February 21, 2017
In an interview with Computer Weekly, Netapp’s alliances and solutions manager, Laurence James, along with systems and engineering director, Martin Cooper, discussed future plans for NetApp SolidFire. SolidFire was acquired by NetApp in February 2016 and fits into their product suite as an all flash solution best suited for hybrid cloud environments and next generation infrastructure.
In the months following the acquisition, NetApp earned the number two spot for overall market share for all flash storage. Despite this accomplishment, NetApp recognizes a problem in how SolidFire has been positioned thus far.
“When we were first integrated, we made the mistake of putting all three flash products – the E Series, for straight line high performance, FAS for data-rich functionality, and SolidFire – on the same slide. So, we ended up comparing all-flash products when SolidFire is actually built around a different model, an infrastructure you program rather than configure.”
Systems and Engineering Director, NetApp
With these factors in mind, James and Cooper noted a few plans for the future of the SolidFire product.
The Future of SolidFire
In total, the interview covered three main points:
SolidFire and ONTAP: In the past, NetApp has made a focused effort to unify their product line around their data management software, ONTAP. However, James and Cooper stated that there are no plans to integrate these products together. ONTAP and SolidFire will remain distinct, separate products.
SnapMirror and SnapVault: Though ONTAP will remain separate from SolidFire, NetApp will integrate a few aspects of ONTAP’s functionality, namely SnapMirror and SnapVault. Both applications provide data backup features, but they cover different kinds of backups. SnapMirror will replicate the most recent snapshot in primary storage, while SnapVault stores data backups of both primary and secondary storage for long term use. In effect, SnapMirror is a data backup application, and SnapVault is for archival purposes. These functionalities are expected to be available for SolidFire in the next 12–18 months.
Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe): James and Cooper stated that NetApp has intentions of adding NVMe capabilities to SolidFire, but it is not a current priority. Though NVMe could lower latency and improve performance results, James and Cooper believe that consumers aren’t asking for faster and more expensive flash at this time. It is, however, on NetApp’s radar.
SolidFire and Hybrid Cloud
As a storage offering catered towards hybrid cloud environments, SolidFire is in a pretty good position. According to a survey by SolarWinds.com, only 43% of IT directors surveyed expect that half or more of their infrastructure will be in the cloud in the next three to five years. This data suggests that hybrid cloud environments are going to become quite common in the near future. With expansions of SolidFire’s capabilities, NetApp will be ready to provide the infrastructure needed in a new generation of IT environments.
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For Further Reading
SolidFire isn’t NetApp’s only all flash storage option. Truly, NetApp acquired SolidFire not to be their standalone flash solution but to instead round out their line to cover every market need. Check out what NetApp has to offer in our blog post, “The New NetApp Flash Storage Suite after Acquiring SolidFire.”