NetApp is readying enterprises for the software-defined storage era with the latest edition of its Data ONTAP software.

The company’s storage operating system, now version 8.2, was revamped with a focus on three categories, according to Brendon Howe, vice president of Product and Solutions Marketing, for NetApp. These three categories – which are critical for crafting responsive, resilient and agile enterprise-class storage infrastructures – are non-disruptive operations, seamless scalability, and across-the-board efficiency, asserts Howe.

In Data ONTAP 8.2, NetApp placed special emphasis on enabling non-disruptive management and maintenance for highly virtualized environments. For keeping business and critical applications up and running, the company enlists storage virtual machines (SVMs), which Howe describes as a software provisioned container that acts “just like a standalone system” and delivers storage transparently. Portability is key; SVMs can run and move across storage pools managed by clustered ONTAP.

In heavily consolidated server environments that are teeming with virtual machines (VM), NetApp’s updates mean that “you can make changes to the infrastructure by not disrupting those virtual machines,” said Howe. As a result, storage administrators can upgrade or add capacity to their storage systems while delivering continuous application uptime. The platform provides the requisite support for VMware’s ecosystem, including vStorage APIs for vSphere, Horizon Suite and vCloud Suite, as well as Microsoft Windows 2012 Hyper-V.

It could spell the end of late night and weekend storage upkeep, to the delight of storage administrators. “You don’t have to take down the application to do these routine changes,” said Howe.

Version 8.2 scales higher, accommodating up to 69 petabytes (PB) of storage. Data ONTAP now supports up to 49,000 LUNs in 8-node cluster and 12,000 volumes in 24-node cluster. NetApp also boasts support for infinite volumes on NAS (NFSv4, pNFS and SMB 1.0), Microsoft BranchCache v2 and up 100,000 NFS clients. A single container can reach up to 20 PB in size.

New quality of service features provide IT managers the tools to set fine-grained SLAs both on SAN and NAS resources, across NetApp and non-NetApp storage. SnapVault D2D backup preserves the storage and bandwidth savings provided by compression and deduplication savings over the network. NetApp claims that SnapVault D2D also offers instant available restores of PB-scale datasets, applications and virtual machines.

ONTAP’s will help CIOs negotiate the industry-wide shift toward the software-defined data center model, according to NetApp chief technology officer Jay Kidd.

“CIOs are moving from builders of applications and operators of data centers to brokers of information services to the business. This new role requires technologies that can speed IT response time and drive operational and resource efficiency. Clustered Data ONTAP fills this need today, providing the key building block that delivers the benefits of software-defined storage models and [it] will replace existing slow and inefficient siloed approaches,” stated Kidd in company remarks.

NetApp took the opportunity to announce the general availability of Flash Cache 2 PCIe caching hardware. Designed to give servers a flash-based boost to applications, online transaction processing (OLTP), databases and virtual workloads, Flash Cache 2 now offers 2 terabytes (TB) of memory capacity, twice the amount of its predecessors.