NetApp gets serious about all-flash shared storage with FAS8080 EX array

With performance gains, NetApp says the high end of its line is now optimized for flash

Growing demand for flash continues to rock enterprise storage, with NetApp becoming the latest big vendor to shape a new product around the high-speed media.

On Tuesday, NetApp introduced the FAS8080EX, a shared array that is optimized for use with pure flash. While all-flash arrays are still high-end items for enterprises and service providers with especially high performance requirements, flash is expected to make up a bigger part of data centers over time.

NetApp boosted the power of its FAS series in February when it introduced the FAS8000. With Intel Ivy Bridge processors and increased memory, the 8000 series is now optimized for flash, though it had already been configurable for all flash, said Nathan Moffitt, director of storage platforms marketing.

The 8080EX replaces the 6290 array and is 75 percent faster for roughly the same price, Moffitt said. Its throughput can reach 4 million IOPS (I/O operations per second), and it has flexible network ports that can be equipped with 16-Gigabit Fibre Channel or 10-Gigabit Ethernet. It also replaces the 6250, with more than twice the performance, Moffitt said.

Packed entirely with flash, one 8080EX node can hold more than 4.6PB of flash capacity. NetApp sees the all-flash configuration as ideal for running virtual desktops, though it expects only a small percentage of customers to order it, for the time being, Moffitt said.

The 8080EX has a maximum hybrid capacity of 70PB. It can scale out into a NAS (network-attached storage) cluster of as many as 24 nodes or a SAN (storage-area network) cluster of as many as eight nodes. Enterprises can mix hybrid and all-flash nodes and move workloads around the cluster depending on the current performance requirements of each one.

Also on Tuesday, the company introduced the FAS2500, a new entry-level FAS system to succeed the 2200 array. The 2500 also is designed to accommodate more flash, a five-times increase to as much as 4TB per node. The new platform also can be scaled out to twice as many nodes in a cluster, with a total of eight.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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