Author Archives: chrismaki

NetApp Certifications, What’s New and What You Need to Know.

If you’re a NetApp nerd like myself or if you prefer to call yourself an “avid NetApp user”, then you’re probably familiar with their annual conference, NetApp Insight and the fact that is is just around the corner. Since you’re reading this article at all, you may already have or have at least considered getting certified. There’s not a lot new since the major update back in April when the exams were updated to reflect the release of 8.3 but there is at least one completely new exam and certification, the NetApp Certified Storage Installation Engineer, Clustered Data ONTAP NS0-180, which becomes available on September 23, 2015.

This year at Insight, there’s going to be a whopping 14 separate exam prep sessions at both the Las Vegas and Berlin versions of the conference covering the following:

  • NS0-155, NCDA 7-Mode
  • NS0-157, NCDA cDOT
  • NS0-505, NCIE-SAN E-Series
  • NS0-506, NCIE-SAN cDOT
  • NS0-511, NCIE-Data Protection

The beauty of Insight is that during the course of the conference, you can take as many exams for free as you’d like as long as it falls within their exam retake policy. If the exam centre is anything like year’s past, then it will be very busy and I highly recommend you pre-register for up to there of your exams now over here.

While we’re on the topic of certifications, NetApp is going to show the proverbial love to those of us who are already certified as well as to those who get certified while at Insight. I won’t give away all the details, but there will be different schwag based on what certifications you already hold. They’re also going to hold the first ever Appreciation and Recognition event for the NetApp Certified.

So with all this talk about certifications, lets talk about getting prepared for getting certified. The first thing you should do is follow @NetAppCertify on Twitter, join in the discussion over at the NetAppU Community and peruse the materials and sample exams available here. Sample exams are available for NS0-157, NS0-506, NS0-511 and the latest addition, NS0-180. If you’ve already have your NAIPCDOT, you’ll need to to earn the NCSIE cDOT by November 1, 2016, so I’m sure this will be a popular one. For the complete low-down on what NS0-180 might mean to you, check out this NetApp Community entry here. Lastly, be sure to check out The Value of NetApp Certification Video as well, especially since some of my friends are in it.

Finally, to further emphasize the value of NetApp Certifications, starting in October you’ll be able to add all new digital badges to your LinkedIn profile which will help job-seekers and recruiters find each other.

AddTo

This new Digital Badge helps protect the value of your certification as well as providing easy verification of your NetApp Certifications.

Badgers

Insight is just over a month a way as of this writing, and it’s time to start studying so that you can take advantage of those free exams which by now you’ve registered for, right? I know I have.

At the Las Vegas version of Insight, make sure you stop by The Geek & Greet Certification Appreciation Event, Wednesday at 5:15 and say hi to me and my fellow A-Team members, we may even buy you a beer.

NetApp announces Clustered Data ONTAP 8.3

Today NetApp announced the next major release of its Clustered data ONTAP operating system and a major release it is. This is the first release of ONTAP that does not include the dual payload of both 7-mode and cluster-mode and will be the norm going forward. This release has three major themes:

  1. Flash, data protection, multi tenancy, cloud, and efficiency enhancements
  2. Simplified Deployment, upgrade, transition, and support
  3. Clustered ONTAP in mission critical environments with MetroCluster

Flash, data protection, multi tenancy, cloud, and efficiency enhancements

The first theme brings with it performance enhancements in the following ways:

  • More consistent and predictable performance and higher IOPS at lower latency in the All Flash FAS (AFF) and other flash-enabled systems thanks to read-path optimization.

Random Read IO

  • The CIFS lock manager has been paralleled bringing improvements to CIFS-based file-services workloads.
  • The initial transfer as well as incremental updates for both SnapMirror and SnapVault relationships have been improved.
  • 8.3 has been optimized for more CPU cores bringing performance enhancements to pre-FAS8000 systems. Initial claims are that FAS62xx performance is similar those running 8.1 while the FAS3xxxx and FAS22xx are showing 8.1-type performance in SAN deployments.

As far as efficiency enhancements are concerned, a long awaited feature by myself is Advanced Disk Partitioning (ADP) which has three use cases:

  1. Root-data partitioning for All Flash FAS (AFF) systems.
  2. Root-data partitioning for Entry-level platforms.
  3. SSD partitioning for Flash Pools

The first two use cases mentioned above will greatly ease the dedicated root aggregate disk tax which has been the bane of the SMB buyers since cDOT’s initial (non-GX) release, providing 20+% increase in storage efficiency in 24-drive FAS255x as well as the FAS2240. This will be the default configuration for systems purchased with 8.3 but if you wish to retrofit an existing system you’ll have to evacuate your data and start fresh. As far as the third use case is concerned, the benefit here is the parity disk tax as represented by the graphic below:

 

ADP

Other efficiency enhancements come in the way of addressable cache, in fact the complete complement of contemporary systems (read: FAS80xx and FAS25xx) has been quadrupled. Also, the 16KB cutoff for Flash Pool has been eliminated, compress blocks are now read cacheable as are read-only volumes such as SnapMirror and SnapVault destinations.

Simplified Deployment, upgrade, transition, and support

In the never ending quest to make their product easier to deploy, transition to and use NetApp brings the following laundry list of improvements.

  1. System Setup 3.0
    • Support of AFF aggregate creation
    • 8.3 networking support (More on this in a subsequent post.)
    • Four port cluster interconnect support
  2. System Manager 3.2
    • This becomes a cluster-hosted web service which can be reached from the network using Mozilla, Chrome and IE on Windows, Linux and Mac platforms.
    • 8.3 networking support
  3. Automated NDU
    • Three commands to upgrade your cluster.
    • One command to monitor the progress.
  4. Networking
    • There is a whole litany of changes/improvements, too many to list here. The biggest one however may be IPSpaces so know you can have overlapping subnets in those multi-tenant environments.
  5. Virtualization
    • vVol support (pending VMware support)
    • FlexClone for SVI
    • Inline zero write detection and elimination.
  6. 7MTT
    • Version 1.4 will bring with it a new collect and asses feature to validate the destination cluster based on the assessment of the source 7-mode system.
    • 2.0 brings with it the much sought after SAN migration.

Clustered ONTAP in mission critical environments with MetroCluster

Not a whole lot more to say around that except that it is finally here. Some of the highlights are:

  • Two node cluster at either site
  • Clients can be served from all four nodes at the same time
  • Support for Non Disruptive Operations (NDO)

While I covered a lot in this post, I didn’t cover everything as 8.3 is a major release indeed. Now the big question many of you will have is what platforms will support it? Look no further:

  • FAS8xxx
  • FAS25xx
  • FAS62xx
  • FAS32xx (except the FAS3210)
  • FAS22xx

As for what I didn’t cover in this post but you may wish to research further:

  • VM Granular Management
  • 8.3 style networking
  • DataMotion for LUNs
  • Offline Foreign LUN Import
  • Version Independent SnapMirror (this one’s pretty cool)
  • Other Performance Improvements
  • Further Protocol Enhancements (SAN and NAS)
  • Data ONTAP in the cloud (Cloud ONTAP)

NetApp Refreshes Entry-Level FAS Systems

Today NetApp announced the successors to their entry-level line of FAS storage arrays: the FAS2552, FAS2254 and the FAS2520 which replace the FAS2240-2, FAS2240-4 and FAS2220 respectively.

Why is this important? Until now, in order to run Clustered Data ONTAP, you had to use your one and only expansion option for a 10GbE card for the cluster interconnect network, giving up any chance of deploying Fibre Channel. Technically, since this was a two-port card, you could still provide 10GbE uplink at the expense of redundancy on the ClusterNet backend. However, the new models give up the mezzanine slot altogether in favour of a minimum of 4 ×10GbE on board on the FAS2520 to 4 ×UTA2 ports on both the FAS2552 and FAS2554.

Highlights:

With this refresh NetApp continues to use the same dual-core, hyper-threaded, 1.73GHz Jasper Forest processors as before – which, incidentally, was specifically designed for both embedded and storage applications — but the quantity is doubled to four, not to mention there’s a three-fold increase in memory. All of this added memory increases the ability for Data ONTAP to address more flash, raising the Flash Pool™caching limit to 4TB. Finally, with the addition of onboard 10GbE across the line, NetApp closes the gap in regard to ClusterNet interconnect requirements. The minimum version of ONTAP required for either 7-mode or Cluster-Mode will be the one it ships with, 8.2.2RC1.

FAS2520

The FAS2520A is a 2U appliance supporting 12 SAS, SATA, and NSE drives internally, and up to 72 additional drives externally. Connectivity is provided by 4×6GB SAS ports, 4×1GbE interfaces and 8×10GBASE-T. Unlike its predecessor, there are no expansion slots.

2520

NetApp’s new FAS2520, rear view.

FAS2552/FAS2554

The FAS2552A is a 2U appliance supporting 24 SAS, NSE and SSD drives internally and the FAS2554A is a 4U appliance supporting SATA, NSE and SSD drives internally; both models support up to an additional 120 drives externally. Connectivity is provided by 4×6GB SAS ports, 4x1GbE interfaces and 8×UTA2 ports. The UTA2 ports can be configured as either 8Gb FC, 16Gb FC, or 10GbE. The 10GbE configuration does indeed support FCoE as well as the usual CIFS, NFS and iSCSI options. Due to the fact that each pair of ports is driven by one ASIC, the UTA2 ports must be configured in pairs. However, it should be noted that their personality can be modified in the field; this requires a reboot as well as the requisite SFP.

2552

NetApp’s new FAS2552, rear view.

2554

NetApp’s new FAS2554, rear view.

Port Legend

Summary

With this second round of major updates to the FAS systems this year, the entire line is now truly Clustered Data ONTAP-ready, with every model sporting 10 Gig connectivity on-board. What I find most noteworthy is the amount of RAM that has been added which significantly increases the amount of flash-based cache the devices can address. Flash Pools abound!

Simulate a two node cDOT 8.2 cluster on ESXi 5.1 in 17 easy steps.

Here’s a quick-how to I wrote a few months back when I ran into trouble trying to install the cDOT simulator in an ESXi environment. This was done on 5.1 but should work for 5.0 and 5.5 as well.

  1. Load the vmware multiextent module “/sbin/vmkload_mod multiextent” (Add this to /etc/rc.local.d/local.sh so it gets loaded on boot going forward. This used to be loaded by default but that changed in VMWare 4.1, more here.)
  2. Create a new vSwitch to use for the Cluster Network.
  3. Download the 8.2 cDOT VMDK here.
  4. Untar and ungzip the vsim_esx-cm.tgz and copy it to your datastore.
  5. Using vCentre, browse the directory on your datastore that contains the unarchived files above.
  6. Locate DataONTAP.vmx, right-click and choose “Add to Inventory.”
  7. Give it a name (cDOT 8.2 Cluster node 1), choose a host, click Finish. DO NOT POWER IT ON YET.
  8. Edit the properties of this newly created VM and make sure that the first two NICs (e0a and e0b) are on the cluster vSwitch.
  9. Power on the vm and open the console.
  10. Hit CTRL-C to enter the Boot Menu.
  11. Choose option 4, type “yes” to the two questions and wait for your disks to zero.
  12. Run through the cluster setup script, entering the licenses required (available here) when prompted. The only required one is the Cluster License itself, the rest can be added later.
  13. Repeat steps 4-8 from above, choosing a different name in step 7 (cDOT 8.2 Cluster node 2). You MUST repeat step 4, do NOT leverage cloning, it will NOT work.
  14. When you power up this VM, it is VERY important to not let it boot, so open up the console right away and hit any key other than Enter for the VLOADER prompt.
  15. Set and verify the SYS_SERIAL_NUM and bootarg.nvram.sysid as described on page 32, steps 10 and 11 in the Simulate ONTAP 8.2 Installation and Setup Guide.
  16. Type boot at the VLOADER prompt to boot the node.
  17. Repeat steps 10-13 from above, choosing to join an existing cluster and using the second set of licenses located in the text file linked to in step 12. ONTAP 8.2 introduced node-locked licensing so it is important to use the right keys.

 

You should now have a functioning, simulated two node cluster.