Welcome!

Containers Expo Blog Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Zakia Bouachraoui

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Industrial IoT, Microservices Expo, Open Source Cloud, @CloudExpo, SDN Journal

Containers Expo Blog: Blog Feed Post

NetApp EF540, Something Familiar, Something New

Some things new and cool, along with some things familiar, tried, true and proven

NetApp announced the other day a new all nand flash solid-state devices (SSD) storage system called the EF540 that is available now. The EF540 has some things new and cool, along with some things familiar, tried, true and proven.

What is new is that the EF540 is an all nand flash multi-level cell (MLC) SSD storage system. What is old is that the EF540 is based on the NetApp E-Series (read more here and here) and SANtricity software with hundreds of thousands installed systems. As a refresher, the E-Series are the storage system technologies and solutions obtained via the Engenio acquisition from LSI in 2011.

Image of NetApp EF540 via ntapgeek.com
Image via www.ntapgeek.com

The EF540 expands the NetApp SSD flash portfolio which includes products such as FlashCache (read cache aka PAM) for controllers in ONTAP based storage systems. Other NetApp items in the NetApp flash portfolio include FlashPool SSD drives for persistent read and write storage in ONTAP based systems. Complimenting FlashCache and FlashPool is the server-side PCIe caching card and software FlashAccel. NetApp is claiming to have revenue shipped 36PB of flash complimenting over 3 Exabytes (EB) of storage while continuing to ship a large amount of SAS and SATA HDD's.

NetApp also previewed its future FlashRay storage system that should appear in beta later in 2013 and general availability in 2014.

In addition to SSD and flash related announcements, NetApp also announced enhancements to its ONTAP FAS/V6200 series including the FAS/V6220, FAS/V6250 and FAS/V6290.

Some characteristics of the NetApp EF540 and SANtricity include:

  • Two models with 12 or 24 x 6Gbs SAS 800GB MLC SSD devices
  • Up to 9.6TB or 19.2TB physical storage in a 2U (3.5 inch) tall enclosure
  • Dual controllers for redundancy, load-balancing and availability
  • IOP performance of over 300,000 4Kbyte random 100% reads under 1ms
  • 6GByte/sec performance of 512Kbyte sequential reads, 5.5Gbyte/sec random reads
  • Multiple RAID levels (0, 1, 10, 3, 5, 6) and flexible group sizes
  • 12GB of DRAM cache memory in each controller (mirrored)
  • 4 x 8GFC host server-side ports per controller
  • Optional expansion host ports (6Gb SAS, 8GFC, 10Gb iSCSI, 40Gb IBA/SRP)
  • Snapshots and replication (synchronous and asynchronous) including to HDD systems
  • Can be used for traditional IOP intensive little-data, or bandwidth for big-data
  • Proactive SSD wear monitoring and notification alerts
  • Utilizes SANtricity version 10.84

Click here to vote and view results in a Poll, Are large storage arrays day's numbered?

EMC and NetApp (along with other vendors) continue to sell large numbers of HDD's as well as large amounts of SSD. Both EMC and NetApp are taking similar approaches of leveraging PCIe flash cards as cache adding software functionality to compliment underlying storage systems. The benefit is that the cache approach is less disruptive for many environments while allowing improved return on investment (ROI) of existing assets.

 

EMC

NetApp

Storage systems with HDD and SSD

VMAX, VNX

FAS/V, E-Series

Storage systems with SSD cache

FastCache,

FlashCache

All SSD based storage

VMAX, VNX

EF540

All new SSD system in development

Project X

FlashRay

Server side PCIe SSD cache

VFCache

FlashAcell

Partner ecosystems

Yes

Yes

The best IO is the one that you do not have to do, however the next best are those that have the least cost or affect which is where SSD comes into play. SSD is like real estate in that location matters in terms of providing benefit, as well as how much space or capacity is needed.

What does this all mean?
The NetApp EF540 based on the E-Series storage system architecture is like one of its primary competitors (e.g. EMC VNX also available as an all-flash model). The similarity is that both have been competitors, as well as have been around for over a decade with hundreds of thousands of installed systems. The similarities are also that both continue to evolve their code base leveraging new hardware and software functionality. These improvements have resulted in improved performance, availability, capacity, energy effectiveness and cost reduction.

Click here to vote and view results in a Poll, Whats your take on RAID still being relevant?

From a performance perspective, there are plenty of public workloads and benchmarks including Microsoft ESRP and SPC among others to confirm its performance. Watch for NetApp to release EF540 SPC results given their history of doing so with other E-Series based systems. With those or other results, compare and contrast to other solutions looking not just at IOPS or MB/sec (bandwidth), also latency, functionality and cost.

What does the EF540 compete with?
The EF540 competes with all flash-based SSD solutions (Violin, Solidfire, Purestorage, Whiptail, Kaminario, IBM/TMS, up-coming EMC Project "X" (aka XtremeIO)) among others. Some of those systems use general-purpose servers combined SSD drives, PCIe cards along with management software where others leverage customized platforms with software. To a lesser extent, competition will also be mixed mode SSD and HDD solutions along with some PCIe target SSD cards for some situations.

What to watch and look for:
It will be interesting to view and contrast public price performance results using SPC or Microsoft ESRP among others to see how the EF540 compares. In addition, it will be interesting to compare other storage based, as well as SSD systems beyond the number of IOPS. What will be interesting is to keep an eye on latency, as well as bandwidth, feature functionality and associated costs.

Given that the NetApp E-Series are OEM or sold by third parties, let's see if something looking similar or identical to the EF540 appear at any of those or new partners. This includes traditional general purpose and little-data environments, along with cloud, managed service provider, high performance compute and high productivity compute (HPC), super computer (SC), big data and big bandwidth among others.

Click here to vote and view results in a Poll, Have SSD been successful in traditional storage systems and arrays

The EF540 could also appear as a storage or IO accelerator for large-scale out, clustered, grid and object storage systems for meta data, indices, key value stores among other uses either direct attached to servers, or via shared iSCSI, SAS, FC and InfiniBand (IBA) SCSI Remote Protocol (SRP).

Keep an eye on how the startups that have been primarily Just a Bunch Of SSD (JBOS) in a box start talking about adding new features and functionality such as snapshots, replication or price reductions. Also, keep an eye and ear open to what EMC does with project "X" along with NetApp FlashRay among other improvements.

For NetApp customers, prospects, partners, E-Series OEMs and their customers with the need for IO consolidation, or performance optimization for big-data, little-data and related applications the EF540 opens up new opportunities and should be good news. For EMC competitors, they now have new competition which also signals an expanding market with new opportunities in adjacent areas for growth. This also further signals the need for diverse ssd portfolios and product options to meet different customer application needs, along with increased functionality vs. lowest cost for high capacity fast nand SSD storage.

Some related reading:

Disclosure: NetApp, Engenio (when LSI), EMC and TMS (now IBM) have been clients of StorageIO.

Ok, nuff said

Cheers gs

Greg Schulz - Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press, 2011), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press, 2009), and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier, 2004)

twitter @storageio

All Comments, (C) and (TM) belong to their owners/posters, Other content (C) Copyright 2006-2013 StorageIO All Rights Reserved

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Greg Schulz

Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The deluge of IoT sensor data collected from connected devices and the powerful AI required to make that data actionable are giving rise to a hybrid ecosystem in which cloud, on-prem and edge processes become interweaved. Attendees will learn how emerging composable infrastructure solutions deliver the adaptive architecture needed to manage this new data reality. Machine learning algorithms can better anticipate data storms and automate resources to support surges, including fully scalable GPU-c...
Machine learning has taken residence at our cities' cores and now we can finally have "smart cities." Cities are a collection of buildings made to provide the structure and safety necessary for people to function, create and survive. Buildings are a pool of ever-changing performance data from large automated systems such as heating and cooling to the people that live and work within them. Through machine learning, buildings can optimize performance, reduce costs, and improve occupant comfort by ...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...