Up until today, if you were looking for a physical ONTAP array for your environment, your choices were the hybrid flash, FAS array offering around 5-10ms of latency or the sub-ms AFF A-series. Sure there was one anomaly in there, the QLC-based FAS 500f, but that AFF in FAS clothing was just that, an anomaly. While I have no evidence to point to here, but my theory is that the 500f was NetApp’s way of dipping their toe in the water of QLC-based arrays. Upon launch, the 500f was pricey and the configurations limited and restricted, both of which were addressed at some point after launch. As an employee at a partner that sells a lot of NetApp, I looked at the 500f when it first launched and then basically never looked at it again because of those two points.
Today, NetApp is announcing the all new C-Series of QLC-based arrays, the “C” being for “Capacity Enterprise Flash”. While the controllers themselves aren’t new, the fact that they only support QLC media is what is different. While I won’t go into the details of what QLC, or Quad Layer Flash is in this post, the fact of the matter is that it is more affordable than Triple Layer Flash (TLC) and almost as performant. What this means for those purchasing NetApp arrays is that they can get near the performance of an AFF system at a fraction of the cost. Most of us in the storage world know that 10k and 15k RPM SAS drives are slowly going to be phased out in favour of high-capacity SATA drives and high-performance NAND storage, leaving a void. QLC-based arrays will fill that void, and at a higher performance level. If you start to research QLC vs TLC, you’ll find lots of concerns around durability which are not completely unfounded, but you would have also found these concerns when the industry went from Multi-cell (MLC) to TLC and that seems to have gone well enough. Technology of the storage devices themselves improve over time and software-based mitigation strategies such as write avoidance also improve. I’m not knowledgeable enough on this latter point to go into details, but ONTAP is a beast and has all sorts of tricks up its sleeve.
So without further ado, I present NetApp’s Enterprise Capacity Flash line, the AFF C800, AFF C400 and AFF C250:
Max drive count (15.3TB NVMe QLC)
Max effective capacity (5:1 efficiencies)
Max Usable capacity (1:1)
12 × 15.3
8 × 15.3
8 × 15.3
100GbE ports per HA pair
25GbE ports per HA pair
12 onboard / 16 HBA
4 onboard / 16 HBA
32Gb FC ports
By the numbers
Now some of you may have thought, “I thought there was already a C-series with the C190?”, and you’d be right. NetApp is repurposing the C-series branding as well as introducing a successor to the C190, the AFF A150. While the new A150 will still have some restrictions, it won’t be nearly as restrictive as the C190. The physical form-factor remains the same as the C190, but the A150 will allow for up to two expansion shelves for a total of 72 SAS SSDs including the internal ones in capacities of 960GB, 3.8TB and 7.6TB, coming to a max usable capacity of ~402TiB, or 2.2PB at an efficiency level of 1:5.
Back to the new C-Series conversation, they bring with them a new default licensing model, ONTAP One. ONTAP One is something I have personally been asking for many years at this point, and it includes all of the licenses; Core, Data Protection, Hybrid Cloud and Security & Compliance. Personally I’m looking forward to not having to worry about what features are available with a certain license offering, instead, C-Series with ONTAP One as the default licensing model will ensure you or your customers will never be left wondering if their array has a given feature.
The C-Series should be available to quote as of March 27, 2023 and should start shipping by the end of April. This statement as well as all of the information above is based on pre-release information I received and may be subject to change at press time. I will endeavour to add corrections below should any of the above change at launch.
In my continuing effort to make the adoption of the BES-53248 more streamlined, I figured I would also write a migration guide as I personally had to read the documentation more than once to understand it completely. If you haven’t already checked it out, it might be helpful to first consult my first timers’ guide as the following guide starts with the assumption that your new switches are racked and Inter-Switch Links (ISL) connected and initial configuration has been performed.
Another quick caveat, this is by no means a replacement for the official documentation and the methods below may or may not be supported by NetApp. If you want the official procedure, that is documented here.
Now that we’ve got the above out of the way, I’ll get down to brass tacks. To keep things simple, we’re going to start with a simple two-node switched cluster which should look like this:
You should also have your new BES switched setup as so:
Next step, lets make sure we don’t get a bunch of cases created by kicking off a pre-emptive auto support:
system node autosupport invoke -node * -type all -message MAINT=2h
Elevate your privilege level and confirm all cluster LIFs are set to auto-revert:
network interface show -vserver Cluster -fields auto-revert
If everything above looks good, it’s time to login to your second BES which NetApp wants you to name cs2 and configure a temporary ISL back to your first CN1610. Personally I feel the temporary ISL is optional, but can provide a bit of added insurance to your change:
(cs2) # configure
(cs2) (Config)# port-channel name 1/2 temp-isl
(cs2) (Config)# interface 0/13-0/16
(cs2) (Interface 0/13-0/16)# no spanning-tree edgeport
(cs2) (Interface 0/13-0/16)# addport 1/2
(cs2) (Interface 0/13-0/16)# exit
(cs2) (Config)# interface lag 2
(cs2) (Interface lag 2)# mtu 9216
(cs2) (Interface lag 2)# port-channel load-balance 7
(cs2) (Config)# exit
(cs2) # show port-channel 1/2
Local Interface................................ 1/2
Channel Name................................... temp-isl
Link State..................................... Down
Admin Mode..................................... Enabled
Port-channel Min-links......................... 1
Load Balance Option............................ 7
(Enhanced hashing mode)
Mbr Device/ Port Port
Ports Timeout Speed Active
------- -------------- --------- -------
0/13 actor/long 10G Full False
0/14 actor/long 10G Full False
0/15 actor/long 10G Full False
0/16 actor/long 10G Full False
At this point, we’re going to disconnect any of the connections to the second CN1610 and run these to the second BES-53248. You may need different cables to ensure they are supported, check Hardware Universe. When you’re done this recabling step, it should look like this:
Next, let’s put the (optional) temporary ISL into play. At your first CN1610, disconnect the cables connected to ports 13-16 and once they’re all disconnected, assuming these cables are supported by both switches, plug them into ports 13-16 on your second BES, so it looks like this:
Now on the second BES-53248, verify the ISL is up:
Assuming the port-channel is up and running, let’s check the health of our cluster LIFs by issuing the following commands at the cluster command line:
network interface show -vserver Cluster -is-home false
network port show -ipspace Cluster
The first command shouldn’t produce any output, give the LIFs time to revert however. The second command, you want to make sure all ports are up and healthy. Once all the LIFs have reverted home, you can now move all the links from the first cluster node as well as removing the temporary ISLs so you end up with this:
Run the same two commands as before:
network interface show -vserver Cluster -is-home false
network port show -ipspace Cluster
Provide everything looks good, you’re free to remove the CN1610s from the rack as they are no longer in use. The final step is to clean up the configuration on your second BES-53248 by tearing down the temporary ISL configuration, done like this:
This guide is by no means a replace for the official documentations but rather a companion to it. You should always consult the official documentation, I purposely cut out some of the steps I felt gave the docs a bit of a TL;DR feel but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t personally run those steps if I were doing the work. This document is only my attempt to clarify the official docs, hopefully it does so for you.
With the CN-1610 starting to get long in the tooth and with more platforms supporting and/or requiring a cluster interconnect network greater than 10Gbit, the need to introduce a non-Cisco option came to be. This option is the BES-53248, which is a “Broadcom Supported” switch produced by Quanta, makers of all things hyper scale who sells it as the QuantaMesh T4048-IX8. At some point Broadcom’s EFOS is installed on the T4048-IX8 via the Open Network Install Environment (ONIE) and it becomes the product we know as the BES-53248. While definitely a superior switch, supporting 10/25/40/100Gbit, the deployment thereof is not as streamlined, hence this post.
I struggled a bit with how to approach this topic and settled up the following: I will provide a numbered list of steps as a guide and index but then have sections below that expand upon those steps. There could very well be times where you want to perform these steps in a different order but if this is your first time working on this switch and it’s factory-fresh, the steps below are how I would advise proceeding.
The BES-53248 has 48 × 10/25Gbit ports and 8 × 40/100Gbit ports; by default the first 16 × 10/25Gbit ports are available for cluster interconnect connections and the last 2 × 40/100Gbit are reserved for Inter-Switch Links (ISL); which is already an improvement over the CN1610’s 12 × ClusterNet ports. If the environment requires more ports than this, the 10/25Gbit ports can be licensed in blocks of 8 (Part # SW-BES-53248A2-8P-1025G) all the way up to 48, and there is one license (Part # SW-BES-53248A2-6P-40-100G) to activate the remaining 6 × 40/100Gbit ports. Be sure your order also has all the requisite transceivers and cables, consult HWU for specific compatibilities. Lastly, the BES-53248 doesn’t ship with rails by default, so make sure your quote shows them if you need them.
When your switches arrive they will include a manilla envelope with licensing information if licenses above the base configuration were ordered, do not recycle this envelope as it contains the very important Transaction Key which you will use to generate your license file at this site:
Before visiting that link, along with your license keys you’ll need the switch serial numbers which are located on the switches themselves like so:
The license file generation procedure is instant, so not having this ahead of time isn’t that big of a deal provided you have internet access while at the installation site.
Broadcom Support Account, Firmware Download
What isn’t instantaneous however is the creation of a TechData-provided, Broadcom Support Account (BSA), and you need this account do download firmware for the switches. In order to setup a BSA, which hopefully you did a couple of days in advance of requiring the firmware, you need to send an email to: email@example.com with the following information:
Indicate if OEM (Netapp/Lenovo), Partner/Installer or Customer: Name of Company device is registered to (if partner/installer): Requester Name: Requester Email Address: Requester Phone Number: Address where device is located: Device Model Number: BES-53248 Device Serial Number:
I’ve found the folks that respond to this email address are pretty easy to deal with, though I’m not sure you’ll be able to get your account if you don’t already have the serial number, comment below if you know. My account creation took roughly 24 hours and then I had access to the firmware downloads. Download the appropriate firmware for your environment. The switches I received in August of 2021 shipped with EFOS 22.214.171.124 which was supported in the environment I was deploying into, but so was 126.96.36.199 so that’s where I wanted to land.
Reference Configuration Files (RCF)
Download the appropriate RCF for the environment and edit accordingly. If you visit HWU and drill down into the switch category, you can download the RCF from there:
I was converting an AFF8080 from two-node switchless to switched and adding an A400 at 100Gbit. I grabbed RCF 1.7 from Hardware Universe (not where I’d expect to find it but nice and easy) and uncommented ports 0/49-0/54 by removing the initial exclamation point on the lines in question since the additional 40-100 license activates all of these ports, I deleted the lines setting the speed to 40G full-duplex. I hope in version 1.8 of the RCF, this configuration will also be applied as a range since that’s the only license option available for purchase on these ports.
In your site requirements checklist, ensure the availability of an http (or ftp, tftp, sftp, scp) server on the management network. Once the equipment is racked and the management interface cabled, you will need this server to host your EFOS firmware, license files and RCF.
The first time you connect to the device, most likely via serial, assuming the unit was factory-fresh like mine, the username should be admin and the password should be blank. You will be immediately forced to change the password. I noticed that when I was going through this, copying, and pasting the new password didn’t work for me but typing the same password did; this may have had something to do with the special characters chosen or the app I was using (serial.app on macOS). Another thing to be aware of, if you’re applying RCF 1.7 you will have to be on EFOS 188.8.131.52 first. The switches I based this post on shipped with 184.108.40.206 and there are some commands in the RCF that aren’t compatible, so you’ll want to upgrade EFOS before applying RCF 1.7. Also, applying an RCF means wiping any existing configuration first, so you might as well get this out of the way while you are on site.
Once you’ve changed the password, it’s time to configure the management IP address so you can retrieve the license files, EFOS image and RCF from the http server mentioned previously. You’ll need to be logged in, and have elevated your privilege level to enable:
(CLswitch-01) #serviceport ip 10.0.0.209 255.255.255.0 10.0.0.1
(CLswitch-01) #show serviceport
Interface Status............................... Up
IP Address..................................... 10.0.0.209
Subnet Mask.................................... 255.255.255.0
Default Gateway................................ 10.0.0.1
IPv6 Administrative Mode....................... Enabled
IPv6 Prefix is ................................ fe80::c218:50ff:fe0b:24c5/64
Configured IPv4 Protocol....................... None
Configured IPv6 Protocol....................... None
IPv6 AutoConfig Mode........................... Disabled
Burned In MAC Address.......................... B4:A9:FC:34:8F:CE
(CLswitch-01) #ping 10.0.0.1
Pinging 10.0.0.1 with 0 bytes of data:
Reply From 10.0.0.1: icmp_seq = 0. time= 2 msec.
Reply From 10.0.0.1: icmp_seq = 1. time <1 msec.
Reply From 10.0.0.1: icmp_seq = 2. time= 26 msec.
Now that you are on the network, the first thing we should do is add any additional licenses. Here are the commands with an explanation of what they do:
show port all | exclude Detach
copy http://10.0.0.80/switch1_license.data nvram:license-key 1
show port all | exclude Detach
See how many licenses are currently applied, if any.
Display currently licensed ports.
Copies the file from the http server and places it in index 1
reboots the switch
This is after you’ve re-logged in, it should show you something different than the last time you ran this.
This should show additional ports than from before adding the license.
Once you have added your license file(s), it’s time to upgrade EFOS, here are the commands with an explanation of what they do:
copy active backup
copy http://10.0.0.80/FastPath-EFOS-esw-qcp_td3-qcp_td3_x86_64-LX415R-CNTRF-BD6IOQHr3v7m0b4.stk active
Shows the images: active, backup, current-active and next-active.
Copies the active image to the backup slot, just in case.
Verify that the above worked.
Shows the version actually running.
Copies the image on the web server to the active slot.
Verify the last command.
Reboot the switch.
Verify the upgrade worked.
Now that we have upgraded our EFOS image, it’s time to apply the RCF. There really is no point in doing any additional configuration until we’ve done this since we have to destroy our configuration before applying the RCF anyway. Be sure that you’re only applying the default RCF if you haven’t added any licenses. If you have added licences, you need to uncomment the lines that configure the additionally licensed ports. Here are the commands with an explanation:
copy http://10.0.0.80/BES-53248_RCF_v1.7-Cluster-HA.txt nvram:script BES-53248_RCF_v1.7-Cluster-HA.scr
script apply BES-53248_RCF_v1.7-Cluster-HA.scr
This clears the startup configuration, overlaying an RCF-sourced configuration can have negative consequences.
This copies the txt file from the web server to NVRAM as a script and renames it in the process.
gives you a directory listing of available scripts to confirm the above transfer worked
applies the contents of the RCF to the configuration
displays the new running configuration to verify successful application of RCF
commit new configuration to non-volatile memory
reboots the switch so this new configuration can take affect
There, you’re all done, now you can proceed with the official guide on (re)configuring the management IP address, ssh and so on. Good luck, and if you have an experience that strays from the above, please let me know so I can update the post.
**Important update at the end that should be read prior to wasting your time.
This weekend I found myself in need of an additional ESXi host so instead of acquiring new hardware I figured I might as well run it nested on my beefy QNAP TVS-h1288X with its Xeon CPU and 72GB of RAM. I already use the QEMU-based Virtualization Station (VS) for hosting my primary domain controller and it’s my go-to host for spinning up my ONTAP simulators so I figured nesting an ESXi VM shouldn’t be that difficult. What I hadn’t taken into account however is the fact that VMware has deprecated the VMKlinux Driver Stack, removing support for all of the NICs VS makes available to you in the GUI while provisioning new virtual machines. At first I researched injecting drivers or rolling my own installation ISO but these seemed overly complicated and somewhat outdated in their documentation. Instead I decided to get inside of VS and see if I could do something from that angle, it was after all simply their own version of QEMU.
I started the installation process, but it wasn’t long before I received this error message:
I shut down the VM, and changed the NIC type over and over eventually exhausting the five possibilities presented in the VS GUI:
Not even the trusty old e1000 NIC, listed as Intel Gigabit Ethernet above worked…Over to the CLI I went. Some Googling around on the subject lead me to believe there was a command that would produce a list of supported virtualized devices, but the commands I was finding were for native KVM/QEMU installs and not intended for VS so I poked around and came across the qemu-system-x86_64 command, and when I ran it with the parameters -device help and it produced the following, abbreviated list:
./qemu-system-x86_64 -device help
[VL] This is a NROMAL VM
name "i82801b11-bridge", bus PCI
name "e1000", bus PCI, alias "e1000-82540em", desc "Intel Gigabit Ethernet"
name "e1000-82544gc", bus PCI, desc "Intel Gigabit Ethernet"
name "vmxnet3", bus PCI, desc "VMWare Paravirtualized Ethernet v3"
That last line is exactly what I was looking for, this lead me to believe that QEMU should be able to support the VMXNET3 network device so I cd’d over to the .qpkg/QKVM/usr/etc/libvirt/qemu directory and opened up the XML file associated with my ESXi VM and changed the following sections:
I saved the file and for good measure I also restarted VS. I booted the VM, and I received the same error message as above. This time I cc’d over to .qpkg/QKVM/var/run/libvirt/qemu and had a look at the XML file that represented the running config of the VM, and the NIC was still set to e1000. It took me a bit of hacking around to determine that in order to make this change persistent, I needed to edit the XML file using:
virsh edit 122d6cbc-b47c-4c18-b783-697397be149b
That last string of text being the UUID of the VM in question. If you’re unsure of what the UUID is of a given VM, simply grep “qvs:name” from all the XML files in the .qpkg/QKVM/usr/etc/libvirt/qemu directory. I made the same change as I had previously, exited the editor and booted the VM once again…This time, success! My ESXi 7.0u2 host booted fine and didn’t complain about the network. I went through the configuration and it is now up and running fine. The GUI still lists the NIC as Intel Gigabit Ethernet.
I’m reluctant to make any changes to the VM using the GUI at this time for fear of the NIC information changing, but I’m okay not using the GUI if it means being able to nest ESXi 7 on Virtualization Station for testing purposes.
**Update: While the ESXi 7.0u2 VM would boot find, I have been unable to actually add it to my vCenter server. I tried running the VM on my physical ESXi host and was able to add it to vCenter, then I powered down the ESXi VM and imported it into VS. The import worked, but then it showed as disconnected from vCenter. Next I tried importing vCenter into the virtualized ESXi host, but that won’t boot as VS isn’t presenting the VT-x flag even though I have CPU passthrough enabled. I’m still going to try and get this going, but won’t have time to devote to troubleshooting VS for a couple of days.
Ever since macOS started enforcing code signing there’s been the occasional hoop to jump through to get non-App Store software to run. Typically it’s as easy as right-clicking on the binary and choosing Open, which is all well and good until that application needs to launch a subsequent one. Recently I downloaded the ISO for vCenter Server Appliance and double-clicked on it to mount it. I then navigated to:
Once here, I double-clicked Installer[.app] and of course got the following:
I dutifully two-finger-clicked (ie: right-click) and chose Open and then Open again and proceeded with the initial vCenter configuration. Not too far into the process, Installer wanted to call ovftool but since this was a direct launch, I received a message similar to the previous one:
sudo xattr -r -d com.apple.quarantine <directory of ISO contents>
but that assumes you’ve copied the ISO to another drive and not running it directly as if it were a read-only file system mounted much like the DVD media it represents. I copied all ~8GB of the ISO to my local SSD issued the command above and sure enough, it was going to work. I wasn’t happy with this however and was determined to run this installer from the ISO as intended. The root of the problem is that when you mount the ISO, either by double clicking on it in Finder or issuing an hdiutil mount image.iso, it mounts the file system with the quarantine option:
I did some quick research on how to mount an ISO without this option using any of mount, hdiutil, diskutil or Disk Utility[.app] to no avail. I did notice however that after I unmounted the ISO using diskutil unmount /dev/disk3 that the image remained in the sidebar albeit greyed out:
I decided to right-click on it here and choose Mount:
A quick check over in Terminal[.app] and voilà, no quarantine!
At this point I navigated to the Installer once again and was able to run through to completion without any security notifications. I’m not sure if this is a well known workaround but I didn’t find any reference to it online so hopefully someone will benefit from it.
TL;DR: Instructions for running installers directly from read-only mounted file systems on macOS:
Double-click the image so that it mounts normally with DiskImageMounter.app
Issue the following CLI command to unmount it: diskutil unmount /dev/diskX
Launch Disk Utility.app
Right-click the image name in the side bar and choose Mount
Your installer can be run directly from the r/o filesystem
At the time of writing this 9.8 is available but I’m specifically writing this for someone who is trying to install 9.7 and having problems. Before I get into the actual simulator installation we need to come cover some stuff around VMware Fusion first.
With regards to networking, VMware Fusion can provide three different interface types, they are as follows:
Bridged – this type puts the interface directly on the same LAN as your Mac, this is great if you want the VM to appear as though it’s on the network that your Mac is using.
Host-only – this is a completely isolated network, the only hosts that can access it are those on your Mac configured with this type of interface. There is no external access with this type.
NAT – this is similar to number two, but allows the host with this type to reach out of the Mac, such as for Internet access.
If you want more details on this please go read this KB.
By default, the simulator has four network interface; the first two, e0a/e0b are for the ClusterNet network, the back-end network used by cluster nodes to communicate with each other, and should be of type host-only. The second two, e0c/e0d are for client access and management access, these are of type NAT but can also be set to bridged. If you use Nat, then VMware will assign IP addresses via DHCP based on the configuration of the VMNET8 interface settings; to view this cat the file located here:
What this means is that any interface set to NAT in my instance of Fusion will receive DHCP addresses in the subnet 172.16.133.0/24, but the DHCP pool itself is only 172.16.133.[128-254]. The subnet mask will still be 255.255.255.0 (ie: /24) and the default gateway is 172.16.133.2 as that is the internal interface of the virtual router created to do the NAT; .1 is held by the “external” interface which you can view by issuing an ifconfig vmnet8 at the command prompt. Note, this interface is created when Fusion is launched and torn down when you quit. If you set the interface type to bridged, those interfaces will get DHCP addresses from the same LAN that the Mac is connected to.
On to the actual installation…
First thing you need to do is download the OVA from NetApp:
Download the OVA and license keys for the version you’re looking for.
Now that you have the OVA, you’re ready to import it into Fusion. Launch Fusion, then click the + sign and choose Import:
Browse for and open the downloaded OVA:
Now click continue:
Give the folder you’re going to store it in a name and click save, I like to name it after the node:
Fusion will import the OVA and present you with the settings. You can modify them if you want, but for now I’m going to leave them as default. Click Finish:
You’ll likely be asked if you’d like to upgrade the VM version, don’t bother:
At this point the vSIM will boot for its first time, I believe the official instructions tell you to hit CTRL-C, halt the boot and call for the maintenance menu then issue an option 4, but if this is the first node you do not have to do that. The root aggregate is automatically created:
Now you can open a browser and point it at the IP address listed on your screen, in my case it will be https://172.16.133.132/, but it may be different for you. You will get a certificate error, but bypass that to access the GUI to finish the configuration. IF you do not get the following screen or get no site at all, there’s something else wrong. Also, hover your mouse over the node in the Health card, if the serial number doesn’t appear, refresh the web page, otherwise configuration will fail:
It should look like this:
Now enter all the required information, since the IP addresses are being statically assigned, I’m choosing ones outside of the DHCP range, as should you:
I don’t check the “single-node” box, it will still work as a single node if you don’t but if you do, it removes the ClusterNet interfaces completely. I like having those interfaces for experimentation and teaching purposes; also it keeps the door open to adding a second node, which I will cover in a follow up post if there is anyone interested. Now click Submit:
At this point I like to start pinging either the cluster IP I specified or the node IP so I can see when the cluster gets configured since the browser doesn’t always refresh to the new IP address:
Once ping starts responding, go ahead and visit the new IP address via your browser:
Now the person I wrote this blog entry for isn’t getting the GUI above, but instead the GUI for the out-of-band interface for a UCS server, so the IP space their vmnet8 is using collides with production IP space. This can be verified at this point by disconnecting any Ethernet connections and turning off WiFi, once that is done, reload the browser and the IP conflict should be resolved until you’re connected once again. To resolve it permanently, that person will need to edit the dhcpd.conf file for vmnet8 mentioned above, using a subnet known to not conflict. Here’s an example, alternative dhcpd.conf:
This changes the subnet in use to 10.0.0.0/24 with the DHCP range being 10.0.0.[128-254] and the default gateway of VMs using it to 10.0.0.2.
This is where I’m going to end this post for now as the simulator is now accessible via HTTPS and SSH and ONTAP is ready to be configured. You will still need to assign disks, create a local storage tier (aggregate) as well as an SVM with volume(s) for data among other things. The intent of this post was to get this far, not to teach ONTAP. If you’d like to see a post around either adding a second node to the cluster or configuring ONTAP on the first one, please leave a comment and I’ll try and get around to it.
Timed perfectly with NetApp INSIGHT 2020 is the annual ONTAP payload announcement. Once again, there’s a lot in this payload, so I will simply deliver a list of bulleted sections, addressing as many of the changes as I’m able. I’ll provide additional detail on the ones I feel are the most interesting. For a full run down, please consult the release notes or start a conversation with me on twitter.
FlexGroup Volume Enhancements
Delete large datasets rapidly from the CLI.
This is great for those high file count deployments.
1,023 snapshots supported
FlexVol to FlexGroup in-place conversion enhancements
VMware datastore support
Proactive resizing of constituent volumes
FlexCache Volumes, a true global namespace
SMB support added with distributed locking
10x origin to cache fan-out ratio, now 1:100
Caching of SnapMirror secondary volumes
File system analytics, viewable in System Manager
Enabled on a per-volume basis
Can also be queried via API access
QoS for Qtrees
IOPS and throughput policies available per qtree object
Managed via REST API or CLI
NFS only in this release, no adaptive QoS
All-SAN Array (ASA) enhancements
Persistent FC Ports
Symmetric active/active host-to-LUN access
Each node on the ASA will maintain a “shadow FC LIF”, reducing SAN failover times even further.
Max LUN = 128TB LUNs
Max FlexVol = 300TB
These limit increases are on the ASA only
Priced ~20% less than unified platforms
Preview-only in 9.7, GA in 9.8
System manager integration
Bucket access policies
Multiple buckets per volume
TLS 1.2 support
Multi-part upload ONTAP S3 is not a replacement for a dedicated, global object store
Storage Efficiency Enhancements
Tiering from HDD aggregates
Object tagging (For information life cycle policies)
Increased cooling period (max 183 days)
Differentiation of hold and cold data for application of different compression methods, 8k compression group for hot, 32k for cold
Deduplication prior to compression
Upgrade directly to two versions newer without passing via intermediary version
Headswaps using nodes running the latest version of ONTAP can be used on nodes running versions of ONTAP up to two versions behind
REST API enhancements
ZAPI to REST mapping documentation
ONTAP version information in API documentation
System Manager Improvements
Single-click firmware upgrades
File system analytics
Granular details about your NAS file systems
Hardware and Network visualization
Data Protection Enhancements
Volume move support, no second copy required
WORM as the default
Security and Data Protection Enhancements
crypto shred individual files
encrypted network traffic, regardless of protocols
Simplifies secure NFS, no need for Kerboros
iSCSI traffic on the wire can now be encrypted
Node root volume encryption
Unmirrored aggregate support
SnapMirror Business Continuity (SM-BC) provides automated failover of synchronous SnapMirror relationships for application-level, granular protection
These are non-disruptive
SM-BC is preview-only in 9.8 and SAN-only.
SnapMirror to Object Store
Google Cloud, Azure, or AWS
Meta Data included so Object Store data is a complete archive
FlexGroup volumes as VMware datastores
SnapCenter backup support
64TB SAN datastore on the ASA
SRA support for SnapMirror Synchronous
Support for Tanzu storage
That sums up the majority of the improvements, looking forward to this release coming out. See you at NetApp INSIGHT 2020!
While we ramp up for NetApp INSIGHT next week, (the first virtual edition, for obvious reasons), NetApp has announced a couple of new platforms. First off, the AFF A220, NetApp’s entry-level, expandable AFF is getting a refresh in the AFF A250. While the 250 is a recycled product number, the AFF A250 is a substantial evolution of the original FAS250 from 2004.
The front bezel looks pretty much the same as the A220:
Once you remove the bezel, you get a sneak peak of what lies within from those sexy blue drive carriers which indicate NVMe SSDs inside:
While the NVMe SSDs alone are a pretty exciting announcement for this entry-level AFF, once you see the rear, that’s when the possibilities start to come to mind:
Before I address the fact that there’s two slots for expansion cards, let’s go over the internals. Much like its predecessor, each controller contains a 12-core processor. While the A220 contained an Intel Broadwell-DE running at 1.5GHz, the A250 contains an Intel Skylake-D running at 2.2GHz providing roughly a 45% performance increase over the A220, not to mention 32, [*UPDATE: Whoops, this should read 16, the A220 having 8.] third generation PCIe lanes. System memory gets doubled from 64GB to 128GB as does NVRAM, going from 8GB to 16GB. Onboard connectivity consists of two 10GBASE-T (e0a/e0b) ports for 10 gigabit client connectivity with two 25GbE SFP28 ports for ClusterNet/HA connectivity. Since NetApp continues to keep HA off the backplane in newer models, they keep that door open for HA-pairs living in separate chassis, as I waxed about previously here. Both e0M and the BMC continue to share a 1000Mbit, RJ-45 port, and the usual console and USB ports are also included.
Hang on, how do I attach an expansion shelf to this? Well at launch, there will be four different mezzanine cards available to slot into one of the two expansion slots per controller. There will be two host connectivity cards available, one being a 4-port, 10/25Gb, RoCEv2, SFP28 card and the other being a 4-port, 32Gb Fibre Channel card leveraging SFP+. The second type of card available is for storage expansion: one is a 2-port, 100Gb Ethernet, RoCEv2, QSFP28 card for attaching up to one additional NS224 shelf, and the other being a 4-port, 12Gb SAS, mini-SAS HD card for attaching up to one additional DS224c shelf populated with SSDs. That’s right folks, this new platform will only support up to 48 storage devices, though in the AFF world, I don’t see this being a problem. Minimum configuration is 8 NVMe SSDs, max is 48 NVMe SSDs or 24 NVMe + 24 SAS SSDs, but you won’t be able to buy it with SAS SSDs. That compatibility is being included only for migrating off of or reusing an existing DS224x populated with SSDs. If that’s a DS2246, you’ll need to upgrade the IOM modules to 12GB prior to attachment.
Next up in the hardware announcement is the new FAS(?)…but why the question mark you ask? That’s because this “FAS” is all-flash. That’s right, the newest FAS to hit the streets is the FAS 500f. Now before I get into those details, I’d love to get into the speeds and feeds as I did above. The problem is that I would simply be repeating myself. This is the same box as the AFF A250, much like how the AFF A220 is the same box as the FAS27x0. The differences between the AFF 250 and the FAS500f are in the configurations and abilities or restrictions imposed upon it.
While most of the information above can be ⌘-C’d, ⌘-V’d here, this box does not support the connection of any SAS-based media. That fourth mez card I mentioned, the 4-port SAS one? Can’t have it. As for storage device options, much like Henry Ford’s famous quote:
Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.
Any customer can have any size NVMe drive they want in the FAS500f, so long as it’s a 15.3TB QLC. That’s right, not only are there no choices to be made here other than drive quantity, but those drives are QLC. On the topic of quantity, the available configurations start at a minimum 24 drives and can be grown to either 36 or 48, but that’s it. So why QLC? By now, you should be aware that the 10k/15k SAS drives we are so used to today for our tier 2 workloads are going away. In fact, the current largest spindle size of 1.8TB is slated to be the last drive size in this category. NetApp’s adoption of QLC media is a direct result of the sunsetting of this line of media. While I don’t expect to get into all of the differences between Single, Multi, Triple, Quad or Penta-level (SLC, MLC, TLC, QLC, or PLC) cell NAND memory in this post, the rule of thumb is the more levels, the lower the speed, reliability, and cost are. QLC is slated to be the replacement for 10k/15k SAS yet it is expected to perform better and only be slightly more expensive. In fact, the FAS500f is expected to be able to do 333,000 IOPS at 3.6ms of latency for 100% 8KB random read workloads or 170,000 IOPS at 2ms for OLTP workloads with a 40/60 r/w split.
Those are this Fall’s new platforms. If you have any questions put it in a comment or tweet at me, @ChrisMaki, I’d love to hear your thoughts on these new platforms. See you next week at INSIGHT 2020, virtual edition!
***UPDATE: After some discussion over on Reddit, it looks like MetroCluster IP will be available on this platform at launch.
I’ve previously written about this Ethernet controller back when 40GbE Ethernet was relatively new to NetApp’s FAS and AFF controllers. Since that article, I’ve started to come across various oddities with this Ethernet controller.
Last Fall, I had a customer who was experiencing problems with LACP during an ONTAP upgrade (9.1 → 9.3 → 9.5P6) on their AFF A700s using the X1144A, dual port 40GbE card, which uses the Intel X710 Ethernet controller. We had the first 40GbE port broken out into 4x10GbE links, 2-each to either half of a pair of Cisco Nexus N9K-C9396PX in the same vPC Domain. During a controller reboot, we noticed that the interface group using multimode_lacp, most or all of the ports wouldn’t come up and on the Cisco-side, the port(s) would become disabled due to too many link up/down events. Immediately we wanted to look at potential cable problems but quickly dismissed that idea as well. After some digging, it looked as though NetApp was referencing Cisco Bug ID CSCuv87644 as potentially related. This led me down a long path of investigating the changes made to the networking stack in ONTAP over the past couple of years, and I’ve still got a post I’m working on around that. The workaround was to increase the debounce timer value on the Cisco 9k to 525ms, the default value is 100ms.
The port debounce time is the amount of time that an interface waits to notify the supervisor of a link going down. During this time, the interface waits to see if the link comes back up. The wait period is a time when traffic is stopped.
Recently, a different customer of mine was trying to buy a Nimble HF20 and they wanted to include the Q8C17B, a four port, 10GbE NIC, also based on the Intel X710 Ethernet controller. The vendor came back to me and said they needed to know if the customer was going to be using VLAN tagging on the Q8C17B, because if they needed VLAN tagging, they’d have to choose a two port NIC instead. This confused me, but after some emails back and forth, HPE Nimble Storage Alert # EXT-0061 was referenced as the reason for this. At some point Nimble will release a patch that updates the firmware on this NIC, hopefully bringing back VLAN functionality. A bit of looking around, and the same VLAN issue has been identified by VMware in KB2149781.
Lastly, I also came across a NIST vulnerability from 2017 regarding the same Ethernet controller, it seems that has since been addressed in a firmware update.
While the above doesn’t necessarily imply a huge problem with the X710, I simply found it interesting and thought I’d include them all in one post.
Right on schedule, to coincide with NetApp INSIGHT 2019 is the announcement of the next release of NetApp’s ONTAP, 9.7. Going over the list of improvements, much of what is expected in 9.7 seems incremental. The themes for this release are High Performance, Simplicity and Data Protection. This release will also bring support for a few new platforms, the FAS8300, 8700 and the AFF A400. Also, a new twist on the A220 and A700, the first models in the new All SAN Array(ASA) versions of the all flash FAS’.
FlexCache, the most recent feature to be brought back from the depths of 7-mode gets a bit more attention. First up, both FC and IP MetroCluster support, allowing you to extend a volume namespace across MCC sites and per-site load-balancing for NFS clients. Also, FlexGroups can now be the origin volume for FlexCache, allowing for origin volumes greater than 100TB and higher file counts.
In the realm of security, data-at-rest encryption is on by default for all newly created volumes provided there is a key manager configured. ONTAP will encrypt the data using hardware encryption if the drives are available, otherwise it will leverage software-based encryption. Setting up the onboard key manager is now extra simple with a setup wizard available in System Manager.
MetroCluster network can now co-exist on your data access switches provided they comply with specifications. MCC’s with either an A220 or FAS2750 do not qualify.
There’s an interesting new bit of engineering coming in the new AFF A400 platform where compression will be offloaded to a PCI network card.
FlexGroup improvements include NDMP support, allowing backup by any 3d party application that supports NDMP. ONTAP 9.7 brings NFS v4.0 and v4.1 to FlexGroups, including support for pNFS. The long awaited conversion in-place from FlexVol to single-member FlexGroup is here, allowing you to scale capacity and performance without having to perform a client-based copy. While VMware datastores will work on FlexGroups, this isn’t supported quite yet. If you’re a NetApp partner and you have a customer who would like to use FlexGroups as a VMware datastore, contact your SE.
Another oft-request feature, this one of FabricPools, is the ability to tier to more than one object store. In 9.7, FabricPool Mirrors is announced, allowing you to tier to two separate object stores. FabricPool mirrors can be used to add resiliency, or change providers, perhaps to re-patriate your data to an on-premises StorageGRID deployment. Keeping on the topic of FabricPool, customers wanting to tier to an object store that isn’t officially qualified no longer need an FPVR, though they must perform their own testing to ensure the object store meets their needs. The officially qualified object stores are: Alibaba Cloud Object Storage Services, Amazon S3, Amazon Commercial Cloud Services, Google Cloud Storage, IBM Cloud Object Storage, Microsoft Azure Blog Storage and StorageGRID.
Wrapping up the 9.7 updates, ONTAP Select gets NVMe device support, 12-node clusters and NSX-T support on ESXi.