Data storage provider NetApp is putting two terms together than aren't often seen in the same sentence. Those would be "entry-level" and "cloud system."
A complete cloud system, which represents a nontrivial investment in computing, storage, networking and outside services, isn't exactly considered entry-level for most midrange or smaller IT shops. Enterprises generally start a move to the cloud by designating a couple of servers or a rack to a cloud project and then add to it in a hybrid-type scheme. Forklift replacements of legacy systems for clouds just don't happen.
So NetApp's latest idea, announced June 5, is to focus on fiscal reality and produce a storage system for midsize businesses that can: a) handle the heavy-duty input/output requirements of a 24/7 cloud, b) be "affordable," and c) scale out in capacity as needed in the future.
Midsize Businesses Increasing Cloud Spend in 2012
A recent study by Enterprise Storage Group reported that 74 percent of all midsize businesses will increase expenditures for cloud services in 2012. So NetApp is responding to this in its own way by launching its new FAS2220 array, the pricing of which starts at about $8,000.
Strangely, even though this is the newest NetApp storage array, it has nonetheless been designated a lower product number than its older predecessor, the FAS2240, which came out in November 2011. Normally a newer product receives a higher model number.
"We actually overhauled the entry product line of the 2000s and just happened to start with the bigger one and did the smaller one next," Jim Sangster, senior director of solutions marketing at NetApp, told eWEEK.
The value proposition here, Sangster said, is that with the FAS2220 a customer can "start right by providing more performance and software value than traditional entry-level storage systems. They can keep it simple by delivering increased performance without increasing deployment or management complexity, and they can grow smart by leveraging existing storage investments and easily adding new capabilities."
Flash Pool as Secret Sauce
FAS2220 uses NetApp's new Flash Pool IT, which enables users to speed up application performance--especially that of a high-transaction nature--for cloud requirements. A starter unit can accommodate up to 12 terabytes of capacity.
Flash Pool technology also integrates directly with NetApp's suite of nine storage efficiency features--including automated data tiering--to help customers increase utilization and reduce power costs. NetApp claims to be the only vendor offering this so-called "intelligent caching" approach in the entry-level storage market.
"With this, you keep all your 'hot' data on the flash drives--high-traffic data such as email, databases, and customer-facing apps--and your less-active data, such as human resources, security, CRM on the slower SATA [Serial ATA] drives. It's all automated; the intelligence is built in," Sangster said.
NetApp's OnCommand System Manager 2.1, which comes with the array, is the storage controller that automates both setup and ongoing management of storage. The FAS2200 series runs on the latest version of NetApp's Data ONTAP operating system to provide a unified and scalable architecture that enables customers to upgrade to higher-end systems and new capabilities without needing forklift upgrades. Data ONTAP also provides "cluster-ready" capabilities, Sangster said
The FAS2220 will become available beginning June 12 through NetApp's network of value-added authorized resellers, distributors and systems integrators, Sangster said.