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NetApp adds storage buying options, arrays

NetApp introduces a myriad of buying options and hybrid cloud capabilities for VMware workloads on Google Cloud. Soon-to-come: new QLC all-flash arrays.

NetApp is bringing a nesting doll portfolio of purchasing options and configurations ahead of new QLC-memory storage appliances coming later this quarter.

NetApp customers can now take advantage of new storage hardware and software consumption options under the new NetApp Advance portfolio, a set of buying programs and sales guarantees. NetApp spokespeople claim the new purchasing options can "future proof" on-premises hardware and cloud migrations.

NetApp Advance's umbrella of buying options opens just before the company expects to release a new line of arrays with all-flash QLC SSDs, due out in March.

The buying options bring NetApp into tighter competition with Pure Storage for on-premises and hybrid cloud customers storing file and block workloads, according to Chris Evans, founder of Architecting IT, an analyst firm in U.K. NetApp Advance echoes some of the purchasing options Pure Storage introduced in its Evergreen portfolio, which provides a variety of licensing agreements to support hardware refreshes and usage restrictions.

"This is a step for vendors to become more flexible with their offerings," Evans said.

For customers already operating in the cloud, NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud VMware Engine is now generally available. This new managed cloud service helps customers migrate VMware workloads into Google Cloud while using NetApp storage.

Advance planning

NetApp Advance targets on-premises storage buyers looking to enable hardware and capacity refreshes without replacing an entire array. NetApp claims this can help buyers avoid restrictions from buying contracts and help customers keep pace with hardware demands. Two of its programs include the NetApp Storage Lifecycle Program and the NetApp Cloud Advantage Program, which are being introduced at a time when the company's cloud business continues to grow and the storage hardware business faces a slowdown.

NetApp reported its second-quarter fiscal year 2023 public cloud annualized revenue run rate was up 55% year over year, to $603 million, compared to the smaller 2% increase of all-flash array sales in the same time period, which ticked up from $3 billion to $3.1 billion.

There's a lot of to and fro with NetApp and Pure [Storage] about sustainability.
Chris EvansAnalyst and founder, Architecting IT

The Storage Lifecycle Program offers NetApp hardware buyers an option to increase capacity as part of a hardware refresh. Customers also have the option to replace storage controller hardware every three to five years at no additional cost. These buying plans include OnTap software upgrades alongside access to support services and monitoring tools including Active IQ, Cloud Insights and OnTap Essentials.

The Cloud Advantage program lets customers trade-in on-premises storage controllers for credit toward NetApp cloud storage purchases, including Cloud Volumes OnTap, Cloud Backup, Cloud Tiering and Cloud Insights. These credits can also be applied to Keystone storage subscriptions and capacity buys.

NetApp Advance is a way for storage buyers to purchase hardware more sustainably and efficiently, vendor spokespeople said in an interview. The vendor plans to commit further to support customer initiatives through a new sustainability dashboard in development for BlueXP, NetApp's management console and dashboard, and sustainability reports in the storage-as-a-service product NetApp Keystone.

NetApp's sustainability push echoes many of the sales pitches espoused by Pure Storage and its catalog of hardware and software, according to Evans. Pure Storage released a sustainability assessment feature last September in Pure1, its data management as a service offering.

"There's a lot of to and fro with NetApp and Pure [Storage] about sustainability," he said.

Delayed flash

NetApp will debut a new all-flash QLC-based storage array lineup in March with the NetApp All Flash FAS (AFF) C-Series, releasing shortly after the vendor's new buying options.

The C-Series targets mission-critical workloads and applications that can withstand latency in the milliseconds compared to its AFF A-Series arrays, which allows for sub-millisecond response times, according to Sandeep Singh, senior vice president and general manager of enterprise storage at NetApp.

The C-Series builds on the existing NetApp FAS500f array, which also utilizes QLC flash memory, he added. Target customers for the C-Series will include those seeking to build a hybrid storage environment and customers upgrading from traditional hard drives.

The three arrays available at launch will include AFF C250, AFF C400 and AFF C800 -- with the C250 considered the low-end and the C800 as the high-end model. Alongside the C-series, NetApp will release AFF A150, a new addition for the AFF A-Series designed for remote or branch offices that still demand extreme flash performance.

Public cloud trifecta

Using NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud VMware Engine provides a fully managed service in Google Cloud to migrate and protect VMware virtual machine data.

The service, available now, enables a hybrid cloud environment for NetApp customers who want to expand their VMware workloads onto Google Cloud under the management of NetApp OnTap software. The release joins similar NetApp services available in AWS and Microsoft Azure, specifically Amazon FSx for NetApp OnTap with VMware Cloud on AWS and Azure NetApp Files datastores for Azure VMware Solution.

Tim McCarthy is a journalist living on the North Shore of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.

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