By Adaikkappan Arumugam, Technical Marketing Engineer, and Philip Trautman, FAS Product Marketing, NetApp
Part 4 of a multi-part series on storage networking at NetApp
The ability to automate storage tasks and package them into services is critical for software-defined IT and cloud. Scale-out storage like the FAS8000 may support dozens of storage controllers with thousands of storage devices and hundreds of network connections, making automation highly desirable.
NetApp offers a suite of OnCommand tools to automate tasks for our FAS storage line. We make these capabilities accessible via REST APIs for easy integration with other tools and applications.
Representation State Transfer (REST) is a simple communication architecture that is commonly used in clouds and other web-based and network-based services. REST has only four operations, often referred to collectively as CRUD: Create, Read, Update, Delete. REST APIs use these operations to access and operate on resources across a network in a standardized but flexible way.
OnCommand Workflow Automation
REST APIs are a key component of OnCommand Workflow Automation (WFA), which allows you to automate NetApp storage tasks like provisioning, data protection, replication and more. You can use the pre-packaged workflows provided with WFA or use the designer in WFA to create custom workflows. Any workflow can be accessed via REST APIs, allowing the workflow to be called by cloud orchestration tools, or to be called directly from programs and portals developed in-house.
WFA REST APIs expose the collection of available WFA workflows—as well as building blocks such as commands and filters—and allow you to execute, monitor, and control them. Each workflow object provides metadata information (name, description) as well as user input and execution results (output).
Benefits of Workflow Automation
The major benefit of this approach is that you can create a workflow tailored to the resources and capabilities of your NetApp storage environment and people and programs can then use that function without having to know the underlying details such as where the storage is located or the best network path to reach it. A program that uses REST APIs to execute a workflow for SnapMirror replication—for example—is much simpler than programming the task directly. The workflow can encapsulate all the logic necessary to choose the necessary network paths, allocate storage and so on.
Workflows can incorporate your organization’s best practices, minimize the chance of administrator error, and can also ensure compliance with service level agreements (SLAs).
Because of their flexibility and extensibility, WFA workflows and REST APIs are a key part of NetApp’s approach to software-defined storage (SDS). Jack Mcleod of NetApp designed a complete SDS solution using VMware vCloud® Automation Center (vCAC) 6.0 in concert with WFA that includes a complete storage service catalog—illustrating just how powerful this approach is. You can find out more in these two technical reports: TR-4203: VMware vCloud Director on NetApp Clustered Data ONTAP and TR-4217: Automating and Orchestrating the Software Defined Data Center with NetApp and VMware to Build Your Cloud. Jack has also documented the process on his McCloud on Cloud blog.
In addition to the base WFA software, (available with your NetApp FAS storage purchase), a variety of "Pirate Packs" package together additional NetApp-developed WFA workflows for various use cases. These can be found in the "Featured Content" section of the WFA community. You can also browse templates, examples, and videos; search content for more Pirate Packs; and browse discussions. You may also want to check out the WFA Workflow Developer’s Guide, the WFA Rest API Programmer’s Guide, and TR-4272: OnCommand Workflow Automation Workflows for Storage as a Service.
NetApp is working hard to deliver the best options for software-defined storage and cloud. Look for even greater integration of REST APIs across a range of NetApp solutions in coming months.
Blog Posts in This Series
In case you missed them, be sure and check out the other posts in this series: