Home Enterprise NetApp Unveils Unified Data Storage Built For Advanced AI Workloads

NetApp Unveils Unified Data Storage Built For Advanced AI Workloads

by Harold Fritts

NetApp has unveiled its latest AFF A-Series systems, designed to handle demanding IT workloads like GenAI, VMware, and enterprise databases. The company also enhanced its portfolio to improve operational efficiency as customers use data to spur innovation.

NetApp has unveiled its latest AFF A-Series systems, designed to handle demanding IT workloads like GenAI, VMware, and enterprise databases. The company also enhanced its portfolio to improve operational efficiency as customers use data to spur innovation.

In an era where AI is pivotal for organizations to boost innovation, customer experiences, and productivity, the 2024 NetApp Cloud Complexity report highlights that success in AI-driven business largely depends on data (74%) and IT infrastructure (71%). NetApp’s new offerings aim to bolster these areas, empowering customers to fully leverage their data through AI.

The AFF A-Series systems from NetApp continue the company’s strong presence in unified data storage tailored for emerging workloads. These systems, employing technology trusted by the top three public clouds, aim to simplify storage challenges by eliminating silos and enhancing security, making them adept at handling a variety of tasks. This approach optimizes VMware storage costs and adapts flexibly to future needs.

Sandeep Singh, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Enterprise Storage at NetApp, emphasizes that the proper data infrastructure can significantly boost a company’s competitive edge, especially when handling mission-critical applications or utilizing data for AI advancements.

New Features and Capabilities

The new features and capabilities in NetApp’s data management and integrated services include:

  • New StorageGRID Models: Six new StorageGRID models have been introduced, which can enhance the value of large, unstructured data while reducing the total cost of ownership. StorageGRID can now use capacity flash to provide fast object access times at the lowest cost. These new models offer flexibility, choice, performance, and sustainability for critical object workloads. They provide competitive pricing per GB, up to 3X performance improvement, an 80% reduction in footprint, and power consumption savings as high as 70%.
  • Cyber Vault Reference Architecture: NetApp has introduced a new cyber vault reference architecture that offers enhanced data protection capabilities. The cyber vault is designed to protect customer data against advanced cyber threats by combining secure data storage, autonomous real-time ransomware detection, and rapid data restoration capabilities. Built on the proven NetApp ONTAP technology, the cyber vault provides “logically air-gapped” storage that ensures robust data protection.
  • SnapMirror Active Sync: The latest release of ONTAP has introduced SnapMirror active sync, which establishes a two-way active-active business continuity solution between two data centers. This, combined with VMware vSphere Metro Storage Cluster (vMSC) and enterprise databases such as Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft, ensures seamless business operations without interruption during a data center outage.
  • FlexCache with Writeback: The latest version of ONTAP includes FlexCache with Writeback. This feature enables the creation of local data copies for distributed teams. The local copies allow for faster data access and reduced latency while reducing administrative overhead. Additionally, local teams have read and write access to the data, providing greater control and maintaining data consistency with the core data center.
  • NetApp AIPod with Lenovo: NetApp and Lenovo are collaborating to develop a new converged infrastructure solution designed explicitly for retrieval-augmented generation (RAG) and inferencing use cases for GenAI. The solution will utilize Lenovo ThinkSystem servers, NVIDIA L40S GPUs, NVIDIA Spectrum-X networking, and NetApp AFF storage. All components will be validated with the NVIDIA OVX architecture specification.
  • BlueXP Classification: NetApp’s AI/ML-driven service is now available as a core capability of BlueXP at no additional charge. This service helps users to automatically classify, categorize, and tag data across the entire data estate, deepening data intelligence. This enhances governance, security, and compliance efforts while enabling strategic workloads such as GenAI. With BlueXP classification, customers can now fuel GenAI and RAG innovation through the AIOps ability to securely and programmatically augment pre-trained models with auto-classified, proprietary data on demand. This enhances relevancy without sacrificing cost or data security.

The newly introduced AFF A1K, AFF A90, and AFF A70 systems enhance enterprise workloads with features like performance of up to 40 million IOPs, a throughput of 1 TB/s, a data availability rate of 99.9999%, and leading storage efficiency with a 4:1 guarantee. These systems also integrate real-time ransomware detection capabilities to ensure accuracy above 99% and a Ransomware Recovery Guarantee.

NetApp ONTAP Update

NetApp’s unified data storage supports various storage protocols and integrates seamlessly with the major public cloud providers, promoting workload consolidation and cost reduction. Powered by NetApp ONTAP, many organizations recognize these offerings for their simplicity and reliability.

According to Christian Klie, Tribe Cluster Lead at T-Systems, the enhanced capabilities of the AFF A-Series are crucial for powering significant AI projects and ensuring robust anti-ransomware protection. Justin Hotard, Executive Vice President at Intel’s Data Center and AI Group, also notes that combining NetApp systems with Intel Xeon processors accelerates enterprise AI adoption, presenting substantial business transformation opportunities.

Further innovations from NetApp include new StorageGRID models, a cyber vault reference architecture for advanced data protection, SnapMirror active sync for continuous business operations, and FlexCache with Writeback to support distributed teams. Additionally, the collaboration between NetApp and Lenovo introduces the NetApp AIPod, optimized for AI workloads. The newly available BlueXP Classification service enhances data governance and security, aiding in strategic AI initiatives.

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