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NetApp Ties MAX Data To Intel Optane SD, Makes Server Memory Part Of Cloud Infrastructure

NetApp says its MAX Data software for turning in-server memory into a high-performance, low-latency storage tier, is the first storage technology to work directly with Intel's Optane SD flash storage technology.

NetApp on Tuesday became one of the first vendors to support the new Intel Optane DC persistent memory module via its MAX Data software to provide servers with low-latency, high-performance flash storage, making servers a part of the NetApp Data Fabric.

MAX Data, or NetApp Memory Accelerated Data, was first introduced last July, and was based on technology NetApp got with its 2017 acquisition of PlexiStor. It is aimed at helping channel partners provide low-latency acceleration services for persistent memory while still providing enterprise-class data management.

Optane technology stems from the joint development of the 3D XPoint memory technology by Intel and then-partner Micron Technology. 3D XPoint memory is a non-volatile memory that fits between higher-performance but expensive DRAM memory and the lower-cost ubiquitous NAND technologies common in SSDs and all-flash storage systems.

[Related: 22 Flash Storage Products Heating Up The Data Center Market]

MAX Data has been in early shipping mode, but NetApp has been waiting for Intel to unveil the general available of Optane, said Joel Reich, executive vice president of storage systems and software for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based vendor.

MAX Data is the first enterprise storage solution using Intel Optane DC persistent memory in servers to store persistent data with memory-like low latency and flash-like capacity, Reich told CRN. It works with current applications without the need to rewrite the code, he said.

NetApp, with MAX Data, is the first company to bring the capability to work with Optane to market, Reich said. "I expect most big server vendors to ship Optane in the first half of calendar year 2019," he said.

With Max Data, NetApp is deploying a host-based file system that allows Optane to become another automated storage tier with the company's Ontap storage operating system, Reich said.

"It becomes a super-fast storage tier," he said. "Optane works at server memory speed. With the integration we did between Optane and MAX Data, there's no need to change the applications. Any NoSQL database, Oracle data base, and so on, just light up the Optane and get a screaming fast storage tier. People are talking milliseconds latency. We are now talking less than milliseconds."

Optane SD modules are now available with a capacity of 12 TBs, Reich said. "You can fit an awful lot of data in that," he said. "And with MAX Data, you get all the NetApp management technology like snapshots and replication. All the NetApp flash services work with Optane."

NetApp is convinced that all on-premises applications will eventually live in flash storage, Reich said.

"We are providing coordinated tiering across different types of flash including with Ontap," he said. "And it works with Fabric pools that extend tiering to the cloud, so that customers can move data to the cloud automatically. We're moving storage-class memory to become part of our Data Fabric."

MAX Data is an amazing product, said John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and long-time NetApp channel partner.

There are already a lot of server-side caching products in the market, Woodall told CRN.

"But MAX Data doesn't need the applications to be rewritten," he said. "MAX Data is specifically written for Optane and other in-server memory systems, and goes together very well with Intel Cascade Lake processors."

MAX Data with Optane SD lets partners create very a high-performance, extremely low-latency storage tier in memory with full protection of the data, Woodall said. "Clients can snapshot copies of data from the host to a persistent storage device like NetApp's All Flash FAS arrays," he said.

The combination is expected to lead to a huge leap in performance, leading to such use cases as low-latency and high-throughput databases, artificial intelligence, NoSQL, real-time analytics, and fraud detection, Woodall said.

NetApp is continuing to expand its Data Fabric technology which allows data to move seamlessly between on-premises and cloud infrastructures, Woodall said.

"With Data Fabric, NetApp is everywhere," he said. "With MAX Data, NetApp is reaching into the server. It's a compelling story."

MAX Data will be primarily sold via channel partners, Reich said.

"There's no extra partner training needed," he said. "It's very straight-forward. If a partner knows how sell flash, they understand how to use server-class memory. It's like training to use a light switch."

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