NetApp Acquires Spinnaker

Network Appliance plans clustering improvements.

Network Appliance Inc. next year will give users drastically improved clustering features, based on the $300 million acquisition of Spinnaker Networks Inc., officials said last week.

NetApps current high-end storage series blends NAS (network-attached storage) and SAN (storage area network) capabilities in one device, but it can cluster only two nodes at once, said Suresh Vasudevan, senior director of software at NetApp, in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Pittsburgh-based Spinnakers technology can cluster hundreds of nodes at once, Vasudevan said. Moreover, "across all of these clusters, presenting a single namespace is another area where they have expertise," and virtualization can be applied to NetApps SAN deployments, he said.

NetApps product plans include making Spinnakers technologies work with NetApps hardware and later porting the technology directly to NetApps Data OnTap operating system, Vasudevan said, declining to state a time frame. Also planned are clusters that scale dynamically, he said.

Spinnaker Gives NetApp:

  • Clustering of hundreds of nodes
  • SAN virtualization
  • File systems expertise
  • Dozens of engineers

Vasudevan said NetApps intention is to have the clustering technology work on all future models of its storage devices. He declined to comment on whether the technology would be backward compatible with current models.

"Im pleasantly surprised. Its something that we will definitely be looking at over the next year and potentially implementing, depending on how stable they get it, in a year or two. Downtime is always the enemy," said Henry Jenkins, chief technology officer of First American Trust FSB, in Santa Ana, Calif.

The bank has used NetApps current clustering solution for more than three years, but failovers take about 30 seconds. Thats equal to $30,000 to $40,000 in lost interest penalties, Jenkins said.

Several pioneers of the popular Network File System launched Spinnaker, an 83-employee, privately owned company, in late 1999.