April 4, 2016
It’s been three full months since storage giant, NetApp, announced that they were going to make a major move in the all flash storage market by acquiring SolidFire for $870 million in cash. Now that the transaction is closed, and integration is well underway, we can start to truly understand what this decision means for NetApp.
Who is SolidFire?
SolidFire was founded in 2010 as an all flash storage developer and quickly reached market leader status for storage systems designed with the next generation data center in mind. In addition to the numerous benefits of flash storage, SolidFire’s focus was simple scaling, ease of management, high performance, and compatibility with the cloud.
- Scalability: SolidFire allows you to non-disruptively scale out their arrays to reach multiple petabytes (PBs) of effective storage with no downtime.
- Automated Management: Using SolidFire’s Element Operating System (Element OS), administrators can automate many aspects of provisioning, management, monitoring, and reporting.
- Cloud Compatibility: SolidFire was forward thinking in their design by developing integrations with cloud platforms like OpenStack, CloudStack, and VMware.
Standard Benefits of All Flash Storage
All flash storage, by its very design, comes with a few striking advantages over traditional hard disk drive (HDD) storage.
- Performance: By no longer relying on mechanical processes to seek out data, flash storage can achieve performances 10x as fast as HDD. These speeds can even exceed 100,000 IOPS.
- Reduces Data Center Footprint: Flash storage is easier to cool, more energy efficient, and can undertake the same storage workloads with a fraction of the hardware. Two full racks can be converted down to two units with certain flash providers.
The E-Series, EF-Series, AFF8000, and SolidFire
According to NetApp, the motivation behind the acquisition is to cover the entire breadth of the all flash market. NetApp has been criticized in the past for being slow to join the all flash movement, but with SolidFire, they are now in a position to make waves.
Once integration is complete, the NetApp flash product suite will look something like this.
- The E-Series: Comprised of four different models, the E-Series serves as NetApp’s hybrid flash solution. These storage arrays are excellent choices for mixed workloads that require both the capacity of disk and the performance of flash.
- The EF-Series: Building upon the E-Series, the EF-Series is NetApp’s primary all flash storage solution. NetApp targets this series at the “application owner” for those environments that need to store and access powerful applications without compromising performance.
- AFF8000: In IT, there exists a disparity between what’s necessary for the average business, and the kind of equipment you need to run an enterprise. NetApp addresses this challenge with its own unique product. The AFF8000 is NetApp’s singular all flash enterprise solution targeted exclusively at those environments with the largest workloads.
- SolidFire: NetApp describes the target of SolidFire as the “next-generation infrastructure buyer,” those IT managers who are looking to redefine their environment with a new breed of products. SolidFire is a self-healing, web-based architecture that easily integrates with numerous cloud platforms. Using this foresight, SolidFire is prepared for the hybrid cloud environments of the future.
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