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back to article FlashRay shines out from Sunnyvale

NetApp has unveiled FlashRay, its all-flash array work-in-progress that is the focus of its Mars project. The product should become available some time in 2014 and will enter beta test in the middle of this year. The Sunnyvale-headquartered company made three announcements today. It is producing the EF540, an all-flash array in …

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Anonymous Coward

I am confused

This is as confusing as HP's portfolio.

Did I get this right

Mars Flash == next gen flash only array == Flash Ray

FAS6200 upgrades announced == is there an all flash version

EF540 == engenio box with all flash

Thanks

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Re: I am confused

Yes, you are confused, understandably so with the simultaneous FAS6200 upgrades and E540 Flash. NetApp should have announced these separately as they have nothing to do with each other.

NetApp has two distinct and separate product lines, FAS and E-Seires. FAS is targeted towards general multipurpose data center storage and E-Seires is targeted towards Big Data, High Performance Computing and High Performance targeted computing.

The FAS6200 announcements are an update of the high end FAS multipurpose storage product line.

The E540 is a new product announcement for the E-Series purpose built storage product line.

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Strange that you would pick on HP's portfolio out of all the options ... someone have an axe to grind? HP's portfolio is pretty simple in all fairness!

StoreServ - the only storage array you'll ever need.

Flash only apparently coming soon, SSD only already available, mixed SSD and SAS already available. One family of products, one rich set of functions across the whole performance spectrum, and about as simple a story as it gets. If you think this is confusing then I suspect that daily life throws you more than your fair share of problems!

Now EMC and IBM's portfolios, they are pretty complicated and not much sign of becoming less so.

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Man Mountain,

Whilst I agree with your sentiment around picking on HP you then try and do the same to IBM and EMC when you are effectively cherry picking one product range out of a more complex line-up which is as complex as anyone elses (well maybe not IBM ;)).

Its the same as if i said IBM was simpler as we'd just use the V7000 or EMC has the VNX, I could ask what about StorVirtual/Lefthand, P2000, P9500, StorEasy and IBRIX (as you woul dpoint to eqiuvalents)? These are all valid offerings too, actually the most complex thing about HP's portfolio is the 18 month lets re-brand everything cycle they seem to be on but someone must be making some money off that somewhere.

In truth all vendors have some complexity in their portfolio's and there's a good reason for that in that in some cases a swiss army knife isn't always the best knife to use for a certain task, but it will do a job up to a point (obviously some Swiss army knives are better than others but we could debate that till the cows come home i'm sure!).

From a disclosure POV I used to work in the HP channel (12 years) and now work for EMC

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You're right, there are obviously other products in the HP portfolio but I'd argue strongly that HP has the largest addressable market with it's 3PAR range and less overlap in their portfolio. For example, depending on which way the wind is blowing, IBM will position XIV or V7000 for the same requirement. And they still have their r'ship with NetApp as well. HP have 3PAR as the most appropriate product for all requirements apart from very very small and basic, or mainframe attach. Everything in between, including all SSD and soon all Flash, is suitable for 3PAR. If you include DS8000 and IBM's flash solution in there, then IBM have at least 5 products covering the same space, none of which talk to each other. And the story is similar for EMC.

Apart from the endless renaming, HP actually seem to have the most integrated strategy as recognised by Gartner.

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Anonymous Coward

HP's portfolio is pretty simple in all fairness! - Please

Please - LeftHand, MSA, EVA, 3PAR, which to choose, which ones are being discontinued, which ones will stay, which ones are compatible with the other - oh, sorry none are. How is this "pretty simple in all fairness!" Just because HP renamed them all StorServ. You cannot put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig.

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Re: HP's portfolio is pretty simple in all fairness! - Please

Try speaking to your HP storage guy and he'll make it very simple. If you think MSA and 3PAR play in the same space then you're not very sharp! You'd need to live on Mars to not know that EVA was transitioning to 3PAR. Yeah, there are some niche products around the periphery but 3PAR covers everything from very small to very very large, including all SSD / Flash and NAS. There is no other competitor in the market, who covers such a broad addressable market with a single product! IBM, EMC, even NetApp (which used o have a very simple portfolio) all have 3 or more arrays covering that same space.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: HP's portfolio is pretty simple in all fairness! - Please

I didn't say that MSA and 3PAR are in the same space, but there indeed is overlap between Lefthand and MSA, MSA and EVA, EVA and 3PAR. With the announcement of the mini 3PAR, it might appear to some that that would possibly be replacing the MSA and potentially even the LeftHand, especially at the higher end. Everyone is guessing EVA is beign discontinued, but HP has not announced that, so it technically is still a current product.

In full disclosure I work for NetApp and speak with HP customers almost every day and this is the feedback I am getting from them, not my opinion. This is part of the reason HP lost 9% of their market share last year in storage and I can say for a fact that NetApp is regularly displacing HP footprint whereas it is a very rare occasion where HP displaces NetApp. In regards to the NetApp "having 3 or more arrays in the same space" that is simply not true. NetApp has two product lines FAS and E-Series and they don't overlap. E-Series is for Big Data and High Performance Computing. FAS 2000, 3000 and 6000 series are for general purpose computing, all FAS run the same code and are all forwardly and backwardly compatible with each other unlike LeftHand, MSA, EVA and 3PAR. The only difference is that the higher in the FAS product line you go, the more scalability and performance you have, but from a feature and management perspective they are all the same.

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Re: HP's portfolio is pretty simple in all fairness! - Please

NetApp have just announced 2 new product lines in the same space as 3PAR - those announcements are the whole reason for this article. Flashray and F540 or whatever it is are both different platforms to your FAS line, and both would compete with 3PAR. All 3PARs are forwardly and backwardly compatible, so not sure what your point is there! 3PAR is the same ... if you like the 3PAR functionality then just pick the size of the array you want from a baby 7200 up to a beast of a 10800. They all offer exactly the same functionality and interoperate with each other. It seems that whilst HP is rapidly simplifying and consolidating our portfolio, NetApp is going in the opposite direction.

Not sure which market share figures you are looking at but HP is still tickling along at about 16% which is where we (I work for HP obviously) have been, give or take, for a good few years now. And that's me playing it with a straight bat, if I wanted to pick other market segments that suit HP more I could easily claim to be the market leader but by my own admission, in the one that matters most, we're 3rd. No one in recent years has managed to shift their market share by any significant amount ... NetApp are still second and EMC still a chunk ahead of you. To claim that HP lost 9% market share in 1 year is utter nonsense.

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U-Turns ?

- Disclosure Netapp Employee -

There is no U-Turn, there is simply a logical progression to a future state.

Using flash to temporarily store hot data still makes sense for the vast majority of workloads, whether you do this as a tier or as cache (or from my perspective whether it's a write behind or write through cache), the economics of flash and disk today make this the best way of applying solid state storage to business problems, especially in shared and virtualised environments where IT efficiency and reliability are the primary concerns. That's why the vast majority of flash storage sold to enterprises has been in hybrid arrays, NetApp alone has sold more than 35PB of flash in hybrid arrays, which simply dwarfs the shipments from pure Flash arrays.

Within the context of most shared virtualised infrastructure, Flash as a cache or temporary storage tier is still the best possible solution, however there is a major architectural change happening where massive amounts of solid state storage will be increasingly built directly into the server infrastructure, like a Macbook Air on steroids. The performance benefits of having that cache very close to the CPU can be impressive, and for the right workload dedicating some flash in the server to that application can have amazing results, just ask Fusion I/O ... That is what FlashAccel is all about, as this lets you easily dedicate a few hundred GB of flash to just one part of your infrastructure.

There are however some applications like high frequency trading where where a few hundred GB just isn't enough. These applications need large amounts of dedicated high speed kit, and when millisecond time differences result in million dollar profit differences, efficiency gives way to no-compromise performance. It is these kinds of applications that the EF540 is perfect for today, just the same way as the E5400 is perfect for other kinds of HPC and Big Data environments.

There are a whole stack of new applications being built today that will be able to generate this kind of business value in the future, and many of them will work better with a combination of the raw power of the EF540 and the advanced data management of ONTAP. They will be able to take advantage of the latent unused power of an adjacent cloud infrastructure, and will be part of the next generation of hybrid IT infrastructure that encompasses dedicated infrastructure, internal/private and external/public cloud. By that time the economics and technology of solid state or storage class memory will be significantly different than they are today. The future of IT infrastructure will be very interesting, and the future of storage will be even more so.

FlashRay is built for that future.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: U-Turns ?

OP again... Sorry for picking on HP. I would hold all the vendors in equal contempt -- Dell with their low-end SANs, Equallogics, and Compellent. IBM with their Engenio OEMs, V7000s, XIVs and DS8000s. EMCs with their VNX/e, 4 flavors of VMAX, Isilon and Iomega (DD is a backup device and not in consideration for primary storage).

I am still not sure the announcement was as clear as it could be. John -- thank you for your effort to clarify, but you missed my original question

I finally figured out that there are three things announced under the flash umbrella, but they seems to be poorly laid out. I had to call my VAR to find out what was announced and he himself was royally confused.

For the layman...

1. FAS6200s are being rebranded -- these aren't new products. Just minor enhancements (memory only) resulting in 0% to 10% better performance (not sure how much of that will be lost when I need to upgrade to the next rev of ONTAP...hope someone is listening)

2. EF540 is an all Flash/SSD SKU of the E5400 -- not sure who can afford this other than wall street and the Government

3. Flashray -- vaporware at this point.

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