NetApp adds QLC C-series, new A-series and subscription upgrades

NetApp C-series QLC-based array family offers flash speed with capacity, while Advance adds subscription upgrades to owned hardware, as well as a new entry-level A-series array

NetApp has launched a new QLC flash storage array family – the C-series – aimed at higher-capacity use cases that also need the speed of SSD. It has also added an entry level AFF all-NVMe flash array, the AFF A150. In addition, NetApp has launched Advance, which brings subscription upgrades to purchases of its hardware with the option to trade for cloud capacity.

NetApp’s C-series starts with three options – the C250, C400 and C800 – which scale to 35PB, 71PB and 106PB respectively. They all scale out from two to 24 nodes and differ in their physical size – 2U or 4U and number of SSD slots – as well as some variation in connectivity, which spans block (Fibre Channel and iSCSI), file and object, and including NVMe-over-TCP.

QLC flash storage is chosen so that customers get the access speed of flash with the capacity of this latest SSD generation. QLC is quad-level cell flash storage, which means it packs four switching states into one flash cell with all the binary possibilities that brings. Endurance is lower per drive compared to previous generations of flash, but that is handled by over-provisioning, wear-levelling etc.

NetApp vice-president and general manager for enterprise storage, Sandeep Singh, explained where C-series fits into NetApp’s array offer.

“In today’s budget climate, we’re seeing three main requests from customers,” he said. “The most mission critical high-performance flash storage requirements, for which AFF A-series is targeted. Then there are the lower cost options with hybrid flash – SSD and hard drives – and the FAS line. Now we also have the C-series with QLC flash, so customers can choose SSD for speed with the economy of hybrid flash.”

Singh said C-series arrays are aimed at tier 1 – i.e., not the most high-performance tier 0 – such as VMware, databases, and secondary storage uses cases such as DR, backup, tiering, and dev/test. “That is, where 2ms to 4ms response times is OK,” he added.

Customers NetApp hopes to attract would be those currently with hybrid flash or 10,000rpm spinning disk drives.

NetApp also has the EF series, which is the flash-equipped family in its E-series, which date back to NetApp’s acquisition of Engenio in 2011. They run the SanTricity operating system, which is a legacy of that pedigree. They offer flash access speed but without the advanced storage features of NetApp’s Ontap OS-based products.

Singh said: “EF is for high performance with flash at the right price. C-series bring performance with advanced data services and management and the benefits of Ontap, file, block and object storage, and anti-ransomware capabilities including being able to detect ransomware in near-real time and make tamper-proof snapshots.”

Meanwhile, the new AFF A150 adds another entry-level array to the A-series all-NVMe family. It slots in below the A250, A400, A800 and A900. The A150 scales to 26PB with a maximum of 864 drives and is a 2U form factor. From the A400 upwards, the series scales to hundreds of PB, with the A900 topping out at 702.7PB.

Finally, NetApp Advance allows customers to pay a subscription for hardware upgrades. Effectively, it will bring customers the ability to buy storage hardware outright, but with no additional cost non-disruptive upgrades to the latest storage controller technology every three, four, or five years; the option to upgrade controllers at only incremental cost prior to three-year renewal; the optional capacity refresh that allows customers to replace lower capacity drives while only paying for capacity in excess of that they already own; remotely managed software updates and support via Active IQ and Cloud Insights monitoring; and options to trade on-site NetApp capacity for cloud products.  

With Advance, Singh said: “We’re aiming for best in class customer ownership experience and benefitting from innovations as they come about.”

In effect, Advance forms parts of NetApp’s consumption models of purchasing. It is own-outright, but with upgrades by subscription, and so occupies the other end of a continuum with Keystone storage as a service at the other end.

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