Networking at NetApp: Innovation and Advocacy

By Frank Pleshe, Technical Marketing Engineer, and Philip Trautman, FAS Product Marketing, NetApp


Part 1 of a multi-part series on storage networking at NetApp


Considering how integral networking is to the success of network storage, it’s surprising how little time some of us in the storage field spend thinking about it.


But, owing to the sub-millisecond latencies now achievable with flash, network performance is more critical than ever to overall storage performance. At the same time, the IT landscape is evolving at a rapid clip – creating a need for greater network flexibility.


With new data types and mountains of data to contend with, we at NetApp have to constantly evolve our thinking – and our products – to deliver the network connectivity you need now and in the future.



Bringing Network Innovation to Storage

NetApp has been a long-time leader in storage networking innovation and standards efforts*.


Physical Layer. NetApp was among the earliest adopters of both Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet technologies, and was also the first with 8Gb/sec FC and one of the first with 16Gb/sec FC.


NetApp is also the first storage vendor to introduce flexible onboard ports and adapter cards to support both block and file-based storage. With Unified Target Adapter 2 (UTA2) technology, the same port can operate either as 10GbE or as 16Gb/sec FC with a simple optics change.


Given our long-standing commitment to unified storage on our FAS platform, maybe this isn’t so surprising. Doing both SAN and NAS equally well requires a higher level of flexibility.


NAS Protocols. NetApp’s NAS contributions are well known. Senior Vice President, Brian Pawlowski, was a major contributor to NFSv3, and Senior Technical Director, Mike Eisler and others, made significant contributions to both NFSv4, NFSv4.1, and pNFS. NetApp was the first to bring CIFS to NAS on an equal footing with NFS, and the co-inventor of NDMP (network data management protocol) along with Legato Systems.


SAN Protocols: On the SAN side, NetApp was the first to ship iSCSI and the first to deliver native FCoE. We’ve continued to push hard in the face of sometimes-significant headwinds to make FCoE a success.


What Is Past is Prologue

Clustered Data ONTAP and the scale-out architecture of the FAS8000 are the culmination of all of NetApp’s storage networking efforts to date. The FAS8000 supports hundreds of network connections and tremendous network bandwidth. In coming posts in this series we’ll explore the networking capabilities of the FAS architecture and clustered Data ONTAP in more depth to help you understand how NetApp helps you make the most of every network resource. Topics will include:


  • Using a low-latency 10GbE non-blocking switch infrastructure as a cluster interconnect
  • Understanding clustered Data ONTAP networking concepts (ports, LIFs, IFGRPs, VLANs, failover groups, etc.)
  • Load balancing


Stay tuned for more.


*See a complete list of NetApp innovations and the standards organizations that NetApp participates in.