It should come as no surprise to anyone that data centers are in the midst of major transitions. The inefficiencies created by dedicated IT architectures and the pressures from explosive data growth have spurred a migration to shared infrastructures capable of supporting multiple workloads and customers.
NetApp has identified eight key attributes for shared IT infrastructure that will help make your storage more flexible, efficient, and future ready.
The latest NetApp product announcement is focused on helping you benefit from these capabilities in your storage infrastructure. In this article, I focus on how NetApp® Data ONTAP® 8—the next step in the evolution of Data ONTAP—delivers on these attributes. There’s a misunderstanding about what Data ONTAP 8 is, so I start by correcting that before I dig into its capabilities.
What Is Data ONTAP 8?
Data ONTAP 8 is the successor to Data ONTAP 7G and the culmination of years of storage technology development at NetApp. It was introduced in September 2009 and reached general availability (GA) status in March 2010. The latest version, Data ONTAP 8.0.1, was released in September 2010. (Note that when using the phrase Data ONTAP 8, I’m referring to all existing and future releases in the line.)
Data ONTAP 8 merges the capabilities of two previously separate branches of Data ONTAP—Data ONTAP 7G and Data ONTAP GX—into a single code base that has two distinct operating modes:
A common misconception about Data ONTAP 8, particularly one held by customers and others who are only familiar with Data ONTAP 7G releases, is that it only provides clustered, scale-out operation. While many Data ONTAP GX customers have already deployed Data ONTAP 8 Cluster-Mode, many more currently run Data ONTAP 8 7-Mode releases in production.
As functionality is added to Data ONTAP 8 Cluster-Mode in future releases, more users will adopt it; however, in the near term, 7-Mode is the mode of interest to a wider range of Tech OnTap readers, so in the remainder of this article I focus primarily on 7-Mode. Expect to see more information on Cluster-Mode in Tech OnTap in the future.
What Are the Capabilities of Data ONTAP 8.0.1?
Data ONTAP 8.0.1 is the latest Data ONTAP 8 release. Data ONTAP 8.0.1 7-Mode has a feature set that meets the needs of most customers who currently use Data ONTAP 7.3.x releases. It has all the capabilities (with a few feature exceptions that I address later) of Data ONTAP 7.3.4—the newest GA-level 7G release—plus several new features that enhance storage and operational efficiency and storage system flexibility. I start by explaining the key new features and capabilities in Data ONTAP 8.0.1 7-Mode.
Sixty-Four-Bit Aggregates. With Data ONTAP 8.0.1 7-Mode, customers can create aggregates that use either 32-bit or 64-bit block addressing. So-called 32-bit aggregates have a maximum capacity of 16TB. However, an increasing number of system deployments need more storage space per aggregate. When 64-bit addressing is used, aggregates can be as large as 30TB to 100TB, with the size dependent on the FAS or V-Series model. Sixty-four-bit aggregates also support volume sizes well beyond 16TB.
Sixty-four-bit aggregates are especially useful when configuring systems with large-capacity disk drives. For example, with 2TB SATA drives only 9 data drives fit in a 32-bit aggregate, and so few data drives impact storage efficiency and volume-level performance. A 50TB 64-bit aggregate, on the other hand, can hold 30 2TB SATA drives.
Choosing 64-bit aggregates when configuring other large-capacity drives—1TB SATA, 450GB and 600GB FC and SAS—is similarly advantageous. Note that the ability to create new aggregates with 64-bit addressing was introduced in Data ONTAP 8.0 7-Mode. With the 8.0.1 release, the capability has been extended to Cluster-Mode.
Flash Cache Support. Data ONTAP 8.0.1 (both modes) supports intelligent caching with Flash Cache cards. Flash Cache and SATA drives are used frequently together on systems running Data ONTAP 7.3.2 and later releases to meet application performance needs with lower-cost storage. Now you can do the same thing with Data ONTAP 8.0.1, and use Flash Cache and SATA drives with 64-bit aggregates.
New FAS and V-Series System Support. As part of its recent announcement, NetApp introduced new midrange and high-end storage systems: the FAS3200 and V3200 series and the FAS6200 and V6200 series, respectively. Both new families are only supported on Data ONTAP 8.0.1—7-Mode and Cluster-Mode—at introduction, and the FAS/V6200 series will only be supported on Data ONTAP 8 releases going forward.
The FAS/V3200 series offers more performance and PCIe slots than FAS/V3100 models. The FAS/V6200 series offers up to 3.6 times the performance of previous NetApp enterprise servers; its capabilities are described in a companion article in this issue of Tech OnTap.
Data Compression. NetApp data compression is a new feature in Data ONTAP 8.0.1 7-Mode. It can be enabled on a per-volume basis and compresses file and LUN data as it is written to disk. It provides space savings for datasets that don’t benefit from deduplication, and, for certain datasets, compression and deduplication together provide greater space savings than either alone. As you might expect, there is high interest in this new feature. This issue of Tech OnTap contains a separate article covering it in more detail.
NetApp data compression is new to Data ONTAP 8.0.1. Deduplication can be used optionally for additional space savings.
NetApp DataMotion for Volumes. This new feature lets you move volumes nondisruptively between aggregates on the same controller. With Data ONTAP 8.0.1 7-Mode, this is supported for volumes that only contain one or more LUNs. This nondisruptive data movement is useful for many purposes: for example, to free up space in an aggregate, to load-balance disk operations, to move data to a different tier of storage, and to replace old disk drives with newer models. Application and user access is maintained during and after data movement, and data can be moved between aggregates that use different drive types; FC, SAS, SSD, and SATA drives are all supported.
NetApp DataMotion for volumes lets you nondisruptively migrate volumes containing LUNs.
Unified Connect. Unified Connect infrastructure is another new Data ONTAP 8.0.1 7-Mode feature. It allows use of all SAN and NAS protocols (FCoE, iSCSI, NFS, and CIFS) over the same 10Gb Ethernet port on NetApp unified target adapters (UTAs). The UTAs are the same adapter cards NetApp started offering with Data ONTAP 7.3.2 for FCoE use. The enhancement in Data ONTAP 8.0.1 7-Mode extends the benefits of the NetApp Unified Storage Architecture that began with support of all storage protocols, grew to include support for multiple storage tiers, and now unifies all storage protocols onto a single path for even greater simplicity. NetApp is the only storage vendor currently offering this capability.
Unified Connect allows all storage protocols to share a single network.
Features Not Yet Available with Data ONTAP 8.0.1 7-Mode. I mentioned that there are a few exceptions to full feature equivalence between Data ONTAP 8.0.1 7-Mode and Data ONTAP 7.3.4. NetApp has made an effort in Data ONTAP 8.0.1 7-Mode to provide all the functionality of Data ONTAP 7.3.x releases that are in wide use. The short list of features that aren’t available in Data ONTAP 8.0.1 includes:
Why Deploy Data ONTAP 8.0.1?
For those running NetApp storage with a Data ONTAP 7.3.x release, moving to Data ONTAP 8.0.1 7-Mode is a natural evolution. From a user-interface standpoint, 7-Mode looks and feels just like another 7G release, but it adds important new features that will improve your operating efficiency and flexibility. Sixty-four-bit aggregates give you greater flexibility in configuring storage on your systems, data compression makes your storage systems even more space efficient, and the new platforms supported by Data ONTAP 8.0.1 make it easier to consolidate multiple storage systems into fewer systems, and are ideal platforms for shared storage infrastructure deployments.
All future Data ONTAP feature development will be on Data ONTAP 8. The development and test process for Data ONTAP 8 is more robust and comprehensive than ever, and thousands of systems use Data ONTAP 8. If you see value in the 7-Mode capabilities I’ve described above, start planning your transition. Future Data ONTAP 8 releases will add functionality to 7-Mode and especially to Cluster-Mode, and thus adopting Data ONTAP 8.0.1 7-Mode will put you in a better position to take advantage of those benefits quickly.
Got opinions about Data ONTAP 8?
Ask questions, exchange ideas, and share your thoughts online in NetApp Communities.