According to Patrick Rogers, Vice President of Solutions Marketing at NetApp, the key market the company had in mind with ONTAP 8 was a service provider in the cloud. "This will enable partners to deliver infrastructure as a service," Rogers says. The tools to help the service provider include seamless data motion between physical resources, a global name space, an always-on infrastructure, deep integration of virtualization technologies and increased automation and charge-back features, which is perhaps most important for the service provider.
ONTAP 8 is the marriage of two previously-separate development streams: ONTAP 7G was the multi-tenant, virtualized code stream, while ONTAP GX offered single-system management, a global namespace, and a clustered file system. Brought together, the result is designed to offer management and scalability features across a highly-virtualized environment.
For a cloud environment, the data mobility piece - the ability to readily move data across both virtual and physical storage platforms - is vital. NetApp says that their Data Motion component allows data mobility with no downtime required for storage-subsystem expansion or scheduled maintenance. Rogers says that the reduced downtime is part of what makes the ONTAP 8 suitable for both service provider and enterprise organizations.
Asked about the type of cloud decisions he's seeing from most organizations, Rogers says, "Most enterprises are moving toward a hybrid model. Some apps might be more efficiently handled through a service provider, while some data needs to stay in house. Ideally you'd like to shift applications back and forth and have it integrated. It's not an either/or decision but how much of one or the other."