NetApp’s announcement of multi-petabyte namespace support in its Data Ontap GX 7G storage operating system – my, doesn’t that just roll off the tongue! – should allow it corner several shrinking HPC markets. Industrial Light & Magic used the Spinnaker version to store 6 petabytes of Star Wars v3 special effects, including 300 TB of the opening battle shots. If only they’d stopped there.

Raquel Welch in One Million BC vs Net App In One Million IOPS
If the block storage people are wondering about NetApp’s intentions, wonder no more. They are gunning for the high-end data center storage market now dominated by EMC, IBM and Hitachi. One clue: the 1,000,000 I/O per second SPEC mark. True, it was mostly a stunt that flaunted the ripped abs of their 768 GB cache, and performance started degrading fast around 900k, but so what? This is about bragging rights, not real life.

As Greg Schulz points out NAS is an increasingly popular data center option for ease of management and scalability. Block storage isn’t going away anytime soon, but as the divergent stock prices of NTAP and EMC proclaim, Wall St. is more interested in your future growth rate than your current market share.

NetApp Goes Hollywood?
As Silicon Graphics can attest, Hollywood has zero brand loyalty. So the ILM endorsement means only that they haven’t found anything cheaper that will do the job. That will change when the cluster version of ZFS rolls out. Nor is geophysical modeling for finding oil a a growth industry. HPC is traditionally a graveyard for companies that focus on it: too few customers who are too demanding and unreliable. Ask Cray Research.

Yet the six petabyte array is a significant technical achievement. I hope their marketing does a good job of selling the benefits of large namespaces and storage pools, because right now people are still caught up in the whole disks and volumes mindset. NetApp can legitimize the storage pool concept in data centers, paving the way for software solutions like ZFS to grow.