NetApp wants to be cool kid of SAN with latest all-flash array

NetApp has doubled down on its all-flash systems with a new SAN array, the ASA A-Series, and a new StorageGRID object storage system, and has added a ransomware recovery guarantee as well as making its ONTAP One data services software suite available to all ONTAP users without added charge.

Update: Infinidat cyber resilience guarantee information added. May 18, 2023.

NetApp supplies unified block and file storage arrays running its ONTAP operating system. These arrays include the FAS hybrid flash+disk arrays and the AFA (All-Flash Array) systems. There’s the TLC flash-based A-Series and lower cost, capacity-focused C-Series, which use QLC flash. The SAN-only ASA product line, introduced in October 2019, is powered by a block-only access version of ONTAP and is based on AFA A-Series hardware.

Sandeep Singh, NetApp
Sandeep Singh

NetApp SVP and GM of Enterprise Storage Sandeep Singh told us: “What it means for customers is that NetApp has been already been a leader in NAND. NetApp has been the leader in unified including with file, block and object capabilities. And now NetApp is becoming a leader in SAN.”

He justified this by saying: “We are building on a very, very strong base of SAN workload deployments. It turns out that over 20,000 customers already trust NetApp with their SAN workloads. And out of those 20,000, 5,000 customers deploy that for their SAN-only workloads.” 


The new ASA systems are for customers who separate out their SAN workloads, such as SAP and Oracle-accessing ones, from unstructured data access during unplanned outages with a symmetric, active-active controller architecture. Product marketer and VP Jeff Baxter told us: “Symmetric active-active multipathing … is typically reserved only for high-end frame arrays.”

NetApp ASA systems
NetApp ASA systems

The new ASAs use NVMe SSDs and support both NVMe/TCP and NVMe/FC access. NetApp offers a six nines availability guarantee, with remediation available if downtime exceeds 31.56 seconds a year, plus a storage efficiency guarantee of a minimum 4:1 data reduction based on in-line compression, deduplication and compaction.

There is a five-member product range running from the entry-level A150 and A250 through the mid-range A400 and on up to the A800 and range-topping A900. A data sheet table provides speeds and feeds:

NetApp ASA range

NetApp claims the ASA delivers up to 50 percent lower power consumption and associated carbon emissions than competitive offerings but without supplying comparative numbers – you’ll need to check.


NetApp offers low-end SG100 and SG1000 object storage nodes, mainstream SG5000 series cost-optimized boxes, and the high-end SG6000 series. These comprise the SG6060 and SG6060-Expansion systems for transactional small object and large scale data lake deployments, plus the all-flash SGF6024 for primary object-based workloads needing more performance. That system is now surpassed by the new SGF6112 StorageGRID system running v11.7 of the StorageGRID operating system.

The SGF6112 supports 1.9TB, 3.8TB, or 15.3TB SED (self-encrypting drives) or non-SED drives. NetApp blogger Tudor Pascu writes: “As an all-flash platform, the SGF6112 hits a sweet spot for workloads with small object ingest profiles. The main difference between the SGF6112 and the previous-generation all-flash appliance is the fact that the new appliance no longer leverages the EF disks and controllers.”

It uses a software-based RAID 5 (2 x 5+1) configuration for node-level data redundancy. NetApp says the SGF6112 has improved performance and density. We don’t have any performance or capacity comparison between the SGF6024 and the latest SGF6112 to back this up.

v11.7 adds cross-grid replication which replicates objects from one grid to another, physically separate, grid, also cloning tenant information and bi-directional replication. This is better than the existing CloudMirror object replication because it supports disaster recovery.

It also has an improved UI showing capacity utilization and top tenants by logical space. There is also a software wizard to set up tiering from ONTAP to StorageGRID.


NetApp is offering a ransomware recovery guarantee. Singh said: “What NetApp uniquely delivers is providing customers this flexibility to have the ability to protect, detect, and recover in the event of a ransomware attack …  In the event that they are unable to recover their data then NetApp will offer them compensation.”

This is based on ONTAP automatically blocking known malicious file types, rogue admins, and malicious users with multi-admin verification, and tamper-proof snapshots that can’t be deleted, not even by a storage admin.

It also looks at IO patterns. Baxter said: “Our autonomous ransomware protocol, when it’s enabled, goes into a learning period. It learns what’s the IO rate look like? What’s the entropy, the change rate percentage? What’s the throughput of the volumes in question? And then, once it’s learned enough, it shifts into an active mode. And it does so automatically in our new version of ONTAP that just shipped.”

Singh added: “When ONTAP detects a ransomware attack, it automatically creates a tamper proof snapshot as a recovery point and notifies the administrators and then customers were able to recover literally within seconds to minutes their data from the data copies that are available to them. This we believe is industry leading and uniquely available from NetApp.”

Data protection vendors Druva and Rubrik offer ransomware recovery guarantees. Infinidat has a cyber storage resilience guarantee for its InfiniSafe offering. This protects the backup repository on Infinidat’s InfiniGuard data protection arrays. Infinidat also has a cyber storage resilience guarantee on InfiniBox and InfiniBox SSA II for production storage based on extending its InfiniGuard protection to its these arrays. NetApp, like Infinidat, is offering its guarantee on a production storage system but it is not the first to do so.


The ONTAP One Storage software suite, including all available NetApp ONTAP software, was announced for NetApp’s AFA C-Series in March. It is now available for all AFF, ASA, and FAS systems. ONTAP One is also available to existing NetApp deployed systems under support.

NetApp says it has also expanded its Advance set of buyer programs and guarantees.

Scott Sinclair, Practice Director at the Enterprise Strategy Group, offered this thought: “This announcement is strategic for NetApp, but also aligns to what ESG is finding within our research, which is that the datacenter isn’t going away.”

One theme of this set of announcements is increased value for money and that could help NetApp sustain its revenues or even grow them in its current downturn.