NetApp Flash Momentum and Flash Strategy – a surprise and then again, not…..

By | February 19, 2013

What do you call a company that is both the leader in enterprise flash for storage (over 36 Petabytes of flash shipped, accelerating over 3 Exabytes of storage) and the provider of the first truly enterprise-scale All-Flash array? Answer NetApp. Today NetApp launches the EF540 and outline its plans for a NetApp-enabled flash world. read the press release here.

Flash_Storage_Portfolio_graphic_short-300x243First the seemingly carefully controlled secret: NetApp is already the leader in flash storage. In fact NetApp has been shipping flash storage since 2009. Flash Cache, Flash Pool and Flash Accel provide flash based acceleration for data at the controller, disk and server levels respectively, and most of our customers are using flash at one, two or three of these levels within their storage infrastructure (see picture). So actually the announcements today on NetApp’s flash strategy and flash leadership should really be no surprise. But as often with NetApp, a focus on solving customer workload challenges comes first before blowing any trumpets. that’s the modus operandi of this company. Perhaps NetApp should be taking a leaf out of the book of some of the Silicon Valley behemoths who shout first and then deliver second. NetApp has in fact been the purveyor of the finest flash for storage for a number of years and today we are shouting about it.

So as we stake our claim as the leaders in flash storage, we usher in a new platform, the All-Flash array, the EF450. Based on the robust and tried-and-tested E-Series platform, the EF540 is the industry’s first flash array to combine consistent performance with enterprise-class high-availability, manageability and worldwide support. We have the proven enterprise credentials of shipping and supporting over half a million systems, which handle the most diverse set of workloads imaginable. We are marrying that with a platform that delivers over 300,000 IOPS whilst reducing space, power and cooling by up to 95% over a similar spec’d tier 1 SAN array.In fact database applications can run up to 500% faster than in a traditional all-spinning disk array. As Manish Goel, the EVP Products says “Flash changes everything by changing the speed of business”.

Is the EF540 the first all-Flash array to come to market? Well no. This market is hot right now. Lots of start-ups in this space, and several have been in the market for a couple of years now. But the EF540 is the first all-Flash array with the Enterprise Scale, performance and Support that you need to rely on if you are to put your most demanding workloads on all-flash. You can put your Violins back on their stands because something more than Nimble has arrived. It is more Pure and more Extreme than anything out there. As part of an agile data infrastructure, an enterprise-class all-flash array makes a ton of sense. Not every workload will need to have this degree of performance and latency – a factor rendered more by cost than a lack of desire – but for the most demanding workloads, flash, as part of an agile storage strategy is at its tipping point.

And whilst on the subject of strategy, as part of the announcement today, NetApp also unveiled some details on an even flashier future. FlashRay is a ground-up next generation all-flash architecture which will deliver a rich scale-out, highly efficient platform which will combine low-latency performance, data protection and high availability with the storage efficiencies that NetApp has pioneered over the years such as inline deduplication and compression. As a 13,000 person company focused purely on storage and data management, you can be sure that we will be bringing out something extremely special. This will be generally available next year.

Is NetApp the storage innovation leader? you bet. It is a crown that we wear with due reverence and humility, but one we are determined to retain.

The last word to Michael Flugge, solution Director Consulting Services of Computacenter, the $3bn+ infrastructure integrator and reseller. Michael knows his onions.

“NetApp once again delivers true storage innovation: Their new, flash-powered enterprise storage solutions significantly improve the performance of data infrastructures while retaining NetApp’s market-leading functionalities for data protection and availability”.

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