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NetApp AFF A900 Released

by Harold Fritts

NetApp announced an addition to the all-flash storage system array portfolio with the NetApp AFF A900, powered by NetApp ONTAP Enterprise Edition. The new AFF A900 provides the highest data storage performance for databases and applications in the NetApp Application Platform lineup. ONTAP Enterprise Edition provides full-featured data management, including unified support for SAN, NAS, NVMe-oF, and S3.

NetApp announced an addition to the all-flash storage system array portfolio with the NetApp AFF A900, powered by NetApp ONTAP Enterprise Edition. The new AFF A900 provides the highest data storage performance for databases and applications in the NetApp Application Platform lineup. ONTAP Enterprise Edition provides full-featured data management, including unified support for SAN, NAS, NVMe-oF, and S3.

NetApp AFF A900

The NetApp AFF A900 builds on the performance and success of previous releases and is more or less a direct replacement for the A700 controllers. Notably, the new A900 offers additional performance to the HA A700.  If you are the proud owner of the A700 and want the increased performance of the A900, the controller modules are hot-swappable, making this a tremendous non-disruptive upgrade solution.

NetApp AFF A900

NetApp AP AFF A900 front view

NetApp ONTAP Enterprise Edition data management software is offered exclusively on the A900 with optional anti-ransomware capabilities. With the most flexible and complete hybrid multi-cloud offerings in the market, companies can extend and scale to any cloud as needed with ONTAP’s integrations with public cloud providers.

As is the standard these days. the AFF A900 is an all-flash storage system array and “all-in-one” enterprise-grade platform. This seamless non-disruptive upgrade from the AFF A700 simplifies upgrades for critical workloads. Compared to the A700, the more powerful A900 provides 78% more processing cores (128 v 72), twice the memory up to 2TB, double NVRAM up to 128GB, and PCIe Gen4 architecture doubling the overall motherboard bandwidth vs. the A700 PCIe Gen3. Overall, the A900 has a 50 percent performance improvement over the A700.

With low-latency support for NVMe/TCP and NVMe/FC, the A900 is well-positioned to handle enterprise databases like Oracle, SAP HANA, and MS SQL Server workloads, as well as virtualized applications. As with the A700, the system is designed for high availability with advanced reliability, availability, serviceability, and manageability (RASM) capabilities. This is a proper carrier-grade system designed to isolate controllers from I/O modules, chassis, and hot-pluggable cards.

The enhancements to the design and architecture of the A900 make this a shoo-in for cloud designs, especially when it comes to hot-swap modules, high availability, and management.  Those three components are critical to a successful cloud implementation.

NetApp has been steadily growing its Application Platform portfolio with designs for different market segments. The success of cloud acceptance is evident with the adoption by AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. We have provided several reviews, and you can look at the AFF A800 review here. ONTAP has also been reviewed here, covering most releases.  Take a look at the news review for ONTAP 9.9.

NetApp AFF A900 Architecture Enhancements

The A900 sports a new NVRAM11 module, providing higher sequential write throughput. The dual-port 100GbE module provides line-rate 100GbE on each port and auto ranges to 40GbE with QSFP+ connections. There’s also a new quad-port 25GbE module. Each port-pair shares a 25GbE line rate, and the ports auto range to 10GbE with SFP+ connectors.

NetApp AFF A900 back diagram

NetApp AP AFF A900 rear view

Reliability and resistance are further hardened with no single point of failure within the chassis or mid-plane architecture. The chassis design provides redundant and isolated power pathways with no common components ensuring power delivery to each isolated controller and I/O module. NetApp has simplified the upgrade process from existing A700 units to A900 by providing upgrade kit part numbers.

Private Cloud, Public Cloud, and Multi-Cloud

A key to successful cloud deployment is making sure you trust the installation and, more importantly, you can see what is going on in the cloud. AWS can attest to that following a major outage last week.

NetApp has built management solutions that take the guesswork out of managing storage, data, and cloud services.  With a focus on optimization, ONTAP has tools to manage, monitor, and automate a hybrid cloud infrastructure within a central control plane. There are also tools to “visibly” monitor, optimize, and add security resources. NetApp has worked with major cloud vendors to enhance the ONTAP solution to incorporate functions specific to the likes of AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Adding these components to the cloud solution makes NetApp a strong contender for a vendor of choice.

NetApp ONTAP

NetApp continues to enhance ONTAP for the hybrid cloud.  By bundling the management software in the new A900, NetApp is going mainstream for cloud management services. The continued simplification of ONTAP and the integration of optional tools such as anti-ransomware and cybersecurity make NetApp a leader in cloud management. The main thrust here is centralizing and standardizing the approach, making it simple. Through NetApp Cloud Manager and enhanced multi-cloud management services, the company is automating ONTAP data services to simplify application migration, disaster recovery, data protection, governance, and compliance.

NetApp ONTAP 9.9

Final Thoughts

NetApp has introduced a strong contender for a standardized all-flash system. The performance appears to be outstanding, and designed for high availability is a key component. It was wise to design the components to easily upgrade the AFF A700 to the new, high-performance associated with the AFF A900.

By adding the AFF A900, NetApp has addressed enterprise end-to-end. Cloud providers will be looking at this technology closely to see how it can transform existing storage systems.

NetApp AFF A900

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