NetApp Intros All-Flash Storage Option For VDI On FlexPod

NetApp this week said its FlexPod reference architecture now includes its new FAS8000 all-flash storage arrays and that a solution featuring those arrays has been validated for use with the VMware View virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) platform.

NetApp also used this week's VMworld conference to update its storage software offerings for VMware solutions, said Adam Fore, director of virtualization marketing solutions for the storage vendor.

Prior to this, it was possible to add flash to the FlexPod, Fore told CRN.

[Related: Cisco, NetApp Make It Clear: No VMware NSX For FlexPod]

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"But never before could you go all-flash storage," he said. "So now we've validated our all-flash FlexPod with VMware View and will publish the reference architecture in the next 30 days."

FlexPod in general is validated for all major enterprise workloads including Oracle, SAP, Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View, Fore said. For VMware View, FlexPod with the all-flash FAS8000 is size-validated for 2,000-seat VDI environments, he said.

NetApp also offers hybrid flash and spinning disk arrays for FlexPod implementations, Fore said.

"If the customer has very high IOs per second requirements, our sizing tools will guide you to all-flash configurations," he said. "If the IOPS requirements are not so high, a hybrid environment may be better. NetApp provides a sizing tool to help find the right technology. For VDI, we worked with a third-party software developer to find the right configuration."

It was important for NetApp to get a virtual desktop infrastructure validation ready for the latest FlexPod configurations as soon as possible, said Chris Pyle, president of Champion Solutions Group, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based solution provider and NetApp channel partner.

"We always knew storage was a key component for VDI," Pyle told CRN. "A recommended architecture around VMware View is smart."

Pyle said that all-flash storage is already being used to replace multiple racks of disk-based arrays as customers better understand the value of their data and the need to access it quickly.

"An all-flash FlexPod could be the best way to handle high-value business data," he said. "It could help customers be more competitive."

The industry is rapidly moving to adopt all-flash storage, especially for companies with both big performance and compliance requirements, said Mike Davis, vice president of technology at Broadleaf Services, a Billerica, Mass.-based solution provider and NetApp channel partner.

NEXT: NetApp And Software-Defined Storage

"A lot of those companies are also looking at VDI," Davis told CRN. "This will take a lot of VDI implementations off the sidelines and into production. This clears another hurdle for the technology."

Storage solutions for virtual desktop or any workload can take up to six months to deploy, Davis said.

"With validated reference architectures like FlexPod, it drastically reduces that time," he said. "So now customers don't have to choose between performance and time-to-market."

NetApp also used VMworld to talk about its software-defined storage strategy, which includes taking advantage of its Clustered Data ONTAP storage operating system and taking advantage of new technologies such as VMware's upcoming Virtual Volumes (VVol) technology.

NetApp sees Clustered Data ONTAP as a fundamental technology for software-defined storage, Fore said.

"Clustered ONTAP is really a clustered software-defined storage application," he said. "It can be run as a gateway for third-party storage. It can also run on commodity hardware. And it can run in a cloud, including our partnership with Verizon."

Fore said NetApp was part of the design team for VMware's VVols, which convert SAN and NAS storage into virtual machine-centric devices to automate application-centric and policy-based storage services, and openly participated in the VVol beta test program.

"With VVols, you can create policies in VMware that take advantage of NetApp storage environments," he said. "Customers can share all their NetApp storage policies through the VASA (VMware vSphere API for Storage Awareness) plug-in. Then, via VASA, VVols do the automation."