Archive

Posts Tagged ‘NetApp’

Explain Snapshots

March 11th, 2014

This seems to be a popular search term so I think it’s worth covering off. This is covered on my old top post about Fractional Reservation, but I’ll cover the alternatives here also.

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NetApp snapshots used to be pretty unique in the industry, but the industry term for this technology is generally now Append-on-Write / Redirect-on-Write (new writes are appended to the “end”, or redirected to free blocks, depending how you look at it) and quite a few vendors do it this way. Put very simply, all new data is written to new (zeroed) blocks on disk. This does mean that snapshot space has to be logically in the same location as the production data, but that really shouldn’t be a problem with wide-striping / aggregates / storage pools (pick preferred vendor term). When a snapshot is taken, the inode table is frozen and copied. The inode table points to the data blocks, and these data blocks now become fixed. As the active filesystem “changes” blocks, these actually get written to new locations on disk, and so there is no overhead to the write (the new blocks are already zeroed). In other technologies (not NetApp) this also forms the basis of automated tiering, once data is “locked” by a snapshot, it’ll never be over-written so it can safely be tiered out of SSD or even SAS as read performance is rarely an issue. NetApp use FlashPools to augment this, and a snapshot is a trigger for data to be tiered out of FlashPools as it’ll never be “overwritten”.

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New beginnings

March 11th, 2014

First new post in what, 2-3 years? WAFL.co.uk still performs admirably and now that I’ve moved roles I figure it’s time to re-visit my old flames. My home lab needs a re-build and upgrade and that should get documented!

So I’ve moved into the big scary world of contract based work, I started my first role a couple of weeks ago, and so far it’s going great. I want to keep an update on my exploits, the challenges real customers are facing and share some of my generic musings. The site will be less NetApp centric, but I still have my roots in storage!

My first role involved a lot of interesting challenges, but there’s some great technology available here too. A strong DevOps team (that need help integrating the Ops bit, doesn’t everyone?), lots of Big Data challenges, and an immediate project to look at creating a much more responsive infrastructure, including where cloud services fit in. I started life as a web developer, and it’s great being back at a dotcom company and seeing how the challenges have evolved.

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NetApp Debuts OnCommand Performance Manager

March 3rd, 2014
NetApp last week released OnCommand Performance Manager 1.0 Release Candidate 1 (RC1) to all NetApp customers and partners. This new software provides performance management, troubleshooting, and event notification for systems running clustered Data ONTAP 8.2 and 8.2.1.

Performance Manager 1.0 RC1 is deployed, not installed, as a virtual appliance within VMware ESX or ESXi. A virtual appliance is a prebuilt software bundle, containing an operating system and software applications that are integrated, managed, and updated as a package. This software distribution method simplifies what would be an otherwise complex installation process.

Upon deployment, the Linux 2.6.32-based virtual appliance creates a virtual machine containing the user software, third-party applications, and all configuration information pre-installed on the virtual machine. Much of the virtual appliance middleware is built primarily with Java and includes several open-source components – most notably from (but not limited to) the Apache Software Foundation, the Debian Project, and the Free Software Foundation.

Sizing Performance Manager is based upon a number of factors: the number of clustered Data ONTAP clusters, maximum number of nodes in each cluster, and maximum number of volumes on any node in a cluster.

In order to meet the official supportability status from NetApp, Performance Manager 1.0 RC1 requires 12GB of (reserved) memory, 4 virtual CPUs, and a total of 9572 MHz of (reserved) CPU. This qualified configuration meets minimum levels of acceptable performance and configuring these settings smaller than specified is not supported. Interestingly, increasing any of these resources is permitted – but not recommended – as doing so provides little additional value.

In fact, according to December 2013 AutoSupport data from NetApp, most customers should expect to deploy a single Performance Manager virtual appliance; as one instance will be suitable for 95% of all currently deployed clustered Data ONTAP systems.

It’s also interesting to note that quite a few products exist in the OnCommand portfolio that provide performance monitoring. So when would one product be better suited over another?

Let's start with Performance Manager; this is the least common denominator. It monitors and troubleshoots deep into the clustered Data ONTAP system.

OnCommand Balance provides troubleshooting and optimization at the next level -- especially in a server virtualization environment. It monitors clustered Data ONTAP, the VMs, and hosts. It correlates all data by using performance analytics and provides guidance.

Finally, OnCommand Insight is a full storage resource management solution for large, complex, multivendor storage in virtual and physical environments. NetApp customers add Insight if they have other vendors’ storage, such as EMC, HP, IBM, HDS, etc.

No license is required to deploy OnCommand Performance Manager 1.0 RC1. For the required VMware server and browser versions, refer to the Interoperability Matrix Tool (IMT) page on the NetApp Support Site.

Geek ONTAP ,

NetApp Unveils FAS8000

February 19th, 2014
NetApp today launched the FAS8000 Series, its latest enterprise platform for shared infrastructure, with three new models: FAS8020, FAS8040, and FAS8060, which replace the FAS/V3220, FAS/V3250, and FAS/V6220, respectively. This new line will initially ship with Data ONTAP 8.2.1 RC2, supporting either 7-Mode or clustered Data ONTAP.

All systems are available in either standalone and HA configurations within a single chassis. All standalone FAS8000 controller configurations can have a second controller (of the same model) added to the chassis to become HA.

The new FAS8000 has been qualified with the DS2246, DS4246, DS4486, DS4243, DS14mk4, and the DS14mk2-AT disk shelves with IOM6, IOM3, ESH4, and AT-FCX shelf modules. Virtualized storage from multiple vendors can also be added to the FAS8000 -- without a dedicated V-Series “gateway” system -- with the new “FlexArray” software feature.

NetApp will not offer a separate FlexCache model for the FAS8000 Series.

Let’s explore the technical details of each one of these new storage systems.


FAS8020
The 3U form factor FAS8020 (codenamed: "Buell") is targeted towards mid-size enterprise customers with mixed workloads. Each Processor Control Module (PCM) includes a single-socket, 2.0 GHz Intel E5-2620 “Sandy Bridge-EP” processor with 6 cores (12 per HA pair), an Intel Patsburg-J SouthBridge, and 24GB of DDR3 physical memory (48GB per HA pair).

NetApp supports single and dual controller configurations in one chassis, but unlike previous systems, I/O Expansion Module (IOXM) configurations are not supported. The increased mix of high-performance on-board ports and the flexibility offered by the new Unified Target Adapter 2 (UTA2) ports reduces the need for higher slot counts on the FAS8000 series.

As with the NetApp NVRAM8 on previous FAS systems, each FAS8020 PCM includes 4GB of NVRAM9 (8GB per HA pair) with battery backup; should a power loss occur, the NVRAM contents are destaged onto NAND Flash memory. Once power is restored, the resulting NVLOG is then replayed to restore the system. NVRAM9 is integrated on the motherboard and does not take up a slot.

The FAS8020 is built upon the Gen 3 PCI Express (PCIe) architecture for embedded devices (such as PCI bridges, Ethernet / Fibre Channel / InfiniBand adapters, and SAS controllers). Its slots support wide links up to x8 lanes.

Interestingly, the HA interconnect for the FAS8020 now leverages 40Gb QDR InfiniBand adapters; this is a substantial upgrade from the 10GBASE-KR (copper) or 10GBASE-SR (fiber) technology found within the FAS/V3220.

Also new to the FAS8020 is the new Unified Target Adapter (UTA) 2; a storage industry first from NetApp. It supports 16Gb Fibre Channel (FC) or 10Gb Ethernet, providing future flexibility. Both ports must be set to the same "personality" and changing one UTA port will change the second port to the same personality. The FAS8020 has a single ASIC for onboard UTA2 ports, and fault tolerance across ASICs requires adding the X1143A-R6.

The FC personality on the UTA2 will autorange link speeds from 16/8/4 Gb FC, but does not work at 2 or 1 Gbps. The 10GbE will not autorange below 10GbE speeds. It is important to note that UTA2 ports are not supported with older DS14 FC shelves or FC tape devices. To connect to DS14 shelves or FC tape, use X1132A-R6 or X2054A-R6.

The FAS8020 can hold a maximum of 480 drives or 240 SSDs (per HA system), with a maximum capacity of 1,920TB. The maximum amount of Flash Cache and Flash Pool (combined) capacity is up to 6TB per HA pair. Maximum aggregate size on a FAS8020 is 150TB and the maximum volume size is 70TB.

Clustered Data ONTAP node limits of a FAS8020 are 24 for NAS and 8 for SAN with a homogeneous cluster. Not surprisingly, platform-mixing rules with heterogeneous (mixed) clusters limit the FAS8020 with FAS/V3220s, 3250s, 3270s, and 6210s to a maximum of 8 nodes for both SAN and NAS clusters. More modern systems (such as the FAS/V6220s, 6240/50s, and 6280/90s) are qualified with 24 nodes for NAS and 8 nodes for SAN with the FAS8020 – just like homogeneous clusters. Also be aware that the FAS8020 running within a heterogeneous (mixed) cluster of FAS/V3210s, FAS/V3240s, or FAS22xx systems has only been qualified for 4 nodes for SAN and 4 nodes for NAS at this time.


FAS8040/60
The 6U form factor FAS8040 and FAS8060 (codenamed: "Bimota") are targeted towards medium to large enterprise customers with business-critical applications and cloud infrastructure.

Each FAS8040 Processor Control Module (PCM) includes a single- socket, 2.1 GHz Intel E5-2658 “Sandy Bridge-EP” processor with 8 cores (16 per HA pair), an Intel Patsburg-J SouthBridge, and 32GB of DDR3 physical memory (64GB per HA pair).

Each FAS8060 PCM includes dual-socket, 2.1 GHz Intel E5-2658 “Sandy Bridge-EP” processors with a total of 16 cores (32 per HA pair), an Intel Patsburg-J SouthBridge, and 64GB of DDR3 physical memory (128GB per HA pair). Data ONTAP CPU utilization on each FAS8060 PCM reaches 1,560%; this means all 16 cores are actively servicing the workload (100% equals one core).

NetApp supports single and dual controller configurations in one chassis, but unlike previous systems, I/O Expansion Module (IOXM) configurations are not supported. The increased mix of high-performance on-board ports and the flexibility offered by the new UTA2 ports reduces the need for higher slot counts on the FAS8000 series.

As with the NetApp NVRAM8 on previous FAS systems, each FAS8040 or FAS8060 PCM includes 8GB of NVRAM9 (16GB per HA pair) with battery backup; should a power loss occur, the NVRAM contents are destaged onto NAND Flash memory. Once power is restored, the resulting NVLOG is then replayed to restore the system. NVRAM9 is integrated on the motherboard and does not take up a slot.

The FAS8040/60 is built upon the Gen 3 PCI Express (PCIe) architecture for embedded devices (such as PCI bridges, Ethernet / Fibre Channel / InfiniBand adapters, and SAS controllers). All slots support x8 wide links.

Interestingly, the HA interconnect for the FAS8040/60 now leverages 40Gb QDR InfiniBand adapters; this is a substantial upgrade from the 10GBASE-KR (copper) or 10GBASE-SR (fiber) technology found within the FAS/V3250 and a modest improvement from the FAS/V6220’s 20Gb DDR InfiniBand interconnect.

According to NetApp, the FAS8040 and FAS8060 should use all four on-board ports for the cluster interconnect in order to reach peak performance for remote workloads within Data ONTAP 8.2.1. This best practice also ensures deployments can take advantage of potential performance increases in future releases of Data ONTAP.

Also new to the FAS8040 and FAS8060 is the new Unified Target Adapter (UTA) 2; a storage industry first from NetApp. It supports 16Gb Fibre Channel (FC) or 10Gb Ethernet, providing future flexibility. Both ports must be set to the same "personality" and changing one UTA port will change the second port to the same personality. The FAS8040 and FAS8060 have two UTA2 ASICs, and port pairs are e0e/0e and e0f/0f sharing an ASIC, while port pairs e0g/0g and e0h/0h share the second ASIC.

The FC personality on the UTA2 will autorange link speeds from 16/8/4 Gb FC, but does not work at 2 or 1 Gbps. The 10GbE will not autorange below 10GbE speeds. It is important to note that UTA2 ports are not supported with older DS14 FC shelves or FC tape devices. To connect to DS14 shelves or FC tape, use X1132A-R6 or X2054A-R6.

The FAS8040 can hold a maximum of 720 drives or 240 SSDs (per HA system), with a maximum capacity of 2,880TB. The maximum amount of Flash Cache and Flash Pool (combined) capacity is up to 12TB per HA pair. Maximum aggregate size on a FAS8040 is 180TB and the maximum volume size is 100TB.

The FAS8060 can hold a maximum of 1,200 drives or 240 SSDs (per HA system), with a maximum capacity of 4,800TB. The maximum amount of Flash Cache and Flash Pool (combined) capacity is up to 18TB per HA pair. Maximum aggregate size on a FAS8060 is 324TB and the maximum volume size is 100TB.

Clustered Data ONTAP node limits of a FAS8040/60 are 24 for NAS and 8 for SAN with a homogeneous cluster. Not surprisingly, platform-mixing rules with heterogeneous (mixed) clusters limit the FAS8040/60 with FAS/V3220s, 3250s, 3270s, and 6210s to a maximum of 8 nodes for both SAN and NAS clusters. More modern systems (such as the FAS/V6220s, 6240/50s, and 6280/90s) are qualified with 24 nodes for NAS and 8 nodes for SAN with the FAS8040/60 – just like homogeneous clusters.


SUMMARY

The FAS8000 is available to quote and order immediately with Data ONTAP 8.2.1 RC2. Shipments are planned to begin March 2014. Starting in May 2014, FAS8000 systems will be orderable as Factory Configured Clusters (FCCs).

Geek ONTAP, General

Super Storage: A Fan’s View of the NFL’s Data Storage

February 11th, 2014
Like most Americans, I recently watched the biggest, boldest, and coldest event in American football: Super Bowl XLVIII with 112.2 million of my closest "friends".

But even if you didn’t get excited about the big game, you might still be interested to learn about the role of data storage for the most-watched television program in American history.

During the week leading up to the Super Bowl, I had the privilege to help ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ MarketSite in New York City -- and what an experience! I also had the opportunity to chat with the NFL’s Director of Information Technology, Aaron Amendolia, to explore how they leverage NetApp storage systems for data management.

It starts with 40 NetApp FAS2200 Series storage systems that store, protect, and serve data to all 32 NFL teams, thousands of personnel, and millions of fans. For example:

Want player stats during the game? All game play raw data is instantly available and served by NetApp storage systems.

Like those action shots? Television and newspaper photographers take hundreds of thousands of photos and videographers capture high-definition video of regular-season games, the playoffs, and the Super Bowl – all stored on NetApp storage systems.

See someone wearing a badge? NetApp provides the infrastructure that supports security credentialing for everyone from hot dog vendors to the NFL commissioner.

I also learned that the NFL leverages the entire protocol stack (both SAN and NAS), with over 90% of their infrastructure running virtual machines on NetApp storage systems.

Yet, every Super Bowl is unique.

The NFL’s end-users are often located in hotels with high-latency connections; hardware is subjected to harsh environments usually not found within most datacenters (soda can spills, dirt, grit, etc.). The good news is that SnapMirror, the replication software built into Data ONTAP, allows the NFL to failover in the event of a problem.

In fact, they regularly test their disaster recovery plans with (live) failover and failback.

Sure, your favorite team may not have made it to the Super Bowl this year, but the partnership with the NFL and its 32 teams doesn’t end with the Super Bowl. It’s still business-as-usual for the NFL’s IT infrastructure: updating playbooks, streaming video, etc.

All of which require a super storage platform like NetApp: the official data storage provider of the NFL.

Geek ONTAP, General

NetApp Releases Flash Accel 1.3.0

January 30th, 2014
NetApp today announced the availability of Flash Accel 1.3.0, its server-side software that turns supported server flash into a cache for the backend Data ONTAP storage systems.

Coherency, Persistence
As with previous releases, Flash Accel 1.3.0 detects and corrects for coherency at the block level -- rather than flushing the entire cache. Flushing the entire cache may be good as there are no data coherency issues, but terrible for performance. Flash Accel cache invalidation corrects cache, while keeping the cache persistent.

In addition to intelligent data coherency, Flash Accel also provides persistence across VM / server reboots.

The benefit of both intelligent data coherency and persistence is to ensure that both the cache optimizes performance at its peak (i.e. when the cache is warm) and that peak performance can last as long as possible (by keeping the cache warm for as long as possible).


Side note: Flash Accel code manages server cache, accelerating access to data that is stored and managed by Data ONTAP on the storage system.  Flash Accel is NOT Data ONTAP code.

What's New
Flash Accel 1.3.0 adds the following features and functionalities:

  • Support for Windows Server bare metal caching:
    • Windows 2008 R2, Windows 2012, and Windows 2012 R2
    • FC and iSCSI support for bare metal
    • Clustered apps supported (cold cache on failover)
  • Adds support for Windows 2012 and 2012 R2 VMs and vSphere 5.5 support
    • Note: for use of Flash Accel with Flash Accel Management Console (FAMC), vSphere 5.5 support will be added within weeks of general availability of Flash Accel 1.3
  • Up to 4TB of cache per server
  • Support for sTEC PCI-e Accelerator
    • Note: For VMware environment, Flash Accel 1.3.0 is initially only available for use with FAMC. 1.3.0 support for use with NetApp Virtual Storage Console (VSC) will be available when VSC 5.0 releases

Check the NetApp Interoperability Matrix Tool (IMT) under the new “Flash Accel” storage solution within the  “Server Caching Solutions” category for the most up to date supported configurations.

As part of this release, memory consumption has been reduced. Previously, Flash Accel required 0.006 GB of physical memory on the host for every gigabyte of device memory and 0.006 GB additional memory on the VM for every gigabyte of cache space allocated. With version 1.3.0, it's now possible to configure 0.0035 GB of physical memory (on the host) and 0.0035 GB additional memory (on the VM).

It's also important to note that the default cache block size in version 1.3.0 has been increased from 4 KB to 8 KB.

Flash Accel 1.3.0 can be downloaded by any NetApp FAS or V-Series customer at no cost.  To download Flash Accel, visit the NetApp Support Site.

Geek ONTAP, General

Snap Creator Deep Dive

December 30th, 2013
NetApp Snap Creator Framework is data protection software that integrates NetApp features with third-party applications, databases, hypervisors, and operating systems.

Snap Creator was originally developed in October 2007 by NetApp Professional Services and Rapid Response Engineering to reduce (or even eliminate) scripting. Nowadays, Snap Creator is a fully supported software distribution available from the NetApp Support Site.

The Snap Creator Team provides two versions of Snap Creator: a community version and an official NetApp release. The community version includes the latest plug-ins, enhancements, and features but is not supported by NetApp Support. The NetApp Version is fully tested and supported, but does not include the latest plug-ins, features, and enhancements.

Let’s explore the architecture of the recently released Snap Creator 4.1 Community Release in November 2013.

Snap Creator Server Architecture
The Snap Creator Server is normally installed on a centralized server. It includes a Workflow Engine, which is a multi-threaded, XML-driven component that executes all Snap Creator commands.

Both the Snap Creator GUI and CLI, as well as third-party solutions (such as PowerShell Cmdlets), leverage the Snap Creator API. For example, NetApp Workflow Automation can leverage PowerShell Cmdlets to communicate to Snap Creator.

To store its configurations, Snap Creator includes configuration files and profiles in its Repository; this includes global configs and profile-level global configs. If you're familiar with previous versions of Snap Creator Server, one of the new components is the Extended Repository. This extension provides a database location for every job, imported information about jobs, and even plug-in metadata.


For persistence, the Snap Creator Database stores details on Snap Creator schedules and jobs, as well as RBAC users and roles.

The Storage Interface is the server-side component that handles communication via Data ONTAP APIs to execute storage system operations such as SnapVault, SnapMirror, etc. Snap Creator also includes the Unified Manager Interface that communicates to NetApp OnCommand Unified Manager; it actually uses Unified Manager APIs (instead of ONTAP APIs).

Finally, the Snap Creator Server includes an Agent Interface that communicates with the Agent (which is generally installed on hosts external to the Snap Creator Server). Let's move on to the Snap Creator Agent.

Snap Creator Agent Architecture
The Snap Creator Agent 4.1 was recently rewritten completely in Java to be multi-threaded on all operating systems. As part of this rewrite, encryption was enabled throughout the software. This means that previous releases (up to and including version 4.0) will communicate only over HTTP; whereas with version 4.1, communication occurs only over (encrypted) HTTPS.

First, the Agent Interface (on the Server) talks with the Agent’s RESTful Interface. The primary component of the Agent is the Operation/Execution Manager. It is responsible for handling any incoming, outgoing, and/or completed requests while the Execution Manager actually completes those requests.

To execute multiple tasks, each Snap Creator Agent includes a Thread Pool; it consists of worker threads, which determine the number of given operations.

But what happens if an operation has exceeded a timeout value after a specified time? This is when the Agent's Watchdog can be triggered by the Execution Manager. It is oftentimes invoked during quiesce operations.


Moving on, there's a Context Store which holds information that is needed over the lifetime of the workflow.

The Snap Creator Agent also includes a Plug-in Factory that instantiates the plug-ins and communicates directly to the Context Store.

For Java Plug-ins, it’s also important to note that it can directly talk back to the Context Store on the Agent, as well as to the Snap Creator Server -- via token-based storage access. This means that they can execute storage operations without communicating back to the Snap Creator Server. While this is a feature that hasn’t been leveraged to date, it is nevertheless available moving forward.

But what happens if the Plug-in Factory instantiates a non-Java plug-in?

In this scenario, it executes the code of the existing Plug-in Integration Engine, which can run the version 4.0 or 3.6 plug-ins as well as supporting custom plug-ins written in Perl, Unix shell scripting, PowerShell, etc.

Summary
To recap, we've discussed both the server and agent architecture of Snap Creator 4.1. To learn more about developing plug-ins, visit SnapCreator.com.

Geek ONTAP, General

Top 10 NetApp Products, Solutions of 2013

December 23rd, 2013
Since it's the season of countdowns and top 10 lists, there's no better way to look back on 2013 than a list of this year's best products and solutions from NetApp. Without further ado, I give you my NetApp "Top 10" of 2013:

1. All-Flash Arrays (EF-Series, FlashRay)
Without a doubt, all-flash arrays were the biggest story of the year; not just one, but two! The launch of the EF540 and announcement of the FlashRay kicked things off in February 2013, followed closely with the EF550 launch nine months later in November. The EF-Series delivers consistent, predictable, sub-millisecond response times to accelerate the latency-sensitive applications responsible for driving revenue, productivity, and/or customer satisfaction on a day-in, day-out basis.

2. Clustered Data ONTAP
June 2013 ushered in the launch of the NetApp flagship operating system, clustered Data ONTAP 8.2. Its focus is continuous data access during controller upgrades; granular quality of service (QoS) for SAN and NAS; Storage Virtual Machines (SVMs) that deliver storage services; and support for the latest storage protocols including SMB 3.0, pNFS v4.1, iSCSI, FCoE, and Fibre Channel.

3. FlexPod
2013 also marked another 'first' for Cisco and NetApp: FlexPod became the #1 Integrated Infrastructure by IDC. The Cisco and NetApp partnership that brings the FlexPod systems to market generated $203.1 million worth of "integrated infrastructure" sales during 2Q13, representing a 26.2% share and the top ranking within this market segment.

4. Cloud Strategy
In 2013, IT slowly began the transition from being builders and operators of data centers to becoming brokers of application and information services. To address the gap of blending public and private clouds, NetApp’s strategy is to use the world’s number-one branded storage operating system, Data ONTAP, as a universal data platform across cloud environments. It is now part of over 175 service providers throughout the world!

5. E-Series Refresh
NetApp also introduced new E-Series models in 2013: the E2700 and E5500. The E2700, designed for general-purpose/application-driven storage, is the first to support 12Gb/s SAS in the product line. The E5500 also emerged during 2013 with a rather unique performance boost called "Software XOR", an enhancement that augments Cache Mirroring Disabled (CMD) and Cache Mirroring Enabled (CME) write performance of the Intel RAID engine.
 

6. NetApp Connect
One of this year's technology acquisitions was a company called ionGrid; a company that allows mobile devices to securely access corporate content without cloud storage. This mobile information management (MIM) software allows enterprise users to access files from Microsoft SharePoint 2013, 2010, or 2007 and file shares using Apple iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, etc.) -- without migrating those files to a public cloud provider or using VPN software.

7. SnapProtect for Open Systems
As part of the SnapProtect 10.0 Service Pack 4 release in November, NetApp supports backups from direct-attached and non-NetApp storage to Data ONTAP 7-Mode SnapVault targets. This block-level incremental replication capability supports Windows, Linux, and Solaris operating systems and applications such as Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, and Oracle Database.

8. OnCommand Workflow Automation
During the month of August 2013, NetApp updated its Workflow Automation software to version 2.1 to support new clustered Data ONTAP 8.2 workflows for Infinite Volume, Quality of Service (QoS), non-disruptive operations (NDO), and data protection. Probably the most under-advertised feature of version 2.1 was the user experience: the search feature, SQL query builder, and more!

9. NetApp Recovery Manager for Citrix ShareFile
As Citrix Synergy rolled around in May of 2013, NetApp released version 1.0 of its new NetApp Recovery Manager for Citrix ShareFile (NRM-CS), which allows Citrix ShareFile administrators to restore user files that have been removed from the Citrix Storage Center. Since then, it has been enhanced for high-availability support, clustered Data ONTAP 8.2, and the ability to restore files in parallel.

10. Snap Creator Framework

Also in May of 2013, Snap Creator (the software that lowers cost by reducing backup windows and accelerating response times) was given a "fresh coat of paint" in the form of a new GUI to enhance usability. Version 4.0 also increased scalability for hundreds of concurrent operations, along with integration of a role-based access control (RBAC) scheduler and job monitor into the server-side software.

Happy New Year!

Geek ONTAP, General

NetApp Releases Data ONTAP 8.2.1 RC1

December 16th, 2013
NetApp last week released Data ONTAP 8.2.1 Release Candidate (RC) 1, an update to its flagship operating system for FAS/V-Series Storage Systems. The new features of version 8.2.1 focus on three key areas:

Nondisruptive Operations
  • Shelf Removal
  • Storage Refresh Automation
  • MS SQL Server over SMB 3.0 with continuously-available shares
  • Offbox Antivirus

Proven Efficiency
  • Automated Workflow Analyzer (AWA)
  • Data ONTAP Edge for clustered Data ONTAP
  • System Setup

Seamless Scalability
  • LDAP over SSL 
  • Enterprise SMB features 
  • Qtree export policies for NFSv3
  • Increased SnapMirror and SnapVault fan-in
  • In-place 32-bit to 64-bit aggregate upgrade

In addition to these features, the OnCommand Management Suite has been updated to support this release with the following new release candidates:

  • System Manager 3.1
  • Unified Manager 6.1
  • Workflow Automation 2.2
  • Performance Manager 1.0

Data ONTAP 8.2.1 RC1 is now available to download for both 7-Mode and clustered Data ONTAP systems from the NetApp Support Site.

Geek ONTAP, General

NetApp Debuts EF550 Flash Array

November 19th, 2013
NetApp today launched the EF550, an all-flash array delivering 450,000 sustained IOPS with sub-millisecond latency. This updated SANtricity-based system comes exactly nine months after the launch of the previous EF540.

The EF550 base models support 12 SSDs (9.6TB) or 24 SSDs (19.2TB), scaling up to 120 drives (96TB). As with the previous generation, the EF550 is a 2U form factor that is Storage Bridge Bay (SBB) version 2 compliant.

First, the controllers.

At the core of each EF550 controller is its quad-core Intel Xeon E5-2418L ("Sandy Bridge") processor, which includes an integrated high-speed RAID engine to perform RAID 5 XOR and RAID 6 P + Q parity calculations with no performance penalty. This enables compute-intensive tasks to be handled both efficiently and effortlessly.


The controller’s PCI express Gen 3.0 x8 buses between the processor and external interfaces provide 24 gigabytes per second of internal bandwidth per controller, delivering both the “width” to handle large-block I/O and the “speed” to process large amounts of random, small-block I/O.

Each EF550 controller also provides 12GB of DDR3 SDRAM cache memory via three DIMMS. Its cache is battery-backed and destaged to internal flash upon power loss.

Next, let’s explore connectivity.

For connectivity, the EF550 supports various block protocols including:

  • 16Gb FC (OM2, OM3, OS1, and OS2 optical)
  • 10Gb iSCSI (optical, twinax passive, and RJ-45 Cat 6)
  • 6Gb SAS (copper with Mini-SAS cables)
  • 40Gb IB (QSFP+ copper and OM3 optical)

When attaching the EF550 directly to a server, or to switches in a SAN fabric, I/O paths to each controller should be established by having one connection to controller A and the other connection to controller B. This redundancy ensures data availability in the event of a path failure.

Once connected, NetApp leverages Asymmetric Logical Unit Access (ALUA), an industry-standard failover mechanism, to allow server I/O down multiple paths to a volume (via either controller).

Now let’s move to the solid-state drives (SSDs).

The EF550 ships with 800GB mixed-use single-level cell (SLC) NAND SSDs from SanDisk with dual (2) full-duplex interface ports. The EF550 actually leverages the dual-active paths from each controller to every SSD as part of its design.

Each SSD is rated at 10 drive writes per day (DWPD), warrantied up to 5 years, but with an endurance lifetime well over 5 years. Of course, each SSD includes wear leveling, garbage collection, etc. -- designed to eliminate the “write cliff”.

NetApp Engineering specifically chose these SSDs as they employ dynamic and static wear leveling techniques that consider both wear and free space when selecting an erase block for garbage collection. Most of that work happens in the foreground as part of the initial write, based on an ordered list of Erase Blocks with the most free space.

This approach leads to very deterministic and sustainable write performance that does not vary with the recent history of writes (some designs that do background GC can write very fast if left idle for a while, but performance drops dramatically under sustained write loads that deplete the available free space).

SANtricity (its operating system) also tracks the wear life of each SSD and issues an alert if the default thresholds below are reached:

  • Average erase count over 80%
  • Spare blocks remaining under 20%

Finally, the new EF550 includes support for various RAID levels: 0, 1, 3, 5, 6, 10, and DDP (Dynamic Disk Pool).

EF550 Flash Arrays include SANtricity 11.10 and will be available for quoting/ordering beginning December 16, 2013.

Geek ONTAP, General



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© 2009-2014 Chris Kranz All Rights Reserved
This site is not affiliated or sponsored in anyway by NetApp or any other company mentioned within.