NetApp Updates, Unifies Most of Its Product Line

With its new FlexPod server-storage-networking modules, NetApp goes head on against EMC's Vblocks.

NetApp's Manish Goel wasn't kidding when he calmly told eWEEK that the Nov. 9 announcement his company was making involved the biggest product launch in NetApp history.

Goel, who serves as executive vice president of product operations for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based storage company, told eWEEK that the catalog revamping focuses on new unified storage arrays for large and midrange enterprises, an update of NetApp's ONTAP storage file system and new data center building-block modules.

One of those new products, the FlexPod module, is designed for cloud computing workloads and amounts to a head-on competitor to EMC's Vblock unified server-storage-networking systems.

All the new arrays are NAND Flash-HHD hybrids. Some of these have a lot of NAND Flash in them; that's the way the industry as a whole is going.

For its largest enterprise system customers, NetApp unveiled a new series of big-hunk arrays, the FAS6200 line. These include the FAS6210 (capacity up to 2.4PB, 1,200 drives, 3TB of Flash cache), the FAS6240 (up to 2.9PB, 1,440 drives, 6TB Flash), and FAS6280 (up to 2.9PB, 1,440 drives, 8TB Flash).

Options in the new line include a maximum of 32 Fibre Channel connections, eight 10GbE connections, 24 SAS connections, 192GB of RAM, and 24 PCIe expansion slots. All of them have connectivity choices of 8Gbps Fibre Channel, 10GbE, or 6Gbps SAS.

Thanks largely to two or three times the NAND flash capacity as in previous arrays, multicore processors, and better multithreading in its updated ONTAP operating system, NetApp is claiming roughly twice the performance in these new machines over previous generation systems.

For midrange-sized systems, NetApp announced the FAS3210 (capacity up to 480TB, 240 drives, 512GB of Flash), the FAS3240 (1.2PB, 600 drives, 1TB of Flash Cache) and FAS3270 (1.9PB, 960 drives, 2TB of Flash Cache).

Other options in the FAS3200 line include a ceiling of 960 disk drives, 32GB of RAM, four external connections and 12 PCIe expansion slots.

PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect express) cards are used in PCs, servers and storage arrays as a motherboard-level interconnect (to link motherboard-mounted peripherals) and as an expansion card interface for add-in boards.

NetApp's version of Vblock is FlexPod

Goel also said NetApp is introducing validated, pre-configured, unified server-storage-networking architectures based on its partnerships with VMware and Cisco Systems.

Called FlexPod for VMware, these new systems use Cisco's UCS servers and Nexus switch platforms, VMware's vSphere and vCenter software, and NetApp's new FAS disk arrays.

"They are in effect similar to Vblocks that EMC is producing with Cisco and VMware," Goel said. "The biggest difference is that these are a lot more flexible to use; the Vblocks are much more rigid [in terms of the types of components that can be used.]"

NetApp OS updated

NetApp's ONTAP v8.0.1 has a number of new features, such as Unified Connect, which supports all Ethernet-based storage protocols -- including CIFS, NFS, iSCSI, and FCoE all together; native data compression, which can be used in tandem with data deduplication; better multithreading; and a so-called Transparent Data Mobility component that allows users to move volumes between different classes of drives.

NetApp also has done away with all its management point products and produced a new unified platform called OnCommand Management Software Suite. This single-pane-of-glass software puts all of NetApp's data center management controls into one suite.

Those include NetApp System Manager, Operations Manager, My AutoSupport, Provisions Manager, Protection Manager, SnapManager, SnapDrive and SANscreen.

Goel did not divulge pricing information for the new products, most of which are available now.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...