NetApp Adds Mid-Tier Line of Flash Storage Arrays with NetApp AFF C-Series

The storage giant has also launched an alternative to Keystone subscriptions called NetApp Advance.

Jeffrey Schwartz

February 13, 2023

6 Min Read
Flash Storage

NetApp next month will ship a new line of flash-based storage arrays, the NetApp AFF C-Series, for midsize enterprises.

The new AFF C-Series adds a lower-cost alternative to NetApp’s high-performance AFF A-Series arrays. NetApp introduced the AFF C-Series last week for non-mission critical workloads. The new line is noteworthy because the company doesn’t frequently add new storage lines.


NetApp’s Jeff Baxter

“NetApp doesn’t introduce entire families of enterprise storage that often; it’s perhaps a once-a-decade sort of thing,” said NetApp VP of product marketing Jeff Baxter. “It’s a whole new series of enterprise storage arrays powered by ONTAP.”

Baxter said the C-Series would appeal to customers considering flash storage but don’t need the A Series’ sub-millisecond performance. The C-Series offers in the range of 2ms to 4ms of latency. NetApp lacked a primary flash array for more mainstream workloads.

“There was this middle ground missing for tier-two workloads and non-mission critical tier-one workloads, where you can tolerate a couple of milliseconds worth of latency,” Baxter said.

Indeed, the A-Series is overkill for many workloads, said John Woodall, VP of solutions architecture at IT services provider GDT. Woodall said that’s especially the case for those looking for a bump up to flash from hard disk drive (HDD) arrays.

“I think it’s a smart next step in their portfolio to take what they have with the FAS500f and then really move to an all-flash platform that has more variety in terms of the platform from a controller perspective and also has scalability,” Woodall said. “And it fits into their existing ONTAP infrastructure. So, from a software perspective, it’s identical. You can still scale out. You can scale up. And you can connect to the cloud. You can do all the things that you can do on either a FAS or A-Series. You can just do it on a C-Series now.”

Storage Array Specs

The NetApp AFF C-Series consists of the AFF C250, AFF C400 and AFF C800. According to NetApp, the new arrays provide an efficient way to provide capacity storage that customers can scale. Moreover, all three offerings will scale from 2-24 nodes.

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According to NetApp’s spec sheet, the AFF C250 comes in a 2U rack with support for up to 576 SSDs and 35 Pb capacity. The AFF C400 has a 4U rack supporting 1,152 SSDs and 71 Pb of storage. The AFF C800 is also a 4U-based system that can accommodate up to 1,728 SSDs with a maximum capacity of 106 Pb.

NetApp also is adding an entry-level flash array to its AFF A-Series, the A150, for branch locations. According to NetApp, the A150 is a high-availability array that supports MultiCluster IP that customers can scale and expand. The A150 provides enterprise flash storage for distributed environments. The 2U-based A150 can support up to 863 SSDs with a maximum capacity of 26 Pb.

NetApp Advance Program

The launch of NetApp Advance will give customers new options for purchasing and owning the company’s storage products.

“NetApp Advance is a new portfolio of programs and guarantees that will help our customers sort of cost-effectively future-proof their on-prem environments so that they don’t have to deal with a constant tech refresh cycle,” Baxter explained.

Further, Baxter said there are many customers seeking a storage-as-a-service alternative to NetApp’s Keystone program. Keystone is NetApp’s subscription service for customers that prefer to account for IT infrastructure as an operational expense.

But Baxter said many customers still want to …

… take ownership of the equipment without making large capital investments.

“They don’t want to be on this constant treadmill of feeling like every three to five years they have to make a massive investment in refreshing those arrays,” he said.

A crucial part of the NetApp Advanced program is the storage life cycle program. Every three years, the subscriptions entitle customers to free controller upgrades without having to make a large capital outlay.

“It takes away the constant tech refresh bump and cycle from them and just allows NetApp to replace that hardware non-disruptively and to offer them remote software updates and basically manage them through the entire lifecycle of their gear,” Baxter said.

GDT’s Woodall said the NetApp Advanced program would appeal to many of his customers, especially in the current economic environment.


GDT’s John Woodall

“It’s an easier financial discussion and an ease of doing business discussion,” he said. “It de-risks the more traditional sales motions for people looking at the economy or how they handle internal budgeting and funding to take some guesswork out of the future.”

The guesswork Woodall was referring to includes uncertainties regarding how much data will remain on-premises versus in the cloud. NetApp’s Baxter noted that the NetApp Advance program allows customers to shift their allocations to cloud credits.

For example, a customer buying 10 NetApp storage arrays might decide to move 30% to the cloud three years later. Instead of updating those 10 controllers, they would refresh seven. The customer would then apply the credit from the three controllers toward NetApp Cloud Services available in AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

“They’re able to use those dollars and move those dollars to the cloud,” Baxter said.

Sustainability Dashboard for NetApp BlueXP

NetApp also said it plans to release a Sustainability Dashboard for its NetApp BlueXP multicloud management platform. NetApp BlueXP, which NetApp launched last fall, consolidates management of on-premises and cloud infrastructures.

The dashboard, which NetApp plans to release in May, will provide environmental data and views of an organization’s IT environment. The views will measure power, energy and heating utilization and provide a sustainability scorecard. NetApp says it will use AIOps to provide steps an organization can take to improve its sustainability scores.

Expanded Google Cloud-VMware Support

Furthermore, the company announced that the NetApp Cloud Volumes Service is now available with Google Cloud VMware Engine datastore support.

“Now you can easily scale and protect your virtual machine data by using NetApp ONTAP data management software with a fully managed service in Google Cloud,” wrote NetApp VP of CDS product management Eric Han.

“This service enables you to move data-rich VMware workloads to the cloud without sacrificing performance or data management,” Han added. “Cloud Volumes Service is based on the same NetApp ONTAP software that’s trusted in data centers worldwide.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Jeffrey Schwartz or connect with him on LinkedIn.


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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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