NetApp's Latest Flash Storage Arrays Target Enterprises' Need for Speed

With the quest for speed making Flash storage more relevant in the enterprise, NetApp introduced Flash storage arrays and software that it says deliver the speed and the reliability enterprises demand.

SANTA CLARA, Calif.—NetApp confirmed the availability of a new a Flash-based storage array, enhancements to the company’s flagship storage array and the availability of server-caching software that promises to increase storage performance by 80 percent while reducing storage latency by 90 percent.

Manish Goel, NetApp’s executive vice president of product operations, announced the products Feb. 19 at NetApp’s Flash Event in Santa Clara. Goel said “NetApp is offering the first Flash cache product in the market and provides caching capabilities that work with server-based PCI-E Flash and any other storage technology, ultimately bringing data closer to the CPU for faster processing.”

Goel also spoke about the EF540, a new storage array that is based entirely on Flash, and major enhancements to the company’s flagship FAS/V6200 storage array line. Beginning today, the FAS/V6620 will be available with double the DRAM, with as much as 48GB of memory. He also said that the array offers a 10 percent performance boost.

The next model in the series, the FAS/V6250, can be configured with up to 72GB of memory, which represents a 50 percent increase and it can offer a 5 percent boost in I/O performance, according to Goel. In addition, the top-of-the-line FASV6290 can now be configured with 16 additional Fibre Channel or SAS ports at no additional cost, Goel said.

On the heels of the FAS/V6200 series announcements, Goel spoke of the all-new EF540, which is aimed at organizations that are seeking high-end, mission-critical, all-Flash arrays that can offer extremely fast performance for applications such as relational databases and online transaction processing.

The EF540 is completely based upon Flash and differs from other Flash systems on the market. Vendors such as Violin Memory, Pure Storage, Nimbus Data Systems, Texas Memory Systems (now owned by IBM), or Israel-based XtremIO (now owned by EMC) use PCI-E-based Flash cards for storage, while NetApp's first all-Flash array will be filled with Serial Attached SCSI-Solid State Drives.

NetApp's EF540 flash array can offer a consistent 300,000 I/Os per second (IOPS) and sub-second millisecond latency, according to Nathan Moffitt, NetApp's director of storage platform marketing. The EF540 flash array is built on NetApp's SANtricity operating system and NetApp's long-standing E-series modular disk storage array.

NetApp is targeting its marketing for the EF540 array at companies running SAP, Microsoft SQL, Oracle DB2, Sybase and other database workloads requiring consistent, high-performance access to data sets, according to Moffitt.

"There are definitely a number of players in the space, but where we see ourselves differentiating ... is around the fact that we are delivering a platform that is enterprise proven," Moffitt said.

"The E-series gives us the ability to leverage off the experience of over 500,000 system deployments. So the architecture is extremely resilient, has a lot of redundancy, a lot of availability," he said. "We know that it just works."

NetApp did not release capacity points or pricing on the new EF540 at the event.

In 2014, NetApp plans to release a purpose-built all-Flash array known as the FlashRay, which will have its own unique architecture. The company has not released any details about operating systems, capacity or architecture. But it said it would be interoperable with its most popular OnTap storage operating system, and offer features such as high availability, data-snapshot capabilities, replication and backup, multi-protocol access and object granular data management.

The arrays will also offer in-line data deduplication. FlashRay will differ from the EF540 because it will leverage a clustered architecture, allowing it to have almost infinite scalability.