NAS type of Solution

Currently we have a EMC NS600 in which is being replaced however we are running into a few minor barriers. Mostly being we are not sure which solution to go with for storage.
We run a smallish shop where 3D models and terrain databases are being stored. My Users currently pull there projects off our NAS, work on them at their local workstations, and then save the projects and put them back on the NAS. The projects regularily are up to a TB in Size and will be accessed a lot for a few weeks then forgotten for months maybe years at a time then to go through the process again.
More or less our current unit is fine with the exception that we are not able to expand the unit due to EMC's unwillingness to support the older hardware. We have been Looking into EMC, Dell and Netapp options and to be frank... most the sales people are throwing things at us and talking about the latest and greatest when all we really need is a large enough storage system in which could offer snapshots,possibly dedupe and easily managed.

 Since our current Infrustructure only allows for 1GBE we are figuring that 7.2k RPM hard drives would be sufficient.
 We are looking around 30TB raw and in a raid 5 or 6 I am thinking that would be about 14 or 15 TB usable... guessing there so correct me if I am wrong.

So far we have been looking at a NETAPP FAS2040, A equallogic PS4000/ PS6500, and a EMC VNXe... I keep getting feeling they are sorta  trying to sell us not only the Golden egg but the basket and the Goose that laid it.

We have ruled out Poweredge due to lack of snapshots and Dedupe and I am not even sure if Equllogic has Dedupe available. Also I noticed with the Equallogic we would need to dedicate a server to this for Clients to access the shares whare as with a EMC setup it would be done through a NAS controller from my understanding.

Also the Life Cycle on these things is of great concern. After owning our NS600 for 5 years we called them and asked for another blade to expand and they said "no"... they will not support the older hardware and we would need to buy a a new complete unit. I understand companies doing this but what I am looking for is something that will work with their older legacy units and not say "screw you" in five years.

Which Units would an Expert here at the exchange suggest and Why?
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
The Netapp should fit the bill nicely.  The 2040 comes with built in drives so we typically put our SAS drives in there for the higher IOPS Requirements and then get a shelf for additional storage a DS14 shelf will hold 14 SATA drives or a 2423 shelf (two rows of 14)

The system comes with dedupe out of the box but is limtied to 2TB or 3TB (net) deduped volumes so you'll need to break out your LUN or shares.  It will also support CIFS so you can use it as LUN or CIFS/NFS share if decide to puchase the license.

Most SANs will give you about 50% usable on the storage althought the Netapp will dedupe.  Typicall CIFs is about 30-60 percent dedupe and Virtual machines about the same.  If you have binary storage you'll probably not see as much dedupe as other types due to the nature of binary files.

For upgrading the the same OS is used on all systems so down the road if you get a larger head unit just attach the current shelfs and put a card into the current head unit to make it a shelf as well.  

Snapshots are also included and take very little space since they're not copy on write.  Snapshots are actually point in time pointers so if you're adding data and take snapshot zero space is used.  Ony when you delete data and it is being held by a snapshot will it take space.  THe snapshots take less then a second to complete

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