NetApp Wednesday announced a newly refreshed version of Data OnTap, the company’s storage management software. According to the company, the new features should help storage administrators keep pace with a rapidly evolving enterprise IT landscape.

Over the years, NetApp has supplied a steadily stream of updates to Data OnTap. Yet as the storage solutions provider celebrates its 20th year, it finds itself on a mission to cater to a shift in how computing is deployed and managed.

And NetApp has virtualization to thank.

According to NetApp’s Jay Kidd, senior vice president of Product Strategy and Development for the Storage Solutions Group, virtualization has effectively turned servers into infrastructure — systems working in concert to unlock the true compute potential of entire data centers. That, in turn said Kidd, “has given rise to a mindset that wants to see storage and I/O capacity treated as a pool.”

NetApp is working on the storage side of the coin with new updates to its OnTap platform.

Key among them is a zero downtime approach toward workload migrations and system maintenance made possible by OnTap’s clustering capabilities. An early version OnTap clustering debuted in 2009 and in the years since, the company has strengthened the feature to “move workloads between nodes of the cluster non-disruptively to applications,” informed Kidd.

It’s a capability, he said, that shops running 24/7 applications, including Oracle, SAP and Microsoft Exchange, will find compelling. Effectively, this can spell “the end of planned downtime” for NetApp environments, said Kidd.

Storage administrators should also find it a compelling proposition said Terri McClure, senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group. “The non-disruptive migration capabilities are intriguing and seem to deliver on NetApp’s vision for an agile, nonstop storage infrastructure,” she stated.

McClure added, “Migration is an ongoing pain point for IT because it is time consuming and disruptive — doing migrations online is a great first step towards easing some of the migration pain.”

And no discussion of modern storage infrastructures is complete without flash storage. The company recently began rolling out its Flash Pool technology. It allows OnTap to automatically discover and configure flash drives, providing automated tiering and optimizing storage systems to benefit from I/O-enhancing SSDs and shrink the performance disparity between low-cost SATA and enterprise SAS.

Also new are enhanced scalability features like OnTap’s Infinite Volumes, which allows storage administrators to create some Big Data environments of their own with the ability to configure volumes of up to 20 PB in size.

For branch and remote offices, the company is releasing Data OnTap Edge, a VMware vSphere virtual machine that extends NetApp’s data protection and management features to internal and direct attached storage. Aimed as a low-cost alternative to dedicated NetApp storage systems, OnTap Edge ships in August.

NetApp’s Data OnTap 8.1.1 is available for ordering now.