and no performance
figures are available yet. Customers should ask, as with Network Appliance,
for validated test/performance figures before committing to a purchase.
a similar vein, IBM's Netfinity 3500 M10 showed better price/performance
with only slightly lower absolute performance - but it too has been replaced.
We suggest reviewing the Netfinity 4000R - different form factor from
the 3500 M10, but geared toward Web caching and infrastructure. As with
the others, seek out validated performance figures.