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NetApp scales up Clustered Ontap

NetApp unleashed Clustered Data Ontap 8.2 today, using the launch to again make its case as the king software-defined storage.

Since EMC revealed its ViPR software-defined storage technology plan last month, NetApp executives have claimed they do much of the same things in Clustered Data Ontap.

Part of 8.2 is about making its quality of service more granular and improving scalability to support 69 PB of storage and 24 controller nodes, 49,000 LUNs, and 12,000 NAS volumes supporting over 100,000 clients. It supports 20 PB in a single container. NetApp also added availability for SnapVault, which was not supported in Clsutered Ontap 8.1.

The more important piece of the upgrade is enhanced storage virtual machines (SVMs), which have some of the capabilities that EMC is claiming for ViPR.

SVMs are virtualized storage arrays defined in Ontap than run inside NetApp FAS  or V-Series controllers. Customers can grow them, shrink them, or move them on demand. Hundreds of SVMs can run on one piece of hardware, according to Brendon Howe, NetApp VP of product marketing.

SVMs evolved from the VirtualFiler, or vFiler, that NetApp added with Ontap 7. SMVs, however, are not tied to the underlying hardware. They can be moved across devices while retaining full Ontap storage services, Howe said.

Unlike NetApp’s Data Ontap Edge virtual storage appliances (VSAs) that run on server hardware virtualized by VMware vSphere, SVMs run on storage arrays.

Data Ontap Edge also plays a role in NetApp’s software-defined storage strategy, and the vendor plans to use Edge to deploy clustered Ontap on x86 hardware.

NetApp has supported server virtualization through its V Series controllers since 2006, before anybody called that software-defined storage. But Howe said NetApp has taken a different approach to pooling storage than other vendors and its version fits the software-defined storage label.

“Software-defined storage is closely tied to traditional storage virtualization,” he said. “We’ve assured that all rich management capabilities of our storage systems are made available in that virtual layer, instead of federating systems. We said, ‘What if you pool systems and don’t sacrifice any functions of any systmems in that pool?’

“Software-defined is an emerging discussion these days. I think it’s a discussion of how you enable services to be dynamically provisioned.”

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