Managing NetApp Flash in a VMware Environment

There’s no question that flash is front and center these days in the IT industry. And you can’t discount the benefits of flash—they’re well-documentedespecially around cost and performance. But when looking at the total value of a flash solution, especially in an enterprise environment, many organizations fail to look beyond cost and performance. This makes it difficult to discern the real value, or potential value, of an enterprise flash solution.

 

“Beyond cost and performance” doesn’t just refer to the enterprise capabilities customers typically require. It also includes the ease of accessing those capabilities so they get used. For example, consider the following: Are automated backup and DR capabilities integrated into the solution? Can an administrator access advanced storage features from a single vCenter console? Does the solution require assistance from the storage administrator or can you rely on policy-based management to make intelligent storage decisions? Does the solution require an admin to execute multiple commands, or just a couple of clicks, to redeploy thousands of virtual machines (VMs)? All of these examples represent contrasting possibilities that highlight the benefits of integration.

 

Unfortunately for customers, I don’t see a lot of flash vendors addressing the importance of integration. Is that because those vendors don’t believe it is import, or is because they don’t have a strong integration story?  If you’re reading this you probably know words like “easy,” “simple,” and “seamless” are music to a storage or Virtual Infrastructure (VI) administrator’s ears. Making storage management easy, simple, and seamless is what NetApp brings to the table with our plug-ins for VMware. But  integration isn’t really a high-profile attribute when it comes to storage. There are no industry benchmark numbers to cite. And the last time I checked, I didn’t see a Magic Quadrant for VASA Providers. Nonetheless, these management plug-ins are important to NetApp because they are important to our customers for managing their storage. That’s why NetApp continues to invest in these essential integrations for VMware.

 

 

Storage Jumble

 

NetApp Storage Management Enhancements for VMware

Recently, NetApp released new versions of our storage management plug-ins for VMware environments: Virtual Storage Console (VSC) 6.2, vSphere Storage APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA) Provider (VP) 6.2 for clustered Data ONTAP, and Storage Replication Adapter (SRA) 3.0 for clustered Data ONTAP.

 

The NetApp plug-ins provide end-to-end storage management capabilities for NetApp customers to manage their VMware environment. These plug-ins simplify storage and data management by enabling virtualization administrators to directly manage storage through vCenter. Administrators can simply and easily perform tasks such as health monitoring, policy-based storage management, datastore provisioning, virtual machine cloning, backup, restoration, and disaster recovery management.  Here’s a summary of what’s new:

 

Virtual Storage Console 6.2

In addition to enhancements for cloning and VDMK workflows, VSC has added support for the following:

 

  • Backup and Restore raw device mappings (RDMs). When performing backup and restore operations, RDM LUNs supporting both Oracle and SQL databases can be managed using Virtual Storage Console.

VSC continues to support VMware virtual volumes (VVOLs). Administrators use VMware’s VASA Provider for clustered Data ONTAP to create and manage VVOLs using storage capability profiles, which are created and managed using the VASA Provider section of the VSC GUI. The VASA Provider for Clustered Data ONTAP User's Guide provides information for setting up and working with VVOLs.  Additional information on the benefits of advanced storage virtualization with VVOLs and clustered Data ONTAP can be found in Eric Wagar’s Technical Report TR-4400: Applying VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes on NetApp Clustered Data ONTAP 8.3.

 

Get VSC now: VSC 6.2 download.

 

VASA Provider 6.2

Enhancements to the VASA Provider include support for clustered Data ONTAP 8.3.2 and 8.2.4, as well as the following:

 

  • VASA Provider disaster recovery. VASA Provider now has a disaster recovery feature that enables you to recover your VVOLs environment if the vCenter Server or VASA Provider server goes down. Instructions for restoring VASA Provider are in the Knowledgebase article “How to perform a VASA Provider Disaster Recovery”.
  • The VASA Provider now includes a safety feature that prevents administrators from migrating VASA Provider onto a VVOL datastore that it owns.
  • Support for multiple vCenter Server environments. The VASA Provider can now be registered with multiple vCenter Servers simultaneously, creating a one-to-many relationship with the vCenter Servers.
  • All Flash FAS (AFF). VASA Provider works with storage systems configured with AFF.
  • Support for clustered Data ONTAP MetroCluster. Both two-node and four-node MetroCluster are supported with the new VASA Provider. 

Get VASA Provider now: VASA Provider 6.2 download.

 

Storage Replication Adapter for clustered Data ONTAP 3.0 is NetApp’s plug-in for VMware’s Site Recovery Manager. It enables interaction between Site Recovery Manager and the storage controller at the Storage Virtual Machine (SVM) level, managing failover and test operations for the storage underlying SRM-protected virtual machines. SRA 3.0 adds these new features:

 

  • SVM multi-tenancy
  • Unified installer. SRA 3.0 and VASA Provider are jointly deployed as a part of the VASA Provider virtual appliance.
  • Support for version flexible and combined replication relationships
  • Support for the VMware vSphere Web Client

Get SRA now: SRA 3.0 download.

 

A number of teams and dedicated individuals collaborate on the code for our management plug-ins. These include product managers that constantly solicit input from customers (if you receive a product planning survey on our tools, please participate), to scrum masters, program managers, engineers, developers, and QA teams – all who make important contributions throughout the solution development processTheir code gets detected, collected, selected, and sometimes interconnected, then dissected, inspected, occasionally rejected-and consequentially corrected (but never neglected), then perfected, accepted, and finally protected before it ever gets a chance to be respected by a customer. Bottom line: we know it’s going to work.

 

These management solutions from NetApp are designed to simplify life for IT, and enable customers to maximize their investment in NetApp enterprise flash. When choosing a flash solution, it is important to look beyond cost and performance.  You have to ask yourself “Is my next flash platform going to integrate and evolve with my virtualized environment, or is going to end up in storage wasteland?  Please click on the download links above to see for yourself how NetApp can simplify storage management in your VMware environment and make you look like a rock star.