NetApp’s Grid computing Vision – We don’t get it , and we have been following their changes in direction for years. – I think they are lost. If you can find the road map from these quotes and news stories we certainly would appreciate your help and I am certain the rest of our blog readers will also.


NetApp FAS900 Grid Clustered Failover Solution

Network Appliance is now shipping the InfiniBand-based solution from JNI Corporation and Mellanox Technologies with its new FAS900 series to provide the core interconnect technology for NetApp grid clustered failover high availability solutions. …
“InfiniBand features low latency, low CPU overhead, and high data throughput, making it the ideal technology for cluster interconnect,” said Mark Santora, senior vice president of marketing at Network Appliance.

OK … so the Grid is a 900 series unit that is clustered running version 6.X, But then the Spinnaker purchase suggests another direction for NetApp Grid. 05 Nov 2003

According to Hitz, the most important thing that Spinnaker’s technology brings to the table is its ability to scale its global file system and global management capabilities to gigantic capacity points.
Spinnaker’s distributed architecture lets users tie multiple NAS servers together, which creates a large, scalable server that can be managed as a single storage resource through one interface.

But in January 2004 NetApp tries to clears things up a little – but clouds things a bit also, NetApp seems to be embracing interoperability instead of proprietary solutions. So why then did they buy Spinnaker?

InfoStor January, 2004 Author(s) : Lisa Coleman
“We saw what was happening in the compute grid space and we matched it in the storage space. It’s not about building the biggest box. It’s about having components that work together so you can scale incrementally, both inside and outside the data center,” says Mark Santora, senior vice president of marketing at Network Appliance.

OK … so the Grid is a
900 series unit that is clustered but has something to do with stuff that is inside and outside the data center. We are lost.. what happend to the 900 series cluster running version 6.X as a Grid? Is the stuff outside the datacenter a NetCache?

12/2/2004 – Flash ! We hear about a ‘Three phase roadmap ‘ :
“The aim is not to disrupt ONTAP customers,” said Dave Hitz, VP and co-founder of Network Appliance. “Think of the upgrade like moving from Windows to Windows NT. There’s a long overlap period … All future development is focused on the next-generation product, but we’ll support both.”
At a media and analyst event in New York, NetApp said its three-phase roadmap for introducing the grid-based operating system will be transparent to users as it plans to take features from its existing Data ONTAP OS and incorporate them into the SpinServer product.

What is the three phase road map? We have not seen it mentioned again. Are 700 series and 800 series units going to be able to do a Grid? Finally NetApp clears things up. MAY 31, 2005 they have a four year plan!
Over the next three to four years, predicts Hornung, virtually all storage will be grid-like in that it will be based on smaller, easily integrated building blocks that can scale horizontally in performance and capacity in seamless pools of storage. Until then, though, look carefully under the hood at purported grid storage and base your purchase decision on the real-world problems it solves.

But now we learn it all is about virtualization….
Tim Pitcher, NetApp VP for strategy and business development, says

Where is NetApp going?
But bringing out bigger and better boxes for NAS and FC/IP SAN applications isn’t the main event. It’s necessary, but the main event, the direction NetApp is pursuing, is: “A storage environment, a grid, which provides a global single storage environment that manages provisioning and compliance in a single global namespace. This is the holy grail; this is what everyone will want to get to.”

In other words a Data ONTAP-mediated storage environment. Virtualisation is a key aspect of this, an underlying, an under-pinning technology. Pitcher says: “For other vendors the message is do you want to provide the virtualisation or be virtualised?”

So a Grid is a virtualized namespace for now?, should we suppose that it has nothing to do with the former 900 series cluster, and the inside and the outside of the datacenter?

No matter which way this story ends, Zerowait will support your NetApp hardware for years to come!

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