Meet "NetApp HCI": hyperconverged infrastructure combining NetApp and SolidFire

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Meet "NetApp HCI": hyperconverged infrastructure combining NetApp and SolidFire
NetApp HCI combines technology from NetApp and SolidFire

NetApp on Monday made its long-awaited entry into the burgeoning hyperconverged infrastructure market by unveiling an offering combining its SolidFire all-flash storage technology with NetApp's traditional scale and cross-management capabilities.

The company also enhanced its OnTap Select software-defined storage capabilities to better meet remote and branch office needs and integrate with VMware, a new consumption-based model for its storage, and enhancements to its OnCommand Insight for hybrid cloud migration.

NetApp is making sure partners and customers know it has the portfolio needed to help with their digital transformation strategies, including capabilities aimed at the cloud, DevOps, and micro-services, said Brett Roscoe, vice president of NetApp's product and solutions marketing.

"We helping customers modernise their infrastructure to accelerate applications and add more services around them," he said. "We're helping them develop next-gen data centres with flexible environments for VMware and OpenStack. And we're focused on delivering cloud capabilities."

NetApp's new hyper-converged infrastructure offering, for now known simply as "NetApp HCI," combines the best of NetApp's technologies to provide a scale-out architecture, full management of compute and capacity, SolidFire's quality of service technology, and more to make it available for enterprise-scale applications, Roscoe said.

Dale Degen, director of product and solutions marketing for NetApp's SolidFire business, said the NetApp HCI comes in a 2U rack-mount chassis with storage capacity based on the SolidFire all-flash array technology.

It offers SolidFire's scale-out quality of service technology along with file services based on NetApp's OnTap storage operating system, and is managed with NetApp's OnCommand Insight management platform, Degan said.

The NetApp HCI also integrates with NetApp's AltaVault archiving system, and with AWS for object store, he said. It integrates with NetApp's Data Fabric, a system that allows data to be seamlessly managed from on-premises to the cloud, Degan said.

NetApp designed the NetApp HCI from a data centre point of view, Degan said.

"The first generation hyperconverged infrastructure appliances filled a void in virtualised environments," he said. "But when you take them to the data centre, you get a lot of control and noisy neighbor issues, and no automation to grow them at scale."

NetApp has changed how hyperconverged infrastructure is built, Degan said. "We're bringing quality of service to workloads," he said. "We're adding flexible automation for all next-generation APIs."

New name coming

Roscoe said the NetApp HCI, which will eventually get a better name, is slated to be released into general availability later this year.

NetApp also enhanced its OnTap Select, the software-defined storage version of its OnTap storage operating system, with new capabilities to make it easier to work within remote and branch offices, Roscoe said.

"Customers can now configure a two-node cluster with lower-cost VMware licences," he said. "That used to require the enterprise version of VMware, but they can now use the smaller, lower-cost office licencing solution."

Also new is NetApp OnDemand, a new program that lets customers purchase NetApp's all-flash storage arrays and FAS appliances on a monthly subscription basis, and turning the sale from a capital expense to an operational expense, Roscoe said.

"Now partners can to go customers with alternate payment options, all without the need for new training or certifications," he said.

NetApp also enhanced its OnCommand Insight management tool, which has traditionally been used for on-premises storage, to make it work seamlessly across on-premises, cloud, and hybrid environments, Roscoe said.

Also new is version 9.2 of the OnTap storage operating system. OnTap 9.2 introduces fabric pools for automatic data tiering to Amazon S3 clouds; expanded de-dupe to the system level to allow global de-duplication of data; and new quality of service capabilities, he said.

NetApp also introduced NextCredit which allows customers to turn in nearly any NetApp equipment for credit on future purchases, he said.

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