FlexArray & more flexible storage decisions

I don’t get every decision right. Nobody does. The beard I grew at University would be a good example of many I have got very wrong. Thankfully in the days before camera phones & Facebook. In IT, the traditional decision making process usually starts with a business problem, an Application is chosen to best solve that problem, then a software and hardware stack is chosen to run that application. Lots of big, expensive decisions. After the project is in production changing the hardware you chose becomes near impossible. Or somebody else’s problem when you’re in a new job 3 years later. Especially with Storage systems, when you potentially have lots of very valuable data to migrate. And different types of SAN’s (Storage Area Networks) have never been very compatible with each other. Very reliable. Not very efficient. Not very flexible. Hard to change.


Start by asking the right question

Over the last year or so, when I meet NetApp customers for the first time I have started asking a simple question about their decision to use our products - “What is the most important thing you buy from NetApp?” Most answer a FAS2000, FAS3000 or 6000. Or some combination of these and the other storage systems we sell. And I like to point out they are wrong (politely of course, I’m British). They are in fact buying into our Data ONTAP software platform, integrated within a FAS hardware appliance. May seem a subtle difference, but ONTAP also can run in the Cloud as a VSA (Virtual Storage Appliance) or on non-NetApp ‘white box’ hardware as ONTAP Edge or to virtualise other storage arrays. Traditional SAN’s don’t let you do this. They do what they do well, but not much else. Great if you find you made the right decision. Not easy if you didn’t or requirements have changed. In other words, the data management software decision you make is way more important than the hardware you choose to run it on. Some call this a Software-defined approach. Getting this decision right means you should have a far more flexible infrastructure. You might even find it more reliable as I wrote about here.


The News: A much more Flexible storage approach.

Today we are launching FlexArray storage virtualisation software. A new capability in our Data ONTAP OS and available on the shiny new FAS8000 series – also available from today (with 2x faster performance & 3x more Flash!). It means you can fully virtualise traditional SAN’s and add a layer of Data ONTAP intelligence to EMC and HDS arrays, directly from the FAS8000 system. Once virtualised with ONTAP, you’ll find your storage infrastructure becomes way more flexible – Unified SAN/NAS workloads, scale-out for greater performance and scale, unified management, multi-vendor back-up/recovery, much faster data protection with Snapshot copies, thin-provisioning, cloning, deduplication, compression, integrated Flash acceleration, virtual storage tiering, pro-active automated support, access to integrations across the vast NetApp partner ecosystem. And perhaps the two most important things you’ll gain – 1) typically 35% storage space efficiency savings, meaning you need to buy 35% less SAN today, and 2) the potential to connect into more than 300 private, public and hybrid Cloud services based on Data ONTAP.


In summary, FlexArray gives you 35% efficiency savings to justify your decision today. And the flexibility of direct access to a world of new Cloud possibilities if you find your traditional SAN is not the right decision for you tomorrow.