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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...

About 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.

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Cloud Expo - Cloud Looms Large on SYS-CON.TV


Cloud Expo 2013 East Opening Keynote by IBM
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Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mac Devine, Distinguished Engineer at IBM, will discuss bringing these three elements together via Systems of Discover.
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Cloud Expo was a fantastic event for CSS Corp - we easily exceeded our objectives for engaging with clients and prospects."
AHMAR ABBAS
SVP, Global Infrastructure Management, CSS Corp.
 
With our launch at Cloud Expo, we successfully transformed the company from a relatively unknown European player into the dominant player in the market. Our competitors were taken by surprise and just blown away. We got a huge number of really high quality leads..."
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We were extremely pleased with Cloud Expo this year - I’d say it exceeded expectations all around. This is the same info we got from partners who attended as well. Nice job!"
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In today’s software-defined business era, uptime and availability are key to the business survival. The application is the business. However, ensuring proper application performance remains a daunting task for their production environments, where do you start? Enter Business Transactions. By starting to focus on the end-user experience and measuring application performance based on their interactions, we can correctly gauge how the entire environment is performing. We follow each individual user request as it flows through the application architecture, comparing the response time to its optimal performance. This inside-out strategy allows AppDynamics to instantly identify performance bottlenecks and allows application owners to get to the root-cause of issues that much faster.
Last week I was both learning and speaking at the The Internet of @ThingsExpo in New York City. I taught a session on the subject of IoT, Code Halos and Digital Transformation Strategies. Then I had the privilege of interviewing Microsoft's mobile and IoT guru Nick Landry (Twitter @ActiveNick). In this interview he shares Microsoft's solutions and strategies around the Internet of Things. Enjoy!
In June I was presenting at the ThingsExpo conference  at the Javits Center in New York City. During my talk I was demonstrating how to integrate consumer devices into a business workflow. In particular, I was doing live measuring of my own blood pressure to show how to integrate consumer devices into a business workflow. Internet […]
I came across a very interesting story posted at the Reviewed.com. Website in the section covering home oven reviews. The headline read “The Smart Home Dominates the Internet of Things.” The story, based on a recent report published by Appinions, a market research firm, stated that while home automation “is used interchangeably” with the Internet of Things, the fact is that the IoT is far bigger than that. “It promises to unify a vast array of industrial and commercial devices and activities, not just your phone and dishwasher.” To be sure, home automation is leading the way right now, what with Apple, Google, Microsoft and other companies jumping on the bandwagon. What is missing in the piece is the real challenge (and opportunity) of the IoT: monetization.
The evolution of JavaScript and HTML 5 to support a genuine component based framework (Web Components) with the necessary tools to deliver something close to a native experience including genuine realtime networking (UDP using WebRTC). HTML5 is evolving to offer built in templating support, the ability to watch objects (which will speed up Angular) and Web Components (which offer Angular Directives). The native level support will offer a massive performance boost to frameworks having to fake all these features like Polymer and Angular. It will also encourage people who are not familiar with these next generational frameworks to get in on the action. As I am from a gaming background then I always complain that TCP (Web Sockets) is not genuinely real-time, so I look forward to seeing UDP (WebRTC) solutions being delivered like Desktop Sharing in Chrome 34.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is getting personal. Wearables, ingestables, even implantables – devices that not only help us with our fitness, but can monitor and manage disease and its treatment – are right around the corner. And where the IoT goes, money follows. In this case, Big Pharma smells opportunity. But while these new consumer doodads get all the press, health-related IoT technologies are only the tip of the iceberg for the Digital Transformation hitting the pharmaceutical industry, as it struggles with a turbulent business landscape. “There are very few blockbuster drugs,” explains Eric Pilkington, EVP Digital Strategy at McCann Health North America. “The pharma companies are trying to figure out what to do. The competitors are the generics: identical and cheaper. The pharmas have to provide value beyond the drug itself.”
So exactly how do you kick start a DevOps strategy? For example, say your organization is tied down to a very sequential, but cumbersome Waterfall approach to software development that is wasting precious dollars and hindering productivity? In the following we’ve outlined some strategy tips that every business leader will need to consider as they start down the path of DevOps adoption. Whatever steps your organization takes on the DevOps path of rolling out software faster and more effectively and deployment will require the support of your senior level management team. Explain the advantages of DevOps to the executive team in terms that they can easily understand. Provide an outline of how DevOps and cloud computing can save on ROI and get your new mobile application into the hands of the customer faster and more effectively with higher quality.
The IoT has the potential to transform the world, bringing new functions and efficiency to big problems such as disease, poverty, traffic, and government transparence. It also makes for a nice Christmas gift for “kids in science fair projects.” This latter point was made by Broadcom and Brian Bedrosian, the company's senior director for wireless connectivity. Specifically, the company has introduced its Wiced Sense Kit at a price of US$20. The kit—suitable for adult use, of course, as well--allows IoT developers and the millions of “makers” in the thriving Maker Movement to build sensors that communicate with iPhones, home communication hubs, and other devices. Suggested uses include baby monitors, door locks, and personal healthcare monitors. Broadcom's kit presumably competes with a US$25 kit from Texas Instruments, which also has Android and Bluetooth functionality.
Such devices and connected technologies exist today, and the sector is driving the leading edge of the Internet of Things under the label of the “Connected Home” or “Smart Home”. Fact is, some pretty traditional low-tech concepts are becoming technology-enabled, such as/including locking doors, turning on the lights, heating the home, etc. What this means is that technology companies are broadening into areas that have historically been outside of their business plans. Apple is in the fitness business. Google is in the heating business. Samsung is in the appliance business. Others include cable TV and Internet provider Comcast, and the Schlage-brand lock maker Ingersoll Rand.
When we talk about the impact of BYOD and BYOA and the Internet of Things, we often focus on the impact on data center architectures. That's because there will be an increasing need for authentication, for access control, for security, for application delivery as the number of potential endpoints (clients, devices, things) increases. That means scale in the data center. What we gloss over, what we skip, is that before any of these "things" ever makes a request to access an application it had to execute a DNS query. Every. Single. Thing.
Elasticity is hailed as one of the biggest benefits of cloud and software-defined architectures. It's more efficient than traditional scalability models that only went one direction: up. It's based on the premise that wasting money and resources all the time just to ensure capacity on a seasonal or periodic basis is not only unappealing, but unnecessary in the age of software-defined everything. The problem is that scaling down is much, much harder than scaling up. Oh, not from the perspective of automation and orchestration. That is, as the kids say these days, easy peasy lemon squeezy. APIs have made the ability to add and remove resources simplicity itself. There isn't a load balancing service available today without this capability - at least not one that's worth having.
As enterprises work to rapidly embrace the mobile revolution, both for their workforce and to engage more deeply with their customers, the pressure is on for IT to support the tools needed by their application developers. Mobile application developers are working with a massive variety of technologies and platforms, but one trend that stands out is the rapid adoption of NoSQL database engines and the use of Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) platforms and services to run them. Gartner has predicted that by 2017, 20% of enterprises will have their own internal mobile app store, meaning that enterprises are deploying both commercial and custom applications to their workforce at increasing speeds. There’s no denying the massive growth in mobile applications within the enterprise.
The Internet of Things is only going to make that even more challenging as businesses turn to new business models and services fueled by a converging digital-physical world. Applications, whether focused on licensing, provisioning, managing or storing data for these "things" will increase the already significant burden on IT as a whole. The inability to scale from an operational perspective is really what software-defined architectures are attempting to solve by operationalizing the network to shift the burden of provisioning and management from people to technology.
GovCloud Network is proud to announce that we have teamed with Tech Equity Ltd to deliver cloud education and training on a global basis. With this partnership, GovCloud Network will also add the Cloud Clinique Online Training and Cloud Computing Best Practices program to it's list of services. CloudClinique is an online cloud certification platform that contains over 7,500 cloud best practice concepts across 18 separate domains. Compiled by certified cloud practitioners and trainers, learning is organized around 10 minute sessions, and delivered using tools designed to reinforce your understanding and confidence level. The content and database is very rich and designed to prepare candidates for most cloud certification programs. Revision modules are available for the CompTIA Cloud Essentials Certification, CompTIA Cloud+ Certification, Cloud School Cloud Professional Certification, Cloud School Cloud Architect Certification, and the Cloud Security Alliance's Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge.
When Instagram was sold to Facebook in 2012, it employed only 13 people and maintained over 4 billion photos shared by its 80 million registered users. Internally, Instagram was a small business. Externally, it was a web monster. Filling the gap between those two contradictory perspectives is DevOps. Now to be fair, Instagram (like many other web monster properties today) has it easier than most other businesses because it supported only one application. One. That's in stark contrast to large enterprises which are, by most analyst firms, said to manage not one but one hundred and even one thousand applications - at the same time. Our own data indicates an average of 312 applications per customer, many of which are certainly integrated and interacting with one another.
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Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

Butte
PwC

Leone
Oracle

Riley
AWS

Varia
AWS

Lye
Oracle

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AppZero

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RightScale

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Dell Boomi

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CiRBA

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Layer 7 Tech

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NYT

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Oracle

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