NetApp Unleashes FAS8000 Unified Scale-Out Storage System

NetApp Wednesday unveiled the FAS8000 appliance, a new scale-out storage system with a storage virtualization option that, together, will simplify the company's product line by replacing three other product families.

The new FAS8000 is the industry's first enterprise storage system to combine SAN and NAS capabilities with the ability to virtualize the storage found in third-party storage arrays, said Mark Welke, senior director of product marketing at NetApp, Sunnyvale, Calif.

The FAS8000 combines NetApp's scale-out enterprise storage with data center best practices based on NetApp's new Clustered Data ONTAP architecture, Welke said.

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With the introduction of the FAS8000 family, which is coming to market with three models, NetApp is also on the way to ending production of the FAS6000 enterprise and FAS3000 midrange line of unified SAN/NAS appliances, Welke said. The FAS2000 will remain NetApp's entry-level storage solution offering.

The FAS8000 family offers twice the performance of the outgoing lines due to the adoption of Intel Sandy Bridge processors combined with the ability to address more memory and more processor cores, Welke said.

"All these allow us to also expand flash storage capacity," he said. "You'll be able to add up to three times the amount of flash as before."

The FAS8000 also includes new converged adapters in NetApp's Unified Target Adapter family featuring both 10-Gbit Ethernet and 16-Gbit Fibre Channel in the same adapter, Welke said. "We're the first to offer this combination," he said.

The FAS8000 is a good consolidation move for NetApp, said John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems (IAS), a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and longtime NetApp partner.

"If you look at it from a Clustered Data ONTAP perspective, you can build a storage infrastructure from standard data blocks," Woodall said. "NetApp has always been about providing customers with a single platform that can be managed with a single skill set. Now they're going even further. A customer can now use Fibre Channel over Ethernet with Cisco UCS servers, or Fibre Channel to work with Cisco or Brocade storage fabrics."

The FAS8000 appliances will be supported by Cisco, which partners with NetApp in developing FlexPod reference architectures.

NetApp also unveiled its FlexArray virtualization software, which has the capabilities of NetApp's V-series virtualization appliances.

NEXT: FlexArray Software Adds Storage Virtualization To FAS8000

The FlexArray software, a software-defined storage implementation of the V-series hardware, runs on the FAS8000 appliance and works with NetApp's Clustered Data ONTAP storage operating system which, when connected to NetApp and third-party storage hardware, turns storage into virtualized pools of capacity, Welke said.

As a result, NetApp also will retire its V-series appliances, he said.

Bringing the V-series into the FAS storage family is something IAS' Woodall said he has been asking NetApp to do for years.

"Before, if you deployed V-series, you had a different SKU," he said. "Now it's just a license key to enable the functionality. So it's easier for customers."

The new FAS8000 with the FlexArray virtualization software gives customers and solution providers a chance to take advantage of leading-edge storage technology, said Keith Norbie, director of server, virtualization and storage for the Eastern U.S. for Technology Integration Group (TIG), a San Diego-based solution provider and NetApp partner.

"This is a much-needed refresh as workloads change, especially as customers move more and more toward a pervasive cloud architecture," Norbie said. "Customers are also moving from hardware-defined data centers to software-defined data centers. Customers will need the new horsepower to take them forward."

Norbie said that, while NetApp's V-series storage virtualization appliances were important in giving NetApp a leadership position in mixed storage environments, he is mixed about the potential impact of replacing them with the FlexArray software tied to the FAS8000.

"It's good and bad," he said. "It's good to federate various platforms," he said. "But we're now getting into hardware-dependent software instead."

Woodall said for many customers, the V-series would typically have been deployed where customers already had a FAS storage system in place anyway.

"Say I have a FAS3250 and an EMC VNX," he said. "Before, if I wanted to virtualize them both behind NetApp, I'd need the V3250 and the FAS3250. Now I can use a FAS8000 with a FlexArray license key. There's no need to buy another set of controllers. Plus I can use Clustered Data ONTAP to scale out the storage if needed."

Also new from NetApp is Clustered Data ONTAP 8.2.1, which now allows storage hardware, software, disks and even expansion disk shelves to be replaced without disrupting customers' applications, Welke said.

"Customers can now migrate data off their shelves transparently, and replace the shelf without disrupting operations," he said. "This simplifies and automates the delivery of IT services. Clustered Data ONTAP now also can analyze a system's requirements for flash storage, both in terms of flash pools and flash cache, and automate the setup of flash."