NetApp Begins Shipping FlashRay in Sept.

Enhances its portfolio of all-flash storage arrays

After several years of development, NetApp began shipping its FlashRay family of all-flash storage arrays with the new Mars operating system to selected customers and partners in September.

The product allows NetApp to compete with a gaggle of well-funded all-flash array startups like Kaminario, Pure Storage, and SolidFire. It also allows the company to square off against established competitors like Cisco, EMC, Dell, and IBM.

According to The Register’s Chris Mellor, “NetApp is the only mainstream storage array vendor to build its own flash array hardware and software from the ground-up.” He notes that mainstream competitors like EMC and Cisco have either bought technology or adapted existing array technology.

FlashRay is designed “with the future in mind,” states NetApp Flash Solutions VP Ty McConney, “establishing a foundation that will enable tight integration with the NetApp Data ONTAP OS and the ability to leverage future solid-state technologies to further drive down the cost of all-flash storage.”

With the launch of FlashRay, NetApp now offers three flash storage array choices: the Engenio-based EF-Series; the all-flash FAS; and FlashRay.

Here is how Mellor explains the differences between the three products:

“FlashRay will provide higher data access performance than FAS, and be aimed at database and transaction processing applications where I/O latency needs to be low and integration within the ONTAP environment is desired.

“FAS flash provides higher-than disk data access speed completely inside the ONTAP environment and with all ONTAP data management services available.

“The EF-Series provides raw flash array grunt, so-to-speak, with faster data access than FAS ONTAP arrays, and is suitable for use cases where the application software provides data management services.”

Mellor’s initial impression of FlashRay is positive, but tentative: “It looks good, so far, but judgement has to be suspended until the dual-controller, high-availability, ONTAP-integrated, all-singing, all-dancing FlashRay box flickers into view.”

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