NetApp presents the new AFF A250

By | 21. October 2020

NetApp yesterday introduced its new All-Flash entry-level model, the AFF A250. This is to inherit the previous AFF A220, offering 45% more performance and 33% more storage efficiency. According to NetApp, the AFF A250 is in the same price range as the AFF A220. The AFF A250 comes with ONTAP 9.8.

AFF A250 Front View

What’s new in the AFF A250?

To explain this perhaps with a picture, let’s remove the front panel of the machine:

And we see blue disc slots. “Oh great, blue SSDs,” you think now. However, the blue color is the indicator that these are NVMe SSDs (Non-Volatile Memory Express).

Yes, you read correctly. The “small” entry machine comes with NVMe SSDs. By using NVMe, latency improvements can be achieved compared to traditional SAS SSDs.

  • The minimum configuration for an HA pair is 8 x 1.9 TB NVMe SSDs
  • The maximum configuration for an HA pair is 48 NVMe SSDs

The following disk sizes will be available for the AFF A250:

Sed1.9TB / 3.8TB / 7.6TB / 15.3TB
Non-SED1.9 TB / 3.8TB
Nse3.8 TB / 15.3 TB

The view behind the curtain

However, the most exciting innovations can be found on the back of the AFF A250.

AFF A250 rear view

The controller’s heads are no longer next to each other but on top of each other.

AFF A250 detailed rear view

If we take a closer look at one of the controllers, we see that a lot has happened there. Finally, you can equip the entry machine with mezzanine cards, which gives more freedom for host connectivity.

By default, the AFF A250 comes with two 10GB BASE-T ports and two 25GbE ports. The 25 GbE SFP28 ports are used for the Interconnect cluster and are NOT available for host traffic.

So if you have changed your network environment to 10GbE with SFP+ ports in recent years, you can either plug RJ45 SFPs into your switches or install one of the four mezzanine variants directly.

Personally, I find the decision for host connectivity, by default, to install only 10GbE BASE-T ports at least “strange”. Especially since there is no option to replace them with SFP+ ex-works since the ports are soldered on the board.

Expresspacks

To alleviate the “pain,” the missing SFP+ host connectivity, the AFF A250 is available in an Express Pack with a 4-port, 25GbE, or a 4-port, 32Gb FC card. The Express Packs start with 8x 1.9TB and can be extended with two-packs.

Available mezzanine cards:

DescriptionConnectivity
4-port, 10/25Gb Ethernet, (RoCEv2), SFP28Host
2-port, 100Gb Ethernet, (RoCEv2), QSFP28Storage expansion
4-port, 32Gb Fiber Channel, SFP+Host
4-port, 12Gb SAS, mini-SAS HDStorage expansion
AFF A250 Mezzanine Card options

What is exciting here is that the AFF supports A250 end-to-end NVMe via NVMe/FC. Anyone who has listened to my NVMe podcast (german only) knows why the end-to-end NVMe is so important ;).

As you may have noticed in the picture, the AFF A250 comes without ports for a shelf extension. To do this, I need the 2-port 100GbE card.

MetroCluster Functionality

The AFF A250 can also be used directly as MetroCluster over IP (MCC-IP). No more licenses or controller hardware is required (apart from a second HA pair, which hopefully means itself). The Onboard 25 GbE ports are used for HA and DR traffic. Of course, you need switches, such as the BES-53248 or the Cisco Nexus 3232C.

So much for the new NetApp AFF A250. If you have any questions, I am happy to answer.

Best regards

DerSchmitz

DISCLAIMER: This post represents my personal observations and is not official from NetApp or other authorized ones. Misinterpretations or misunderstandings.

Category: Netapp Tags: ,

About DerSchmitz

Team Lead NetApp Competence Centers Bechtle Bodensee, Senior Consultant and Blogger from the beautiful Constance on Lake Constance. When I'm not in the middle of a data center, I advise clients in the IT infrastructure space. This includes storage, server, backup and cloud integration in IT infrastructures. In my free time I take care of my own garden where I grow my own fruit and vegetables.

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