The NetApp SolidFire storage system is an all solid state scale out architecture of single controller nodes targeted at cloud storage environments. SolidFire nodes scale from a minimum of 4 nodes to 100 nodes in a cluster. Quality of Service to provide consistent performance for selected LUNs is a key feature implemented with SolidFire.
There are multiple models of SolidFire systems, which vary in the size of the SSDs installed and in the amount of DRAM for read cache. A write cache of 8GB NVRAM is the same across all models. Two 25GigE interfaces are used for host connection for iSCSI and for the interconnection between nodes.
SolidFire uses SSDs in single controller nodes in a cluster configuration to provide high availability. The scale out configuration provides scaling of capacity and performance. Up to 100 nodes are clustered in a system. The interconnect for the nodes is 25 Gigabit Ethernet using the same interface as host access.
The focus for SolidFire is on quality of service, with the implementation after a command is received where the service requirements for a LUN is examined and the routing is controlled based on the service requirements. The QoS capability of SolidFire delivers consistent performance for LUN accesses.
Data protection is achieved by replicating data between nodes rather than using a RAID scheme. Inline data deduplication and data compression are used to increase the effective capacity of the 12 SSDs in each node. Other advanced features include asynchronous replication, read/only snapshots, and encryption.
A Fibre Channel node is offered that does not contain any SSDs and is intended for transitioning customers with traditional SANs to iSCSI-based cloud storage. Nodes with SSDs have two 10GigE interfaces but the Fibre Channel nodes have 4 16Gb/s FC interfaces and 4 10GigE iSCSI interfaces. The FC nodes can be in the same clusters as iSCSI nodes.
A unique feature the backup and restore capability where either through the management interface or from third party software, blocks from a LUN can be written to an object storage system using either S3 or Swift. After an initial full copy, only changed blocks are copied.
A capacity-based licensing model is available which separates the software purchase from the hardware. The capacity charge is based on the provisioned capacity. The hardware can also be purchased through NetApp with a passthru cost +10%.
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Solid Fire systems are targeted for cloud storage environments as high performance, scalable storage. They would be expected in cloud service providers or in customer environments where a private cloud is being installed. The QoS capability is key for cloud environments to provide consistent performance and avoid the “noisy neighbor” problem. Advanced features have been added to support replication, data protection, and clones. The Fibre Channel nodes act more like a gateway to the iSCSI-based storage.