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New NetApp AFF, FAS arrays launch with ONTAP upgrade

NetApp all-flash arrays and hybrid storage arrays get updates, along with the ONTAP operating system and added support for Microsoft Azure, to kick off its annual technical conference.

NetApp Inc. refreshed its flash and hybrid storage arrays, updated its ONTAP software and expanded its public cloud...

support to kick off its annual Insight technical conference in Las Vegas.

The new All Flash FAS (AFF) A700 and A300 models can provide up to twice the performance at about half the latency of their predecessor models, the NetApp AFF8080 and 8040, according to the vendor.

NetApp claimed the new FAS9000 and FAS8200 hybrid models -- equipped with solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives -- improve performance by up to 50% over the prior models, FAS8080 and FAS8040, respectively.

Entry-level FAS2650 and FAS2620 arrays deliver up to three times the performance and reduce latency, compared with the previous FAS2500 generation, thanks, in part, to Flash Cache technology that now supports nonvolatile memory express (NVMe), according to NetApp.

Dave Mason, senior vice president of global accounts and ONTAP acceleration at NetApp, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., said all new AFF and FAS models support NVMe-based Flash Cache, use new Intel Broadwell multicore processors and benefit from performance-boosting ONTAP operating system improvements.

Another enhancement in ONTAP 9.1 is FlexGroup technology that can enable NAS users to scale up to 20 PB and 400 billion files in a single namespace. NetApp said it envisions use cases in the high-tech, media and entertainment, oil and gas, and electronic-design industries.

Other new features in the upcoming ONTAP 9.1 include software-based, volume-level encryption to eliminate the need for self-encrypting disk hardware and extended cloud support for Microsoft Azure. NetApp previously supported only Amazon Web Services.

Mason said customers would have the option to offload data to Amazon Simple Storage Service or Microsoft Azure object storage, or run ONTAP Select on servers with accompanying block-based storage in those public clouds. NetApp added support for all-flash commodity servers with ONTAP Select.

"Cloud support is a must for an enterprise storage vendor that wants to continue to grow, and you have to have, at a minimum, support for Amazon and Azure," Eric Burgener, a research director in the storage practice at IDC, wrote in an email.

NetApp AFF growth

Cloud support is a must for an enterprise storage vendor that wants to continue to grow, and you have to have, at a minimum, support for Amazon and Azure.
Eric Burgenerresearch director for the storage practice, IDC

Burgener said NetApp is "still killing it" on all-flash array (AFA) growth, at 264% from the first to second quarter of this year. He said the next closest vendor, Dell EMC, had less than half the growth rate -- although, EMC's overall revenue is much higher.

"What makes [NetApp's] AFAs stand out is the maturity and comprehensiveness of their data services offerings with ONTAP 9 and their excellent data center ecosystem integration capabilities," Burgener wrote. "Mixed primary workload consolidation is what people are mostly buying AFAs for now, and those are two key capabilities."

The base bundle for NetApp ONTAP includes features such as deduplication, compression, thin provisioning, snapshots, storage quality of service, multipath I/O and management. Burgener said NetApp is not the fastest or the most scalable all-flash array, but its support for 15 TB SSDs puts the vendor among the leaders in storage density.

The maximum raw capacity per high availability (HA) pair is 7.3 PB for the high-end NetApp AFF A700 in an 8U chassis and 5.9 PB for the midrange A300 in a 3U chassis. The systems can scale out to 24 nodes, or 12 HA pairs, for NAS and 12 nodes, or six HA pairs, in SAN configurations.

The FAS9000 has a maximum raw capacity of 14.4 PB per HA pair, including a flash pool of 144 TB, with a maximum onboard NVMe-based Flash Cache capacity of 16 TB. The system can scale out to 12 HA pairs, or 24 nodes, at a maximum raw capacity of 172 PB.

New modular design

Mason said the new modular design of the NetApp AFF A700 and FAS9000 would enable customers to nondisruptively upgrade, or hot swap, the motherboard, power supplies and I/O module for up to three generations.

"This is totally different than what we've ever done in the past," Mason said. "We'll be developing and delivering new motherboards that have high capacity, higher ability to handle more cores and more speed. [Customers] won't have to do a wholesale swap or a forklift upgrade. They can actually just pull the motherboard out, put a new motherboard in with the new processor and new cards and run it without any impact to the application."

Burgener said the hot-swap features would be helpful, but not unique. "Pure Storage can actually upgrade an entire system, including the backplane, in place. NetApp can't do that," he said.

The NetApp AFF A300 and FAS8200, FAS2650 and FAS2620 do not share the modular design of the A700 and FAS9000, and they will not offer the hot-swap capabilities.

The FAS8200 has a maximum raw capacity of 4.8 PB per HA pair, including 48 TB of flash, and a maximum onboard NVMe-based Flash Cache capacity of 4 TB. The system can scale to 12 HA pairs, or 24 nodes, for a maximum raw capacity of 57 PB, including a flash pool of 576 TB.

The lower-end FAS2650 has a maximum raw capacity of 1.243 PB, including a flash pool of 24 TB, and NVMe-based Flash Cache of 1 TB. The system can scale to a 5 PB raw, including 96 TB of flash, through four HA pairs, or eight nodes.

The FAS2620 maxes out at a raw capacity of 1.44 PB, including 24 TB of flash, and offers 1 TB of Flash Cache. The maximum clustered raw capacity is 5.7 PB through four HA pairs, or eight nodes.

The new NetApp arrays support 32 Gbps Fibre Channel and 40 Gbps Ethernet, as well as 12 Gbps SAS-3 storage connections. All of the new arrays and ONTAP capabilities are due to become generally available in the fourth quarter, according to NetApp. Pricing information was unavailable.

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