NetApp has caught up with OnStor and Isilon and has a clustered network-attached storage (NAS) product. The product uses FAS 3050 or 6070 filer nodes with the Data ONTAP GX operating system. There can be up to 24 nodes in a cluster, interconnected by a private twin-wire gigabit Ethernet (GigE) network. Pairs of nodes are linked by Infiniband for automatic failover if a node fails. Accessing clients request files over a separate Ethernet network, which can be dual-ported.

Nodes can use 10 or 15K rpm Fibre Channel disks or serial ATA drives, supporting NFS and basic CIFS. There is no agent software required on the client servers. Files can be local to a node or, with the FlexVol high performance option (HPO), striped across nodes for very high performance. Such striped files or folders are collected in one node for delivery to the requesting client.

The cluster can be scaled out by adding nodes, and performance scales linearly as nodes are added. Capacity can be scaled up to 6PB.

The company said that a 24-node Data ONTAP GX cluster delivered 1,032,461 SPECsfs97_R1v3 ops/sec. NetApp says this triples the score of the nearest competitor. OnStor's Bobcat 2260, which, twinned with a 3PAR array achieved 128,236 ops/sec. An EMC Celerra NSX Cluster achieved 320,064 ops/sec. There is no Isilon SPECsfs benchmark score.

A GX cluster can be managed through a single pane of glass. Data can be moved transparently from node to node or between disk tiers with FlexVol move technology.

ONTAP GX clusters are aimed at the high-performance computing market. Over time business computing functionality will be ported from ONTAP 7G to GX to widen the applicability of clustered NetApp NAS. Fibre Channel and iSCSI access protocol support will be added in the future.

NetApp now has a product that can compete strongly in the high-performance clustered NAS space. It has finally started delivering the benefits of its Spinnaker acquisition, admittedly a few months late. As an established and trusted vendor it hopes that it can successfully compete against start-up companies that have been delivering high-performance NAS products, while the Spinnaker technology integration into Data ONTAP has been ongoing.