By Keith Barto, Customer Solutions Architect at Cisco

 

 

A business can only be as agile as its IT infrastructure. Organizations need to improve IT agility to increase overall business agility. However, in most organization, the majority of IT resources are typically spent managing complex and inflexible infrastructure. Hence, businesses want solutions that improve productivity and efficiency of IT staff, and can quickly adapt to changing business requirements.

 

Cisco and NetApp developed the FlexPod platform to meet the demands of business leaders who want to consolidate their IT infrastructure, save energy costs, host more applications, share resources across different departments, and become more secure.  The FlexPod platform utilizes the Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS), Cisco Nexus data center switches, and NetApp FAS storage components and has been tested and validated across leading hypervisors and operating systems and can be managed by a broad ecosystem of partner software.

 

From a Cisco UCS perspective, agility and scale is a key point of differentiation compared to traditional compute platforms. Cisco UCS Manager’s service profiles, a service profile is a software definition of a server and its storage and networking connectivity, make configuration of servers fast, automated, and repeatable. Simply create a profile and apply it to one or many servers. It’s just as easy to configure hundreds of servers as it is to configure one server. This, combined with the single wire connectivity of Cisco’s unified fabric enables a self-integrating infrastructure that can recognize and configure servers as they are connected to the system. New servers can be installed, configured, and put to use in minutes resulting in fast, easy scaling of compute resources.

 

With the introduction of NetApp’s Clustered Data ONTAP operating system to a FlexPod solution, storage resources can now seamlessly scale by allowing the storage resources provisioned to an application to be adjusted without requiring any changes to an application’s configuration. The Cisco compute and networking components of the FlexPod solution do not have to be modified. Applications get the storage resources without any configuration changes to the compute resources and applications (Figure 1).

 

Figure 1: FlexPod with Clustered Data ONTAP

 

 

Storage can be added. Storage controllers can be mixed and matched as the environment scales. Migration policies can be developed for failover to deliver uninterrupted operation. Applications always receive uninterrupted storage services to meet the demands of the business.

 

I've always believed that IT infrastructure matters. It is the foundation for everything that runs on it. An infrastructure that is agile and scalable is imperative to keep up with the ever changing demands of applications. A FlexPod solution with Cisco UCS and NetApp Clustered ONTAP operating system delivers innovative technology advantages that can seamlessly address both current and future IT requirements.

By Joel McKelvey, Senior Marketing Manager at NetApp

 

Recently, I have been hearing complaints about FlexPod. Customers seem happy with their existing deployments (a significant number of new FlexPods are sold to existing customers).  There are no complaints about efficiency or operations (FlexPod is the most efficiently integrated infrastructure available). So why are they complaining? The issue is with workloads and use cases.

 

IT departments demand more…

 

FlexPod has been so well received by customers that they are demanding FlexPod architectures for an increasing set of deployment types, workloads and applications. Specifically, midsize and small businesses have been clamoring for FlexPod solutions at a smaller scale with midsize-focused features. Large enterprises have been asking for FlexPod solutions or satellite offices and smaller data centers. IT departments struggling with data intensive workloads (aka “big data”) are asking for a FlexPod to meet the specific needs of analytics, high-performance computing or other specialized workloads.

 

Now FlexPod does more…

 

Today Cisco and NetApp announced an expanded suite of FlexPod architectures that are designed for the business and technical needs of our customers. The FlexPod Express solution (formerly ExpressPod) has been added to the FlexPod family to better support midsize and smaller it deployments as well as satellite and branch office IT. FlexPod Select has joined the FlexPod family to support big data, analytics, HPC, and other focused, specialized applications or workloads. Together with the existing FlexPod Datacenter solution, the new architectures meet the business and technical requirements that customers demand.

 

Fle9135962988_0613e0d8bc_z.jpgxPod Express…

 

Small and midsized IT departments need a low-cost, high-value integrated infrastructure that is quick and easy to deploy. FlexPod Express provides the convergence, efficiency and low risk benefits of a larger FlexPod architecture, priced for midsize deployments. It contains the features required for midsize deployments (under 500 users) without the mandate to purchase features or devices for larger IT departments. 

 

FlexPod Express (formerly ExpressPod) is more than just a name change, with this change comes a renewed investment from Cisco and NetApp. Expanded focus includes validation with Cisco UCS Director and Microsoft System Center. New use cases include satellite and branch office deployments as well as a rich roadmap for new workloads, management and mechanisms for purchasing. Now that FlexPod Express is a part of the larger FlexPod family, customers can expect it to continue to evolve and improve just as FlexPod has in the past.

 

Learn more about FlexPod Express

 

FlexPod Select…

 

FlexPod Select is the first solution in the FlexPod portfolio to address targeted workloads, such as high-performance applications. It is designed for dedicated or focused workloads such as big data, analytics, scientific applications and high-performance computing. Initially, FlexPod Select has been validated with Cloudera (distribution including Apache Hadoop) and the Hortonworks Data Platform. These validations bring risk reduction and ease of deployment to big data architectures, while providing the necessary performance and flexibility to support large-scale analytics workloads.

 

Another key aspect of FlexPod Select is the inclusion of NetApp E-Series storage. In the Cloudera and Hortonworks validations, NetApp E-Series is tested and documented in directly (SAS) attached configurations to Cisco UCS C-Series servers. This is a radical new way of configuring FlexPods that is designed to support the overarching workload requirements of performance and power.

 

Learn more about FlexPod Select

 

FlexPod Datacenter…

 

The increased activity with new FlexPod variations might seem to overshadow the most popular solution; the FlexPod Datacenter (previously called FlexPod) has been enhanced and expanded along with new members of the FlexPod family.

 

FlexPod Datacenter (aka “regular” FlexPod) has seen a flurry of increased effort in the validation of workloads, devices and management tools. As before, Cisco and NetApp are maintaining or increasing investment in every aspect of FlexPod Datacenter. Our most recent validations include the award-winning work with Microsoft System Center (NetApp won “Microsoft Server – Partner of the Year 2013” in part for FlexPod integration work). Other recent validations include NetApp SnapProtect for data protection, the inclusion of the Cisco Nexus 7000-series switch (and the resulting support for FCoE end-to-end), a refreshed validation with SAP, and numerous other efforts. To browse the broad range of FlexPod Datacenter validation documents, please visit the Cisco Design Zone for FlexPod.

 

Beyond the Technology…

 

IT teams often want more than just new use cases. Therefore, you will hear more in the coming months about joint financing offers to make buying easier, joint management initiatives, and further joint technical integration that will be included in every part of the FlexPod solution family. 

 

Bottom line: Cisco and NetApp are committed to continued investment and innovation with FlexPod and this latest expansion to include FlexPod Express, Datacenter and Select is just the beginning.

By Patrick Rogers, Vice President of Solutions and Integrations at NetApp

 

At NetApp, we are proud of our long-standing partnership with Cisco. Not only for the extraordinary success of FlexPod—our joint approach to integrated infrastructure that has set the industry standard for integrated server networking and storage solutions—but for the example we have set within our industry.

 

Together, NetAPeople_Shaking_Hands_1_HiRes.jpgpp and Cisco are showing the technology community that the greatest innovations come from the spirit and practice of collaboration, mutual respect and a shared vision. We have proven that technology customers no longer have to accept a false binary that forces them to choose between the benefits of integration or innovation. As Cisco and NetApp have showed over the course of more than a decade, it is not just possible to enjoy both—it is, in fact, critical to drive real business results.

 

All too often, leaders in our space are overly comfortable with the paradox of advocating the demolition of silos for customers while simultaneously walling off their own solutions and forcing users to choose. As customers mitigate and manage the deployment of more complicated solutions, they are less willing—and in many cases, less able—to compromise their solutions at the expense of their own business outcomes. More than ever, our customers’ want to work with companies who easily work together to achieve success and put the customer first.

 

The partnership between Cisco and NetApp proves this can be done. In more than two years, FlexPod has achieved a leadership position in the industry—offered by 900 global partners in 78 different countries to nearly 3,000 customers in 35 countries worldwide. Building on a shared vision of a unified data center, Cisco and NetApp offer the ability to simplify deployment, management and orchestration — connecting enterprise clouds to service providers, enterprises to branch offices, consumers to enterprises, and clouds to clouds.

 

We continue to work together to enhance our FlexPod portfolio with new solutions that integrate our best technologies and validate designs across the entire portfolio. The recently announced FlexPod Select, for dedicated data-intensive workloads, joins the FlexPod integrated infrastructure portfolio to support the growing need to tie storage, networks, applications, and analytics (e.g. Big Data) into a more automated, responsive system that increases efficiency and lowers operational expense. The new offerings build on Cisco and NetApp’s joint vision and strategy of to unify branch offices, core data centers, service providers and dedicated application infrastructures.

 

At NetApp, we are incredibly excited to continue this partnership. With a shared passion for the kind of innovation that offers customers real efficiency and measurable results, we look forward to continuing to develop a more deeply integrated and unified data center architecture.

 

As we work together to expand market coverage and accelerate innovation to address customer demands for software-defined architectures and hybrid cloud consumption models, NetApp and Cisco will continue to prove to our industry and our customers that the true key to a competitive advantage can be found in the process of collaboration.

Originally posted on SANbytes.


Earlier this year we released Flash Accel 1.1 which gave us the ability to extend Data ONTAP capabilities to a server by creating a caching space to complement the NetApp Virtual Storage Tier (VST). This allowed us to use flash devices more effectively and eliminates potential problems with data protection without isolating silos of data. In addition, Flash Accel provides:

 

  • Improved efficiency of back-end storage by offloading reads form the storage
  • Enhanced application performance
  • Data coherency: data in the cache is coherent with data in the backend storage
  • Hardware Agnostic (SSD or PCI-E flash) support
  • Persistent cache across all reboots
  • Data protection: all writes are performed to the backend storage
  • Data ONTAP mode agnostic: supported with 7-mode and Clustered Data ONTAP

 

What’s new with Flash Accel 1.2?

  • Support for VMware vSphere 5.1
  • VMs enabled with Flash Accel can now participate in vMotion and VMware HA events
  • Support for iSCSI enabled luns in the Guest VM
  • ASUP integration
  • Enhancement to FMC UI
  • Support for Fusion IO ioDrive PCI-E cards
  • Management of Flash Accel components using VSC (Virtual Storage Console) 4.2
  • Import and Export of FMC configurations, so that one can upgrade from older FMC to new FMC with minimal changes
  • Exporting of console logs for troubleshooting.

 

Now let me brief you on how Flash Accel works and some of the technical details. To use Flash Accel, a VIB needs to be installed on the ESXi host. The flash device can then be carved up into multiple cache spaces, which can then be presented to the windows Guest OS (Linux support is coming in the future). You can have only one cache space per VM but you can enable caching for up to 32 VM’s. The Guest OS must have an agent installed to leverage the flash based caching space. All of the Flash Accel configuration work is done via a new Flash Accel Management console. It is used for installation, provisioning, and assigning cache to VMs. This console is available as a plug-in to VSC 4.2, which runs in VMware vCenter. If you can’t decide which management console to use, here is a great knowledgebase article which describes the benefits of VSC and FMC for Flash Accel enabled VM’s. Flash Accel consists of three components:

 

  • NetApp Flash Accel Management Console (FMC). Configuration and management of Flash Accel is accomplished using a virtual appliance, which runs on vSphere.
  • Flash Accel host agent (installed on the ESX host). The host agent is installed on an ESX host and establishes control over locally attached devices (such as SSDs) and storage array paths according to the configuration you define using FMC. The host agent creates logical devices and presents them to the ESX storage stack as SCSI devices. Logical devices created on multiple ESX hosts with the same WWN allow ESX to treat a device as a shared device so that VMs using these devices can participate in vMotion® and VMware HA operations.
  • Flash Accel agent in Windows VM. This is a user-level agent implemented for Windows 2008 R2 guest VMs only. This agent is required for enabling/disabling the cache on a VM, adding support for managing the cache thru PowerShell cmdlets, communicating performance metrics to FMC and seamless integration with SnapDrive and SnapManager products.

 

Flash Accel Architecture and Internals

FA block diagram.jpg

 

Flash Accel and vMotion

vMotion is fully supported with Flash Accel and this support requires that cache space to a VM is reserved on all applicable hosts in a datacenter. There are some migration policies which need to be set before you enable vMotion for Flash Accel enabled VM’s and this can be set from the FMC console--Console Settings--Migration. The migration can be based on Cluster, Data Center and Host. When choosing the default migration scope, remember that cache space must be reserved on each host that a VM may migrate to; choosing Cluster instead of Datacenter (otherwise it will result in less overall flash consumed per VM).

 

FA Management console.jpg

 

Flash Accel Performance

Flash Accel, when tested with an OLTP workload, was able to offload 80% of the I/O’s from the storage array to the server.  And when deployed with Flash Cache, we were able to reduce the storage disk utilization by 50%. This also resulted in 60% reduction in array CPU utilization compared to using Flash Cache alone.

 

Flash Accel Integration

Now that you understand the internals of Flash Accel and how to deploy it, you may be wondering how to identify the VM’s which are good candidates for Flash Accel? The OnCommand Insight team has built a plugin for Flash Accel which provides visibility from the VM through the ESX and into the storage.  Insight is monitoring the configuration and the performance for all of the elements in the infrastructure and gives you planning capability. You can find more details about it here.

 

With the release of VSC 4.2 one can manage Flash Accel enabled VM’s within the same console;all you need is the updated plugin which you can download and install from our support site. Flash Accel is a released product and it is a free download for Data ONTAP customers from the NetApp support site. The demo for Flash Accel 1.2 is available on NetApp communities.

 

By the NetApp FAS Product Team


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The recent introduction of new FAS3200 models has been extremely well received, earning the FAS3200 industry accolades from DCIG and Info-Tech. The FAS3200 is cluster ready, flash capable and offers the flexibility and expandability to adapt to a wide range of storage demands.

 

Even though the FAS3200 is our highest-selling platform, there are a few things about it that even you NetApp experts out there may not know. We'll illustrate these points by highlighting how some NetApp customers are using key features of the FAS3200.

 

Use of Flash on the New FAS3200 Series has Doubled

 

With the NetApp Virtual Storage Tier, you can deploy flash as an intelligent cache, providing not only a significant performance boost but dramatic efficiency improvements as well. NetApp has deployed over 44 petabytes of flash capacity to date, accelerating almost 4 exabytes of disk storage. 


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StatPro, of Toronto, Canada, provides analysis, asset valuation, and management solutions to the global investment community.

 

The StatPro IT team recently  implemented NetApp Flash Pool technology on its FAS3200 systems to address sluggish desktop performance, latency issues, and to better accommodate heavy workloads.

 

Flash Pool has reduced StatPro’s average latency by several orders of magnitude while at the same time reducing storage requirements for indexes and pricing records by 10x and improving performance of its virtualized and cloud environments. See the full story.

 

"Flash Pool is like an adrenaline shot to our storage systems."

- Mike Marechal, Infrastructure Team Lead, StatPro

 

The FAS3200 Accounts for Over Half of All Clustered Data ONTAP Deployments

 

The FAS3200 offers great versatility and price/performance, allowing you to start small and use the power of clustered Data ONTAP to seamlessly grow your environment as business needs dictate.

 

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PeakColo chose the FAS3200 for its storage needs and has been very outspoken about its experiences with clustered Data ONTAP. As an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud provider, Peak must not only provide leading-edge products and services, but must also continuously innovate on service delivery and pricing. Clustered Data ONTAP—coupled with VMWare vCloud infrastructure—gives the Peak team that flexibility, enabling the company to grow at 300% per year, provision storage in under two hours, and, most importantly, meet rigorous, 100% availability SLAs. Learn more.

 

"VMware and NetApp clustered Data ONTAP technology are at the core of our competitive advantage—and our customers’"

- Luke Norris, CEO, PeakColo. 

 

The FAS3200 is the Most Popular Choice for FlexPod

 

The FlexPod® data center platform—a pretested and validated solution from NetApp and Cisco—is a flexible, converged infrastructure solution.  It’s only natural that our most flexible storage systems are the most popular choice for FlexPod deployments.

 

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Moffat & Nichol, an international engineering firm, needed to replace an aging tape-based backup and DR infrastructure.  The company’s objectives were to protect its business and customers from data loss, enable engineers to tap into an online data repository, and utilize virtualization for speed and flexibility.

 

The Moffat & Nichol IT team deployed a VMware vSphere infrastructure built on NetApp FlexPod using FAS3200 storage. As a result, the size of backups was reduced from 300GB to just 5GB, offering significant savings for remote offices while providing a more flexible, modular infrastructure able to grow with the company. Read the full story.

 

“What makes us stand out from the competition is how we use technology to deliver projects faster. VMware vSphere built on FlexPod is strengthening our competitive edge."

- Shawn McCullough, Moffatt & Nichol

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The FAS3200 is leading the charge on:

  • Use of flash for performance and efficiency
  • Seamless scaling and NDO with clustered Data ONTAP
  • Accelerated infrastructure deployment with FlexPod

 

Is it time for you to evaluate NetApp’s highest selling storage platform?  If so, start here. You can also join or start a conversation on the NetApp Storage System Community page or contact NetApp Sales.

 

 

photo.jpegby Jan Stewart, Manager of Corporate Philanthropy at NetApp


Yesterday in San Francisco, 75 companies were honored by the San Francisco Business Times at their annual Top Corporate Philanthropists in the Greater Bay Area event attended by hundreds of top philanthropists and their non-profit partners. Of the 75 honorees, NetApp was ranked #40 for its total Bay Area 2012 cash giving of $820,295.

 

The top three companies on the list were: #1 The Sobrato Organization $36.9 million; #2 Wells Fargo Bank $22.4 million; and #3 Chevron Corp. $18.7 million.

 

NetApp has a long history of supporting the communities in which its employees live and work.  In FY13, through its charitable contributions of cash, in-kind and volunteer time off programs, the company’s combined donations were valued at about $4.9 million.

 

In addition to gifts of cash and products by the company, the company’s Volunteer Time Off program is extremely popular with our employees. In calendar year 2012, 2,942 NetApp employees around the world donated 49,058 hours of volunteer time during business hours valued at $2,725,607, a 30% increase over the previous year.

By Greg Berg, Principal Technical Writer at NetApp

 

NetApp is consistently recognized around the world as a great place to work – in 2013, NetApp was ranked #6 on FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list. Our commitment to living our company values is a key contributor to being an award-winning culture.

 

Naturally, we want our summer interns to learn the NetApp values as part of their intern experience. How do you teach values? By living them, of course! One of the values we want to teach is the importance of fostering positive relationships in the communities where we work.

 

Each year, we plan projects that enable our interns to learn about and contribute to our communities. As part of the NetApp Playhouse project, the first project for the interns in RTP this year was to build wheelchair-accessible playhouses for Camp Easter Seals UCP, a summer camp serving special needs children and adults. Back in April, NetApp donated the first wheelchair-accessible playhouse to Easter Seals UCP Charlie Gaddy Children’s Center and we are so honored to work with them again!

 

The NetApp Playhouse project is a partnership with Habitat for Humanity – NetApp supports Habitat for Humanity by making a contribution to Habitat that supports their affordable housing mission. In return, Habitat provides the materials and instruction for our volunteer build teams. The playhouses are then donated to another nonprofit in the community who choose to either keep the playhouse or put it up for auction to raise much-needed funds. It’s a win-win-win arrangement!

 

Two teams of about 20 interns each, led by volunteers from Durham Habitat for Humanity, painted and assembled a playhouse in a single (extremely hot) summer day right in the middle of the RTP campus. Using summer camp themes, the teams designed the decorations for their playhouses.

 

Beglane_13.jpgThe interns first painted the base colors on all of the walls, doors, windows, and trim.

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Then they painted the decorations they had designed. Quite a creative group!

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After the installation of the doors, windows, and trim came the final assembly.

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The best design was judged by Connie Cochran, CEO of Easter Seals UCP of North Carolina and Virginia and his staff. Connie and his staff came to NetApp to receive the playhouses and to talk about their organization and the people it serves.

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The vote for the best design was a 3 to 3 tie! Both teams did an amazing job, and they helped create a special place for some special kids to play this summer!

 

The NetApp Playhouse project originally started at NetApp in Sunnyvale, California. We started the Playhouse project in RTP at the end of 2012 and have completed eleven playhouses so far. NetApp RTP employees will build five more playhouses this year. We are especially excited by the opportunity to build more playhouses for Easter Seals UCP that are accessible to all of the children they serve. Since we started the program in RTP, Durham Habitat has raised $72,000 through the Playhouse project thanks to NetApp and the other local corporations we have helped recruit to the program.

 

Special thanks to Gene Carlone and the other volunteer from Durham Habitat for leading the project. Additional thanks to the NetApp University Relations staff for helping organize the intern project: Kayla Villwock, Stephanie White

NETAPP_360

NetApp in the News, 7/22/13

Posted by NETAPP_360 Jul 22, 2013

Every Monday we bring you top stories featuring NetApp that you may have missed from the previous week. Let us know what interests you by commenting below.


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Glassdoor: 5 Companies with Best Work-Life Balance Sit in Bay AreaNBC Bay Area

NBC Bay Area explains why NetApp is one of the top companies for managing work-life balance in the Bay Area.


 

Clustered Storage: Meeting Tomorrow’s Data Storage Needs | #NetAppChat Highlights - SiliconANGLE

SiliconANGLE provides a recap of some of the best questions and answers from last week’s Twitter Chat.

 

NetApp Regroups To Take On Africa - ITNews Africa

This article highlights NetApp’s plans to launch an enhanced growth strategy in Africa, as well as a renewed partnership-focused channel model.

Guest post by Alex McDonald

 

This year’s Wimbledon Men’s Singles tennis final was an epic struggle of one man, driven by a British nation’s support, to achieve the ultimate tennis prize against the world’s number one tennis player.

 

And Murray did it; he beat Djokovic, world ranked #1, in straight sets.

 

Tennis_Player_HighRes.jpgAt which point, I digress (only ever so slightly) to a recent blog by storage analyst Mark Peters of ESG. It’s entitled “NetApp's Dual Nationality”. Please go read it; Mark is without doubt one of the most perceptive analysts out there. Entertaining too.

 

Mark’s focus is on plans, competition, our portfolio, best of breed, ONTAP 8.2 as the leading software for storage management. It talks about NetApp’s approach to business and our attitudes.

 

“Once Tom Georgens had given the mandatory comments about the recent earnings calls, he and the other presenters were able to move to a more upbeat and aggressive mantra. Let's start with the huge sales success of FlexPod...or the [admittedly somewhat lucky accident of the] EF540, NetApp's all-flash array that's built on its long-standing E Series software, is seemingly "vanilla" in nature and is yet able to have beaten the purpose-built offerings of both start-ups and veterans in head-to-head bake-offs....and of course there's the big daddy of them all: ONTAP 8.2, which is certainly a (maybe the?) leading storage software data management package, sporting everything from edge, VSA type solutions to cloud, mobility and flexible backup integration...the list goes on and shows NetApp in a strong position to both have—and to improve—on an integrated overall data management fabric. It's really pretty impressive...and NetApp should be noisy-est.”

 

For all I like his blog, and the way he brings out important facets of NetApp’s approach to business without resort to the usual backwards looking numbers game, he’s wrong on one specific charge.

 

Mark thinks we’re too polite when competing against other storage vendors. He suggests that we’re being too “British” about what we have;

 

“[NetApp’s] courtesy […] carries over into its external competitive culture—sure it wants to win, but it often seems to want to do so in a gentlemanly way (no offence to womanly-kind…but this seems to be the common phrasing). […] A sense of fair play - and at times even self-deprecation—that can, to us outsiders and watchers, seem just a tinsy winsy bit at odds with the tough old world we inhabit.

[…] The reserve has to go. After all, and as I've at times found to my cost, this is not a country where diffidence is often seen as an aspirational quality. The US is the land of the "-est"—biggest, finest, fastest etc. […] It's like the annoying British habit I have of saying "sorry" all the time: it's fine in the UK because everyone does it and everyone knows it's not meant most of the time! But I try to control it in different "markets." Indeed, I like to think that as a dual national myself I've learned which of my cultural biases should take prominence at any given time. Now is the time for NetApp to give a full-bore dose of US “-est.”

 

Not enough whooping and hollering is my take on that. What I do know is that shouting out between games didn’t win Murray the match at Wimbledon; Murray being the best tennis player on the court did that. A courteous and diffident Brit won Wimbledon.

 

Look at what NetApp has in its favour; a solid yet innovative portfolio of storage solutions, huge successes in winning (and retaining) business, and a courteous, gentlemanly and polite culture to boot. Whooping and hollering won’t win this storage match either; but being the very best we can will do so now and in the future. Let others shout from their seats in the gallery, while we play and win the game.

 

I’m definitely not sorry for one thing; we’re the best.  

VDI came on the scene over the last decade as the next logical thing to do with server virtualization. With server virtualization, IT organizations got a taste of server consolidation with immediate cost savings and centralized management and turned to the next big consumer of capital and labor resources… desktops. Apps and desktops had been virtualized with Citrix for years. However, the transition to VDI involved server management that was foreign to many desktop management tools and operations models, thus making VDI and its OS per user concept a seemingly straightforward pursuit. Of course, early adopters soon learned that VDI wasn’t as simple as server consolidation.  They learned that the infrastructure demands for running VDI at scale could be quite extreme as large numbers of very disk I/O intensive VMs on shared storage pushed the limits of their existing virtual infrastructure to the point that IT had to give a hard look at the ROI of VDI.

 

Making Desktop Virtualization affordable

Meanwhile Citrix has been working with key partners like NetApp to reduce the cost and complexity of VDI. Our joint goal has been to make VDI not just simpler technically to build and scale, but also affordable. With lower cost,  the benefits of centralization, security, mobility, and employee productivity make the deployment of desktop virtualization, and when appropriate, VDI, a simple “no brainer.” The availability of Citrix XenDesktop on the new NetApp Clustered ONTAP solution delivers incredible value for a complete storage solution not just for desktop OS VMs, but also for the apps, profiles and user data that go along with desktop virtualization. In fact, NetApp recently announced sample storage array configurations leveraging new Flash Cache 2 technology that deliver persistent, personal desktops with high availability for OS, personally installed apps, profiles, and data for as little as $35 per user.


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Why clustered storage for VDI?

As I mentioned above, VDI is just one form of desktop virtualization, but it is particularly useful when users require a persistent desktop experience enabling a user to connect and reconnect from any device exactly where they left off – with virtual resources reserved for that VM whenever needed. Persistent desktops can also be customized by the user with user installed apps, plug-ins, and other personalization that wouldn’t otherwise be captured in a profile. These personalizations require high availability. Not that a desktop VM can’t be simply rebooted, but the state containing the user’s personalization must be available with no single point of failure. Clustering shared storage for hosting this state ensures availability, but must deliver on the IOPS requirements for VMs. Not all users need a persistent, self-customizable experience, but solutions like the XenDesktop on NetApp Clustered ONTAP solution ensure affordable desktop virtualization for even the most demanding users.

 

 

Kevin Strohmeyer - Director of Product Marketing, Desktop and Apps, Citrix

Kevin Strohmeyer is director of product marketing for the Desktop and Apps group at Citrix. He is a product evangelist and responsible for helping to drive the go-to-market strategy for the company’s market-leading desktop virtualization solutions, Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix XenApp.

By Vaughn Stewart, Director, NetApp. Originally posted to Virtual Storage Guy.

 

Prior to taking a break to celebrate the July 4th holiday, NetApp wrapped up an fantastic week at Cisco Live where the topic of software-defined infrastructure emerged as top of mind and was prominent in breakout sessions and keynote presentations. Interesting announcements from Cisco around their software-defined networking strategy and a focus of driving towards and application-focused infrastructure drove many of these conversations. The emergence of the software-defined trend is rather exciting as it is engaging technologists of different disciplines to engage in conversation around technologies that enable the ability to automate workloads and operate environments based on service level policies. The conversations ran amuck spanning open programmable APIs to integrate applications with the underlying infrastructure to deploying a model that is complementary wether components reside on-premises or in the cloud.

 

microsoft.jpgTo date FlexPod is the only converged infrastructure platform that was designed around a standardized set of APIs that are richly integrated into the platform management and application layer. Don’t take my word for it. FlexPod recently won the Best of Microsoft TechEd award specifically for the integration with the Microsoft Private Cloud. NetApp was also named Microsoft’s Server Platform Partner of the Year for 2013 for the depth of our storage integrations into the Microsoft management, orchestration and application stack. It’s a strong statement when a storage company wins ‘Server Platform Partner of the Year!’

 

This momentum continues with the addition of clustered Data ONTAP to the FlexPod platform and a number of solutions highlighted by FlexPod for Oracle, which includes deep integrations into the Oracle stack with Oracle Enterprise Manager, Oracle Virtual Machine and Storage Connect.

 

I really like the term ‘software-defined infrastructure.’ It works rather well in summarizing the strategy of many IT vendors, like VMware, Cisco, NetApp, EMC and others. While the term is new, the strategy of NetApp & Cisco was established several years ago and is demonstrable in the solutions that are delivered via FlexPod. With that said, one thing is clear, Cisco and NetApp have a tremendous amount of synergy and momentum around delivering on the promise of a software-defined infrastructure.

By Bruce Backa, CEO of NTP Software


For file data, storage efficiency is almost never about price per gig. Organizations need to look elsewhere to manage file data costs. But, to do this, you need to understand what drives cost. Let’s review what we know and how we know it.

 

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Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) dominates the equation. The financials for file data aren’t driven by the cost per gig of disk. They’re driven by what you do with those gigs once you have them. The current industry statistic is that TCO is 5 to 7 times acquisition cost. With purchase price being only 1-sixth of TCO, this means if you paid zero for your disk, you would still only save 16% of your costs...

 

In addition to having broad industry data from analysts like Gartner Group and IDC, NTP Software has done hundreds of File Data Assessments for customers of all sizes and industries. Our actual results and the analysts’ industry averages are remarkably consistent. From this information, we can write the following prescription for managing file data cost effectively:

 

  • Policy-based Management – Gartner Group and others tell us that 20% to 40% off all file data is junk – duplicates, MP3s, etc... There is no reason to tolerate so much waste and abuse. Even cutting it by half is material relative to the total cost of your file storage
  • PartitioningIn times past, it made sense to put all file data in one place. Now it does not. Infrequently used files are 60% to 80% of all file data. They can be placed in a managed archive that can reduce operating costs by 50% or more
  • Split MigrationThe Industry is undergoing a shift to new, scale-out storage platforms. We will all be moving our file data to new hosts sometime soon. Since dormant files are half or more of the total volume, there is a lot of money to be saved by splitting your estate and moving active files to their new high-performance home, such as NetApp’s new Clustered Data ONTAP while moving dormant files to their new high efficiency home, i.e. NetApp e-Series.


Through our partnership with NetApp we have developed solutions that address the real costs associated with data storage. Our joint solutions address the issues that most do not realize they face, namely the potential for savings in operational costs that go ignored by most organizations. For more info check out our NetApp Solution Connection Page or visit us on the web at www.ntpsoftware.com.

What a MSB storage customer needs to know about clustered Data ONTAP 8.2

 

FAS-2200.pngAs you probably have heard, NetApp recently launched the newest version of world’s #1 storage operating system - clustered Data ONTAP 8.2, bringing significant storage OS innovations to the industry. As a MSB storage customer, you might be wondering what this all means to you. With this question in mind, I sat down with Quinn Summers, Director of Data ONTAP, and Steve Scully, Sr. Product Manager of Volume FAS Platforms, to talk about the new and exciting release of clustered Data ONTAP.

 

Ling: What’s new in clustered Data ONTAP 8.2?

Quinn: One of the most important things is that 8.2 enables non-disruptive operation, continuous data access and dynamic load balancing. We now support SnapVault, volume level disk-to-disk backup solution preserving the storage efficiency features over the network, and that allows primary and backup sites have different volumes and retention times. We are also supporting two new types of cluster configurations, 2-node switchless cluster and single-node cluster with 8.2 release. For customers using flash pools, we have good news too. With 8.2, you can use RAID 4 that requires one less parity disk compared with RAID-DP allowing one more SSD for data. We also have new enhancements on storage efficiency technologies, such as reduced overhead of compression using incompressible data detection methods (or IDD), which filters out files already compressed and is beneficial for file-based home directories with mixed files. Another new thing is that we have increased the aggregate size to 120 TB from 60 TB for FAS2200 family which enables larger data drives simplifying management. 8.2 also brings protocol support enhancements such as SMB 3.0. Another brand new capability is Aggregate Relocate (ARL), which allows for non-disruptive head upgrade without a data copy when using external disk shelves.

 

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Ling: What do all these mean for MSB customers?

Quinn: There are huge benefits that come from the non-disruptive operation and ease of scaling.  The single name space that comes with clustered Data ONTAP allows all storage resources to be managed as a single system within the cluster. This greatly simplifies IT resource management and capacity- and performance-balancing. Clustered Data ONTAP also eliminates down time and enables continuous data access during head upgrade, which is key to mission-critical applications and also saves business cost associated with down time. With seamless scaling that clustered Data ONTAP has to offer, you can start with a single-node cluster, and add nodes as your needs grow without costly data migrations or disruptions to your operation. All of these mean huge time and money savings for IT resources, which are usually very limited for MSB customers. All in all, clustered Data ONTAP enables non-disruptive operation, makes storage management simpler, and offers a more powerful growth path.

 

Ling: If I am a new customer, should I choose clustered Data ONTAP or 7-Mode to start with?

Steve: Clustered Data ONTAP is the best way to go for new customers. They can either start with a single node cluster or two-node switchless cluster so that they can take advantage of non-disruptive operation and seamless scaling without data migration should they need to expand their storage systems in the future. For deployments that require Fiber Channel connectivity, we support a single node cluster where it fits, and suggest 7-Mode for where a high availability configuration is required. Future enhancements in I/O capability will enable the multi-node clustered deployment with fiber channel.

 

Ling: if I am already using NetApp FAS2200, how can I change to clustered Data ONTAP 8.2?

Quinn: If you are using 8.1 clustered Data ONTAP you can upgrade to 8.2 clustered Data ONTAP following the normal non-disruptive software upgrade that has always been in place for NetApp systems. If, however, you are using 7-mode with earlier ONTAP versions, clustered Data ONTAP 8.2 is the way to go at your next tech refresh. NetApp provides assessment and migration tools to help our customers make the transition to clustered Data ONTAP.

 

Ling: Is 7-Mode still supported?

Quinn: Yes. We will continue to support 7-Mode for customers.

 

Ling: Have any FAS2200 customers deployed clustered Data ONTAP? What are they saying about the experience?

Steve: Yes, more and more MSB customers have adopted NetApp’s clustered Data ONTAP although enterprise customers were taking the lead in the beginning. Over 200 FAS2200 controllers have been deployed in storage clusters across different business verticals and geographical areas. Customers were very impressed with the 100% uptime that clustered Data ONTAP provides. One of the leading beverage companies in the US has recently deployed clustered Data ONTAP as they considered NetApp’s solution the best—and perhaps only—way to ensure that their mission-critical application was up 24x7x365 to support safe and efficient business operations.

 

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Hopefully, this answers some of the questions you have in mind about clustered storage.  Start right with the future-proof investment on clustered Data ONTAP, take advantage of the simplified storage management and non-disruptive operation capability, and scale as your needs change with industry’s easiest growth path.

 

Visit here to find out more about clustered Data ONTAP 8.2 and learn more about FAS2200 products here.

Now that we’ve all been able to say bye bye to jet lag and fully digest all that was Cisco Live it’s time to look back at the top show related tweets produced by our customers, partners, followers and event attendees. Take a look at the full list below to see if any of your tweets made it. Also, be sure to check out our Storify page to see how the NetApp at Cisco Live 2013 story played out on social media.


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