NetApp touts Fusion-io partnership, server flash management

NetApp claims servers run 90% faster with its flash cache

NetApp is now selling software that uses NAND flash in its arrays to increase the performance of servers, the company has announced. It also unveiled a deal with Fusion-io to use that company's PCIe flash cards for arrays running its ONTAP operating system.

NetApp currently offers both PCIe based flash cards and solid state drives (SSDs) in its Fabric Attached Storage (FAS) arrays. Application data is migrated between hard drives and flash or SSDs by NetApp's Virtual Storage Tier (VST) offering.

NetApp said it has now introduced Flash Accel software to its VST product family, allowing users of its Data ONTAP OS to manage flash in arrays and SSDs in both physical and virtualized servers.

"Flash Accel is a piece of software that turns any server PCI-e or SSD drive into a cache for the backend ONTAP system," Paul Feresten, a senior product marketing manager at NetApp," said in an email reply to Computerworld

"NetApp actually does not make its own server flash or SSD device, we merely leverage the plethora of server flash available and add software (thus turning it into server cache) to accelerate backend ONTAP system," he added.

Through its Data ONTAP OS and other VST devices and software, such as NetApp Flash Cache PCIe cards and NetApp Flash Pool virtualization software, NetApp users can now manage server-level, controller-level and disk-level Flash memory and back-end hard-disk storage use within a single data management infrastructure.

As with other vendors offerings, NetApp's Flash Accel can use the high performance of NAND flash to boost application performance. NetApp claims applications running on its flash can cut server latency by 90%.

"NetApp testing shows that by storing up to 2TB of hot data in server flash memory, application and server latency can be reduced by up to 90% and IOPS are increased by 80%," the company said. "And, by off-loading 'hot' IOPS at the server, Flash Accel helps reduce demand on back-end FAS storage."

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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