NetApp FAS and E-Series – what’s new for 2016?

Most large IT infrastructure vendors are having a very busy time updating their products to better integrate with Public Cloud services and fully exploit the performance of flash. One such vendor is NetApp, let’s take a quick look at what they have been up to when it comes to their core storage platforms: FAS New hardware platforms: FAS2600 (2U including drives) 100,000 IOPS at <1ms latency 1 TiB on-board Flash Cache per HA pair FAS8200 and All-Flash FAS A300 (3U) 280,000 IOPS at <1ms latency 2 TiB (Max 4 TiB) on-board Flash Cache per HA pair FAS9000 and All-Flash FAS A700 (8U) 500,000 IOPS at <1ms latency 2 TiB (Max 16 TiB) on-board Flash Cache per HA pair With the following enhancements: Massive performance Continue reading

Some interesting new ways to improve your IT infrastructure in 2016

It’s an exciting time in IT; there is so much innovation going on, often driven by start-ups, and many new ways of doing things compared to a few years ago. The good news is that generally the affordability of high-end technology is better than ever, bring them within the reach of most organisations. So let’s take a look at what’s now available: 1. Availability – Improving your Disaster Recovery processes by enabling vMotion and HA between sites I believe that current DR practices built around active passive asynchronous replication and VMware Site Recovery Manager are just not good enough: Data is lost in the event of a fail-over Local array failures cause downtime Failing-over/back causes significant disruption to the organisation Testing is difficult therefore Continue reading

What’s the NetApp storage portfolio looking like for 2016?

Each vendors portfolio is ever evolving – driven by constant R&D and acquisitions. It is therefore useful to occasionally step back and see what a particular vendor has to offer and why you might choose a particular technology. Let’s take a quick look a NetApp, the acquisition of SolidFire has not yet been completed, but at this stage I am assuming it will be, so I am including it in this blog. In this first part I will be looking at SAN and Unified storage platforms: SAN storage E-Series and All-Flash E-Series (EF) Simple “Configure & Forget” provisioning with fast rebuilds – with no RAID or idle spares to manage Flexible modular design – including an ultra-dense 60 drive tray Continue reading

NetApp FlashRay is dead long live SolidFire, AFF and EF

Just prior to Christmas NetApp announced that it will be buying SolidFire and its All-Flash Array (AFA), at the same time they have also stated that they will not be bringing FlashRay to market. I think this is a good thing as we have needed clarity with regard to the future of FlashRay for some time, and it has been evident that NetApp has been taking what they have learnt from the FlashRay project to enhance All-Flash FAS (AFF). FlashRay will therefore continue to live on in AFF and it will continue to get further FlashRay related features and performance enhancements over the next few years. So NetApp has lost one and gained one AFA, still leaving them with three platforms – surely that Continue reading

Why NetApp E-Series SAN storage is really cool

On the face of it, E-Series has got to be one of the least cool storage arrays available as its roots go back to the late nineties. Storage technology has massively moved on since then, with most modern platforms having a significant proportion of the following capabilities: Hyper-Converged – to simplify deployment, management and scaling, as compute and storage are combined into a single platform Software-Defined – to enable you to bring your own hardware All-Flash – to significantly improve application performance and the end-user experience Public Cloud integration – to leverage the cloud for backup, DR, and for test and development environments Stretched Cluster – to provide continuous availability in the event of local hardware and even complete site failures De-duplication Continue reading

NetApp All-Flash FAS support renewals now include free controllers

I have been saying for sometime that I felt that 2015 was the year of the All-Flash Array and month on month we are seeing an increased value proposition from the vendors. The latest offer from NetApp is that when you renew the maintenance, on their All-Flash FAS taking it up to six years, you will receive a new pair of controllers for free. You can choose to have newer generation of what you currently have or upgrade to higher end controllers and just pay the difference. In addition you can now extend the support, beyond the included 3 years, such that year 4-7 support and warranty cost the same % of list price per year at initial purchase or at Continue reading

Cost-effective Metro Storage Cluster solution now available from NetApp

Historically NetApp’s FAS platform had a great metro storage cluster capability and it worked by taking an HA pair and stretching it over distance – one node per site with synchronously replicated storage. This was an extremely popular solution, especially in Germany for some reason, as the benefits were considerable: Zero planned and unplanned application downtime Zero data loss (RPO) and near zero downtime (RTO) Continuous availability in the event of any failure Node, RAID Group, shelf or complete system Set-it-once simplicity with zero change management Supports SAN and NAS to protect the entire environment With last year’s 8.3 release MetroCluster is now available with Clustered Data ONTAP (cDOT) and this provided the ability to have an HA pair per site (4-nodes in total), which Continue reading

All-Flash and Hybrid Array bundles with integrated data protection now available from NetApp

Now, the recent announcement regarding the affordability of NetApp’s All-Flash FAS (AFF) does not change the fact that we are still a long way off (if ever) having all data sitting on flash, but what we are seeing is a steady increase – five plus years ago we only had HDDs, a few years ago maybe 2% flash, and today it is viable to have 20%+, but the majority of your data will still be on HDDs. One of the advantages of FAS is that you can create a cluster of mixed array types, each optimised for a specific role – an All-Flash AFF8060 for VDI and OLTP, a Hybrid FAS8020 for Virtualisation and an All-HDD FAS2554 for a Backup Vault. You can then non-disruptively move data around the cluster, so Continue reading

NetApp has just made 2015 the year of the affordable All-Flash Array – Part 1

The storage array industry has been struggling over the last few years, all the major vendors have seen a decline in revenues and whilst the start-ups appear to be doing well, the reality is that I do not believe any of them actually make a profit. On top of this there is a push towards software-defined storage (i.e. VMware VSAN) and hyper-converged platforms (i.e. EVO:RAIL and Nutanix), there are some advantages with these solutions, but like all new technologies there are also significant downsides – I have explored this in more detail here. Anyone who knows me, is very aware that I am a big fan of home cinema and analogies, so let’s compare home cinema equipment to a storage array – I am always on Continue reading

NetApp has just made 2015 the year of the affordable All-Flash Array – Part 2

In the previous post I looked at the background behind the NetApp All-Flash FAS (AFF) and explored how its commercial value proposition is likely to impact the storage industry, in this post I will look at the AFF in more detail – the key highlights are: Always-on data efficiency Inline Compression (8K) Inline Zero Write Elimination (4K) Always-On De-duplication (4K) Zero-overhead Thin Provisioning (4K) New flash optimisations to reduce latency Optimised SCSI Drivers Read Path Flash Optimisations Optimised thresholds as HDDs are not supported Built on many years of optimising FAS for flash Writes are not in the critical latency path Writes are coalesced in the memory before being de-staged Never overwrites the current version of that block New writes go to free Continue reading