NetApp consolidates SAN, NAS and storage virtualization into hybrid platform

converged infrastructureNetApp on Wednesday introduced a new line of scale-out hybrid arrays designed to address rapidly growing capacity demands in the enterprise without overburdening IT organizations. The FAS8000 series packs several major improvements, including the addition of Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors and the ability to support up to three times as much flash memory as previous generation systems.

Described by NetApp as its “most powerful and feature-rich” platform to date, the FAS8000 is the first in the industry to ship with a converged network adapter (CNA) that provides both 10-Gbit Ethernet and 16-Gbit Fibre Channel connectivity. On the software side, the appliance includes a new tool called FlexArray Virtualization that allows admins to manage their NetApp deployments and third-party arrays from a single pane of glass, unifying SAN and NAS. Until now, this functionality has only been available with the firm’s V-Series storage controllers.

The FAS8000 is designed to reduce IT complexity and enable greater business agility, the two top priorities for NetApp going into the software-defined data center.

“NetApp has a pretty fundamental assumption about the impact of the cloud on enterprise IT, and that is that IT managers are no longer gonna be just builders and operators of IT Infrastructure, but they’re gonna be brokers of IT services. And they’re gonna act like service providers themselves,” said NetApp vice president of marketing and alliances Patrick Rogers in an interview on theCUBE last year.

“If you believe in this model, that the IT manager can be a broker of services, in order to make that work for you you’re going to have to have a data fabric that extends across both public and private clouds,” he said.

To that end, NetApp offers clustered Data ONTAP, a storage operating system hailed as a “universal data platform” for the hybrid cloud. The FAS8000 runs on a new version of the software that makes it possible to replace individual components – and even entire shelves – without incurring any downtime.