NetApp Intros EF550 All-Flash Storage Array

By Pedro Hernandez

NetApp is diving into the expanding market for all-flash arrays with its latest storage system, the EF550.

According to the company's benchmarks, the 2U unit sustains over 400,000 IOPS -- with bursts of 900,000 IOPs -- and delivers response times in the submillisecond range. With throughput rated at 12 GB per second, business applications don't stay starved for data for long, says NetApp. The hardware is aimed at data centers that play host to corporate databases, Web services and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) workloads.

A base EF550 system ships with 12 or 24 solid-state drives (SSDs) and is outfitted 24 GB of system memory. A fully populated system can scale to 96 TB with the help of expansion selves, also of the 2U, 24-drive variety.

NetApp EF550 supports 2.5-inch 800 GB SSDs. Connectivity options include 16Gb FC, eight 6Gb SAS, eight 10Gb iSCSI, or four 40Gb InfiniBand connectors.

Faster application performance aside, the company also makes the case for preserving precious data center rack space and lowering energy costs. EF550 arrays can provide "the transactional performance of 1,000 15K RPM drives," in a mere 2U while requiring "just 5 percent of the rack space, power, and cooling," claimed NetApp.

NetApp's new all-flash arrays arrive just as EMC makes a serious push into all-flash enterprise storage. The company announced on Nov. 14 that all-flash arrays based on tech from last year's XtremIO acquisition were finally generally available.

For its part, NetApp has seen an increase in demand for SSD-based storage. The company reported that to date, it has shipped over 60 PB of flash storage. Stifel analysts reported in a research note that "NetApp last week had reported that it has cumulatively shipped more than 550 all-Flash EF540 arrays since early 2013 (over 200 systems shipped in October 2013 quarter)," although there is some disagreement in some quarters over whether the hardware can be considered a flash appliance or a fully featured array.

NetApp also announced the new E2700 array with 12G SAS support for small branch office implementations. The E5500 has been updated to include SANtricity data replication features along with support for 10G iSCSI and 16G FC.

Taken altogether, NetApp's refreshed enterprise storage portfolio satisfies "customers' needs for their multiple workloads and deployment models — either dedicated or as part of a shared infrastructure," asserted NetApp's George Kurian, executive vice president of Product Operations, in a statement. The products meet "growing market demand for dense, performance-oriented architectures and delivering superior performance, reliability, efficiency and scale," he added.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

This article was originally published on November 19, 2013