ODX Speeds Deployment of RDS on Windows Server 2012 with NetApp Clustered Data ONTAP

It’s that time of year again!  I know its April when my days start getting filled up with event preparations and shuffling through airports.  Yet another Microsoft Management Summit is upon us, and I’ll be in Vegas all week showing demos and talking to you about NetApp’s goodness.


One of the things I’m excited to be showing off at MMS this year is how Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012 Offloaded Data Transfer (ODX) and NetApp’s Clustered Data ONTAP, in concert, can dramatically speed up deployments of virtual machines.  Specifically, virtual desktop deployments using Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Services (RDS). You knew it would involve VDI, right?


So what is ODX and how does it work to benefit a bunch of virtual desktops?  Excellent question, glad you asked.  At its heart, ODX is a new initiative in Microsoft Windows Server 2012 allowing storage sub-systems to perform file copy operations rather than on the host.  This “offloads” heavy data movement through all levels of a system and potentially across a network transport.  The net result being a faster copy and a less “bogged” down system. For a broader look download MSDN’s Introduction to Offloaded Data Transfers (ODX).


Using NetApp’s Clustered Data ONTAP and ODX, all file copy operations are dramatically sped up. In addition, file copies are pre deduped. This means the copies take up no additional space on the storage. To accomplish this, NetApp uses its SIS-Clone functionality, which eliminates the data copy process by only creating pointers.  This speeds up back-end operations and improves the performance of ODX on NetApp’s platform when compared to ODX implementations by other storage vendors. 


With all of this in mind, we set out to quantify the benefits ODX would have on scaled out virtual desktops residing on NetApp storage.  Turned out not too much digging was needed; as it became immediately apparent to us that ODX made a positive impact on deployments. To the point, in RDS deployments ranging from a scale of 2 desktops up to 500 desktops, we noticed a consistent 25% time improvement from start to finish using ODX with Clustered ONTAP. All we had to do was enable or disable ODX on the NetApp controller to visualize the differences. Cool stuff! 


So, if you happen to be at MMS this year, be sure to stop by the NetApp booth.  We’ll treat you nice and show you just how cool this stuff is.  Also, for more information on deploying RDS download Windows Server 2012 Remote Desktop Services on NetApp Storage.


What version of OnTap is necessary to support ODX with Windows 2012?  Does it matter if you're using 7-mode vs clustered?

I've had good experience with Equallogic and EMC VNX using ODX so I'd like to try this out on our NetApp Storage.

rbriggs Netapp Alumni

ODX will be supported in NetApp Data OnTAP 8.2 C-Mode. RC1 is available for download now.

Just to be clear, ODX will only work within a "Clustered" DOT release and will not work with 7-Mode as it exist today?

~I think the direction of Netapp is to go C-Mode eventually, but for us folks not ready to make that C jump, seems shortsighted if that is the case.

So can you enable OnTapCluster mode if you don't have 2 x HA Filers?

Yes, You can run 8.2 C-Mode on a single controller that is not-HA, on a single HA-Controller pair, or on multiple HA-Controller pairs.

And yes, I agree, lots to learn to run C-Mode, some things are going to be very different, like the tab-complete command structure that mimics the Cisco interface, and the vServers (really virtual filers running on your hardware), and running everything though LIFs (Logical interfaces) instead of directly on the hardware.

Some concepts will be the same, DeDupe, Aggregates, Volumes, LUNs, Shares, Disks, Shelves, etc.


So is it supported on 7-Mode or not? We have 8.1.3 7-Mode.

Thank you and regards

rbriggs Netapp Alumni

ODX is only supported in Clustered Data ONTAP version 8.2 and higher. Microsoft RDS will work fine on your 7-Mode system utilizing block based storage protocols.