Storage Efficiency Transparency: Powered by Data

Recently, NetApp has started to publicly display storage efficiency ratios on AFF systems on the product pages. You can see for yourself here.

The initial results look pretty good:

efficiency

That’s over 4:1 average capacity savings on our AFF systems, which is possible due to storage efficiency features that are currently only available on NetApp AFF platforms. It also falls in line with NetApp’s All-Flash Guarantee program.

Storage efficiencies add great value to AFF systems by way of allowing more data to be stored in ONTAP systems, which reduces the $/GB cost of the storage system. So even though you may pay more for SSD drives, you get that money back as you add data to the storage because you need less of a footprint to store it, less power and cooling and better overall performance.

I like to think of storage efficiency value in comparison to this guy:

Where does that ratio come from?

The numbers publicly shown on the NetApp site aren’t pulled out of thin air; they’re updated regularly from real-world data captures of capacity savings from NetApp’s Active IQ back end. The ratio factors in the same standard values most of NetApp’s competitors use (provided they have those features):

  • Deduplication
  • Compression
  • Compaction
  • Clones

They left out snapshots from the main calculation, but do include what that ratio looks like on the same page (spoiler alert: it’s an insane 22:1).

For more info on Active IQ, check out the following podcast:

NetApp is using data mining, machine learning and analytics more and more to enhance how we deliver information.

Check the NetApp site periodically and see how the numbers adjust based on real data!

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Running VMware on ONTAP? Why you should consider upgrading to ONTAP 9.2.

ontap-vmware.png

VMworld is right around the corner, so it’s a good time to remind folks about the goodness that is ONTAP + VMware.

ONTAP already has enterprise class storage for VMware, with support for both NFS and FCP/iSCSI on the same cluster to host VMware datastores. ONTAP also has robust support for VMware friendly features, such as VVols 1.0, VAAI, inline deduplication/compaction/compression, vSphere integration via the Virtual Storage Console, backing up VMs with SnapCenter, FlexClones, SRA plugins and much more!

For more information on VMware with ONTAP see:

ONTAP 9.2 went GA a couple weeks ago and included some nice new features that fit very well into virtualization workloads. When you upgrade ONTAP, you are able to do it non-disruptively, especially for VMware environments. Plus, NetApp’s internal predictive analysis points to ONTAP 9.2 having the highest quality of the available ONTAP releases out there, so there’s not a lot of reason *not* to upgrade to ONTAP 9.2.

Now, for those features…

Aggregate Inline Deduplication

If you’re not familiar with deduplication, it’s a storage feature that allows blocks that are identical to rely on pointers to a single block instead of having multiple copies of the same blocks.

This is all currently done inline (as data is ingested) only, and currently  on All Flash FAS systems by default. The space savings come in handy in workloads such as ESXi datastores, where you may be applying OS patches across multiple VMs in multiple datastores hosted in multiple FlexVol volumes. Aggregate inline deduplication brings an average additional ~1.32:1 ratio of space savings for VMware workloads. Who doesn’t want to save some space?

At a high level, this animation shows how it works:

aid-animation2

Quality of Service (QoS) Minimums/Guaranteed QoS

In ONTAP 8.2, NetApp introduced Quality of Service maximums to allow storage administrators to apply policies to volumes – and even files like luns or VMs – to prevent bully workloads from affecting other workloads in a cluster.

Last year, NetApp acquired SolidFire, which has a pretty mean QoS of its own where it actually approaches QoS from the other end of the spectrum – guaranteeing a performance floor for workloads that require a specific service level.

qos

I’m not 100% sure, but I’m guessing NetApp saw that and said “that’s pretty sweet. Let’s do that.”

So, they have. Now, ONTAP 9.2 has a maximum and a minimum/guaranteed QoS for storage administrators and service providers. (Guarantees only for SAN currently) For VMware environments, storage administrators can now easily apply floors and ceilings to VMs to maximize their SLAs for their end users and customers.

Check out a video on it here:

We also did a podcast on it here:

ONTAP Select enhancements

ONTAP Select is NetApp’s software-defined version of ONTAP software. Select allows you to “select” whatever server hardware platform you want to run your storage system on (see what they did there?).

ONTAP Select has been around for a while, first in the form of ONTAP Edge. In ONTAP 9.0, it was re-branded to Select and NetApp started adding additional functionality to extend the use case for the solution outside of “edge” cases, such as remote offices.

Select runs on a hypervisor, usually ESXi. ONTAP 9.2 added some functionality that could be appealing to storage administrators.

These include:

  • 2-node HA support
  • FlexGroup volume support
  • Improved performance
  • Easier deployment
  • ESX Robo license
  • Single node ONTAP Select vNAS with VSAN and iSCSI LUN support
  • Inline deduplication support

Three of the more compelling bullets above (to me, at least) for VMware environments are 2-node HA, the ability to use ESX ROBO licenses and the vNAS support with vSAN.

If you’re already using vSAN in your environments, you’ll know that they don’t do file protocols like CIFS/SMB or NFS. Instead, they use a proprietary protocol that is intended to speak only to VMs. While that’s great for datastores, it limits what sort of tasks the vSAN can be used for.

With ONTAP Select running on top of a vSAN, you can present NAS shares to clients, host NFS datastores, etc, without having to buy new hardware. Not only that, but you can also present datastores via vSAN on the same ONTAP Select instance.

vnas.png

Pretty nifty, eh?

From the NetApp vNAS Solution Brief:

Starting with ONTAP Select 9.2, the ONTAP Select vNAS solution also supports
VMware HA, vMotion, and Distributed Resources Scheduler (DRS). After deployment
of a single-node cluster that uses external storage or consumes a vSAN datastore,
the node can be moved through VMware vMotion, HA, or DRS actions. The ONTAP
Select Deploy utility can detect these movements, and updates its internal database
to continue normal management of the node.

For more information on ONTAP select, see:

Got questions or feedback? Insert them in the comments below!

ONTAP 9.2 is Generally Available! (GA)

ONTAP 9 is on a new cadence model, which brings a new release every 6 months. In May, we saw ONTAP 9.2RC1 release. Today, ONTAP 9.2GA is available here!

http://mysupport.netapp.com/NOW/download/software/ontap/9.2

upgraded

Feature highlights

I cover the new stuff in a bit more depth in the ONTAP 9.2RC1 blog post, but here’s a short list of the new features in ONTAP 9.2GA:

  • Aggregate inline deduplication
  • FabricPools
  • QoS Minimums
  • ONTAP Select enhancements (2 node HA, iSCSI LUN support, ESX ROBO license)
  • Simplification and usability enhancements
  • 800TB aggregates
  • ADPv2 for FAS
  • NetApp Volume Encryption on FlexGroup volumes

Generally, there are no feature changes between an RC and a GA release, but for 9.2, FabricPools add support for tiering from a SnapMirror destination volume in 9.2GA.

So there you have it! The latest release of ONTAP! Post your thoughts or questions in the comments below!

 

ONTAP 9.2RC1 is available!

Like clockwork, the 6 month cadence is upon us again.

clockwork_930w_spc-31

ONTAP 9.2RC1 is available for download here:

http://mysupport.netapp.com/NOW/download/software/ontap/9.2RC1/

If you’re interested in a podcast where we cover the ONTAP 9.2 features, check it out here:

Also out: OnCommand (truly) Unified Manager 7.2:

http://mysupport.netapp.com/documentation/productlibrary/index.html?productID=61373

For now, let’s dive in a bit, shall we?

First of all, I made sure to upgrade my own cluster to show some of the new stuff off. Went off without a hitch:

upgraded

Now, let’s start with one of the most eagerly awaited new features…

Aggregate Inline Deduplication

If you’re not familiar with deduplication, it’s a storage feature that allows blocks that are identical to rely on pointers to a single block instead of having multiple copies of the same blocks. For example, if I am storing multiple JPEG images on a share (or even inside the same PowerPoint file), deduplication will allow me to save storage space by storing just one copy of the data. The image below is an 8.4MB photo I took in Point Reyes, California:

point-reyes-info.png

If I store two copies of the file on a share (no deduplication), that means I use up 16MB.

wo-dedupe

If I use deduplication, then that means the duplicate blocks only take up 4KB per block as they are pointed back to a single copy of the blocks.

w-dedupe.png

If I have multiple copies of the same image, they all point back to the same blocks:

w-dedupe-multiples.png

Pretty cool, eh?

Well, there was *one* problem with how ONTAP does deduplication; the duplicate blocks only count against a single FlexVol volume. That meant if we had the same file in multiple volumes, you don’t get the benefits of deduplication across those volumes.

dedupe-multiple-flexvol.png

In ONTAP 9.2, that issue is resolved. You can now take advantage of deduplication when multiple volumes reside in the same physical aggregate.

dedupe-aggr.png

This is all currently done inline (as data is ingested) only, and currently only on All Flash FAS systems. The space savings come in handy in workloads such as ESXi datastores, where you may be applying OS patches across multiple VMs in multiple datastores hosted in multiple FlexVol volumes.

At a high level, this animation shows how it works:

aid-animation2

Another place where aggregate inline deduplication would rock? NetApp FlexGroup volumes, where a single container is comprised of multiple member FlexVols on the same physical storage. Speaking of FlexGroup volumes, that leads us to the next feature added to ONTAP 9.2.

Other storage efficiency improvements

In addition to aggregate inline dedupe, ONTAP 9.2 also adds:

  • Advanced Drive Partitioning v2 (ADPv2) support for FAS8xxx and FAS9xxx with spinning drives; previously ADPv2 was only supported on All Flash FAS
  • Increase of the maximum aggregate size to 800TB (was previously 400TB)
  • Automated aggregate provisioning in System Manager for easier aggregate creation

NetApp Volume Encryption on FlexGroup volumes

ONTAP 9.1 introduced volume-level encryption (NVE). We did a podcast on it if you’re interested in learning more about it, but in ONTAP 9.2, support for NVE was added to NetApp FlexGroup volumes. Now you can apply encryption only at the volume level (as opposed to the disks via NSE drives) for your large, unstructured NAS workloads.

To apply it, all you need is a volume encryption license. Then, use the same process you would use for a FlexVol volume.

Additionally, NVE can now be used on SnapLock compliance volumes!

Quality of Service (QoS) Minimums/Guaranteed QoS

In ONTAP 8.2, NetApp introduced Quality of Service to allow storage administrators to apply policies to volumes – and even files like luns or VMs – to prevent bully workloads from affecting other workloads in a cluster.

Last year, NetApp acquired SolidFire, which has a pretty mean QoS of its own where it actually approaches QoS from the other end of the spectrum – guaranteeing a performance floor for workloads that require a specific service level.

qos

I’m not 100% sure, but I’m guessing NetApp saw that and said “that’s pretty sweet. Let’s do that.”

So, they have. Now, ONTAP 9.2 has a maximum and a minimum/guaranteed QoS for storage administrators and service providers. Check out a video on it here:

ONTAP Select enhancements

ONTAP 9.2 also includes some ONTAP Select enhancements, such as:

  • 2-node HA support
  • FlexGroup volume support
  • Improved performance
  • Easier deployment
  • ESX Robo license
  • Single node ONTAP Select vNAS with VSAN and iSCSI LUN support
  • Inline deduplication support

Usability enhancements

ONTAP is also continuing its mission to make the deployment and configuration via the System Manager GUI easier and easier. In ONTAP 9.2, we bring:

  • Enhanced upgrade support
  • Application aware data management
  • Simplified cluster expansion
  • Simplified aggregate deployment
  • Guided cluster setup

FabricPools

We covered FabricPools in Episode 63 of the Tech ONTAP podcast. Essentially, FabricPools tier cold blocks from flash disk to cloud or an on-premises S3 target like StorageGRID WebScale. It’s not a replacement for backup or disaster recovery; it’s more of a way to lower your total cost of ownership for storage by moving data that is not actively in use to free up space for other workloads. This is all done automatically via a policy. It behaves more like an extension of the aggregate, as the pointers to the blocks that moved remain on the local storage device.

fabricpool

ONTAP 9.2 introduces version 1 of this feature, which will support the following:

  • Tiering to S3 (StorageGRID) or AWS
  • Snapshot-only tiering on primary storage
  • SnapMirror destination tiering on secondary storage

Future releases will add more functionality, so stay tuned for that! We’ll also be featuring FabricPools in a deep dive for a future podcast episode.

So there you have it! The latest release of ONTAP! Post your thoughts or questions in the comments below!