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Balancing Power and Capacity in NetApp Data Centers with AFF, FlexPod and More

Randy Egger

One of the greatest challenges in a data center is balancing the two biggest expenses: power and capacity. Historically, as the two costs increased together, more racks of hardware and more power would be needed. Today, the relationship has changed as compute and storage capabilities increase and power consumption drops.

At NetApp, we are constantly striving to maximize the output of our data centers while reducing rack space and the cost of power and cooling. Along with using NetApp® AFF and FlexPod®, and adopting a cloud-first strategy, our teams have found ways to minimize data center infrastructure by using software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions (where they make sense) and cloud-based storage solutions such as NetApp Cloud Volumes and NetApp Private Storage for Cloud. Applications that can be moved to the cloud are being actively migrated. Applications that remain in our private cloud take advantage of NetApp HCI (scalable, on-premises hybrid cloud infrastructure) and NetApp StorageGRID® (object storage).

As part of an aggressive asset refreshment, NetApp recycles hardware from data centers every 36 to 42 months. We bring in new hardware that uses less rack space, operates more efficiently, and/or is more powerful than the older recycled hardware. Along with tech upgrades, the team has moved data centers to milder climates to allow the cooling systems to pull outside air during mild temperatures and low humidity, thereby reducing the need for mechanical cooling components and for running large, power-consuming cooling systems.

As a result, over the past 7 years NetApp IT has reduced data center operational expenditures (opex) by millions of U.S. dollars, lowered the number of racks and rack space by over 50%, and reduced power consumption by over 50% globally. We reduced rack space by 63% in Hong Kong and are currently using 50% of the resources in our production data center in the United States, where we expect further reductions by half in the future.

To learn more about how solutions like AFF, FlexPod, high-density storage rack design, and other IT innovations helped produce these results, check out this recording of my recent webinar. The NetApp on NetApp blogs feature advice from NetApp IT subject matter experts who share their real experiences in using industry-leading NetApp data management solutions to support business goals. To learn more, visit

Randy Egger

Randy Egger, senior IT manager for Data Center and Compute Services at NetApp, is responsible for IT data center and compute strategy, including lifecycle management for compute hardware, OS, and core services strategy, and global data center space, power, and capacity planning.

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