In-Depth

An Overview of NetApp's New Products

They demonstrate the storage vendor's move to becoming more data-centric and cloud-focused.

Whereas the opening keynote at NetApp's Insight conference was about vision, the second-day general session was all about NetApp products. NetApp unveiled a raft of new products, and I'll run down some of them and share my thoughts.

StorageGRID. StorageGRID seems to be getting some long overdue attention from NetApp. For those that have forgotten, StorageGRID is NetApp's distributed object storage system. NetApp announced that the latest release of StorageGRID will be StorageGRID Webscale 11.0. It uses a AWS compatible API, has the ability to create S3 buckets for AWS and can mirror on-premises data with Amazon S3 storage using StorageGRID Webscale CloudMirror Technology.

NetApp HCI. NetApp is jumping into the hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) game by coupling SolidFire storage with vSphere. NetApp's HCI system will be delivered in 2U rack-mount systems. Each 2U system is comprised of 4 1U half-width nodes. It will be a mix and match configuration where you can choose between small, medium or large compute and storage nodes. This scheme allows storage and compute to scale independently; NetApp says that this is a differentiator that makes this the next generation of HCI. The installation wizard was demoed, and configured a 4-node system in under 45 minutes. The product is scheduled to be available at the end of October.

Azure Enterprise NFS Service. Azure's latest offering is an NFS Service powered by NetApp. This service enables provisioning, automating and scaling NFS V3 and V4 services using RESTful APIs. It also integrates with other Azure services such as analytics, SQL Server and SAP Hana for Azure.

ONTAP 9.3. The improvements to ONTAP include performance enhancements, improvements to its quality of service (QoS) feature, better data efficiencies (through improved deduplication), and enhancements to its security and compliance features. NetApp also demonstrated a future, post-9.3 vision for adding NVMe-oF (NVMe over fabric) as a new primary protocol into ONTAP. This is more of the same evolutionary change that has allowed NetApp to keep its customers happy for decades.

Elio. I welcome anything that can ease the pain of, and speed up, the customer support process. NetApp is attempting to do this with “Elio,” a support portal that uses machine learning to scour the years of knowledge NetApp has collected, with the ultimate aim of helping solve customer problems. A NetApp representative told me that their initial test showed that Elio can solve many customer issues in a quarter of the time. Elio is now live and available to NetApp Customers.

Active IQ. Whereas Elio provides reactive problem solving, Active IQ takes proactive steps to prevent problems from occurring in the first place. It uses  automated analytics analysis to provide customized recommendations to increase system uptime. It predicts and detects performance problems, and makes configuration recommendations to help companies optimize their data infrastructure, including data stored in Amazon and Azure. It features Risk Advisor, Storage Efficiency Advisor and Interoperability Advisor. They can provide insights and predictive analytics for all NetApp products, and offer visibility into the health of a customer's data fabric, both on-premises and in the cloud.

SolidFire Element OS 10. The big news from SolidFire is that the latest incarnation of its operating system, Element OS 10, supports data movement from Element OS systems to ONTAP systems across the data fabric. SolidFire now also supports user-defined quality-of-service (QoS) policies. Elements OS 10 should ship by the end of October.

NetApp EF570 all-flash system. Although announced earlier this year, the EF570 was on display at the conference. The EF570 is a 4th generation all-flash array that uses 100Gb NVMe over InfiniBand. It was designed for big data analytics, technical computing and other performance-intensive workloads. It can deliver up to 21GBps of bandwidth, 1M sustained IOPS and sub-100 microsecond latency. The system supports 367TB of raw flash capacity in a modular 2U building block that can scale up to 1.8PB. The EF570 starts at $25,000 with 12 800GB SSDs and should be available shortly.

The major themes that I took away from of the show:

  • NetApp is going to introduce disruptive technology in a non-disruptive manner.
  • It's transitioning from storage only into a data company
  • We're entering the age of the app-driven datacenter. NetApp seems to be making all the right moves to accomplish these themes.

NetApp is positioning its existing products, as far as it's practical, to work in the cloud as well as on-premises. It's leveraging and combining its existing technology to enter new fields, and is serious about being relevant player in tomorrow's enterprises.

About the Author

Tom Fenton works in VMware's Education department as a Senior Course Developer. He has a wealth of hands-on IT experience gained over the past 20 years in a variety of technologies, with the past 10 years focused on virtualization and storage. Before re-joining VMware, Tom was a Senior Validation Engineer with The Taneja Group, were he headed their Validation Service Lab and was instrumental in starting up its vSphere Virtual Volumes practice. He's on Twitter @vDoppler.

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