by Adam Armstrong

NetApp NVMe AFF A320 & ONTAP 9.6 Announced

Today NetApp announced the latest version of its data management software, ONTAP 9.6. The company also announced its second end-to-end NVMe all flash array (the first being the AFF A800) aimed at the midrange, the AFF A320. These new releases along with expanded services are geared for helping businesses modernize for hybrid multi-cloud environments while also maximizing the value of their data. 

NetApp is expanding on its Data Fabric strategy with more cloud-connect flash solutions that are designed to provide the simplicity, operational efficiency and protection needed to support innovation. For emerging technologies, such as 5G and AI, these new solutions will have to bring new levels of performance and power as well. With today’s announcements, NetApp strengthens its position as the only vendor that enables users to build their own unique Data Fabric spanning public cloud, private cloud and on-premises environments.

NetApp has taken its data management software, ONTAP, from 9.5 to 9.6 with themes surrounding simplicity, productivity, security, data protection, and addressing more customers use cases. This update comes with several features and benefits that now include long term service support: all releases come with three years full support and two year limited support. From a management standpoint, ONTAP has new product names (ONTAP System Manager and Active IQ Unified Manager) as well as a redesigned dashboard for simplier worklows bas on RESTful APIs. 

ONTAP 9.6 includes the following enhancements:

  • Expanded NVMe over Fibre Channel (NVMe/FC) ecosystem now includes VMware ESXi, Microsoft Windows, and Oracle Linux hosts, in addition to Red Hat and SUSE Linux, with storage path resiliency. Organizations can experience NVMe/FC performance for most workloads. 
  • FabricPool now supports Google Cloud Platform and Alibaba Cloud, in addition to Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and IBM Cloud Storage. Organizations can lower the cost of primary storage by automatically tiering cold data to any major public cloud or to a NetApp StorageGRID private cloud. 
  • NetApp FlexCache software now supports NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, allowing organizations to experience the benefits of FlexCache in hybrid cloud deployments.
  • Over-the-wire encryption for NetApp SnapMirror technology and FlexCache increases security for data replication and remote caching. 
  • NetApp MetroCluster IP support for entry-level NetApp AFF and FAS systems now makes business continuity a cost-effective option for organizations, taking advantage of existing customer IP networks between sites.  

Last year NetApp rolled out the first end-to-end NVMe with the AFF A800 aimed at large enterprises. Today they are taking all the performance benefits and bringing to the midrange in the 2U, AFF A320. 

NetApp AFF A320 Rear View

The A320 can be connected to NetApp NS224 2U storage shelves that have 24 NVMe SSD bays (that support 1.9TB, 3.8TB, 7.6TB and 15.3TB NVMe SSDs). The A320 comes with high bandwidth connectivity, such as 100/40/25GbE and 32/16Gb FC. It connects to the NVMe shelf through NVMe/RoCE protocol.

NetApp NS224 NVMe SSD Storage Shelf

NetApp NS224 NVMe SSD Storage Shelf

At launch the NS224 NVMe shelf support is just for the new A320, however it's reasonable to assume that NetApp will want to bring the NVMe shelf to the A800, which currently does not have NVMe expansion shelf support.

The AFF A320 system enables customers to: 

  • Accelerate traditional and emerging enterprise applications such as artificial intelligence and deep learning, analytics, and databases with extremely low latency. 
  • Reduce data center costs by consolidating applications with a powerful system.
  • Future-proof their environment with NVMe technology, 100GbE Ethernet, and cloud integration. 

NetApp also expanded its services to improve efficiency and performance while protection against disruption and data loss. 

NetApp’s expanded services portfolio now includes:

  • SupportEdge Prestige offers a high-touch, concierge level of technical support that resolves issues faster through priority call routing. Customers are assigned a designated team of NetApp experts and receive specialized reporting, tools, and storage environment health assessments.
  • Tiered Deployment Service accelerates time to value for new NetApp technology and reduces the risk of improper installation or misconfiguration. Three new high-quality options include Basic, Standard and Advanced Deployment, each aligned to customer business objectives.
  • Managed Upgrade Service is a remotely delivered service that reduces security risks by ensuring NetApp software is always up to date with all security patches and firmware upgrades. 

NetApp is also announcing new switches as well. The switches include the 1U BS-53248 Ethernet switch with a base configuration of 16x 10GbE SFP+ ports, 2x 40GbE QSFP ports, and 2x 100GbE QSFP28 ports for ISL. And the Cisco Nexus 92300YC Ethernet switch that supported ADD and FAS systems using ONTAP 9.6 or higher and has a base configuration of 48x SFP+ ports configured as 10GbE, 16x QSFP ports configured as 40GbE, and 2x 100GbE ports per switch for ISL. 


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