back to article Life in the FAS lane: We reveal NetApp's four new flash-disk arrays

NetApp is replacing the top and bottom of its FAS array range with new boxes – and getting rid the separate FAS3000 class mid-range product. When the FAS8000 series was launched in February, this was the FAS array family photo: FAS Range with FAS8000 The models are roughly positioned in a 2-dimensional space; the vertical …

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  1. unredeemed

    NetApp's idea of a "None of these have a full unified architecture according to NetApp." Is a joke. Nothing more than marketing spin.

    Yes OnTap is a unified OS. However, if another unified device provides file and block, even if there are two OS's, but use a central management console, who cares? Does it meet the business requirements? Is it reliable?

    1. Nick Triantos

      The differences between Unified Storage and Unified Architectures (netapp) are not solely addressed by a management console. There are distinct processes that take place. Different processes to upgrade, to install, to maintain, to snap, to replicate, to provision, to recover etc. Certainly having a single console is helpful but it does not eliminate the inherent operational overheads with these types of architectures.

      Disclosure: NetApp employee

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        There are indeed, but NetApp just takes their NAS OS and emulates block underneath it. OnTap is not optimized for block. Block was added after the fact underneath WAFL. Essentially what NetApp is saying is, "if you run everything through NAS first, you'll have a unified OS."

        1. Paul Hargreaves

          LUNs in ONTAP are first class citizens, no NAS emulated LUNs or anything like that. You talk natively to the array using LUN semantics and it reads/writes data to disk.

          WAFL was originally developed for NFS, so when we added CIFS as a first class protocol you would say that it has an emulated CIFS layer on top of NFS? We don't translate CIFS connections into NFS, and we don't translate LUN calls into NFS/CIFS. We do take all of those protocols and use WAFL to efficiently write them to disk (via RAID, another abstraction layer).

          Now, why would it matter anyway? I'm not sure I understand your point. Other vendors may indeed use emulation. If it works, has performance (e.g. good SPC-1 results), and generally acts like a LUN, I wouldn't care if they emulated & virtualised (Virtual SAN type LUNs?), or had craftsman hand-carving each bit lovingly into the disk. Why would a customer care? Price, performance, features, stability of company, partnerships, vision. Those are likely much more important.

        2. Nick Triantos

          Virtualized files, smirtualized files, I don't see you complain about VMDKs and VHDs. These are virtualized disk files as well. You may have not noticed but the industry's transitioning to leveraging file systems under the covers and I don't know if you've noticed but even those competitors that threw rocks at WAFL quietly deployed a file system. Virtualization is a GOOD thing because it enables new features, more flexibility and data mobility, and yes LUNs in ONTAP are virtualized but not in the sense of what a file is or means. LUNs have completely different attributes than files and follow completely separate code paths. LUNs have streams. Some streams contain data, some metadata. LUNs also have a VTOC which is volume table of contents. no vtoc no lun.

          As far performance goes, we've been consistently publishing SPC1 benchmark numbers over the years for what is a very demanding workload.

          1. Wunderbar1

            Virtualization can be a good thing, if you are after functionality. If you are after raw performance (primary reason why people run block and FC), it is not a good thing. NetApp does block on file, write out architecture, software RAID, etc... all for good reasons I'm sure, but raw performance was not one of those reasons. It's a trade off. NetApp must be aware of the OnTap overhead, otherwise why go with Engenio's OS for the EF series?

            1. bitpushr

              Two things:

              1) NetApp does not do "block on file". Blocks in LUNs map to 4KB blocks *of disk* in WAFL.

              2) All SAN is virtualized. Without virtualization, the only option for FC-attached storage would be JBOD, where the value of "bunch" equals 1.

              My first computer had, I think, a 20MB HDD. Files in MS-DOS were mapped to blocks on disk via CHS, the cylinder-head-sector addressing scheme. But eventually drives got too big for CHS, and we switched to LBA -- the logical block addressing scheme.

              Which is a form of virtualization.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But my applications require block storage. Why do I care?

        1. Paul Hargreaves

          I think I understand your point. If you want just one specific capability or feature then the rest do not matter. I agree.

          Some customers buy devices for 4-5 years and have an expectation that parts of their business or technical requirements may change in the future - e.g. the application gets upgraded and now recommends different ways of deploying (Hyper-V/SQL over SMB3 as a recent example), or it turns out that some new way to deploy something unlocks capacity that can be used elsewhere, etc.

          If change is a remote possibility then having a flexible storage architecture that can adapt and still continue to work the same way will likely save substantial money/effort/pain.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unified architecture...

    If I recall correctly, what netapp's referring to is what protocols the filer head supports. Their definition of "full unified architechture" consists of FC, iSCSI, NFS, and CIFS protocols. the filers they are comparing to are block storage only, like their E Series (FC/iSCSI only) and Nimble's CS 200 series. (iSCSI only).

    We had our local netapp rep in earlier this week and learned this, and a bit more, which is sadly under an NDA, hence the anon. :)

    1. Paul Hargreaves

      Re: Unified architecture...

      As well as the protocols is the ability to have the same feature set across them regardless of size of platform. Want to take a snapshot? Mirror the data? Clone something? Enable space efficiency for a set of LUNs or Files? All work exactly the same. Want to use the smallest machine with a few drives? Or the largest with multiple PB? That is the power of a true Unified architecture.

  3. DavidWallis

    What's fish based storage on the 8080? is it 'scale'..able?

    1. Ant Evans

      OK

      Now you're just taking the pisces.

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