Flash is kind of a big deal for storage darling NetApp. The company’s seeking out the best strategy for Flash SSD, with emphasis on the partner channel. Wikibon’s Dave Vellante caught up with Tim Russel, the head of data lifecycle products for NetApp, at the storage vendor’s mini event during VMworld 2012 (see the full video below).
The two started by discussing NetApp’s early commitment to virtualization and its relations with VMware, an investment that paid off very well for the company so far. Now the firm is ready to tackle yet another big trend – flash storage.
Russel provided a very clear outline of how NetApp plans on making it big in the enterprise SSD market, diversifying its earlier misstep with read-only Flash cache. After seeing a lot of success in the storage array the vendor is extending its strategy with the same channel-centric approach: teaming up with technology partners to add value to its offerings. More specifically, NetApp is chasing software device manufacturers, companies like Fusion-io that make flash cards and other product that sit inside the server to realize that increased return.
Fusion-io chief exec David Flynn also talked with Vellante at the event and made the same point as Russel: his firm is providing the underlying technology, while NetApp supplies the data management software. Its ONTAP platform can be deployed in traditional environments that rely on hybrid infrastructure comprised of both spinning storage and flash, delivering the ‘best of two worlds’
Russel’s company is looking at the channel as its big opening into this market, but it hasn’t been neglecting internal development either. The executive listed a number of innovations that NetApp can take full credit for, including new algorithms that instead of refreshing the whole cache only populate the individual blocks that get modified each time. This is a much more reliable process that reduces wear on SSDs, and it’s coupled by specialized data protection software and other technologies that NetApp is working on now.