NetApp & Storage DRS


...and what you need to consider when using it with shared storage.



As we've gone through the vSphere 5 beta program, Storage DRS is the one piece that has both fascinated us, as well as scared us.  As you all know, I'm a huge fan of transparency, and I want to be crystal clear with this post.

I won't speak for EMC, HP, and Dell/EQL, but it's likely that if you're running your vSphere environment on a shared storage array from any of us, you're likely not going to have a pleasurable experience with Storage DRS, unless you just don't like taking advantage of our features.  I'll assume, for this post, that you do. :)

Over the past few years, NetApp has brought to the light storage efficiencies such as thin provisioning, deduplication, snapshot-based backups, et al.  These constructs rely heavily on the storage array being able to manage the storage and these efficiencies at a granular level, most times invisible to the end-user.

So what happens when you move a .vmdk from one volume to another?  What's all the fuss about?


Let's talk about Deduplication first.  As we've all known for some time, a Best Practice of ours is to stuff as many VM's as you can into a single Datastore [volume] in order to get the highest returns on deduplication.  Users can see as high as 80%+ space returned (I know, I was one of them, and did) on their VM's by collectively placing them in the same container with no performance penalty for doing so. Moving data [i.e. vmdk's] between volumes will "un-dedupe" that data being moved, and you will have to re-run the original deduplication scan on that new volume in order to re-coop those savings after the move.  While this is not the end of the world, it is a nuissance, and you should be aware of it as a caveat to StorageDRS, or generally moving VMDK's between datastores.


Thin Provisioning.  Nothing really "breaks" with thin provisioning, but you're allowing an outside construct to control placement of data on what it "thinks" is a 1TB volume that you've thinly provisioned, when in actuality there is only 100GB truly available to write to.  What happens when Storage DRS moves something there?  Boom.  I think most of you know what happens when a thin provisioned LUN exceeds it's available space.  

Side note: This is another brilliant feature of NetApp that often goes unnoticed, or untalked about.  We have certains settings you can turn on that Autogrow both Volumes as well as the LUNs inside them.


Snapshots.  This one is pretty straightforward.  When we snapshot volumes, or the data inside, we store the initial tier of snaps within that same volume.  What happens when you [or some outside construct] begin to move the items inside the volume to another volume?  Those snaps (i.e. Your Backups) become invalid.

Look, bottom line, at the end of the day, the promise of SDRS is a good one… mitigate capacity and performance issues in storage.  But… it's not sophisticated enough yet to know about all the backend array-specific value-add, and take that into account in the DRS Recommendation algorithm, and you end up causing further issues that may even be more impactful to you than the one you were trying to address in the first place.


We'll call this segment Unicorns & Rainbows.

Unicorn_rainbow1 In a perfect world, what would happen is that VAAI would come back into play with some additional primitives.  vCenter needs to be less of the do-er, and more of the middle-man traffic director.  From what I understand from VMware, this is the next evolutionary step of Storage DRS, as well as other things.




I envision a conversation to go something like this:

vCenter: "Hey NetApp!"

NetApp: "Hey vCenter! What's up?"

vCenter: "You know that VM you've got in Datastore1?  It seems to be growing pretty rapidly and is chewing up a lot of disk I/O.  Think you could provision a new datastore and move this VM to it?"

NetApp:  "No problem!"

  • NetApp plugin VSC provisions a new datastore and mounts all hosts in the cluster
  • DataMotion snapshots and moves the VM's files over to the new volume via array-based CopyOffload.

NetApp:  "OK, vCenter, all done!"

vCenter:  "Wow that was super fast!  Thanks!  Looking much better now!"


Technically, this is the essence of VAAI; these types of "conversations."  And there's no reason that we shouldn't see Storage DRS become a big part of it in the future.  I'm not privvy to any special information, and I'm not saying that it WILL be done, I'm just an ex-admin like a lot of you still are, and I'm really hoping it's one of those things that gets developed.


I'll wrap up this post with what we're likely going to publish as our Best Practice for you to use... a Good/Better/Best sort of configuration scenario.  None of this is set in stone yet, but due to the volume of questions I have received, I didn't want to leave them unaddressed.

Basically, it all comes down to the DRS Recommendations, and how you set the slider bar to throttle the application of those recommendations.

  1. Good: "manual" Storage vMotion is a good solution to migrate data
  2. Better: Storage DRS is a better solution than having to move things manually
  3. Best:  At NetApp, we are going to recommend that you forego the use of Storage vMotion, and instead utilize our DataMotion (remember I like to call it "nMotion") to move your volumes around on the backend storage.  While this does not address individual VM-related moves, it does address performance bottlenecks, as well as offloading the act of the move to the storage controller, and maintaining all of your storage efficiencies that we talked about above.

I'll leave you with a few final recommendations to keep in mind...

1) Set SDRS to manual mode and to review the recommendations before accepting them.

2) All datastores in the cluster should use the same type of Storage (SAS, SATA etc.) and have the same replication and protection settings.

3) Understand that SDRS will move VMDKs between datastores and any space savings from NetApp cloning or deduplication will be lost when the VMDK is moved. Customers can rerun deduplication to regain these savings.

4) After SDRS moves VMDKs, it is recommended to rebaseline Snapshots on the destination datastore.

5) It is highly recommended not to use SDRS on Thinly Provisioned VMFS datastores due to the risk of reaching an out of space situation.


If you have any further questions, reach out to me on Twitter, or leave a comment below and we can further the discussion.



VMware Cloud Infrastructure & Mgmt Launch


Screen shot 2011-07-11 at 9.14.54 PM

Well, folks.  It's here.  The time has arrived.  This is going to be a long post, so if you've just finished the Maritz/Herrod livecast, grab a cup of coffee, and let's chat about the announcements, and what they mean to you and NetApp.

Today, VMware is setting a strategy to define and build a new category of software called “cloud infrastructure,” which is the full set of software that powers the enterprise customer’s private clouds as well as service provider customer’s public clouds. This will be demonstrated by the following:

  • Solidifying that virtualization is the foundational technology for cloud computing
  • That VMware, along with solutions from its robust partner ecosystem, uniquely provides the comprehensive set of market leading cloud infrastructure products.

The Cloud Infrastructure launch — the biggest in VMware’s history —includes VMware’s flagship virtualization product, vSphere 5.0, as well as vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5.0, vShield 5.0, vCloud Director 1.5, and vSphere Storage Appliance 1.0. Together, these products deliver an intelligent virtual infrastructure that allows IT to realize greater efficiency, reliability, security and agility.


What is VMware Cloud Infrastructure and Management (CIM) Software?

Built on the industry’s leading virtualization platform, VMware’s solutions ensure consistent security, compliance, management, and service quality regardless of where the customer’s workloads run: in the data center, public cloud or both.

There are three themes for the new Cloud Infrastructure capabilities:

Virtualizing Business Critical Applications
“Run Business-Critical Applications with Confidence”

Enterprises of all sizes can leverage VMware’s Cloud Infrastructure products to run their business-critical applications with confidence at lower cost and complexity. VMware’s Cloud Infrastructure offers powerful scalability and performance capabilities, high availability and disaster recovery and broad industry support.

“Respond to Business Faster: VMware and the Path to Cloud Computing”

VMware enables enterprises and service providers to optimize their current infrastructures and build clouds to deliver infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). With capabilities such as intelligent policy management, resource elasticity and flexible hybrid cloud management: the result is the most agile, efficient and trusted cloud infrastructure that has the capability to leverage the hybrid cloud.

Securing the Cloud
“Trust Your Cloud: Virtualized Environments — More Secure than Physical”

VMware is addressing security and control concerns head-on with a range of security and compliance solutions specifically for the cloud including; a unified security framework policy for the cloud, adaptive trust zones and strict compliance and accelerated remediation.

Netapp_logo    What is NetApp’s position on VMware’s CIM launch?

NetApp supports VMware on its launch of the Cloud Infrastructure and Management Software portfolio.  NetApp’s support of each of the major CIM launch components demonstrates how closely aligned the two companies' strategies are around accelerating our joint customer’s journey to the cloud by helping them evolve from a traditional IT architecture to a flexible, shared IT infrastructure to deliver IT as a Service.   According to Gartner, as of mid-2011, at least 40% of x86 architecture workloads have been virtualized on servers; furthermore, the install base is expected to grow five-fold from 2010 through 2015 (as both the number of workloads in the marketplace grow and as penetration grows to more than 75%).  This represents a big opportunity for NetApp and our Channel Partners to capture user preference in virtualized environments by remaining the best storage for VMware environments and in collaboration with VMware’s CIM software, we can uniquely deliver the performance, availability, and flexibility of shared IT infrastructures for business critical applications, cloud deployments, and even the entire datacenter, all at unprecedented efficiencies.

Together, VMware’s cloud infrastructure solutions and NetApp’s efficient, flexible storage foundation will enable customers to drive their cloud computing strategies forward, confidently moving business critical applications to virtual and cloud platforms while reaping new levels of efficiency and flexibility.




Product Announcements


There are several key products being announced.  I'll list and summarize them here, and cover them in more detail with subsequent posts throughout the following days and weeks.


  • VMware vSphere 5.0:  vSphere 5.0 now supports “Super VMs,” high availability and auto-deploy, delivering scalability, performance, availability and faster provisioning for the most resource-intensive applications.  vSphere 5.0 will be certified on NetApp Data ONTAP (at release) and 8.0.1 (soon after release) for the FAS and V-Series platforms for NFS, iSCSI, FC, and FCoE.  NetApp will support the vStorage APIs at release.
  • VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5.0:  vCenter SRM 5.0 offers significant scalability improvements, a flexible VM boot sequence, planned migration workflows, and automated failback capabilities.  NetApp Storage Replication Adapter supporting these new SRM features is available immediately!
  • VMware vShield 5.0:  vShield 5.0 provides a single policy management framework, role-based access control, layer 2 firewall protection, improved scalability and performance, sensitive data discovery and validation of compliance against regulatory requirements for auditing purposes.       vShield 5.0 is a key part of the enhanced Secure Multi-Tenancy (SMT) architecture. 
  • VMware vCloud Director 1.5:  vCloud Director 1.5 enables faster provisioning with Linked Clones, globalization, expanded APIs, and support for MS SQL Server as the backend database.  NetApp also provides unique integrations around intelligent policy-based provisioning and backup and recovery in vCloud environments.
  • VMware vSphere Storage Appliance 1.0:  vSA 1.0 targets the Small and Medium Business market and delivers networked storage capabilities for up to three virtualized hosts with internal server storage or DAS.  VMware’s vSA targets an alternative storage service for small deployments in the SMB market (fewer than 500 employees) and validates the general approach of leveraging virtual storage appliances to augment traditional storage systems from NetApp.


How are NetApp and VMware working together for you?

NetApp and VMware are mutual Global Technology Alliance Partners and share a common vision to accelerate our customer’s journey to the cloud. Together enterprises evolve from a traditional IT architecture to a flexible, shared IT infrastructure to deliver IT as a Service. NetApp works closely with VMware to provide powerful storage solutions for VMware environments. 


  •  Together we make IT more efficient. NetApp works with VMware to improve resource, operational, and management efficiencies, and drive down overall costs with unique efficiency capabilities such as industry-leading deduplication, Virtual Storage Tiering and Secure Multi-Tenancy, that enable them to guarantee using 50% less storage.
  • Together we make IT more flexible.  NetApp works with VMware to respond faster to changing business needs with unique capabilities including hardware-accelerated VM cloning and provisioning, integrated data protection, and end-to-end visibility into the IT infrastructure for real-time capacity planning, troubleshooting, and predictive modeling to complement server virtualization and make IT more dynamic.
  • Together we deliver a single integrated solution. Through key integration points into VMware’s vSphere and vCloud management layers, enterprises can now manage service delivery and SLAs through intelligent policy-based provisioning and protection from applications to storage.  With deep engineering collaboration, NetApp empowers VMware administrators to manage storage directly through vCenter as a central tool to monitor, manage, provision, change and deprovision storage resources for VMs.


This is merely the introduction post in a series I have prepared for this weeks activities/festivities.  Be sure and subscribe, as I will be posting at least one a day for the next few days covering all of these new technologies and enhancements in detail!

Congratulations to Maritz, Herrod, and all of VMware on announcing this bold new future!





Exchange. SharePoint. SQL. Virtual. NetApp.

I've just finished reading the newly published update to TR-3785.  This was an extensive (...extensive!) effort, tri-branded, from NetApp, Cisco, and VMware, to give you a real-life example scenario of how to deploy Microsoft's "Big 3" in a robust, efficient, and flexible architecture.

Screen shot 2011-07-11 at 2.44.05 PM


If you're considering virtualizing your tier-1, mission critical apps, this is a great reference and real-life guide scenario, covering all protocols and scenarios and gotchas, that you could use to design and architect your own.  As always, every environment is different, and mileage may vary, but if you're at the point in your path where you're virtualizing these bad boys, you're already well on your way in your journey to the cloud.

I'd like to include the INTRODUCTION to the TR here, so that you can give it a quick once-over before diving head-first into the doc, and see if it's a good fit for you.

As customers move toward their goal of 100% virtualized data centers, they increasingly look for ways to bring the benefits of VMware virtualization to their mission-critical Microsoft applications. Customers planning a new deployment, performing an upgrade, or planning to 100% virtualize their data centers have an ideal opportunity to transition to a VMware vSphere virtual infrastructure built on NetApp unified storage. 

This document provides guidance on how to design and architect a scalable Microsoft applications mixed workload solution using highly available VMware vSphere 4 virtual infrastructure and NetApp unified storage. It highlights the flexibility of leveraging either a Fibre Channel (FC) protocol-based storage solution or IP-based solution (that is, iSCSI and Network File System [NFS]) for hosting virtual machines. It also describes the NetApp backup and recovery solution for the Microsoft applications. All the FC, iSCSI, and NFS-based solutions are applicable for all enterprise types (large, midsize, and SMB) and can be scaled up or down based on business requirements. Some key benefits of the overall solution are:  

Reduced costs with VMware virtualization. For many organizations, upgrading to newer Microsoft server applications without virtualization can result in investing more server hardware in an application that has already become excessively costly to run. VMware virtualization can unlock the full power of the hardware by running multiple workloads on each system. This can provide a costeffective solution and potentially higher ROI when compared to deployments without virtualization.

Advanced NetApp unified and efficient storage solutions. Customers can deploy Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, and SharePoint on storage solutions that leverage existing networking infrastructure such as FC, iSCSI, and NFS, which can offer a very cost-effective approach. NetApp FAS and V-Series storage arrays have been fully tested and certified for use in FC and IP-based VMware environments. Also, by leveraging NetApp storage efficiency and intelligent caching capabilities across all the protocols, customers can save significantly on their storage investment without tradeoffs.

High availability. A platform enabled by VMware can provide high availability (HA) for Microsoft server applications without the need for clustering at the virtual machine (VM) level. Virtual machines are no longer tied to the underlying server hardware and can be moved across servers at any time with VMware VMotion®. VMware HA provides server hardware fault tolerance for every VM and offers greater levels of availability over solutions designed to protect just the server.

Advanced backup and recovery solutions. The NetApp backup and recovery solution is built using integrated VMware, Microsoft, and NetApp technologies for advanced, application-aware data protection. Deduplication-aware remote replication for disaster recovery with NetApp SnapMirror®provides an end-to-end data protection solution.




Storage Revolution? You bet!

...and boy are we at NetApp ever on the front lines!

It seems fitting that a post regarding a "revolution" would be posted around Independence Day.  Rich Castagna, Editorial Director over at searchstorage.techtarget.com, posted a nice writeup a few days ago, and as a NetApp customer turned employee, I'd like to respond to some of his points.

"Something's afoot with data storage, and it looks like some big changes may be looming on the not-too-distant horizon."

Big changes have been on the horizon at NetApp for some time, going all the way back to 2003 with the acquisition of Spinnaker.  While I cannot reveal too many details at this point, if you've been paying attention since ONTAP 8 was released a couple of years ago, as well as some of our most recent Cloud-based press releases, you can begin to connect the dots.

"The signs of a real shakeup are emerging, with some core storage technologies and disciplines finally being scrutinized and questioned. Even bedrock storage principles seem a little iffy these days. Are file systems relevant anymore? Is RAID really the best way to protect data?"

Like I said above, the signs are there.  Connect the dots.  Rich is spot-on with his assessment here. Personally, I believe that file systems will always be relevant.  These are typically application- or OS-driven constructs/necessities, but at the same time, you look at things like iOS, where an app is just an app, and you have no idea where the data is, or how it's getting to your device, you just know it's getting to your device.  Things like this, to me, is what will make file systems irrellevant. The focus will begin to shift to PaaS, such as what VMware released recently with Cloud Foundry, or Apple's iCloud.  As Howard Hughes said in The Aviator, it's "The way of the future..."

With specific regards to RAID, I think Rich brings up a touchy subject that a lot of other more traditional storage vendors are still struggling to deal with.  They still argue the need to having many different optional layers of RAID, while at NetApp, we settled on one long ago.  RAID-DP.  Our own proprietary closest cousin to RAID6, providing double-disk parity.  But the secret sauce is in on the software layer and the way we stripe across the underlying RAID groups.  To answer Rich directly, I believe RAID will always have its place as a hardware layer of fault tolerance.  Even 100 years from now when spinning disks are relics of a former era, you'll still be building in some level of fault tolerance at the physical media layer, even if thats redundant chips of flash, or whatever our grandkids will be provisioning then.




"For storage, the hardware part is nearly as basic; the components that make up the storage environment have pretty much remained the same since the idea of networked storage surfaced nearly 20 years ago. Everything is bigger, faster and safer, but the model has essentially remained the same. Some of the most profound changes that have come to storage, like IP-based networks and solid-state storage devices, seem more evolutionary than revolutionary."

Look, the data is always going to have to live somewhere.  And whether it's spinning disk, or that 1PB flash drive we'll all have eventually, the concept is the same.  This will always be storage in it's simplest form. Data at rest. I would disagree that the model has remained the same, with specific regards to NetApp.  While most other vendors settled on a silo'ed purpose-built model, developing/purchasing/acquiring individual platforms for each layer of connectivity/workload, NetApp decided long ago that both connectivity as well as access and throughput should be ubiquitous.  You wanna work over NFS?  Cool.  Are you one of those cats that still thinks Fiber-Channel is better?  Cool.  How about iSCSI?  Yup.  OK.  We're going to give you all of that in a single Operating System that functions the exact same way on every platform in our line, from the smallest VSA all the way up to our Enterprise class 6200-series.  A universal operating system (DataONTAP) that treats metal only as a means to scale.  And with FCoE as the latest in this line of protocols as the only exception, it's been that way for NetApp for an extremely long time.

While I agree that both IP-connectivity and solid-state media are more evolutionary than revolutionary, I think we need to look at the bigger picture, and how those are simply smaller tools in a much bigger shed, and how they're being aggregated and used in larger enterprise platforms to complete a much bigger picture than simply identifying individual components.  THAT, to me, is what is revolutionary.

"...thin provisioning, automated tiering and storage virtualization are tangible steps in the right direction. As data storage software plays a bigger role, storage hardware becomes more of a commodity, which is fine for storage managers but not a very comfortable situation for storage vendors."

I would ask Rich, were I able, what his definition of "storage virtualization" is?  If I were to guess, I would reckon he would be referring to basically what I like to describe as, "doing for storage what VMware did for servers."  If this is the case, then please take a look at ONTAP 8.  With the introduction of cluster-mode, and the addition of DataMotion (I like to call it "nMotion"), we can now dynamically move volumes from one set of disks/controllers to another, non-disruptively.  This can cover many scenarios, such as failures, hardware refreshes, or planned DR.  I can tell you that this is a big deal over at NetApp and you're going to continue to see innovation from us in this area in a big way.

Thin Provisioning?  Done.  Long ago.  And I would argue our model far outweighs others.  Most are just getting around to this, or have had to go out and purchase entire companies to accomplish it.  Again, more WAFL/ONTAP secret sauce winning here.

Automated Tiering?  How about not having to tier. Doesn't that sound much easier?  I prefer layers of cache myself. From the hardware all the way up to the app itself.  We coined the phrase Virtual Storage Tiering to describe the way we rely on levels of cache throughout the stack, and are able to achieve comparable performance to expensive FC disks, when SATA + FlashCache is used, all without having to move data between different disk types (a la: what is commonly referred to as "tiering").  The argument over tiering is done in my book.  Next topic please.  :)

With regards to hardware being commoditized, and that being a little unsettling for storage vendors, I will politely and wholeheartedly disagree.  Every single major storage vendor likely sells as much, if not more, software as they do hardware, and with all of the technologies we're putting in place to save you from having to buy so much hardware, and be as efficient and flexible as possible, having the right toolset to manage all of that is almost a pre-requisite.  With our new 3200 and 6200 line of systems, we've included the ONTAP Essentials ToolKit (this is ProtectionMgr, ProvisioningMgr, and OpsMgr, for those familiar), providing you this software needed to analyze, manage, and provision your entire environment, and get the best use out of your gear.  Does this present any concern to us?  We just reported a very large increase in market share, and revenues were up $1B this past fiscal year. I would argue, No.

But this was my favorite part of Rich's post...

"What they don't want to acknowledge is that we all know that most of that Web 2.0, social networking and big-data stuff is useless junk. And if we continue to collect and protect all those billions of bits of digital detritus that come our way, we'll just get buried in it or distracted with the process of making believe we're actually managing it all."

I'd love to hear what Mark Zuckerberg has to say about this one.   Pretty bold claim there, Rich.  All of the stuff you listed as useless detritus has completely changed (read: revolutionized), for better or worse, society as a whole.  And will only continue to do so.

And I can guarantee you, we'll be right there on the front lines of the revolution with them.



vExpert 2011

It's an awesome feeling to be humbly rewarded for something you would likely do in your free time, whether you were getting paid for it or not.

A few years ago, I found my true passion:  Virtualization and NetApp storage.

This ultimately led to me getting hired by NetApp, to build solutions around virtualization, and has now led to me being elected a vExpert.  While I might be a little late to the party, I'm extremely humbled to receive this exclusive honor, and to be among such a strong group of smart and talented people.

Reflecting on some things that I've done in the past year, I've made a commitment to blog more, participate in more discussions online via Twitter, and be more active in the VMware Communities podcasts every week.  This has definitely helped me become more visible to both my peers, and, now that I'm an employee of a major storage vendor, to our customers, as we become more and more social in our efforts to provide strong solutions for datacenters.

To @jtroyer and the others at VMware in charge of electing me, Thank you!

To my readers, thank you for continuing to read and discuss and support my efforts.  You are the one's that motivate me to continue, and are ultimately responsible for me receiving this honor.  Thank you!

If you and I haven't interacted yet, reach out and say hello!  Also, I'll be presenting and participating in the Hands on Labs, as well as spending a significant amount of time in the NetApp booth at VMworld in Vegas later this year, as well as in Copenhagen.

I look forward to meeting and interacting with all of you, and as always, if you need help developing VMware solutions on NetApp storage, WE ARE HERE!  USE US!

I'd also like to congratulate my fellow NetApp'ers for also being selected:

Vaughn Stewart

Chris "Dr. Desktop" Gebhardt

Scott Baker



NetApp Cloud Launch

Today, NetApp launched a new initiative around the journey to the Cloud, boldly stating that we are the foundation for which the cloud is built upon. Frankly, I couldn't agree more. All the things you know and love about NetApp being the leader in Flexible, Efficient storage for IT makes it the perfect foundation for your cloud journey.

What is OnCommand?

OnCommand is the culmination of years of work, receipt of copious amounts of feedback from the field (including me, when I was a customer), and most importantly, delivering on some key concepts that were holding back management of unified infrastructure: Control, Automate, & Analyze. With one of our most recent acquisitions, Akorri, we were able to slot in the last piece of the pie with their BalancePoint product, integrating it as an end-to-end, full-stack, analytics tool.


For those of you familiar with our prior Data Fabric Manager, this will be very familiar to you. DFM has been rebranded as OnCommand Unified Manager, uniting the powers of OpsMgr, Protection Manager, and Provisioning Manager into one tool. This will also include updates to our plugins (VSC) in the near future to give them the same user interface as well. Centrally managing RBAC controls, allowing delegation of abilities to Storage Admins, Server & Virtualization Admins, and Backup Admins, et al. As an ex-customer/admin, this is very exciting for me personally, because it has been a huge pain point for a long time, and frankly this is the way things should have been done in the first place. I'm ecstatic that these changes have come to fruition, and for my readers out there that are doing these storage/virtualization/backup roles on NetApp kit, good things have been coming, and I'm happy to share with you today that they have arrived.

Here are the takeaways from the actual press release, found here: NetApp Cloud

You can also check out the new website, NetApp Cloud here:  www.netapp.com/cloud

Key Facts

  • NetApp's new OnCommand management software delivers four fundamental elements that compose a cloud: service catalog, service analytics, automation, and self-service. The new NetApp OnCommand unified manager enables the creation of a storage service catalog and provides policy-based automation, including provisioning, data protection, and service monitoring. In addition, new NetApp OnCommand Insight provides the service analytics for storage and the rest of the infrastructure so customers have the visibility and knowledge needed to optimize a cloud service delivery. This includes usage-based metering, service-level monitoring, and performance and capacity modeling and planning.
  • Building on its Alliance Technology Partner Program, NetApp has integrated nearly 20 enterprise cloud management partners, including BMC, CA, Fujitsu, Microsoft, newScale, Tivoli, and VMware. These partners' cloud management software solutions enable automation and management of the cloud infrastructure and integrate with NetApp OnCommand to incorporate NetApp's innovative storage into a full-stack orchestration to increase flexibility and efficiency while reducing overall total cost of ownership and complexity.
  • Today's news builds on the tremendous cloud momentum NetApp has achieved over the past year. Last June, NetApp officially launched its Partner Program for Service Providers, which was the first of its kind in the storage industry and today includes more than 30 service providers delivering more than 50 cloud services around the world. The program is a key part of NetApp's strategy to broaden and leverage its diverse pathways to reach customers and has helped provide cloud services built on NetApp to over one billion end users.
  • In November, NetApp unveiled new platform features, products, and technologies—including the first Cisco and NetApp FlexPod™ solution with VMware—to help customers transition to a flexible and efficient shared IT infrastructure, the foundation for cloud computing. And with more than 150 customers having already implemented joint data center solutions based on the FlexPod design architecture, last month NetApp and Cisco introduced a new design guide for FlexPod that supports SAP applications, as well as the new NetApp Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track with Cisco in collaboration with Microsoft, giving partners and customers greater flexibility and freedom of choice as they transition to the cloud. Leading global and regional system integrators are leveraging these integrated private cloud solutions and tailoring them to each customer's unique business requirements.


SnapProtect questions… I have answers!

Last week, we unveiled our latest offering: SnapProtect.


There was a lot of shock-and-awe concern and excitement, as well as a lot of what I like to call "unicorns and rainbows" theorycrafting going on, some positive, some negative-nancy. What I'm going to do here is post a sort of FAQ based on some questions received in the communities, and if you have further questions, we can continue those into the comments below, and I will go straight to the source to get answers if I cannot answer them myself. Big thanks go out to Glenn Miller and Vaughn Stewart for helping me pull all this info together and share it with you.

You can also log your questions over in the NetApp communities here: http://communities.netapp.com/message/56120

You can find the new TR, "SnapProtect Overview and Design Considerations" here: http://media.netapp.com/documents/tr-3920.pdf

So without further adieu, let's dive in to the meat of what you came to read.

So, SnapProtect is the all-in-one solution that replaces SMVI, SMO/Exch/SQL and local snapshots for NAS volumes, in a one-pane-of-glass management solution with SnapMirror and SnapVault integration. Right? This sounds to good to be true...

In a word? Yes.  

I still need DFM/ProtMan/ProvMan? Why? Can't SnapProtect do the updates for me, after I create any mirror/vault relationships myself? DFM gives me very limited options in how to create those relationships and manages them really poorly. How does SnapProtect copy a specific SnapVault snapshot to tape if that snapshot is not created by itself but by PM instead? It would make SnapProtect a real one-in-all solution if it could also manage mirror and vault relations and their retentions, without the need for DFM.

SnapProtect only requires OpsMgr/Protection Manager and mostly only uses Protection Manager as a sort of SDK for making storage provisioning and replication requests. The only time the user needs to directly interface with Protection Manager is to create and manage the resource pools that SnapProtect uses for secondary storage. SnapProtect automagically provisions secondary volumes and qtrees for SnapVault or SnapMirror when new clients are added to storage policies. This is actually pretty slick. SnapProtect creates and deletes all snapshots and directly triggers all replication. For this reason, SnapProtect has no problem going from snapshot to SnapVault to Tape.

Do I still need SnapDrive? To create a consistent LUN snapshot, with or without a database on it, I need a VSS Hardware provider, like SnapDrive. Is it still required? If no, how is this tackled? Does SnapProtect have its own VSS Hardware Provider? Oh, and are there any required windows hotfixes, like the immense list for windows 2003?

SnapDrive is not required. SnapProtect has its own VSS HW provider.

Does SnapProtect still require a specific volume/qtree/lun layout for SQL, Exchange and Oracle? Is that layout comparable to the requirements of SMO/SMSQL/SMExch? Why/why not? Does SnapProtect also have the very usefull migration wizards?

There are no migration wizards, such as the Configuration Wizard in SME.  This was built into SME due to the inherent requirement of remote storage.  Maybe it's best to understand that SnapProtect doesn't care about this sort of thing, meaning we can now support backups of VM's running these applications with VMDK's running in ESX datastores.  (Hope that makes sense?)   In other words, comparing this to the SnapManager products is an apples to oranges comparison, and should not be equated that way.  As far as specific disk layouts required?  No.

What about compatibility and interoperability? SMO on Windows does not work with SnapVault. SMVI does not work with SnapVault without scripting. SMSQL has VMDK support, but not with PM/SnapVault integration. And what if I set up a separate mirror/vault network interface? I'm still having issues with that with current snap* solutions. Are all (and I mean really all) integrations supported by SnapProtect? Are the latest versions of Exchange, SQL, Oracle, VMware ESX, Sharepoint etc supported? I read there is currently no ONTAP 8 support?? You can't bring a product to market without it! That just makes no sense.

First, ONTAP 8.0.1 7-mode support is right around the corner.  It is currently being qualified.

Second, a lot of work went into adding SnapVault and SnapMirror support to the application snapshot capabilities that were already available from CommVault with Simpana 9.  We support BOTH replication engines as well as varying cascades and fan-out configurations.  I'm not aware of any networking configuration restrictions.  There is an interoperability matrix you could use for specifics on the NOW site, but for the most part, the latest versions of the popular tier 1 apps are all supported. 

We have listened. We realize these have all always been pain points. SnapProtect is here to answer those pain points.

I will also add that there have been a lot of questions about positioning, cannibalizing other products, etc. And I wanted to set the record straight around who is supposed to do what and which product, etc.

  1. SnapProtect is positioned to be our primary tool for backing up solutions running on VMware, Citrix, and enterprise-wide backup opportunities. This includes vCloud Director, its database(s), and all underlying tenants. Cataloguing, cascade and fan-out Vault & Mirror relationships, in a single GUI. This is it. If your shop is new to NetApp, or looking to beef-up your current backup ways-and-means, you can't pass up looking at SnapProtect. Oh, and it will do all the old traditional physical stuff as well. Oh, and V-series is supported in front of 3rd party arrays. I'm not kidding, guys. This is the all-in-one you've been asking for.
  2. SnapManager for X is our primary tool for backing up solutions running on Hyper-V and also will continue to be used in shops where the SnapManagers are used for more than just B/R. Cloning, test/dev, etc, I personally still see the SnapManagers for Exch/SQL/SharePoint/SAP/etc having a strong play here.
  3. SnapCreator is a technology enablement tool, somewhat like the Data Ontap Powershell Toolkit, and will be promoted as a tool that enables one when there are no solutions. Personally, I see this gaining traction in the Linux shops by people who live-and-die at the CLI, and like having the control of granular configuration. It really is a brilliant product. It was originally created for the community, by the community, and will continue to be developed and QA'ed internal at NetApp, with heavy community participation.

If I didn't cover all concerns, please let me know!  I want this to be a very interactive post, so please don't be shy!



VMworld2011, What I Voted For & Why

I am a big fan of transparency. For that reason, I wanted to share with you my personal selections for which I voted for VMworld 2011, and add a little personal input as to why I voted for them.

Now, before I began the massive undertaking that is reviewing all of the submissions, and placing my vote, I took my NetApp hat off, and had a nice long talk with the man in the mirror about what would be important to me, as a user, as a customer, as an engineer, and as an admin, and even as a CIO/CTO.

I then began to break things up into categories/subjects of content. The following is what I came up with, and the hot topics of the next 1-2 years as I see it, played a lot into my voting.

Automation, Orchestration, & Self-Service

This might be THE hottest topic for engineers and admins right now, as well as shops looking to lower their OpEx management costs, and maybe even repurposing personnel.

1222 Orchestration - From Infrastructure to Cloud
1308 Automating Cisco UCS with vSphere Deployments
1361 PowerCLI 101
1440 vCenter Orchestrator - The Missing "Getting Started" Session
1441 Developing Workflows for vCenter Orchestrator (vCO)
1622 vSphere Automation 101 - vCenter Orchestrator
1882 Manage ESXi with PowerCLI
1883 PowerCLI Best Practices
1939 Powershell Scripting for vCloud and other VMware APIs
2205 PowerCLI, APIs and Formatting - Thinking Out of the Box
2223 Automating VMware View with PowerShell


'Nuff said. I think it's going to be game-changing once fully baked and adopted. From shops looking to replace Lab Manager, to the private Enterprise cloud, vCloud Director WILL take hold. You may not know it as an end user, but the Service Provider you are buying "Cloud Resources" from is likely leveraging vCloud Director to provide you that service.

1264 Private vCloud Architecture Technical Deepdive
1302 Active Directory Considerations in a Multi-Tenant Cloud Infrastructure
1422 Load Balancing in a vCloud Environment
1600 vCloud Networking Finally Explained - FINALLY!
1603 How VMware's Products Are Like a Military Unit
1702 Deploying an Enterprise Cloud With F5 and VMware
1703 Managing The Cloud, Inside and Outside of Your Data Center
1705 Flying Your Apps In The Cloud
1862 Deploying vCloud Director in Your Enterprise – Installation & Configuration
1870 Metering and Billing in Cloud Using vCenter Chargeback
2027 vCloud Director Networking and Architecting for External Dependencies for Private Clouds
2186 How NetApp Saved Hundreds of Thousands of $$ in Capex and Opex by Using GaleForce to Build a Virtualized Private Cloud to Serve Their Channel
2239 Leveraging vCloud Director to Build Enterprise-Class Clouds
2387 Performance and Best Practices for VMware vCloud Director 1.0

Operations & Management

I was disappointed with the lack of submissions in this area. A meager showing by VMware with vCenter Ops, and NetApp showing Insight Balance, which is the result of the recent Akorri acquisition.

1238 vCenter Operations Standard 101
2890 Knowing What Is Happening: Managing Dynamic Services in the Private Cloud

Oracle on VMware

If you've read my posts over the last few years, you know that I've been a long-time evangelist of virtualizing Oracle. As a customer before, and now at NetApp, I still participate in discussions almost WEEKLY about doing this. And I will continue to. I've approached VMware about sitting on the panel for Session 1548, should it get selected. So go vote for it!

1380 Keep Your Current Skills and Manage Oracle Within a Virtualized Infrastructure
1548 Oracle on VMware Panel Discussion
1955 Deploying Oracle RAC Databases on vSphere Platform
1985 Oracle Database Best Practices on vSphere
2151 Virtualizing Oracle on VMware vSphere: Lessons Learned and Best Practices
2207 Running Oracle RAC on a vSphere Cluster
2624 Virtualizing Oracle Database Servers

Business Continuance

1432 VMware Data Recovery - Everything You Need To Know
2870 Where Did All My Replicas Go?! Managing End-to-End Replication for DR and Backup in One Framework
2853 Building Disaster-Proof VDI Environments: Restoring Customer Service and Employees Productivity When It Matters Most
2877 Successfully Configuring Site Recovery Manager 5


I personally voted for the Super Heavyweights session, and not the other two. I did this because the only reason there were MULTIPLE submissions this year, was due to the success of the Super Heavyweights panel LAST year. I do not want to marginalize ANY of them from getting selected by diluting the vote, so let's all focus on the RIGHT one so that it gets selected again!

1623 Storage Superheavy Weight Smackdown 2011
1933 Storage IO Control for NAS Datastores
1948 Architecting a 50,000 Seat Virtual Desktop Infrastructure with VMware View
2031 Understanding How Storage Design Has a Big Impact on Your VDI
2209 Understanding How Storage Design has a Big Impact on Your VDI (EU)
2248 Advanced Load Testing of the VMware Storage Stack w/ Powershell
2888 Optimizing Storage for Zimbra

General vSphere & View

1647 ROBO and View
1681 Transitionining to ESXi
1682 vSphere Clustering Q&A
1708 VCDX Preparation Boot Camp
1946 Making vCenter Server Highly Available
1940 10 Best Free Tools for vSphere Management in 2011
2057 Extreme ROBO vSphere Deployment
2257 Top 10 Ways to Become a Cloud Innovator Using VMware Technology
2306 Virtual Networking Best Practices and Troubleshooting for Cisco Nexus 1010 and 1000v
2333 VDI – Answers to the Questions You Wish You Asked
2756 Performance and Best Practices for VMware Update Manager 5.0
2757 A Deep Dive on Virtual Distributed Switching & Cisco Nexus 1000v
2867 VDI User Experience: The Secret Portal of Productivity
2880 Optimizing Virtual Desktop Environments: How Storage Efficiency Will Improve Performance and Save Money

Tier 1 Applications

Last year's representation of Tier 1 sessions was absolutely abysmal. VMware even came out and said publicly that they intentionally did not select Tier 1 stuff because they wanted to get back to fundamentals and roots sessions. I hope you can see, VMware, by the number of submissions around Oracle, SQL, SAP, Exchange, Sharepoint that it IS still a very hot and viable topic, and that it is typically the BIGGEST stumbling block for companies getting to 100% virtualized states. Please give us more this year!

1902 Design, Deploy, and Optimize Exchange 2010 on vSphere
2095 Unstoppable Force to Virtualize Tier-1 Applications in Private Cloud: End to End High Availability Options with Operational Intelligence
2356 SQL Server on VMware – High Availability Deep Dive
2855 NetApp Introduces "Cloud-Mode" Storage
2857 Redefining Datacenter Boundaries: Spanning a Datacenter Across a Metropolis
2859 VM Misalignment: Why It Really Matters, What It Is Costing You Right Now, and How To Fix It
2863 How to Use Distance to Your Advantage to Create a Unified Data Protection Strategy

I can't wait to get my Clam Chowder at the Wharf (Thanks @trey_anderson and @KongYang for reminding me that I will miss out on Wharf chowder this year since it's in Vegas) Man v. Food Burrito at NASCAR restaraunt, In-N-Out with @2vcps, hang out with everyone in the Blogger's Lounge, and visit and talk shop with everyone that comes by the NetApp booth in the Expo. Unfortunately, since I now work for NetApp, I will not be winning iPad's, or swag in general this year, as I did last year. :)




Announcing Availability of FlexPod for SAP

Today, NetApp, Cisco, and VMware announced the latest in an array of FlexPod architectures, this time supporting SAP.

Sap logo

This is a huge step in a big direction for FlexPod, as SAP is one of the bigger and best-known tier 1 applications out there. Running SAP in a flexible, efficient, standardized stack is a win/win for both vendors AND especially the customers.

For those unfamiliar, SAP is the echelon of Supply Chain Management, Operations, Manufacturing, as well as people management, such as human resources, payroll, etc. Their motto is: "The Best Run Companies Run SAP."

Here are some highlights from the press release:

  • FlexPod is a design architecture with shared networking, computing, and storage infrastructure. The flexible, scalable shared infrastructure is pretested to help channel partners and customers lower deployment risk, increase data center efficiencies, and create a flexible IT environment to build a private cloud.
  • FlexPod is built on the Cisco Unified Computing System server platform, Cisco Nexus switches, and NetApp unified storage systems running Data ONTAP®.
  • More than 150 customers, including Dominion, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., and Radiant Communications, have deployed FlexPod and received benefits such as:
    • A shared infrastructure that scales to meet the changing requirements of growing data centers without disruption or the need to make architectural changes in the future
    • Integrated networking, computing and storage components that can be centrally managed, are optimized for virtual data center environments, and enable central management of an entire infrastructure (storage, compute, network, and hypervisor)
    • An open design management framework that integrates with existing third-party infrastructure management solutions from vendors including SAP and VMware
  • Today, Cisco and NetApp released new design guides that leverage the FlexPod design architecture in support of SAP applications.
    • The design consists of SAP solution-based landscapes validated on the FlexPod shared IT infrastructure that help customers minimize application downtime to accelerate the deployment of SAP solutions in a virtualized environment.
    • The design allows customers to transition their existing or new SAP applications to a dynamic and flexible cloud-enabled environment.
    • The FlexPod solution for use with SAP applications can support both virtual and physical configurations and scales up or down as required.
    • For added security, customers can isolate different development or maintenance environments or manage different production environments for SAP applications by leveraging the Cisco, NetApp, and VMware Secure Multi-tenancy (SMT) Design Architecture design guide.
  • Cisco, NetApp, and VMware provide a global 24-hour cooperative support model that offers customers a streamlined response to identify and solve potential issues related to the FlexPod for VMware® and SMT architecture designs. Building on this support model, Cisco, NetApp, and VMware have developed a new Unified Support Lab where support engineers can reproduce customer environments, diagnose issues, and rapidly resolve customer cases.

You can also see some current customer quotes in the official press release here.

Flexpod.visioFlexPod Cisco Validated Design (CVD)

This is truly a milestone for all vendors involved. If you're interested in a flexible, scale-out stack architecture to host your SAP environment, get in touch with your account team and one of our certified FlexPod partners today!



Cisco Delivers the Next Validated Design

On Monday, Cisco released the next in their series of Cisco Validated Designs, or "CVD's."   This time, it hits very near and dear to home for me as an ex-admin, because it is a CVD for one of the bigger more complex apps, MS SharePoint.  If you're unfamiliar with CVD's, please see this site.  But here is an important exerpt:

Cisco Validated Designs consist of systems and solutions that are designed, tested, and documented to facilitate and improve customer deployments. These designs incorporate a wide range of technologies and products into a portfolio of solutions that have been developed to address the business needs of our customers.

The first FlexPod CVD from Cisco, FlexPod for VMware, continues to be a smash hit, involving world-class servers (UCS) and networking (Nexus 10GbE) from Cisco, as well as storage from NetApp, and virtualization solutions from VMware.

I'm happy to share that, as of Monday, the official CVD for MS Sharepoint on FlexPod was released, and you can find more info about it here:

MS Sharepoint on FlexPod - CVD

SharePoint 2010 on FlexPod for VMware

If you're a Sharepoint shop, looking to maximize your Sharepoint environment while reducing TCO and increasing ROI, let me know here or on twitter, and I'll get you in touch with someone who can help you down the path.  Contact your NetApp resellers/partners, and tell them you want your next refresh to be FlexPod!

As always, feel free to ask questions in the comments!  If you need help finding a partner to help you develop your FlexPod solution, shoot me an email, and ping me on twitter!