Behind the Scenes: Episode 103 – vNAS using ONTAP Select

Welcome to the Episode 103, part of the continuing series called “Behind the Scenes of the NetApp Tech ONTAP Podcast.”

group-4-2016

Former Tech ONTAP podcast host and current Virtually Speaking podcast host, Pete Flecha (@vPedroArrow), is the TME for vSAN at VMware and is always bugging me to do a show on vSAN. So, here we go!

This week on the podcast, we brought in the technical director for ONTAP Select, Peter Skovrup (skovrup@netapp.com) to discuss the latest improvements in ONTAP Select, including the ability to use ONTAP Select on VMware vSAN platforms!

Finding the Podcast

The podcast is all finished and up for listening. You can find it on iTunes or SoundCloud or by going to techontappodcast.com.

Also, if you don’t like using iTunes or SoundCloud, we just added the podcast to Stitcher.

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/tech-ontap-podcast?refid=stpr

I also recently got asked how to leverage RSS for the podcast. You can do that here:

http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:164421460/sounds.rss

You can listen here:

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Behind the Scenes: Episode 101 – NetApp at VMworld 2017; VSC 7.0

Welcome to the Episode 101, part of the continuing series called “Behind the Scenes of the NetApp Tech ONTAP Podcast.”

group-4-2016

This week on the podcast, we bring in Dr. Desktop, Chris Gebhardt (@chrisgeb) and Virtualization TME/NetApp A-Team member Steven Cortez (@mscproductions) to talk about what’s going on at VMworld 2017 in Las Vegas, what sessions to attend and what’s new in Virtual Storage Console (VSC) 7.0.

Finding the Podcast

The podcast is all finished and up for listening. You can find it on iTunes or SoundCloud or by going to techontappodcast.com.

Also, if you don’t like using iTunes or SoundCloud, we just added the podcast to Stitcher.

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/tech-ontap-podcast?refid=stpr

I also recently got asked how to leverage RSS for the podcast. You can do that here:

http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:164421460/sounds.rss

You can listen here:

https://soundcloud.com/techontap_podcast/episode-101-netapp-at-vmworld-2017-vsc-70

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!

Behind the Scenes: Episode 66 – @vMiss33 Gets Her #VCDX On

Welcome to the Episode 66, part of the continuing series called “Behind the Scenes of the NetApp Tech ONTAP Podcast.”

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This week, the Tech ONTAP podcast team synced up with a podcast veteran, the one and only Melissa Palmer (aka @vMiss33)!

Melissa recently achieved 1337 VMware architect status by completing the grueling VCDX, so we asked her about that journey.

And by we, I mean Glenn and Andrew – I was in Pittsburgh, discussing some FlexGroup goodness with the dev team there. Glenn and Andrew managed not to screw the show up too badly.

Finding the Podcast

The podcast is all finished and up for listening. You can find it on iTunes or SoundCloud or by going to techontappodcast.com.

Also, if you don’t like using iTunes or SoundCloud, we just added the podcast to Stitcher.

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/tech-ontap-podcast?refid=stpr

I also recently got asked how to leverage RSS for the podcast. You can do that here:

http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:164421460/sounds.rss

You can listen here:

BREAKING NEWS at #NetAppInsight – ONTAP VVol Support?

breaking-news

Along with the announcement that vSphere 6.5 went GA today, I’ve got some pretty cool news that I was just given permission to share, on the caveat that I can’t actually give the “when” portion of this…

VVols 1.0 is currently being qualified for ONTAP 9.1!

26602_sec-fig1

That’s right… Both SolidFire *and* ONTAP will have support for VVols. Somewhere, Pete Flecha (@vPedroArrow) is smiling.

If you have a vested interest in this news, please email me at whyistheinternetbroken@gmail.com or comment below with some contact information and I will pass the word on to the ONTAP team.

So, while you’re at NetApp Insight in Berlin, go find Pete at the VMware booth, or attend one of the VMware specific sessions:

  • 60831-2: How Customers and Partners use NFS for Virtualization
  • 62151-2 – VMware Horizon Portfolio on NetApp
  • 61521-2 – VMware on NetApp ONTAP 9: New Tricks and Best Practice Update
  • 61718-3 – Creating a Storage Portal Using VMware vRealize and NetApp
  • 88633-2 Bridging the Gap: Networking for Storage and Virtualization Administrators
  • 88644-2 – New Capabilities in NetApp ONTAP 9, Optimized for All-Flash Virtualized Workloads
  • 61476-2 – VMware Virtual Volumes: Deploy, Implement and Troubleshoot

For NFS-specific information on vSphere 6.5, see:

vSphere 6.5: The NFS edition

For a rundown on the new ONTAP 9.1 features:

ONTAP 9.1 RC1 is now available!

Behind the Scenes: Episode 54 –VVols and SolidFire

Welcome to the Episode 54, part of the continuing series called “Behind the Scenes of the NetApp Tech ONTAP Podcast.”

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This week, we bring in the Storage Janitorhimself, Andy Banta (@andybanta) to do a deep dive into VVols on SolidFire. Andy will also be at VMWorld to answer your VVol questions, so be sure to visit him at the NetApp booth!

Andy likes to work in dirty word phrases to his podcasts, so see if you can find the hidden gem in this one. Hint: He intersperses it in several sections.

We also did a VVols episode with VMware’s VVols guy, Pete Flecha. You may remember him from previous roles, such as “Tech ONTAP podcast host.”

Finding the Podcast

The podcast is all finished and up for listening. You can find it on iTunes or SoundCloud or by going to techontappodcast.com.

Also, if you don’t like using iTunes or SoundCloud, we just added the podcast to Stitcher.

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/tech-ontap-podcast?refid=stpr

I also recently got asked how to leverage RSS for the podcast. You can do that here:

http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:164421460/sounds.rss

You can listen here:

Adventures in Upgrading ESXi

Here at NetApp, we have a variety of labs available to us to tinker with. I work with a few other TMEs in managing a few clustered Data ONTAP clusters, as well as an ESXi server farm. We have 6 ESXi servers that we just moved into a new lab location and are finally ready to be powered back up after a 4-5 month hiatus.

So, I figured, since the lab’s been down for so long anyway, why not upgrade the ESXi servers from 5.1 to 6.0 update 2 while we’re at it?

What could possibly go wrong on my first actual ESXi upgrade on servers that have been migrated from different IP addresses, some of which may still be lingering on the system and are unreachable?

Well, I’ll tell you.

First attempt at upgrading a server, all sorts of things were broken.

  • vCenter couldn’t connect
  • The web client couldn’t connect – error was “503 Service Unavailable (Failed to connect to endpoint: [N7Vmacore4Http16LocalServiceSpecE:0x1f06ff18] _serverNamespace = / _isRedirect = false _port = 8309)”
  • esxcli and vim-cmd commands failed with:
[root@esxi1:~] esxcli
Connect to localhost failed: Connection failure.

After spending a few hours poking around to try to fix the issue, I decided it was probably user error.  I used “install” instead of “update” and when I rebooted, so that probably nuked the server, right?

So I tried again on a new server. This time, I read the manual and did the update the way that was supposedly correct. I even got an error found in the release notes and used VMware’s workaround:

~ # esxcli system maintenanceMode set --enable true
~ # esxcli system maintenanceMode get
Enabled
~ # esxcli software vib update -d /vmfs/volumes/vm_storage/ESX6/update-from-esxi
6.0-6.0_update02.zip
 [DependencyError]
 VIB VMware_bootbank_esx-base_6.0.0-2.34.3620759 requires vsan >= 6.0.0-2.34, bu t the requirement cannot be satisfied within the ImageProfile.
 VIB VMware_bootbank_esx-base_6.0.0-2.34.3620759 requires vsan << 6.0.0-2.35, bu t the requirement cannot be satisfied within the ImageProfile.
 VIB VMware_bootbank_ehci-ehci-hcd_1.0-3vmw.600.2.34.3620759 requires xhci-xhci >= 1.0-3vmw.600.2.34, but the requirement cannot be satisfied within the ImagePr ofile.
 Please refer to the log file for more details.
~ # esxcli software profile update -d /vmfs/volumes/vm_storage/ESX6/update-from-esxi6.0-6.0_update02.zip -p ESXi-6.0.0-20160302001-standard
Update Result
 Message: The update completed successfully, but the system needs to be rebooted for the changes to be effective.
 Reboot Required: true

After I rebooted:

[root@esxi1:~] esxcli
Connect to localhost failed: Connection failure.

Son of a…

I started Googling like a madman.

google-errors

Found the ever-helpful William Lam’s blog on the web client issue. His recommendation was running a vim-cmd command. However…

[root@esxi2:~] vim-cmd hostsvc/advopt/update Config.HostAgent.plugins.solo.enableMob bool true
Failed to login: Invalid response code: 503 Service Unavailable

In the vpxa.log file, a ton of these:

verbose vpxa[FF8E8AC0] [Originator@6876 sub=vpxXml] [VpxXml] Error fetching /sdk/vimService?wsdl: 503 (Service Unavailable)
warning vpxa[FFCC0B70] [Originator@6876 sub=Default] Closing Response processing in unexpected state: 3
warning vpxa[FFCC0B70] [Originator@6876 sub=hostdcnx] [VpxaHalCnxHostagent] Could not resolve version for authenticating to host agent

 

The log suggested there was a connection failure on port 443, but telnet to that port worked fine. It took me a little bit of tinkering, but I finally figured out where that port number is controlled – /etc/vmware/vpxa/vpxa.cfg.

In that log file, I also noticed that my IP address was wrong – it was using the old IP addresses the hosts had. I changed the IP address and the port used to port 80. Once I did that, my error changed a bit. This time, it was a SSL error:

Error in sending request - SSL Exception

I spent a bit more time poking around and finally decided – time to blow it up. Way easier to re-install a lab box than to try to dig through all the configuration files.

If you find yourself in a similar bind, don’t waste your time – unless it’s production. Then open a case.

I think my issue ended up being a combination of:

  • Stale IP addresses
  • Stale iSCSI HBA settings
  • Stale configs
  • Upgrading to ESXi 6 without addressing the above first

If anyone has any suggestions for fixing this issue, by all means, post in the comments. 🙂

UPDATE:

Both ESXi boxes have been wiped and reinstalled with ESXi 6.0. All is working fine. Funny story, though… after one re-image, I connected via SSH and thought it broke again. Turns out I had a duplicate IP and was still connecting to the old server. Ooops.

Behind the Scenes: Episode 29 –VVols with Pedro Arrow!

Welcome to the Episode 29 version of the new series called “Behind the Scenes of the NetApp Tech ONTAP Podcast.”

This week, we dragged former Tech ONTAP Podcast host Pete Flecha (aka @vPedroArrow) into the studio to talk VVols after our successful episode with SolidFire’s Aaron Patten last week.

Getting Pedro into the studio was easy – we still keep in touch with him and he was happy to come lend his expertise to the podcast. He also happens to have his own podcast that he just started up at VMware: Virtually Speaking.

I was glad to get Pedro into the studio – he was the guy who championed me to join up with the excellent podcast crew.

pedro-ep29

Recording the Podcast

The podcast went pretty smoothly – it’s as if Pedro had done this before – but in classic Pedro Arrow fashion, we had to do some re-takes the next day. He’s a bit of a perfectionist.

Check out the new episode below and be sure to send any questions or comments to podcast@netapp.com:

VMWORLD::Diary of a vN00b (complete with name dropping)

It’s been a hectic and exhausting week at my first VMworld. I’ve been to tech conferences (such as NetApp Insight), but never to anything of the sheer size and scale of this one. It’s not a storage conference, but you better believe storage was on the forefront of the conversation as the virtualization message starts to shift to converged, hyper-converged, flash and cloud.

Luckily for NetApp, we happen to have all of those bases covered already with FlexPod, EVO:RAIL, All-Flash FAS and Cloud ONTAP/NetApp Private Storage, as well as the NetApp Data Fabric.

My primary role at VMworld for NetApp was to man the NetApp booth and offer my knowledge and expertise regarding NetApp technology. I had some very good discussions with customers regarding their challenges and how they could potentially solve them. In the Meet the Engineer sessions I had, I made sure to emphasize that those customers should be doing an open and honest evaluation of their options for two reasons:

  • Doing your homework is always a good thing.
  • I was confident that once they did the research, they’d see that NetApp offered the most value.

While I was there, I managed to snap some photos of the booth and what we were doing.

Busy booth!

Meet the engineer!

The illustrious All Flash FAS 8080

Dan Isaacs grinning about his Vaughn Stewart argument

The guys from TechONTAP solving real problems

Rachel Dines showing a customer how awesome AltaVault is

For more photos, check out the Google Album.

Community

I also was here to meet new people, both at NetApp and in the tech community. I got to know a ton of really smart people and interacted with folks that I previously only knew on social media.

Some highlights (and blatant name dropping):

So my first VMworld is in the books and now I get to give my aching feet a break. Bring on the next one!