NetApp reveals cloud computing plan, new Data OnTap OS

Updated NetApp OS adds grid-based, high-performance OnTap GX technology

NetApp Inc. has unveiled products and services that support cloud computing architectures used in the data centers of its enterprise-class customers.

The announcement included the first full revision of NetApp's Data OnTap operating system to ship in in five years and a new version of its flash-based cache memory module that will provide up to 4TB of capacity for the company's storage arrays.

NetApp said that it is combining its flagship Data OnTap 7G OS with the OnTap GX platform that's based on grid-computing technology the company gained in its 2003 acquisition of Spinnaker Networks. The new Data OnTap 8 OS increases the maximum storage volume from tens of terabytes to tens of petabytes, the company said.

"As we move forward, OnTap 8 customers will receive new features for further enabling the cloud, including enhanced data mobility, management and service automation, and dynamic scale out," Patrick Rogers, NetApp's vice president of solutions marketing.

Terri McClure, an analyst with The Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., said the most important part of NetApp's announcement is that "they finally got OnTap GX and 7G into a common code base."

"Our research shows users are very interested in scale-out technology," she said. "What's nice about it is as you add processor and storage resources, you get much higher storage utilization rates and the new scale-out system grows up to 14 petabytes, but it can still be managed in a single array."

In all, NetApp today unveiled five new products, including Data Motion software that allows storage administrators to move data volumes non-disruptively across storage systems with no application downtime.

"If you're performing a planned maintenance, you just move a volume from one storage array to another. And, you can logically partition capacity and assign it to specific user or department, just like physical servers can be virtualized into multiple instances with VMware," McClure said.

"That helps you to do load balancing, increase capacity on the fly and to retire systems. It really divorces the underlying hardware from the application."

The new Performance Acceleration Module II is the second-generation of NetApp's NAND flash card that acts as an alternative to solid state disk (SSD) drives, affording improved I/O performance by caching all data writes prior to being laid down on spinning disk.

According to Rogers, tests conducted by NetApp with an Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) workload show that the Acceleration Module can increase I/O throughput by approximately 78 per cent and speed response time by approximately 30 per cent.

NetApp also announced a Dynamic Data Center Solution service that combines NetApp's products, architectural knowledge, and best practices in a tool to help corporate customers build cloud infrastructures.

The Dynamic Data Center Solution includes a service-oriented infrastructure (SOI) based on standardized NetApp hardware that allows users to deploy storage, networking components, and compute resources in a repeatable manner.

The second of the product's three components is a service management framework that provides processes and best practices to help manage the infrastructure and reduce fixed costs wherever possible. The last component is a delivery methodology that leverages NetApp professional services and systems integrator partners to deploy a service-oriented infrastructure.

NetApp also introduced a Fast-Start Customer Workshop, a two- to four-day program aimed at helping users develop a plan for deploying the NetApp cloud-based storage infrastructure. The workshops will evaluate user requirements and decide which technology is best for each situation.

NetApp also introduced the DS4243 disk shelf, which allows users to mix serial-attached SCSI (SAS) and serial ATA disk drives (SATA) for up to 24TB in 4U (7-in) enclosure. By offering both high-performance SAS and higher capacity, but slower performing SATA drives, users can create a tiered storage infrastructure within a single disk array enclosure.

"Today's announcements truly usher in a new era and way of doing business for NetApp," NetApp's CEO Tom Georgens said in a statement.

"We really see this announcement as the next major phase in transforming customer's data centers. Two years ago, we saw phase one happen around virtualization. The next big phase is moving toward service oriented IT infrastructures, or what a lot of people are euphemistically calling cloud," said Rogers.

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