Clustered Storage – Is It for Me?

What a MSB storage customer needs to know about clustered Data ONTAP 8.2


As you probably have heard, NetApp recently launched the newest version of world’s #1 storage operating system - clustered Data ONTAP 8.2, bringing significant storage OS innovations to the industry. As a MSB storage customer, you might be wondering what this all means to you. With this question in mind, I sat down with Quinn Summers, Director of Data ONTAP, and Steve Scully, Sr. Product Manager of Volume FAS Platforms, to talk about the new and exciting release of clustered Data ONTAP.


Ling: What’s new in clustered Data ONTAP 8.2?

Quinn: One of the most important things is that 8.2 enables non-disruptive operation, continuous data access and dynamic load balancing. We now support SnapVault, volume level disk-to-disk backup solution preserving the storage efficiency features over the network, and that allows primary and backup sites have different volumes and retention times. We are also supporting two new types of cluster configurations, 2-node switchless cluster and single-node cluster with 8.2 release. For customers using flash pools, we have good news too. With 8.2, you can use RAID 4 that requires one less parity disk compared with RAID-DP allowing one more SSD for data. We also have new enhancements on storage efficiency technologies, such as reduced overhead of compression using incompressible data detection methods (or IDD), which filters out files already compressed and is beneficial for file-based home directories with mixed files. Another new thing is that we have increased the aggregate size to 120 TB from 60 TB for FAS2200 family which enables larger data drives simplifying management. 8.2 also brings protocol support enhancements such as SMB 3.0. Another brand new capability is Aggregate Relocate (ARL), which allows for non-disruptive head upgrade without a data copy when using external disk shelves.


Ling: What do all these mean for MSB customers?

Quinn: There are huge benefits that come from the non-disruptive operation and ease of scaling.  The single name space that comes with clustered Data ONTAP allows all storage resources to be managed as a single system within the cluster. This greatly simplifies IT resource management and capacity- and performance-balancing. Clustered Data ONTAP also eliminates down time and enables continuous data access during head upgrade, which is key to mission-critical applications and also saves business cost associated with down time. With seamless scaling that clustered Data ONTAP has to offer, you can start with a single-node cluster, and add nodes as your needs grow without costly data migrations or disruptions to your operation. All of these mean huge time and money savings for IT resources, which are usually very limited for MSB customers. All in all, clustered Data ONTAP enables non-disruptive operation, makes storage management simpler, and offers a more powerful growth path.


Ling: If I am a new customer, should I choose clustered Data ONTAP or 7-Mode to start with?

Steve: Clustered Data ONTAP is the best way to go for new customers. They can either start with a single node cluster or two-node switchless cluster so that they can take advantage of non-disruptive operation and seamless scaling without data migration should they need to expand their storage systems in the future. For deployments that require Fiber Channel connectivity, we support a single node cluster where it fits, and suggest 7-Mode for where a high availability configuration is required. Future enhancements in I/O capability will enable the multi-node clustered deployment with fiber channel.


Ling: if I am already using NetApp FAS2200, how can I change to clustered Data ONTAP 8.2?

Quinn: If you are using 8.1 clustered Data ONTAP you can upgrade to 8.2 clustered Data ONTAP following the normal non-disruptive software upgrade that has always been in place for NetApp systems. If, however, you are using 7-mode with earlier ONTAP versions, clustered Data ONTAP 8.2 is the way to go at your next tech refresh. NetApp provides assessment and migration tools to help our customers make the transition to clustered Data ONTAP.


Ling: Is 7-Mode still supported?

Quinn: Yes. We will continue to support 7-Mode for customers.


Ling: Have any FAS2200 customers deployed clustered Data ONTAP? What are they saying about the experience?

Steve: Yes, more and more MSB customers have adopted NetApp’s clustered Data ONTAP although enterprise customers were taking the lead in the beginning. Over 200 FAS2200 controllers have been deployed in storage clusters across different business verticals and geographical areas. Customers were very impressed with the 100% uptime that clustered Data ONTAP provides. One of the leading beverage companies in the US has recently deployed clustered Data ONTAP as they considered NetApp’s solution the best—and perhaps only—way to ensure that their mission-critical application was up 24x7x365 to support safe and efficient business operations.



Hopefully, this answers some of the questions you have in mind about clustered storage.  Start right with the future-proof investment on clustered Data ONTAP, take advantage of the simplified storage management and non-disruptive operation capability, and scale as your needs change with industry’s easiest growth path.


Visit here to find out more about clustered Data ONTAP 8.2 and learn more about FAS2200 products here.