Last week, I sat in on the kickoff of an exciting new Datalink labs project at our headquarters in Chanhassen, MN: a team of NetApp ninjas working with our guys to build a four-node ONTAP 8.1 beta V-series cluster running a combination of NetApp and non-NetApp disk storage under the covers.
If you’ve been away from NetApp for a while, ONTAP 8.1 continues the integration of scale-out NAS clustering capabilities coming from NetApp’s 2004 acquisition of Spinnaker Networks.
The strictures of our Early Access Program agreement with NetApp prohibit me (booooo! fight the power!) from revealing hard-core details, but here are some worthy generalities:
- The event serves as both a training exercise for Datalink and NetApp , as well as tight-loop feedback system to get our findings (feature requests, bugs, documentation enhancements, etc.) back to NetApp field, support and product engineering. It’s awesome to have strong partnerships…
- Tests include multiple virtual servers running all supported protocols (FC, FCoE, iSCSI, NFS and CIFS) in various combinations.
- This cluster is, I’m told, one of a small handful of places in the world where 8.1beta is running outside of NetApp's walls.
Per the current timetable, we expect this Early Access/beta testing event to run through the end of August or early September. Then Datalink's engineering teams will get internal briefings on the findings and access to the environment. Finally, the rubber meets the road as the the NDA-sanctioned fruits of this work start making its way to curious customers throughout the end of the year.
Timetables, feature roadmaps, and documentation are great and have their respective purposes, but there's no substitute for having your hands on the metal early in the game. I mentioned in my earlier post regarding some HDS HNAS testing in Datalink labs that we really feel our strong partner relationships – and the early access to new systems that those relationships allow us – are a three-way win for our customers, our partners, and the collective Datalink engineering noggin.
Let's be careful out there, regards, Rick
 We’ll use the experience to host an internal peer-to-peer roundtable for our tech folks after the beta conclude.