NetApp to launch SolidFire-based HCI hyper-converged appliances

NetApp HCI will comprise hyper-converged infrastructure appliances based on SolidFire flash storage with QoS and compute from an unnamed supplier later in 2017

NetApp will launch “enterprise-class hyper-converged infrastructure” products later this year, based on SolidFire storage and unnamed compute hardware with the VMware hypervisor on-board and full control possible from vSphere.

NetApp HCI products will be available in the last quarter of 2017.

The company would not give speeds and feeds this week, but said small (6x 480GB flash drives, 16 CPU cores), medium (6x 960GB, 24 cores) and large (6x 1.9TB, 36 cores) nodes would be available.

NetApp UK chief technologist Grant Caley, would not say where the compute element of NetApp HCI comes from, except that it is “black box, custom-built for NetApp by the vendor”.

The HCI product will come with two compute slots and four storage slots in a 2U starting configuration, scalable in 0.5U increments, said Caley, with customers able to scale either compute or storage.

Upper scaling limits will be based on those of the SolidFire storage and the VMware hypervisor, he said.

Key features are that administrators would be able to guarantee performance to specific workloads using the quality of service functionality in SolidFire storage, said Caley.

Meanwhile, NetApp HCI will be automatable by the use of APIs from orchestration environments and fully controllable from VMware vSphere.

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There are plans for other hypervisor environments to be supported in future, but no hints were given about those this week.

Caley said the aim was to improve on what he called “first-generation HCI”.

“The challenge with first-generation HCI is that customers found architectural constraints, such as having to scale compute if they only needed more storage and so paying more in licence costs.

“Also, first generation was targeted at predictable workloads. This product will allow HCI to be used with enterprise mixed workloads with guaranteed performance for those workloads.”

NetApp HCI will compete with products such as Dell EMC’s VXRail and HPE’s Simplivity as well as hyper-converged offerings from pioneers such as Nutanix.

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