Chatter foreshadows major NetApp ONTAP refresh
Muttering analysts hint at mighty new software
Update NetApp is poised to announce a major release of its ONTAP software, if you believe the analyst buzz coming from the press, blogs and Twitter.
ONTAP 8.1 was first publicly discussed back in late 2009 and it is widely thought that the integration of Spinnaker clustering and allied functionality into ONTAP is still a lengthy work in progress. The last refresh of ONTAP was the release of ONTAP 8.01  in November last year.
NetApp recently held an analysts' briefing day and there has been a constant murmur of ONTAP 8.1 chatter since then. Here's ESG's Mark Peters : "The big news is the arrival of ONTAP 8.1–the main component of which is a clustering capability that has the potential to single-featuredly keep NetApp on its stunning recent growth trajectory. "
Here's an April 11 note from Eugene Kashpureff  on a NetApp Community forum: "There's an internal target date, but no public release yet." Here's a tweet from Prasad Tipirneni : "Netapp ontap 8.1 has some cool features of 64 bit aggregate and 16TB deduplication."
Kashpureff said he didn't know if 32-bit to 64-bit aggregate conversion was a feature in ONTAP 8.1. The 16TB deduplication point refers to deduplication working on FlexVols (flexible volumes) which have a 16TB limit in ONTAP 8.01. A NetApp document (pdf)  discusses the subject.
Google ONTAP + "8.1" and you will find more references to the expected arrival of ONTAP 8.1.
ONTAP 8.1 could unify the separate 7G and 8.01 strands of ONTAP, and position NetApp to provide more scale-out features to cope with larger data sets. We might expect more use to be made of flash memory devices, something around data storage efficiency, and clustering improvements.
If the analyst buzz is correct then we shouldn't have long to wait too long, possibly just three months, for what could be an awfully important software release by NetApp. ®
The story has been updated to include 32-bit to 64-bit aggregate conversion, add 16TB deduplication limit background information, and to add a likely September date for the ONTAP 8.2release.