When NetApp purchased Spinnaker I was startled, as I could not understand the reason behind the purchase. Spinnaker, like Panasas, could have been a viable company, but they were both late to the marketplace, and could not get the market acceptance that the Internet boom provided both EMC and NetApp. But Spinnaker had identified a few niche markets, as has Panasas. Additionally, the Spinnaker technology was based on the Andrews File System & the NetApp system is based on BSD. So they really could not be easily integrated. In my humble opinion, Panasas would have made more sense to purchase from a technology point of view for NetApp. So, I was very interested in reading this article by Chris Mellor over the weekend.
Anderson says: “NetApp uses Infiniband to cluster two nodes. When NetApp bought Spinnaker it then made a mistake. It tried to add features out of the Spinnaker product into ONTAP. But clustering can’t be done that way; it has to be in the DNA of the system. NetApp’s approach didn’t work. Two years ago NetApp reversed direction. Dave Hitz (NetApp CEO) announced that Data ONTAP GX is a Spinnaker foundation with NetApp features added to it.”
Anderson added this comment: “(Data ONTAP GX) is namespace organisation. It’s not clustering. It’s RAID behind the veil and can still take eight hours to rebuild a disk. They’ll be performance problems downstream. It’s a bandaid. It’s a total kluge.”
A virtualised pool of NAS resource requires the NAS nodes to be clustered for smooth performance scaling. It also requires N + 2 protection so that the system can recover from two failed disks and not just one. (NetApp’s RAID DP provides protection against two disk failures.)