NetApp recently released a new version of their storage software, Data ONTAP 8.1.1 that works across their FAS and V-series products.
New Data ONTAP 8.1.1
Data ONTAP 8.1.1 continues the evolution of storage software in NetApp series storage. Since Data ONTAP 8, NetApp has been enhancing cluster-mode functionality with the goal to be equivalent with 7-Mode features and with this release, cluster-mode goes way beyond what’s available with 7-Mode with a single storage subsystem
New Clustering functionality
With this release, unified SAN-NAS clusters can now span up to 6 storage nodes. In fact, NetApp released a SPC-1 benchmark with a 6-node, FAS6240 storage cluster that hit 250K IOPS. Recall that all NetApp clusters (NAS only and Unified SAN-NAS) are built out of HA-pairs of storage subsystems or nodes and physical cluster elements such as interfaces, aggregates and/or volumes can be logically collected into Vservers that span one or more storage nodes.
With ONTAP 8.1.1, NetApp announced a new Infinite Volume that consists of a single file system (NFS) spanning a 10-node, FAS6280 storage cluster containing up to 20PB of raw storage and billions of file objects. Infinite Volume support is intended for large enterprise content repositories. Unclear why this was limited to FAS6280s but NetApp made known that this was all they had validated to date and hinted that overtime, more systems would be supported by Infinite Volume.
NetApp also added a new facility called Data Motion for Volumes (volmove), an online, non-disruptive volume movement for NetApp storage clusters. With Data Motion for Volumes cluster components/nodes can now be continuously refreshed and/or swapped out for newer elements. As such, the storage cluster can continue to operate without downtime during technology refresh. Such capabilities bring into being an almost immortal cluster. NetApp believes that immortal clusters are one of the underpinnings of a data infrastructure or utility service that by definition stays up, always.
In addition, with Data ONTAP 8.1.1, storage workloads can be automatically balanced across a single cluster node or with Data Motion for Volumes, across the cluster. Also, with Vserver, administrative domains can span from a single aggregate to multiple nodes to the entire storage cluster (required for Infinite Volume support).
Moreover, NetApp storage clusters can be made up of different models of storage nodes. For example, one can add HA-pairs of FAS6280s to a cluster made up of only FAS3240s. And with V-Series gateways to external storage, one can add external storage from heterogeneous vendors to a NetApp storage cluster.
Other Data ONTAP 8.1.1 capabilities
With Data ONTAP 8.1.1, NetApp also introduced Flash Pool, defined as an aggregate that contains an SSD RAID group together with one or more disk RAID groups. The Flash RAID group can be used for read-only or read-write caching of the disk data in the aggregate. Further, current disk-only aggregates can be non-disruptively upgraded to hybrid Flash Pool. Flash Pool adds to the previously available support in NetApp for NAND, which consists of Flash Cache, a read-only NAND cache at the controller level and all SSD aggregates.
Data ONTAP Edge is another new capability introduced in 8.1.1 that consists of Data ONTAP executing as a virtual machine under VMware vSphere 5. The Edge appliance targets remote or branch office environments needing advanced storage functionality but unable to afford the expense of networked storage. The Data ONTAP Edge virtual appliance supports SnapVault, FlexClone, SnapRestore, deduplication and thin provisioning to enable remote locations to efficiently store and backup their data to a centralized, FAS/V-Series storage system.
NetApp has now delivered on their promise to offer full support for cluster mode storage. Previously, Data ONTAP 8.0 introduced Cluster-Mode and Data ONTAP 8.1 added significant functionality to Cluster-Mode almost reaching par with 7-Mode feature set. With Data ONTAP 8.1.1, immortal clusters and Infinite Volume, they now are adding features to Cluster-Mode, that almost makes 7-Mode look old-fashioned, in comparison.
Probably only a few customers need a single 20PB file system, but immortal clusters should make many customers take notice. Given that most companies refresh their storage technology every 3 years or so, being able to do so without downtime could be very appealing.
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Silverton Consulting, Inc. is a Storage, Strategy & Systems consulting services company, based in the USA offering products and services to the data storage community.