NetApp releases flurry of hardware, OS upgrades

Fabric-Attached Storage line can increase up to 2.9 petabytes of capacity

NetApp today announced hardware upgrades to its midrange and high-end line of Fabric-Attached Storage (FAS) arrays as well as to its Data ONTAP 8 operating system, which it launched a little more than a year go .

"This is a move from an application-based or siloed-based storage infrastructure to a shared infrastructure," said Manish Goel, executive vice president of product operations at NetApp.

NetApp's added what it is calling Unified Connect to its Data ONTAP 8 operating system, which offers administrators the ability to concurrently run a variety of Ethernet-based connections to its storage arrays, including Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), iSCSI, Network File System or Common Internet File System.

NetApp Unified Connect, which includes a new unified network adapter card in the storage arrays, offers support for any 10Gbit/sec Ethernet switches , including Cisco Nexus 5000 series, the Brocade 8000, and the Brocade DCX director using the 24 port FCoE blade.

"Because of server virtualization , multiple applications are being shared on the same physical server infrastructure," Goel said. "As a result, that enabled all of those applications to share the same storage infrastructure without requiring storage to act as a dedicated silo."

Robert Ross, a senior vice president of network and technical services at Data Center Inc., said he uses NetApp's entire line of NAS arrays in his company's various data centers throughout the U.S., and he has more than 200TB of data on the boxes.

"By unifying all all these protocols the ONTAP operating system can use, we can move to a common fabric that's using Cisco's high-powered switch technology," said Ross, whose company is an applications service provider for the banking industry. "It really cleans up the data center environment."

He said that by using copper wire instead of fiber on his network will equate to a significant savings in not having to purchase Fibre Channel switches and host bus adapters for server in the future.

Data ONTAP 8 now also offers native data compression on the array instead of through a switch or appliance in the storage network, as was needed in the past. By moving the compression algorithm to the array, a network bottleneck is alleviated, Goel said.

NetApp storage arrays already offer data deduplication. The compression can be used in conjunction with the existing data deduplication functionality to offer greater storage efficiency.

The company also announced what it's calling DataMotion for Volumes, a new software tool that allows users to move large volumes of data without disrupting their business operations.

An internal disk virtualization feature allows data volumes to be moved from one NetApp array to another without having to pause the application. Once the volume is moved, the application server is automatically remapped to the new array.

Underneath the new data migration technology, an application called MultiStore creates multiple virtual controllers within a single storage system or simply a layer of abstraction between the application server and the underlying storage.

NetApp also announced three new models of its high-end FAS/V6200 Series arrays -- the FAS6280, FAS6240 and FAS6210; and three new models to its midrange FAS 3200 series -- the FAS3270, FAS3240 and FAS3210. All six offer NAND flash-based cache and range in size from 240 drives with 480TB of capacity to 1,440 drives with 2.9 petabytes of capacity.

Previously, NetApp's largest midrange array, the FAS3170, scaled up to 160TB and its high-end FAS6080 scaled to 1.68 petabytes.

All six arrays can be managed with NetApp's newly upgraded OnCommand Management Software. OnCommand has been repackaged to include several modules that were available separately from NetApp, such as management, storage analization and automation.

The new software is also integrated with management APIs from VMware's vCenter, Microsoft 's Systems Center, BMC's management software, and Citrix Management Console to provide administrators with a single interface, according to Bharat Badrinath, director of NAS Solutions at NetApp.

"We're working on CA, IBM, HP and Fujutsu on integrating their management APIs as well," Badrinath said.

The new FAS-series arrays also use Intel's multicore Nehalem processors versus the AMD Athlon, single-core processors found in previous FAS models.

NetApp also announced a preconfigured, precertified storage network for user groups of 1,000 to 2,000 people, called FlexPod. FlexPod comes with a NetApp FAS3210 midrange array, Cicso's Unified Computing System (UCS) blade server and a Nexus switch and VMware's vSphere cloud platform and vCenter management console.

The company has now also offering its first 2.5-in serial-attached SCSI (SAS) disk drive shelf - the DS2246 -- for its FAS arrays. The DS2246 uses the same basis architecture as the company's existing 3.5-in disk tray, the DS4243, which houses serial ATA (SATA) or SAS drives.

NetApp said the DS4243 the DS3243 can now also accommodate 3.5-in. solid state drives (SSD) for higher performance workloads, such as relational databases. The new disk trays can be used in any of the FAS-series of arrays, Badrinath said.

"That's the beauty of the NetApp architecture. It's not like when you're moving from one array to another you have to move to a whole new operating system and a new set of features," he said. "The main difference between our arrays is number of disks, the processing power and I/O."

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 .

Read more about storage hardware in Computerworld's Storage Hardware Topic Center.


Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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