NetApp Makes Flash Memory Case

Michael Vizard

NetApp today made a decidedly bigger push into the Flash memory game. The company today previewed FlashRay, an all-Flash memory storage array that is built from the ground up to run optimally under a re-engineered NetApp OnTap storage operating system due out next year and the general availability of the EF540, an all-Flash array that delivers over 300,000 IOPS and sub-millisecond data access.

In addition, NetApp also refreshed three new high-end disk storage systems: the FAS6220, FAS6250 and FAS6290, which now include support for higher levels of more affordable Flash memory.

According to NetApp CEO Tom Georgens, the company already has one customer storing over a thousand petabytes, while many other customers now have over 10 petabytes of storage. Customers with one petabyte of storage are increasingly becoming routine, adds Georgens. By 2015, Georgens says NetApp will have a customer that is expected to be downloading one petabyte a day of satellite images.

Flash memory will be a critical element for being able to manage storage at that level of scale. The real challenge, says Georgens, is how to make the most efficient use of Flash memory in both all-Flash-based systems and disk-based systems that have been enhanced with Flash memory.

The choice between all-Flash arrays, hybrid systems and traditional disk-based will be driven by the nature of the application performance requirements. Naturally, those choices will largely be a function of cost as it relates to the amount of I/O performance delivered.

The important thing to remember, says Georgens, is that only NetApp has a single operating system that spans all those architectures in a way that keeps the total cost of managing storage under control.

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