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NetApp is hyped about its under-wraps hyper-converged system

Gear said to be still in development

Albeit late to market, NetApp is developing a hyper-converged infrastructure product, The Register has learned.

We're told that NetApp will sell this new gear to ensure the company is not late to the next big inflection point in the storage market: storage-class memory (SCM).

Speaking to El Reg from NetApp’s Insight event in Las Vegas, executive veep for worldwide field and customer operations Henri Richard said the mood inside NetApp had become more energized as people realized the company was regaining its mojo.

Richard joined NetApp in April this year; he was senior veep for commercial sales and support at SanDisk, which was at the time being bought by Western Digital. Richard is aware that NetApp has been described as being late to markets, such as the all flash array arena. He said: “You cannot consistently be late to [market] inflection.”

If you are late you have the benefit of being able to observe and analyze the market and produce a better product, although there is always the risk you could be too late. As might have been the case in the all-flash array market but “we dodged that bullet,” said Richard.

The coming HCI product will be a full participant in NetApp’s Data Fabric vision, with the company focussing overall software efforts on creating a data management infrastructure covering its on-premises systems and the public cloud – aka AWS and Azure currently.

Wrapping metal around media is important, but software is becoming more and more important and value is moving to software.

On the metal-round-media side of things, Richard said NetApp will not be late to storage-class memory systems.

Our understanding is that these are ones that use non-volatile media, such as NAND, XPoint and ReRAM in DIMM and NVMe SSD format, to augment DRAM and, in conjunction with system and application software changes, sidestep existing system data IO stacks in favor of more direct and very much lower latency access to data in memory (DRAM plus non-volatile memory).

NetApp could use SCM in its own controllers to speed in-array processing and, with NVMe over fabric links to hosts, boost application execution in servers. El Reg's thinking is that with NetApp HCI systems, the company could produce SCM-based HCI systems.

That could make for a really interesting 2017/2018 period. ®

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