The Need for Speed: The New NetApp EF540 Flash Array.

As NetApp launch the EF540 Flash Array I thought I would focus this Blog Post on what it is, and what the future looks like. First a little background, the EF540 is based on the NetApp E-Series platform, and I have to declare an interest here. I led the first ever UK OEM launch of the LSI (as it was then ) storage in the UK back in 2000. Grew to love the products, and the Storage Management software SANtricity, so be warned –  I am a fan !


When NetApp acquired the Engenio Storage Group (ESG) from LSI back in 2011 I had a wry smile - this was a smart move. And so here I am several years on, and several generations of the E-Series platform further on. And therein lies its strength. The E-Series has over 20 Years of research & development behind it, and is field proven with over 500,000 systems shipped. The EF540 builds on this heritage and complements the NetApp Enterprise Flash portfolio. Since 2009 NetApp have delivered flexible Hybrid Storage Arrays based on Flash Aggregates, Flash Pools, Flash Cache, Server / Host Flash and Flash Accel delivering coherency, persistence and durability management across the Flash tiers. Indeed NetApp have shipped over 35PB of Flash storage solutions in Persistent and Cached storage environments and it’s ramping like crazy.


The EF540 comes in 2 capacities a 9.6TB and 19.2TB. It truly is a class act with full redundancy throughout. Dual Active/Active controllers with automated failover,  and a host of connectivity options from Fibre Channel, iSCSI, InfiniBand and SAS.


I mentioned SANtricity earlier, SANtricity is the Storage Manager and has some really neat features which complement Flash Technologies such as proactive monitoring and reporting of Flash wear levels.  Indeed its Online configuration, expansion and maintenance are so easy to use. I particularly liked the ability to change RAID protection levels, volume and volume groups size on the fly without impacting applications. Additionally, the EF540 can be configured with a number of premium data protection and management features  you would expect to see in Enterprise Class Flash Arrays, such as SnapShot technology, Volume Copy and important data protection capabilities from Synchronous and Asynchronous replication.


But so what ! Why would you give this consideration? TheStorage Market is changing rapidly, in fact Flash Technology will be a game changer for the industry – no doubt. The reason are the challenges organisations face around topics such as Time to Information, Time to Market, improving customer Service Levels, and keeping ahead of the competition. Flash technology is not a one size fits all solution as there remains a significant, but closing, cost delta between Flash and traditional hard disk based systems, but for those specific workloads that need extreme speed, then Flash Arrays can be the solution.


The workloads that benefit are typically structured data workloads, so applications such as Oracle, SAP/Sybase, MS SQL, Lustre and HPFS are ideal candidates. Indeed in real world lab tests the EF540 delivers over 300,000 IOPS at less than 1 millisecond latency and less intensive workloads are even faster. In some cases the EF540 has been shown to run database applications 500% faster - perfect for dedicated workloads that need extreme performance. Lastly, If you are in the process of building your Flash Strategy,  then Caveat Emptor applies. Last week I checked on the number of vendors in the Flash Storage space and counted 56. Many of which are VC funded start-ups with little worldwide service reach and young immature products. Will many of them be around in a year? – who knows.  Something to think about !


And the story doesn’t end here, you may have heard on launch day about a product NetApp are developing called FlashRay. I’ll cover this in the next Blog, but think ground up architected Shared, Scale out Flash Array – The Game Changer!


For even more info:


John Rollason on twitter:

John's Latest Flash & NetApp Blog:

My Previous Blog:

Hashtag: #NetAppFlash #Flash #NetApp #ESeries