NetApp adds end-to-end NVMe to mid-range storage array

A busy day yesterday for NetApp, which launched a mid-range all-flash array with end-to-end NVMe access, pushed out an ONTAP software update and introduced three support services.

The AFF (All-Flash FAS) range consists of four product families: A200, A300, A700 and A800. The models on sale are the A220, A300, the newly launched A320, the A700, A700s and A800.

The AFF A320 has end-to-end NVMe connectivity and sits above the A300. Its basic product parameters are:

(A200 included for reference. A320 maximum memory parameter not revealed by NetApp)

The A320 is smaller physically than the A300 and supports 576 SSDs, compared with 4,608 for the A300. It has drive shelves accessed by RoCE – Remote Direct Memory Access running across converged Ethernet.

However, hosts access the array using NVMe over Fibre Channel, with 32Gbit/s FC supported. This necessitates a conversion between the two NVMe-oF types. End-to-end NVMe access gives the A320 a latency below 100µs. This is about half that of sub-200µs latency achieved by the A800, which sits the top of the AFF range.

The A320 supports 1.9TB, 3.8TB, and 7.6TB NVMe SSDs and 15.3TB drives are on their way (and factored in the maximum capacity calculations in the table above).

The A800 lacks the NVME-accessed drive shelf and it is reasonable to assume that an upgrade will add this to reduce latency.

ONTAP v9.6

ONTAP v9.6 adds Cloud Volumes ONTAP support for FlexCache. In other words, an on-premises FlexCache can cache active read data from cloud volumes in AWS and Azure.

FlexCache and SnapMirror data replication support encryption for data at rest and in flight.

NetApp ONTAP arrays are typically configured into high-availability pairs for extra reliability. Two high-availability pairs, up to 160km apart, can be clustered together in a MetroCluster. This now supports entry-level ONTAP AFF and FAS (hybrid flash+disk) systems.

FabricPool technology combines NetApp’s on-premises all-flash storage with an object storage  backend. This could be NetApp’s StorageGRID or a public cloud such as AWS, Azure, IBM’s COS. Support for Google Cloud Platform and Alibaba Cloud is added in ONTAP 9.6.

NVMe/FC support in ONTAP allows customers to use the technology for most workloads – utilising NVMe/FC support in VMware ESXi, Microsoft Windows and Oracle Linux hosts, and Red Hat and SUSE Linux. 

Belt and braces

The three new support services are:

  • SupportEdge Prestige customers get priority call routing, a designated NetApp team and specialised reporting, tools, and storage environment health checks.
  • Basic, Standard and Advanced Tiered Deployment Services to provide degrees of deployment support.
  • Remotely-delivered Managed Upgrade Service ensures NetApp software is up to date with all security patches and firmware upgrades. 
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