Feeds

NetApp - just like perfection?

Behind the scenes in storage Disneyland

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Talking to NetApp about storage is like entering a holiday village where everything is well-ordered, well-run, efficient and clear-cut. The world outside can be messy and confusing, but inside the holiday village gates the lawns are mowed, the pavements clean, everything is signposted clearly and it's all consistent. Why would you ever want to leave?

It's a kind of Disney World approach which looks weird from outside but which is perfectly logical inside. In fact the insiders think outside is weird - why on earth would you want all those different pieces of incompatible storage kit? Those EMC Clariions, DMX, Celerras, Centeras, whatever.

Just say no to all that and choose NetApp storage. It can be whatever you want it to be. Stick a NAS skin on it, an iSCSI block-access skin, a Fibre Channel access skin, have it function as a layer two storage NearStore. Have your primary storage de-duplicate with ASIS while every other supplier restricts de-dupe to secondary storage. Have it replicate, snapshot, thin-provision. Have it virtualise other suppliers' storage in its V-Series form. It's all NetApp storage arrays or controllers and it's all running ONTAP, NetApp's operating system with date stored using WAFL. Sounds like WAFFLE; how American is that?

Even NetApp's employees adore it. The firm has just been voted the best place in the US to work by Fortune magazine which ranked US companies. What's not to love?

But look a little closer and gaps appear. ONTAP comes in two versions; 7G, the mainstream version, and GX, the clustered version. Then the VTL (Virtual Tape Library) product doesn't run ONTAP at all.

Talk to Dan Warmenhoven, NetApp's CEO, and clarity returns, the gaps are explained: "We don't think every single function can be delivered with ONTAP... I don't think they (VTL and ONTAP range) should be integrated fully." He can't see the business sense as "a VTL is virtual tape". It stores tape-reel data and is not a standard file system.

There'll be some integration but not that much. "I think you'll see more of a shared code space (with) FCoE and management interfaces shared between them."

Earthshaking ONTAP 8

What about 7G and GX? They are coming together in ONTAP 8. GX is based on code acquired with Spinnaker in 2003, and the idea is to cluster multiple NetApp systems together. Combining n-way clustering with NetApp's mainstream technology and its replication and snapshot technology and existing high-availability clustered pairs has not been easy.

Warmenhoven said: "It's been a hard challenge but we'll be ready to ship in about six months from now. It's the culmination of five years of very complicated engineering, a lot harder than we anticipated when we acquired Spinnaker."

"I think it will be earth-shaking. It will be as innovative in the storage world as DNS was. Today you have to know what physical device data is on, the LUN, the system. If you move data about you have to change all the apps that point to it."

DNS, the Domain Name System, translates website names into actual IP addresses, the dotted quads, four bytes in a sequence such as 172.128.248.36, which, in IPV4 defines the actual IP address for a website. This means website names can stay the same even though its host computer can move, and we website users don't have to know or care where a website is physically located.

It's different with storage. On your PC you have to go find a file on the C: drive or another one. If you don't know the device and directory you're in a bit of a bind. On a storage area network you have to know the volume or LUN details and accessing stored data on a host or across a network generally means you have to know pretty much which physical device it's on. That goes away with ONTAP 8.

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
Attack of the clones: Oracle's latest Red Hat Linux lookalike arrives
Oracle's Linux boss says Larry's Linux isn't just for Oracle apps anymore
THUD! WD plonks down SIX TERABYTE 'consumer NAS' fatboy
Now that's a LOT of porn or pirated movies. Or, you know, other consumer stuff
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
FLAPE – the next BIG THING in storage
Find cold data with flash, transmit it from tape
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.