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NetApp FAS storage line refreshed with FAS3220, 3250 models

Dave Raffo

NetApp Inc. today refreshed the midrange line of its flagship FAS storage array platform, adding capacity, processing power and array flash caching to two new models of its FAS3200 series.

The new FAS3220 and 3250 arrays replace NetApp's FAS3210, 3240 and 3270 arrays.

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The FAS3220 is the direct replacement for the FAS3210. It has 24 GB of system memory and eight processor cores in each high availability (HA) pair, compared to the 3210's 10 GB of memory and four cores. The FAS3220 also has 480 drives -- twice as many as the 3210 -- for a maximum capacity of 1.2 petabytes (PB) when fully loaded with 3 terabyte (TB) drives.

The FAS3250 replaces the FAS3240, and includes 40 GB of system memory and 16 cores per HA pair compared to 16 GB and eight cores in the 3240. The FAS3250 has 720 drives compared to 600 in the 3240, and a maximum capacity of 3.2 petabytes.

Raj Das, senior director of product management for NetApp FAS storage, said the FAS3270 -- previously the high end of the midrange family -- will have no direct midrange replacement. He said customers will likely go to the FAS3250 or the lowest end of NetApp's enterprise family, the FAS6210.

The upgrade is primarily a speeds and feeds increase, because most of NetApp's value comes from the Data Ontap operating system that runs across all the FAS arrays. NetApp made significant changes in Data Ontap 8.1.1 earlier this year, including Flash Pools that mix solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard drives to accelerate reads and writes. The new systems ship with Data Ontap 8.1.2, with minor enhancements over 8.1.1. "It's one of our key differentiators that we run the same operating system up and down our product family," Das said.

The new systems support Flash Pools for array-based SSD caching, as well as NetApp's Flash Accel server flash software, and its controller-based Flash Cache. NetApp is not disclosing pricing for the FAS, but Das said the prices are roughly the same as for the older arrays.

The new arrays will also be included in NetApp's FlexPod reference architecture, which includes servers and switching from Cisco and VMware, and Microsoft server hypervisors. NetApp claims it has more than 1,300 FlexPod customers, nearly double its total from a year ago.

Omer Mushahwar, senior associate at Silver Spring, Md.-based architecture firm Torti Gallas and Partners, said his firm bought two FAS3210 arrays as part of a FlexPod architecture two years ago. He said his company had its storage spread out on Hewlett-Packard servers before that.

Mushahwar said he also looked at Vblocks, which combine EMC storage with Cisco servers and switching, and VMware software.

"It was all certified to work, and good to go," he said of the FlexPod concept. "We had a limited IT staff, so knowing it would all work was a big thing.

"EMC had a similar package, but we thought NetApp storage was a better fit. NetApp's dedupe was a big factor. It's also easy to drop in a new controller when you upgrade."

Data Ontap has primary data deduplication built in. Mushahwar said he reduces capacity for virtual servers up to 75% and averages at least 50% reduction for all applications.

"We're an architecture and planning firm, so our employees are not only creative with design, but [also with] how they hide their data around the network," he said. "So dedupe was a huge plus for us."

Mushahwar said the flash capabilities of the FAS3220 and 3250 arrays make him envious, although he's at least a year away from being due for an upgrade. His FAS3210 does not support Flash Cache or Flash Pools.

"It makes for a nice unit with the flash built in and more processing power," he said. "Having flash built into the controllers is a huge advantage. I'll probably look to upgrade controllers when maintenance is up."

Torti Gallas has identical systems in its main data center and disaster recovery site, each with about 10 TB of SAS and 15 TB of SATA drives.

Darrell Williams, director of IT at Indianapolis-based account firm Katz, Sapper & Miller, installed a FAS3240 at his main data center two months ago to replace an aging HP EVA array. He already had Cisco and VMware, so he followed the FlexPod reference architecture to size his new system.

"I was heavily leaning toward EMC because of Vblock, but when NetApp came here, FlexPod was a big selling point for us. There's no bigger frustration when you have a technology issue than to have finger-pointing between vendors," he said.

Williams said he is not using flash now, but uses dedupe on all data and gets about a 25% reduction ratio. "We're not using flash yet, but we're going to evaluate it this year to see if it can benefit us," he said.


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