After offering solid-state drives (SSDs) in its storage arrays over the past three years, NetApp said it will begin selling an all-SSD array this year and what it called a "purpose-built" flash storage architecture in 2014.
The EF540 all-flash array
The company also announced a major boost to the memory in its flagship FAS/V6200 storage array line. Beginning today, the FAS/V6620 will be available with twice as much DRAM, or up to 48GB of memory. The array also gets a 10% performance boost. The FAS/V6250 can be configured with up to 72GB of memory, which represents a 50% increase and it can offer a 5% boost in I/O performance.
Additionally, the FASV6290 can now be configured with 16 additional Fibre Channel or SAS port at no additional cost.
The EF540 all-flash array
On the NAND flash memory side, NetApp is going all in. The company is following suit of other major and minor storage vendors that sell high-end, mission critical all-flash arrays that can offer blazing performance for applications such as relational databases and online transaction processing.
NetApp's new EF540 all-flash array differs from other flash systems that use PCIe flash cards, which are sold by companies such as Violin Memory, Pure Storage, Nimbus Data Systems, Texas Memory Systems (now owned by IBM), or Israel-based XtremIO (now owned by EMC). NetApp's first all-flash array will be filled with 2.5-in form factor SAS SSDs.
EMC already sells all-SSD arrays based on its VNX and Symmetrix array hardware, and it also plans to release a purpose-built all-SSD array later this year, which to date has been dubbed Project X. Project X will be based XtremIO's flash card technology.
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 based on NetApp's SANtricity operating system. The array is being targeted at companies running SAP, Microsoft SQL, Oracle DB2, Sybase and other database workloads requiring consistent, high performance access to data sets.
The EF540 is based on NetApp's long-standing E-series modular disk storage array.
"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 continued. "We know that it just works."
NetApp would not release capacity points or pricing on the new EF540.
Next year, NetApp plans to release an purpose-built all-flash array known as the FlashRay, which will have its own unique architecture. NetApp has yet to decide on the operating system for the FlashRay, but it said it would be interoperable with its most popular OnTap OS, and offer features such as high availability, data snapshotting, replication and backup, multi-protocol access and object granular data management. Additionally, the arrays will offer in-line data deduplication.
From a hardware perspective, the FlashRay will be based on a clustered architecture, meaning it will be able to have tremendous scalability.
While the EF540 and the FlashRay are based on two different hardware and software architectures, NetApp believes they will be complementary to each other in a corporate environment. The company also has interoperability plans fo the two arrays as part of its long-term development roadmap.
Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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