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What if an enterprise storage vendor launched a new array and didn't tell anyone how it would connect to the outside world? Oddly, this scenario played out earlier this month when NetApp revealed its FlashRay, an all-flash array it intends to start selling in 2014. Even Val Bercovici, who works in NetApp's office of the chief …

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Why NetApp moved from Single Architecture to the Portfolio Model

Hi Simon,

Great chat today! Let me elaborate a bit on that last point :)

Data ONTAP has served NetApp customers extremely well over the years, enabling file server consolidation, Unified NAS & SAN arrays and lately the most efficient storage foundation for Server & Desktop Virtualization environments. Entry-level, Mid-Range and High-End FAS & V-Series models running Data ONTAP continue to be fully interoperable from an upgrade / downgrade and data replication perspective. New Clustered Data ONTAP even enables any combination of those to comprise a single Cluster. Data ONTAP EDGE adds yet more virtual storage configuration options to this powerful mix. FlashCache/Pools/Accel accelerate it all.

However every once in a while tectonic shifts occur in a marketplace, opening up complimentary new segments, which necessitate new platforms optimized to the new requirements. NAND Flash media (raw or via SSD) is a perfect catalyst for such change. Additional shifts include Big Data and Extreme capacity or performance-sensitive apps, which often drive separate infrastructure decisions including dedicated storage silos. Satisfying this complimentary new market demand is best done via complimentary new products - hence the NetApp Open Storage for Hadoop, StorageGrid, EF540 and upcoming FlashRay product lines.

So the new NetApp "Portfolio" can be summarized as Clustered Data ONTAP arrays for Shared Virtual Infrastructure, EF540 (+ eventually FlashRay) for sub-millisecond I/O, then E-Series based NetApp Open Storage for Hadoop or HPC plus StorageGrid to address Big Data.

-Val.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why NetApp moved from Single Architecture to the Portfolio Model

Val--Can you elaborate the need for a EF540 when the FAS/V has all flash options available ? I can understand flashray, but the 540 is purplexing. Also is there any plan for higher density SSDs for the FAS/V portfolio?

thx

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why NetApp moved from Single Architecture to the Portfolio Model

So nothing to do with OnTap being long in the tooth and unable to keep pace with competitive offerings now?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why NetApp moved from Single Architecture to the Portfolio Model

Val,

After reading this article I truly weep for NetApp's future and I believe you will regret making the comments in this article. I truly feel that NetApp has the best story to tell in the market but there is a fundamental misunderstanding at a corporate level of what enterprise customers want to buy.

In the article you say “We don't have a Symmetrix business to protect,” Bercovici said, referring to rival EMC's top-end array. “The first reason people bought Symmetrix was performance. It was not reliability. People look for performance first with their tier one storage.”

I can't begin to tell you how wrong this is. Reliability IS the number one criteria for tier one storage. Admins get fired, managers get fired, VP's get fired, and business stops if mission critical apps are down. Slow performance can be fixed by purchasing more arrays, uptime can't. And before you bring up trading apps, I will bring up ERP, SAP, HR, Payroll, company website etc...Ask an admin to pick between slow and down...They will pick slow every time.

I really want NetApp to stick it to EMC so my advise is make FlashRay fully active multi-controller with a switched backplane so all controllers have access to all drives (or all Aggs).

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Re: Why NetApp moved from Single Architecture to the Portfolio Model

Couldn't agree more, I think there may be people confusing their terminology by amalgamating Enterprise storage with Tier One Storage. People buy Symmetrix for availability first and performance second. We've all long known that quite often and workload permitting that midrange systems can sometimes outperform Enterprise ones. What really differentiates Enterprise systems is their ability to consolidate multiple workloads onto a smaller number of platforms whilst delivering extreme availability.

What constiutes a storage tier shouldn't be the domain of any one vendor, but actually should be classified by the user based on the performance and availability characteristics that they need to deliver to meet their service level comittments.

PS If you wanted NetApp to deliver that Flash platform, they probably should've bought one of the emerging falsh vendors.......rather than deliver something that on paper at least looks like it will be behind the curve of competing offerings.

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Coffee/keyboard

FlashRay Interest Abounds! :)

Great to see all the FlashRay interest on this forum! Let me address some of the points above.

1. EF540 vs Clustered Data ONTAP FAS | V-Series | EDGE

Application expectations of performance at the Solid-State level are fundamentally different than performance expectations of disk or hybrid flash+disk storage systems. The latter went from response times of 10's of milliseconds for disk-based to single milliseconds for hybrid systems. Clustered ONTAP-based storage systems do very well in both regards.

However for the former, EF540 uses 1ms as the response time ceiling for most apps and goes on to deliver 300K consistent 4K I/O operations per sec (iops) at that level with enterprise Reliability, Availability & Serviceability (RAS). That performance level is something Data ONTAP and all competitors' disk-based arrays popular today were never designed to do. Hence the need for a different architecture at the <1ms response time level.

Also with regards to SSD capacity, WAFL's log-structured nature (esp during the consistency-point process) benefits from more SSD spindles with relatively small capacity whereas the E-Series controller's pipelined I/O architecture is the opposite and can therefore leverage larger SSD capacities. You can expect to see that relative difference continue across both product lines.

2. EMC Symmetrix Performance vs Reliability

Brevity betrayed me in my original comment. I fully appreciate today that EMC customers don't have to choose between these two. Despite lack of flexibility, today's VMAX & yesterday's DMX are highly mature and reliable Tier1 storage platforms which deliver good performance when configured for the task. Also with excellent RAS.

My comments were made in a historical context. In the early 1990's EMC's ICDA (Integrated Cache Disk Array) architecture used performance to disrupt the IBM DASD market - NOT reliability. EMC encouraged IBM customers to make the move based on PRICE/PERFORMANCE, full period. Stop :)

As customers trusted more and more of their mission critical data to EMC during the back half of the 90's, reliability capabilities and supportability features were gradually added to make it the platform people appreciate today.

So when it comes to FlashRay, NetApp recognizes that solid-state media offers us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leverage a tectonic industry disruption in Tier 1 storage. Early adopters will move to us for the superior Price / Performance NetApp FlashRay will deliver. Especially relative to all other entrenched or start-up vendors who will all lack our rich feature set (N+1 scale-out, QoS/multi-tenancy, variable-block inline dedupe, compression, snaps, clones and of course powerful data replication).

Late adopters will move once we have proven our reliability over time in FlashRay 1.x & 2.x releases.

I hope this helps answer most of the questions above.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: FlashRay Interest Abounds! :)

OP #2 here. Thanks Val, but my original question didn't get answered. Can ONTAP do all SSD deployments? For current users like me, can I buy say a FAS6250 with all SSD shelves and get my sub-millisecond latencies? If not, why not. Also are there larger capacity SSDs planned with the ONTAP array with lower $/GBs?

> Also with regards to SSD capacity, WAFL's log-structured nature (esp during the consistency-point process) benefits from more SSD spindles with relatively small capacity whereas the E-Series controller's pipelined I/O architecture is the opposite and can therefore leverage larger SSD capacities. You can expect to see that relative difference continue across both product lines.

You probably are right since you work at Netapp, but I thought SSDs are fast enough to handle data being dumped to disk during the consistency point process by WAFL. Is the issue with lining up with the erasure blocks on the SSD to avoid write amplification? My sales team spend a lot of time of this when they were talking up flash pool. I wouldn't mind a public statement from the company.

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Re: FlashRay Interest Abounds! :)

You're right, for almost all vendors there has been a tectonic shift in the market and they are having to rethink as their architectures are 15-20 years old! However 3PAR is designed to and will deliver 300k+ IOPS at sub millisecond latency, with all the standard 3PAR Tier 1 functionality, so no need to start with a clean sheet of paper for HP! HP offers a single product line that can be flash, hybrid or disk without modification.

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All-SSD Systems

Hi Op #2,

I woud always defer to your sales team regarding specific configuration recommendations. However, all-SDD FAS systems are supported and available with the appropriate disk shelf. Your SE would know whether they are recommended for a given workload vs the new EF540. Larger SSD's for FAS are coming soon as well, although I don't want to pre-empt any upcoming releases with specific pre-announcements here.

-Val.

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Anonymous Coward

It stands for ...

Never

Ever

Talk

About

Performance

Plateaus

Just sayin' ...

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