NetApp's New Ontap 9 Features Virtual Storage Array, Improved Flash Optimization

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NetApp today unveiled the latest version of its Ontap operating system, which it claims will simplify customers' storage architectures and prepare them for flash storage optimization.

The new version, called Ontap 9, includes a virtual appliance that can run on commodity server hardware and in the cloud, and is ready to take advantage of new 15-TB SSDs launching next month, said Adam Fore, director of product solutions and marketing for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based storage vendor.

NetApp has officially renamed its operating system Ontap, which is a simplification of the previous name, Clustered Data Ontap, A big change in Ontap 9 over previous editions is the removal of much of the complexity involved in deploying it, Fore told CRN.

[Related: Q&A: NetApp CEO Kurian Explains Strategic Tech Shift, Discusses Cisco Relations As Dell, EMC Combine]

Ontap 9 is optimized for NAS or Fibre Channel before it's shipped so it can be quickly optimized for specific workloads including VMware, Oracle, Microsoft SQL, or Microsoft Exchange at the customer site, Fore said.

"For instance, if the customer uses it in a VMware environment, it automatically connects to vCenter to set everything up," he said. "So after plugging it in, the time to deploy data is about 10 minutes, including some cabling elements. Next week, we'll have a video showing this."

John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems (IAS), a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and long-time NetApp channel partner, said the new simplification promised by Ontap 9 is most welcomed by customers.

"It's worthy of some bubbly," Woodall told CRN. "We already did five customer NDA presentations in the last couple weeks."

Woodall said the idea of a 10-minute deployment is in-part marketing speak, but in many situations, Ontap 9 will allow it.

"For customers deploying Oracle, SQL, virtual desktops, and so on, things can be configured with the storage before it's shipped," Woodall said. "When it arrives, just cable it up and deploy it, and the configuration is done automatically."

NetApp's Fore said one major new capability is Ontap Select, a software-defined technology that allows Ontap 9 to be deployed on any VMware-qualified commodity server hardware. Up to four instances of Ontap 9 can be configured in VMware virtual machines and connected in a high-availability solution.

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