NetApp Private Storage for AWS - Part 2 - PoC Lab explained

Originally published on 6/16/14.


In this post we will explain how the NetApp Proof of Concept Lab for NetApp Private Storage (NPS) can be used.


Part 1 - Overview

Part 2 - NetApp's NPS for AWS PoC Lab

Part 3 - Use cases (post coming soon)

Part 4 - Technical Details (post coming soon)



As we described in the last post, NetApp Private Storage for AWS offers a lot of advantages - However, some invest needs to be made upfront to actually use or try out the solution. Luckily, some smart folks at NetApp have decided to build a PoC Lab that can be accessed by everybody (well, everybody who has bought NetApp before). The best thing about this is it doesn't cost you anything (except one EC2 instance that is required to run the PoC web interface). By the end of the day, you are looking at less than $10/day in costs.


The idea behind the lab is, that we have hosted a NetApp controller in the Equinix co-location in Northern Virginia, which is directly connected to the adjacent AWS region. By using Direct Connect and linking the network where the NetApp controller resides into your personal AWS account, this allows you test your workloads on an EC2 instance, with data being served directly from the NetApp box.


POC Architecture Overview

The abstracted architecture for the POC Lab is fairly simple (we'll explain the details in the next sections):workflow.png


After you provide all the relevant details, the PoC labs sets up a management web interface as an EC2 instance in your AWS account. Furthermore, it sets up a Storage Virtual Machine (SVM) on the NetApp box in the co-location. Through the web interface, you can create volumes, set exports, clone volumes, etc. Then, you can manually create a new EC2 instance and use either CIFS, NFS, or iSCSI to serve data from the SVM to the EC2 instance.


First Steps

Before you can start, sign up for the NetApp Private Storage Lab at the NetApp Proof of Concept Lab. You'll also need an account at AWS, so if you don't have one yet, sign up for one at AWS. If you are an existing NetApp customer, you should be able to do this on your own, but it can't hurt to talk to your NetApp sales representative and ask him or her for assistance if needed.

As soon as a slot becomes available (this took about a day, but it may take longer), you can register for the actual lab, where you are instructed to create a new user within AWS, that will be used by the lab to configure your VPC, Virtual Private Gateway and the management EC2 instance. This user only needs limited permission to do the specific tasks. If you don't feel comfortable doing so, you could also create a new, empty account at AWS and use this one. After you entered the details for this AWS user, the PoC Lab will configure everything for your:


  • Setup a SVM on the NetApp controller in the co-location in Northern Virginia
  • Setup a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), including all the relevant subnets and routing tables
  • Setup Direct Connect and a Virtual Private Gateway in your AWS account
  • Setup an EC2 instance with the management web interface in your AWS account


Once the setup progress is done, you'll receive an email with a link to a web interface. This allows you to e.g. create, clone, and delete volumes and also to set exports on the SVM, which sits on the NetApp controller in the Direct Connect co-location. You should be aware, that the management web interface runs in your own AWS account and needs to be manually stopped - otherwise you are looking at around $10/day for running this EC2 instance.

The web interface itself is self explanatory (especially if you are familiar with the NetApp terms). Within a few minutes, you should be able to create a volume with an NFS export.


AWS Setup part

After logging in to your AWS account, have a look at the VPC section. You'll notice that there is a new VPC - if you have trouble finding out which one the NetApp POC Lab VPC is, search for the one with the tag:

Network: NPSPOC

Once you identified the correct VPC, you can switch to the EC2 window and create a new instance. Make sure that you create your new instance within the NetApp POC Lab VPC - only this one is logically able to contact the co-location and has all the routing tables set. Also assign a public IP if you want to SSH into that machine. This machine will automatically be able to talk to the NetApp controller. You can find the IP addresses of the Management and Data LIF of the controller in the web interface - per default they are somewhere in the 192.168.x.x range, but as this may be created dynamically it may differ for your particular instance. Nothing to worry about through, as the routing tables in the VPC are already set correctly.


Once you have your EC2 instance running, you can go ahead and mount the NFS share:


mount 192.168.x.x:/test_volume /mnt/test_volume


By now, you should be able to read/write from/to the NFS share and be able to conduct tests that you may want to execute. We'd advise to either use a RHEL or SLES image for testing - the Amazon Linux can't mount NFS shares out of the box, as the nfs-util package is not installed. As a side note, using CIFS and iSCSI works similar. In these two cases, have a look at the management web interface - this is where you'll find the iSCSI target details and other relevant information.



The AWS Direct Connect link between the NetApp controller in the co-location and the AWS region is currently limited to 1 Gbps. Therefore, don't be surprised if data transfer isn't any faster than approx. 120 MB/s - this is not a limit of the NetApp FAS, but rather the limit of the link between the two data centers. Technically, Amazon allows its customers to rent out up to twelve 10 Gbps links (per customer) into their datacenter.



The NetApp Proof of Concept Lab for NetApp Private Storage (NPS) offers a simple and cost-effective way to try out NetApp storage within the cloud. For less than $10, you'll be able to conduct performance tests, test how your workloads would run in the cloud and familiarize yourself with the overall solution. Give it a try!


Also, feel free to let us know what you think about this!