NetApp is poised to announce a major release of its ONTAP software, if you believe the analyst buzz coming from the press, blogs and Twitter. ONTAP 8.1 was first publicly discussed back in late 2009 and it is widely thought that the integration of Spinnaker clustering and allied functionality into ONTAP is still a lengthy work …
64-bit already in 8.01
I'm currently mid-implementation of a NetApp 8.01 filer with 64-bit aggregates so not entirely sure why you think that 64-bit won't be arriving until 8.1.
64 bit aggr
64 bit aggregates are already part of the 8.01 software. Just went through a fiddly migration to them here. What will (hopefully) be in 8.1 is a simple conversion tool to go from 32 bit to 64 bit
64 bit aggregates are already there
They were added in ONTAP 8.0 - you can create a volume up to 100TB already on a 6280, and the sizes scale depending on the memory of the platform from there. From memory the "smallest" 64 bit aggregate/volume is 40TB on the 2040's.
Dedupe is still limited to 16TB volumes, even if the underlying aggregate is 100TB.
OnTap 8.0 already has 64-bit aggregates. From March 2010, http://media.netapp.com/documents/tr-3786.pdf
"ONTAP 8.1 could unify the separate 7G and 8.01 strands of ONTAP, and position NetApp to provide more scale-out features to cope with larger data sets."
Now really, Who would want to unify those two??
8.0.x comes in two flavours: 7-Mode (ex-7G) and Cluster-Mode (ex-GX). Same code-base, different environment variables to tell the system in which mode to start.
More Scale-Out? Cluster-Mode already gives you up to 28 PB (on 24 nodes) in a single namespace. I'm teaching NetApp and talked to a student 2 weeks ago, who will be setting up a new 5PB system in the coming weeks...
(8.0.2RC1 already supports 3TB drives which will proportionally increase the above numbers...)
"We might expect more use to be made of flash memory devices, something around data storage efficiency, and clustering improvements."
More flash? The 6280A already supports 8TB PCI-Flash. With 8.0.2 (RC already publicly available) this will increase to 16TB... SSD shelfs are supported for about a year already.
Storage Efficiency? Compression is available as of 8.0.1 (7-Mode). You can even combine it with deduplication where it makes sense.
No, 8.1 is simply the convergence of 8.0.x 7-Mode and Cluster-Mode with added benefits.
The "big deal" about 8.1 is the introduction of block protocol support in C-mode
..But it's untested and brand new code.
Only CIFS and NFS are supported in 8.0.1 C-mode, there is not block support - you have to go to 7-mode for that.
So, presumably, 8.1 will be (finally) introducing FC, iSCSI and perhaps FCoE support in C-mode, although I'm not certain how many customers who are already a bit dodgy on NetApp's SAN support in 7G, would go to a brand new stack, and untested code for their mission-critical workloads.