NetApp's Kidd Talks Software Roadmap

De-dupe, virtualization, and OnTap consolidation are all in the cards

January 24, 2008

3 Min Read
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NetApp is readying a host of software upgrades, including plans to extend de-duplication capabilities to primary storage, enhance virtualization, and eventually merge the 7G and GX versions of its OnTap software.

The vendor's chief marketing officer, Jay Kidd, told Byte and Switch this week that a new release of OnTap 7G, NetApp's enterprise operating system, will include de-duplication specifically aimed at primary storage.

Last year, NetApp used OnTap 7G to add de-duplication to its R200 and FAS product lines, although Kidd says this was mostly focused on secondary storage.

"We have done some additional tuning and optimization, and we will continue to do that throughout the year to allow de-dupe to be used even more broadly in primary storage environments," he said. "Remember that the OnTap architecture is the same for primary and secondary [storage], so it was relatively easy to do."

The exec explained that, despite most de-dupe being targeted at secondary storage, more and more of NetApp's customers are looking to use the technology on their primary storage as well. "A real focus [for NetApp] has been understanding the behavior of de-dupe on primary storage," says Kidd, adding that this will be offered within an imminent release of OnTap 7G. "We will be making a formal announcement fairly soon."NetApp, which like rival vendors Asigra, Quantum, and Sepaton, de-dupes data after its written to a target disk, made some noise about primary storage when it first unveiled its de-dupe last year, but has not really focused its attention on primary storage until now.

The vendor, which has been identified as being particularly vulnerable to an IT spending slowdown is also ramping up its virtualization strategy.

"Storage in support of virtualized servers is a very big trend for us that has been a very fast-growing part of our business," said Kidd. "We will be delivering some software capabilities to further enhance what we already do."

Specifically, NetApp is looking to upgrade its SnapManager product, which is used to manage applications such as Oracle, Exchange, and Sharepoint running as VMware virtual machines.

"We will enhance those capabilities to make them more specifically suited to working with individual virtual machines," said Kidd, adding that users will be able to manage VMs on a one-by-one basis, as opposed to the current setup, where VMs are managed as a group. "It will be able to do more, and for more applications -- we will be announcing that fairly shortly."NetApp is also planning to tie its OnTap 7G and OnTap GX software into a consolidated offering during the course of 2008. Whereas GX has been mainly targeted at high-performance computing customers, 7G has been aimed at enterprises with a mixed workload of transactional databases, Exchange, and other directories running on the same storage platform.

"Where we are going is that they are converging into a single OnTap release that supports the best of both worlds. 7G customers will get access to a scale-out, higher capacity environment -- GX customers will get all the enterprise features that the 7G customers want.

"We're doing the final stages of engineering, and we will certainly be starting user testing this year. We're not sure yet when the final release will be."

The exec was somewhat less forthcoming on the subject of NetApp's 2008 M&A plans, just a couple of weeks after the vendor threw down a rumored $120 million for management specialist Onaro.

"If I could predict M&A, I would be playing the lottery," he said. "We're constantly looking for good opportunities, and as the stars align on timing, price, and the interest of all parties, M&A happens... Clearly, NetApp's focus is on storage and data management, and there's a lot of room in that area to do some pretty interesting things. It's very fertile ground for both internal development and acquisition."Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Asigra Inc.

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Onaro Inc.

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)

  • Quantum Corp. (NYSE: QTM)

  • Sepaton Inc.

  • VMware Inc.

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