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This week NetApp announced two new midrange storage arrays, the FAS3220 and FAS3250.  These models are part of a complete product refresh that has occurred over the past 2 years, beginning with a FAS6200 redesign in late 2010, followed by a complete FAS2200 makeover earlier this year.  The FAS product line today consists of 7 models broken into 3 groupings, based on price/performance requirements for entry level, midrange, and high-end enterprise customers.

FAS Lineup.jpg

As expected, these hardware refreshes include the latest silicon and therefore more CPU horsepower, faster throughput, and lower latencies - but this week’s midrange update also includes two important extras that I’d like to focus on in this blog.


First of all, these midrange storage systems are Flash-ready, with varying solid-state capacities that enable NetApp Virtual Storage Tiering (VST).  VST is our way of automatically load balancing mission-critical workloads and includes Flash at the SSD/HDD level (Flash Pool), Flash at the storage controller level (Flash Cache) and Flash at the Server level (Flash Accel). 


Used independently or in conjunction with each other, the VST levels automatically and instantly promote hot data to the appropriate tier, without using complicated and unnecessary data placement algorithms.  The result is apparent yet invisible to users. They might notice that data response time does not degrade during peak periods, but have no idea what is actually taking place behind the scenes as data is quickly promoted from HDD to SSD, storage cache or server cache.

VST Classes.jpg


The second key point from this week's announcement is that these midrange FAS systems fully support clustered Data ONTAP.  By clustering storage arrays, application data is no longer tethered to individual storage arrays.  Instead, physical arrays become logical storage pools that all application workloads can access. Unlike silo’d, inflexible storage arrays, clustered storage brings important attributes such as transparent data migration between systems and completely nondisruptive rolling upgrades.  As incredible as it sounds, clustering even allows the compete replacement of a data-full storage array with no downtime!



The combination Virtual Storage Tiering and clustered Data ONTAP provide the building blocks in creating an agile data infrastructure.  With just these two steps, virtual storage pools can be created that seamlessly adjust performance and expand nondisruptively, keeping your business running 24/7.


Let’s be clear, with this announcement, storage features usually reserved only for privileged enterprises are now being offered to ordinary IT shops.  Why is this important? Ordinary customers have the same needs as those high end shops: continuous uptime, performance when its needed, where it’s needed, and simplification of operations.  Some might say that these things are even more important at the midrange, since budgets and resources are under tighter control.


Thanks for listening,



Data Storage Matters


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