Definition

NetApp SolidFire

Contributor(s): Rodney Brown and Carol Sliwa

NetApp SolidFire is a business division of NetApp Inc. that specializes in all-flash storage systems.

NetApp acquired SolidFire in early 2016 with the intention of selling its arrays to cloud providers and customers looking to build private clouds.

In 2017, NetApp also added SolidFire arrays to its FlexPod converged infrastructure lineup sold in partnership with Cisco Systems Inc. SolidFire arrays are sold as the FlexPod SF platform along with Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) servers and Cisco switching.

NetApp SolidFire is located in Boulder, Colo., and it reports to the NetApp product operations team as a separate entity. SolidFire founder and CEO Dave Wright headed the SolidFire business division of NetApp following the sale of the company.

Company history

Founded in 2010, SolidFire Inc. initially sold its all-flash arrays as an independent vendor. SolidFire was one of the first vendors to sell only all-flash arrays, attempting to differentiate itself by focusing on an audience of cloud service providers.

On Dec. 21, 2015, NetApp entered into a definitive agreement to acquire SolidFire for $870 million, and it completed the acquisition on Feb. 2, 2016. NetApp continued to sell the SolidFire all-flash array product line under the same brand name following the acquisition.

The SolidFire acquisition left NetApp with three all-flash array product lines.

  • All Flash FAS A-Series, which targets enterprise infrastructure buyers who value storage services and data management features.
  • EF-Series, which addresses application owners focused on storage performance and low latency.
  • NetApp SolidFire SF-Series solid-state storage systems, which take aim at cloud service providers and enterprises in need of a highly scalable, distributed architecture. The SolidFire all-flash arrays are noted for their scale-out architecture, volume-level quality-of-service (QoS) controls and multi-tenancy

In October 2017, NetApp launched the vendor's first hyper-converged infrastructure system, NetApp HCI, based on SolidFire SF-Series storage.

NetApp HCI appliance
NetApp's HCI system based on SolidFire technology

SolidFire Element OS

SolidFire arrays use the Element operating system (OS), which has native QoS support. NetApp SolidFire integrated the QoS aspects of the Element OS into the latest version of NetApp's flagship Ontap OS, with version 9.3 announced in October 2017.

At the same time, NetApp SolidFire launched Element 10, the first version of the Element OS designed entirely after the 2015 acquisition. SolidFire gives each version of Element a code name from the periodic table. Element's code name is Neon.

Element 10 is more tightly integrated with Ontap, enabling users to replicate SnapMirror snapshots from Element OS systems directly to storage using the Ontap OS.

Performance

The native QoS aspect of NetApp SolidFire's Element OS enables the user to set levels for minimum, maximum and burst performance based on input/output operations per second (IOPS). This feature is also integrated into Ontap 9.3.

NetApp SolidFire virtualizes storage capacity and performance so they can be managed separately. Virtualizing storage performance enables fine-grain control, making it possible to reduce or eliminate typical performance issues, such as noisy neighbors or unbalanced load.

This was last updated in March 2018

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