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PAM from NetApp is going to get flashy

The card that's as good as cache

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A bird flew by and whispered in my ear that NetApp's Performance Acceleration Module (PAM) was going to get flashy and have solid state storage (SSD) added to it.

PAM is a card acting as an accelerative cache, that can be installed in a NetApp storage array and accelerate all the storage in it. John Rollason of NetApp UK reckons there could be a 30-40 per cent increase in I/O speed. A tier zero SSD shelf in an otherwise hard disk drive (HDD)-based array provides fast access to its data but is no use to the bulk data on the disk drives.

NetApp reckons it's better or more practical for it to provide accelerative caching to all the array's contents and not just that data specially favoured with a flash home. So we might expect a flash version of PAM within, we estimate, 12 months and possibly much sooner. Rollason says using flash this way "is not mutually exclusive" with using flash as a storage tier within, say, an FAS array.

He wouldn't confirm a rumour that a new FAS 3160 model would be announced soon to fit between the 3100 entry-level FAS 3140 and high-end FAS 3170. The 3020, a smaller and older array than the 3140, will be end-of-lifed soon though, reducing the number of models in the FAS range by one and, we could read it this way, creating a space in the range for a new mid-range model.

He did say we could expect a block-level deduplicating VTL (Virtual Tape Library) from NetApp before the end of the year. NetApp's VTL does not run ONTAP, the main NetApp operating system, and so does not run ASIS, its block-level deduplication technology.

Some 15,000 ASIS licenses have been shipped and he said customers are using it to deduplicate primary storage. They can try it out at no cost as it is shipped for free within ONTAP. ®

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