NetApp Intros Flash Pool, Virtual Storage Appliances With New Storage OS

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NetApp on Wednesday unveiled a new flexible technology for tying Flash storage to spinning disk, a way to scale storage to up to 20 petabytes and beyond in a single volume, and a virtual storage appliance based on its entry-level storage system.

The new technologies, unveiled as part of NetApp's new Data Ontap 8.1.1 storage operating system, represent a significant advance over the previous version, especially in the addition of clustered storage technology from its 2003 acquisition of clustered scalable NAS developer Spinnaker, said Jay Kidd, senior vice president of Product Strategy and Development for the company's Storage Solutions Group.

"In the past, we brought Ethernet storage ... to the mainstream," Kidd said. "Now we're doing the same with clustering. We're bringing it from the crazy world of high-performance computing to the world of commercial storage."

[Related: Scale-Out Storage Provides Performance Edge As Capacity Increases]

NetApp's Data Ontap 8.1.1 has three primary new features which NetApp and its solution provider partners said are important differentiators for the company in the storage market.

The first is Flash Pool, a new way to tie Flash-based SSD storage to spinning disk in such a way that data moves automatically and in real time between them depending on how quickly it is needed.

The second is Infinite Volumes, a way to treat up to 20 petabytes of data as a single volume in order to ease management of large data stores instead of dealing with that data in multiple smaller volumes.

The third primary new feature of Data Ontap 8.1.1 is Data Ontap Edge, a virtualized version of the FAS2220 entry-level storage appliance NetApp unveiled early this month.

Flash Pool makes it possible for SSDs to be used as read and write cache devices for high-capacity SATA hard drives in NetApp storage systems, Kidd said.

"If you add 1 [percent] to 2 percent of SATA hard drive capacity as SSDs, you get the same performance as an equivalent number of SAS hard drives," he said. "So you end up with a lot more capacity with the SATA disks, and performance where and when needed."

Kidd said that Flash Pool will work with any NetApp storage system that supports Data Ontap 8.1.1, including all currently shipping models.

NEXT: Taking Advantage Of Flash Pool

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