Today, NetApp held a public launch event on their website to announce their new directions for Data Fabric and data management. One of the many highlights of the presentation was the announcement of the new NetApp HCI platform. Dale Degan (director, product marketing, SolidFire products and solutions) spoke at length about the exciting new offering and how it fits into both the NetApp vision of Data Fabric and the industry space, as well as what it means for the enterprise.

Compromises of Current Architecture

Dale spoke about NetApp’s research into the first-generation forays of hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), noting three main areas of compromises that customers have to make with the current products and players:

  1. Performance
  2. Flexibility/scale
  3. Consolidation

From a performance perspective, using today’s HCI doesn’t allow for granular performance modeling of critical workloads. This limitation means that customers can’t reliably consolidate Tier 1 workloads and still guarantee the performance they need for these mission-critical applications. This leads to silos of smaller HCI architectures and architecture sprawl in the enterprise workspace.

From a flexibility standpoint, there are inherent costs to scaling in the current generation HCI. Adding nodes to an HCI cluster scales all facets of the cluster instead of focusing on the individual component that really needs to be increased (storage vs. compute vs. networking). Adding nodes does allow scale, but at the cost of unused resources. This “HCI tax” may be acceptable for smaller HCI clusters, but is not ideal for large enterprise HCI clusters.

Finally, customers must also compromise from a consolidation standpoint. Without granular management of independent workloads within a single cluster, customers are forced to either use HCI for more Tier 2 and general use workloads or continue to build out segregated and nonconnected clusters for their Tier 1 data. This compromise increases as the architecture scales out and up for enterprise customers.

Enterprise Scale for the Next Generation of HCI

Once NetApp understood the limitations in the landscape, they were poised to build an HCI solution that would overcome these barriers and allow HCI to truly become an integral part of the enterprise. Their solution provides the answers to those limitations.

First, NetApp HCI guarantees workload-specific performance. Being able to set complete performance thresholds on a per-workload basis allows customers to now consolidate Tier 1 and mission-critical data onto a single HCI cluster. This gives peace of mind that those workloads are going to get the performance they need, while taking advantage of data center consolidation.

Second, NetApp HCI improves upon today’s flexibility and scale. It is easier to grow for the components that are needed, while reducing the overall cost of unused resources. This negates the HCI tax and allows for a more cost-efficient solution that can scale to large enterprise architectures.

Third, NetApp HCI is embedded with an automated infrastructure state of mind. A new setup interface takes all the myriad input variables and automates them into an easy-to-use wizard that can have customers up and running an optimized cluster in less than 30 minutes. NetApp HCI also builds on the open-stack approachability of SolidFire, allowing for easy programmability and API call use.

Finally, NetApp HCI fully integrates into the NetApp Data Fabric model:


NetApp HCI integrates into each section of Data Fabric:

  • Object Storage Services: NetApp HCI integrates with StorageGrid Webscale and S3 workloads.
  • Data Protection: NetApp HCI has integrated functionality with backup and availability providers, such as Veeam.
  • Data Management and Monitoring: NetApp HCI integrates with OnCommand Insight, for deep and detailed environment analytics.
  • Backup and Recovery: NetApp HCI integrates with AltaVault for archiving and tiering both to private and public cloud providers.
  • File Services: NetApp HCI has native Snap integration with both SolidFire and ONTAP, allowing for a unified Data Fabric model across NetApp platforms.
  • Replication: NetApp HCI integrates for replication with both SolidFire and ONTAP.

NetApp HCI, Under the Hood

Although details were still light in the actual technical specifications around the new NetApp HCI architecture, here is what I can share: NetApp HCI builds upon the SolidFire architecture, bringing in some of the same general hardware capabilities used for SolidFire clusters. It expands on this in key ways, bringing in features and functionalities that have been a staple of ONTAP (snapshot copy integration, storage efficiency and NetApp replication, for example). The following table shows some of the technical specifications of the NetApp HCI architecture:


In summary, today’s launch was a very exciting way to showcase the new HCI product. The offering takes the HCI conversation into the enterprise, with workload performance guarantees, enterprise-scalability, automation and Data Fabric integration. Talk to your CDW and NetApp teams to learn more about this awesome new solution.

Learn more about CDW’s partnership with NetApp.

One thought on “NetApp HCI Launch Event: Changing the World with Data

  • Great article Brandon. We are excited to see how SolidFire’s simplified scaling and guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS with min, max and burst settings) along with the proven file-serving capabilities of ONTAP will shake up the HCI landscape ! CDW customers will win bigly with NetApp HCI…

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