Netapp All-Flash FAS (AFF) – What does this mean?

A bunch of my contemporaries have published excellent technical blogs on NetApp’s recent release of their All-Flash FAS systems and simultaneous massive reduction in the acquisition and support prices of those same systems.  I’ll pop those on my blog later.

So there’s great new info on how great these platforms perform, and how their costs are now in-line (or better) than competitors who have been flash-focused for a while now.

Assuming the performance is there (and based on performance numbers I’m seeing in real-world scenarios, it is), and those costs are well understood, does this development mean anything important to the storage or converged infrastructure market?

You betcha.  

AFF now provides the SUPERSET of ALL STORAGE FEATURES offered by all the other flash storage providers, COMBINED.  

Think about that for a second.  Every protocol, file or block. Data movement across nodes. Data access across any node. Every data protection method desirable- no-penalty snapshot, Asynch replication, SYNCH replication, cross-site real-time replication with ZERO RTO/RPO failover, and vSphere 6/vVols support. Dedupe. Compression. Space-efficient cloning of volumes, luns, or files.  Thin Provisioning.  Non-disruptive, no-migration upgrades. Don’t forget the multi-tenancy features required by service providers- including the ability to magically and correctly route data to conflicting IP subnets using IP Spaces and broadcast domains.  Add to that a myriad of ‘little’ features that allow enterprises to just say “yes, I can do it that way if I want”.

Now that NetApp (perhaps finally) has figured out that they can physically do flash as well as anyone else in the business within OnTAP, AND price it to sell, they can now RE-FOCUS the conversation on what’s been most important all along- the DATA – and the need to deliver and protect it in all sorts of form factors (datacenter, cloud, devOps, archive).

NetApp still has the alternative flash platforms (EF, and one day FlashRay) for those particular environments that don’t require all of the functionality that OnTAP excels at providing, so they’ve got their bases covered. I suspect most customers will opt for the features of OnTAP, in case they are needed later- especially if it doesn’t mean a significant price difference. 

But the conversation about performance and price viz-a-viz other flash vendors is now OVER, and we can get back to solving problems.  Which is where NetApp has been dominant for a long, long time. 

Netapp All-Flash FAS (AFF) – What does this mean?

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