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November 8, 2010

NetApp adds to its ‘shared infrastructure’ vision

New hardware and software to boost cloud push


Storage vendor NetApp has unveiled a number of updates to its product lines as it continues pushing its shared IT infrastructure vision.

At an event at its European headquarters in Schiphol, just outside Amsterdam in The Netherlands, NetApp said that the software and hardware updates will help customers move away from siloed infrastructure to a shared IT infrastructure, one that is more efficient and flexible.

On the hardware front NetApp has unveiled FAS6200, a family of three new high-end storage systems, the 6280, 6240, and 6210. It refreshes and in some instances replaces the FAS6000, and offers roughly double the performance, according to John Rollason, senior manager, products solutions & alliances marketing EMEA.

The 6280 is the new top of the range offering. It features up to 1,440 drives, 2.9PB maximum capacity, 192GB of memory and 8TB of Flash Cache. The 6240 has the same number of drives and maximum capacity but drops to 96GB of memory and 6TB of Flash Cache. The 6210, the lower of the new top-end devices, has a maximum capacity of 2.4PB, a maximum of 1,200 disk drives, 48GB of memory and 3TB of Flash Cache.

The NetApp FAS3200 is a family of three new midrange storage systems, 3270, 3240, and 3240. This new effort replaces the 3100 Series. Rollason added that it offers the best price/performance ratio for companies looking at virtualisation and mixed workloads.

Starting with the 3210, NetApp is offering up to 420 disk drives for a maximum capacity of 480TB, 8GB of memory and 512GB of Flash Cache. The 3240 offers up to 600 drives and 1.2PB maximum capacity. Memory weighs in at 16GB with 1TB of Flash Cache. Finally the 3270 offers up to 960 disk drives and 1.9PB capacity, with 32GB of memory and 2TB of Flash Cache.

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NetApp has also introduced SSDs into its portfolio. The new drives are said to offer high input/output operations per second and can be used with SAN or NAS without needing a gateway or different storage system, NetApp said. However the new SSDs will not feature automated data tiering but Andreas König, senior vice president and general manager EMEA, told CBR that NetApp may look to introduce it in the near future.

"Our strategy has not changed. We believe that the tiering happens between Flash Cache and the disk behind, that’s our priority. SSD gives us greater flexibility for automation and tiering. It’s a manual process, but you can script it so there is an element of automation in the process. I think automation is something that we’re looking at very seriously; it’s the next level of virtualisation. It will be driving decisions going forward," König said.

It has also introduced a new SAS Disk Shelf, offering 2.5-inch drives for the first time.

The firm has also updated its operating system (OS), which will now be unified across all products. NetApp Data ONTAP 8 is said to be able to support all protocols through a single wire, NetApp says this will increase efficiency, improve performance and simplify management. Version 8 also introduces inline data compression, which can be used alone or with deduplication technology.

NetApp has introduced a new management suite, called OnCommand. It features an open API to enable integration with a variety of third-party management products and hypervisors.

Finally, NetApp has expanded its agreement with Cisco and VMware to offer FlexPod for VMware. According to the company this is a pre-sized, validated, standardised data centre architecture design. Its combination of storage, server and network tech is designed for customers looking to move to a cloud infrastructure, NetApp said.

"IT has to change. It needs to be more flexible and efficient. This ‘shared infrastructure’ is the future of IT," said NetApp’s Rollason at the launch event.

"Ten years ago changes were being driven by server virtualisation but now people realise storage is key to a virtualised infrastructure. There’s no point scaling out servers but not storage," added König. "The aging data centre infrastructure means lots of companies are still using a siloed infrastructure. The data avalanche means companies simply cannot continue with this sort of data centre infrastructure."

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