NetApp expands FAS arrays

NetApp is rolling out a portfolio-wide refresh this week, with new midrange and high-end FAS storage arrays, and the introduction of a pre-configured stack for virtual environments, solid state drives (SSDs) and inline compression for primary data.

The new systems are the FAS3200 midrange, FAS6200 enterprise, and a FlexPod bundle that includes Cisco server and switching products and VMware server virtualization applications with the FAS3200.

The FAS3200 and FAS6200 are mainly speeds and feeds upgrades from the FAS3100 and FAS6000 platform with new boards, processors and memory buses. The FlexPod is an answer to EMC’s Vblock bundles that also include Cisco servers and switches and VMware software.

NetApp serves up SSD option along with Flash Cache

The NetApp SSD support comes nearly two years after its main rival EMC Corp. first offered SSDs in its arrays, and gives NetApp customers a choice for their Flash implementations. NetApp first brought out its Performance Acceleration Module (PAM) with Flash to boost read cache last year.

Now NetApp is supporting SSD in its DS4243 disk enclosure, which also holds 3.5-inch 2 TB SATA and SAS drives. The enclosure holds up to 96 100 GB 6 Gbps SAS single level cell SSD (SLC SSD) for a maximum of 9.6TB.

Patrick Rogers, NetApp’s vice president of solutions and alliances, said he expects most customers to use Flash Cache, with SSDs a better fit only for applications that do a large amount of random reads. NetApp is taking a different approach than most data storage vendors, however, by not offering automated tiering software to facilitate placement of data across SSD and spinning disk tiers.

NetApp customers can use its Data Motion migration software to move volumes, but they must manually load volumes into the SSD storage. NetApp’s take is that most data should go on cheaper SATA storage with Flash Cache used to boost response times of data that must be quickly accessed.

“We see two tiers of storage – Flash and SATA,” Rogers said. “Everything on Flash is permanently stored on SAS or SATA, and then moves into Flash as the application needs that data. That, in our view, is [the] perfect automated tiering solution. It goes to Flash, automatically deduped, and then as you retired those blocks, they go to SATA.”

Compellent Technologies Inc., EMC, Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co., Hitachi Data Systems and IBM have come out with automated tiering applications to make SSDs more efficient. Mark Peters, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said NetApp has a “philosophical disagreement” with most of their competitors about automated storage tiering.