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NetApp releases flurry of hardware, OS upgrades

Fabric-Attached Storage line can increase up to 2.9 petabytes of capacity

November 9, 2010 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - NetApp today announced hardware upgrades to its midrange and high-end line of Fabric-Attached Storage (FAS) arrays as well as to its Data ONTAP 8 operating system, which it launched a little more than a year go.

"This is a move from an application-based or siloed-based storage infrastructure to a shared infrastructure," said Manish Goel, executive vice president of product operations at NetApp.

NetApp's added what it is calling Unified Connect to its Data ONTAP 8 operating system, which offers administrators the ability to concurrently run a variety of Ethernet-based connections to its storage arrays, including Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), iSCSI, Network File System or Common Internet File System.

NetApp Unified Connect, which includes a new unified network adapter card in the storage arrays, offers support for any 10Gbit/sec Ethernet switches, including Cisco Nexus 5000 series, the Brocade 8000, and the Brocade DCX director using the 24 port FCoE blade.

"Because of server virtualization, multiple applications are being shared on the same physical server infrastructure," Goel said. "As a result, that enabled all of those applications to share the same storage infrastructure without requiring storage to act as a dedicated silo."

Robert Ross, a senior vice president of network and technical services at Data Center Inc., said he uses NetApp's entire line of NAS arrays in his company's various data centers throughout the U.S., and he has more than 200TB of data on the boxes.

"By unifying all all these protocols the ONTAP operating system can use, we can move to a common fabric that's using Cisco's high-powered switch technology," said Ross, whose company is an applications service provider for the banking industry. "It really cleans up the data center environment."

He said that by using copper wire instead of fiber on his network will equate to a significant savings in not having to purchase Fibre Channel switches and host bus adapters for server in the future.

Data ONTAP 8 now also offers native data compression on the array instead of through a switch or appliance in the storage network, as was needed in the past. By moving the compression algorithm to the array, a network bottleneck is alleviated, Goel said.

NetApp storage arrays already offer data deduplication. The compression can be used in conjunction with the existing data deduplication functionality to offer greater storage efficiency.

The company also announced what it's calling DataMotion for Volumes, a new software tool that allows users to move large volumes of data without disrupting their business operations.

An internal disk virtualization feature allows data volumes to be moved from one NetApp array to another without having to pause the application. Once the volume is moved, the application server is automatically remapped to the new array.

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