June 20, 2017. Technical NextGen Data Centre Author: Ruairi McBride

Setting Sail for Uncharted Waters

The 5th June might be classed as a big day in NetApp’s history.

Not only did it celebrate the company’s 25th year, a 3 quarter in a row of revenue growth, 140% year on year growth in the All Flash Array (AFA) market segment and sitting in no. 2 position on revenue of AFA vendors (IDC). 

Nor did it just celebrate its SAN market share growing 3.6x faster than its nearest competitor, over 6.4PB of NVMe shipped and it’s SIX IT Brand Pulse awards for its Scale Out File Storage- FlexGroup. 

It also started the week with a product announcement!

IT Brand Pulse Awards

The 6 IT Brand Pulse awards

And whilst there may have been cake and balloons at offices on East Java Drive and Kit Creek Road, the company will be focused on moving forward. 

NetApp steps out on Storage

The company is taking a step outside the Storage and Data Management field that it has dominated for two and a half decades, and into an area of the IT industry that has generated a lot of interest over the last couple of years that is still relatively new and unmapped - the Hyper Converged Infrastructure market.

Now some of you may be saying that NetApp is quite late to the HCI game; and secondly, what can they possibly bring? 

Now remember, NetApp was late off the blocks with an All Flash Array, but look at the opening paragraph again to see just how well that’s now going and for what they can bring to the game, then please read on.

Some of you may remember the version of EVO:rail that NetApp brought out a couple of years ago and feel they should stick to doing storage products; but the difference between that and this launch is the fact that this time NetApp has solely led the development of this product, rather than having to follow a blueprint VMware put together for a wide and varied list of hardware vendors.

First Generation HCI

First generation HCI solutions were designed with the simplicity of deploying virtualisation technologies in mind, yet with this approach and a race to market they created limitations on performance, flexibility and consolidation. 

By claiming they can remove application silos by mixed workloads, these limitations meant they ultimately failed at scale. 

These first-generation hardware offerings provided both compute and storage within the same chassis which meant that resources were tied and both requirements had to be scaled in parallel when either became low or exhausted.

NetApp approaches the HCI arena and the limitations of current offerings with the Next Generation Data Centre at the core. 

The New Solution

The 4 key aspects that make up this HCI solution are: Guaranteed Performance, Flexibility and Scale, Automated infrastructure and the NetApp Data Fabric. It provides secure, efficient future-proof freedom of choice.

Several of the benefits that people love about SolidFire is its ability to scale with ease; and growth is a key feature of this HCI infrastructure. 

With the ability to grow compute and storage independently and regardless of what your applications need, you can start small and scale online and on demand with a varying amount of configuration options to satisfy any enterprise environment.

This in turn allows you to avoid overprovisioning say compute, whereby incurring unnecessary increased licensing costs, or storage whereby having excessive amounts of flash media present that would be associated with scaling traditional first generation HCI solutions.

Out of the box, this solution utilises the NetApp Deployment Engine (NDE) to eliminate the majority of manual steps needed to correctly commission the infrastructure, combined with an intuitive vCenter plugin and also with a fully programmable interface to complement this scalable architecture to be truly a software defined HCI solution.

NetApp Box Hardware

The all important front bezel

There will be a lot of interest in this enterprise-scale hyper converged infrastructure solution over the coming weeks.

I applaud NetApp for making the move into uncharted territory and I look forward to reading more about it ahead of its launch later in the year; as this solution combined with NetApp’s Data Fabric will honestly allow you to harness the power of the hybrid cloud.


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