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NetApp Revs up ONTAP software

Sysadmins get more thrust and better control

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NetApp has updated its Data ONTAP array operating system to v8.01, introducing data movement, compression, a new management facility and software licensing changes.

DataMotion for Volumes enables sysadmins to move data volumes non-destructively, while the volume is being accessed, across multiple NetApp storage systems or within a NetApp array or NetApp-managed array. The data movement is triggered manually and a sysadmin has to create a volume and select source and target storage systems using a GUI. When a data migration is complete, all applications and clients are transitioned seamlessly to the destination system.

Three NetApp software features are used: MultiStore, SnapMirror, and Provisioning Manager. With MultiStore Data, volumes are grouped into independent storage partitions, which belong to individual users, clients, and/or applications.

Data Motion for Volumes is hypervisor-agnostic and will work with VMware, Hyper-V and Citrix. For virtual server deployments, several virtual machines and their associated data data can be grouped and moved together, enabling consolidated migrations across storage systems.

Data Motion support will be available with Data ONTAP release 7.3.3. Software licences for MultiStore, SnapMirror, and Provisioning Manager are also required. Supported protocols include NFS and iSCSI.

Compression

ONTAP 8.01 adds inline compression using the standard hardware in the arrays; there is no bolted-on hardware compression unit. It uses a NetApp compression algorithm.

How does running compression affect NetApp controller performance? NetApp EMEA solutions marketing manager John Rollason said: "NetApp data compression minimises performance impact but does not eliminate it.  Workloads should be evaluated for tolerance to the resources needed to perform data compression."

He pointed out: "There are benefits in a reduction in I/O that accompanies compression, so a 50 per cent compression ratio (around what I would expect in practice) reduces the back end I/O to disk by 50 per cent. That's a big plus, and frees up bandwidth for other I/O to and from the controller. Compression will absorb low percentages of CPU resources, but it's an efficient and effective way of trading CPU cycles for more I/O bandwidth and space efficiency."

Compression is switched on or off when a volume is created and thereafter cannot be altered for that volume. This is different from A-SIS deduplication, which can be turned on or off after a volume has been created. Deduplication by the way is not global across the cluster nodes and, in fact, it is volume-based.

Management software

NetApp has a new FAS array management suite, OnCommand, which it says "allows greater control and optimisation of unified storage, automation for operational efficiency, and optimal flexibility with an open API that integrates with a variety of third-party management products and hypervisors".

It is divided into three functional parts. The Control section contains a system manner, an operations manager and a facility called My AutoSupport. An Automate section has a Provisioning Manager, Protection Manager, SnapManager software and SnapDrive software. The third section is called Analyze and contains the SANscreen product.

OnCommand provides recommendations based on NetApp best practices for common storage management tasks and workflows, and provides workflow-based wizards to simplify the most common device-management tasks.

There is a suite of Web-based applications for capacity planning, proactive identification of at-risk systems, and performance trending. OnCommand software automates storage provisioning workflows and the deployment of thin provisioning and reduplication. There is also policy-based automation for data protection.

There is integration with Microsoft, VMware, Citrix, BMC Software, CA, IBM, HP and Fujitsu systems. OnCommand can be accessed through a Virtual Storage Console and ApplianceWatch PRO.

There is also an SDK for developers.

Software licensing

NetApp has introduced a simpler software pricing structure with more value-added software for no additional cost as part of the base package. For example, a FAS6200 array comes with Data ONTAP Essentials software, including SyncMirror, MetroCluster, Deduplication, Thin Provisioning, FlexVol, RAID-DP, Snapshot, Open Systems SnapVault, MultiStore, FlexCache and FlexShare and an included SAN or NAS protocol.

Add-on software modules are the SnapManager Suit, SnapRestore, SnapMirror, FlexClone, SnapVault and optional SAN or NAS protocols. This add-on software can be purchased as a complete bundle.

Data ONTAP 8.01 also adds Unified Connect, the facility of having FCoE, iSCSI, NFS and CIFS storage protocol messages travel through a single wire and unified target adapter to and from NetApp's arrays.

All existing NetApp arrays can run Data ONTAP 8.01. The ONTAP 7-node and cluster-mode separation remains, as does the 24-node cluster limit. ®

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