NetApp in a flash

In a change of behaviour for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based NetApp, the storage vendor outlined its strategy all-flash storage solutions.

The company introduced FlashRay, a purpose-built flash storage architecture that is based on rich scale-out that increases the performance of flash arrays.

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The Flash Ray is design to use any form of solid-state drives (SSD). NetApp has manufactured this product to address the cost issue with SSD along with ultra high capacity.

NetApp also released a new all-flash array named the EF540 that has a strong channel play.

Kevin Wouters, the director of systems engineering for NetApp Canada, admitted to CDN that the company refrains from pre-announcing products but were compelled to do so with these flash arrays because the innovations inside the units.

The EF540, for example, is designed to work in demanding environments such as media and high performance computing.

“This allows us to go across all industries. It’s an enterprise product that does not shy away from core apps. It’s a one-trick technology solution that can play in the analytics segment, the media space, its viable for large environments like databases and for online transaction processing,” Wouters said.

He added that NetApp is getting aggressive with flash because currently the market is scattered with up-and-coming vendors and start-up without any established storage vendors such as NetApp. What’s at stake is a huge market that IDC pegs to grow to $4.5 billion by 2015 just in the enterprise.

NetApp has already sold more than 36PB of flash storage in the marketplace. Wouters commented that it’s a “shocking number” to him because is based on organic use of flash.

The company’s channel strategy is for EF540 to give solution providers a competitive advantage and another reason to go back to customers who are looking for consistent low latencies and high throughput.

“Most of our business is channel centric and these products will help solution providers drive and address customer issues without having to go multi-vendor or do a patch work solution. We want to be a one-stop shop for flash,” Wouters said.
Wouters is not concerned over current channel partner’s depth of skill with flash saying that he was impressed at the NetApp solution provider’s expertise in this area. There are no new channel incentives for these products; however NetApp does have a range of partner benefits such as education and authorization for Flash Ray and the EF540.

“We are a storage organization and data is everything to us. Flash can help on the server cache, SSD and its got intelligence and manageability,” he said.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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