Lab Validation of Clustered Data ONTAP 8.2.1

This lab validation report by industry analyst ESG explores how NetApp clustered Data ONTAP can help organizations create a highly efficient and scalable data storage environment that supports a shared IT infrastructure foundation. ESG Lab combined hands-on testing of Data ONTAP 8.2 performed in 2013 with a detailed audit of what’s new in Data ONTAP 8.2.1 to validate the nondisruptive operations, proven efficiency, and seamless scalability offered by clustered Data ONTAP 8.2.1.



ESG provided an audit of the following capabilities.


Non-disruptive Operations: Scalability, Availability, and Resource Balancing. As storage nodes are added to the system, all physical resources—CPUs, cache memory, network I/O bandwidth, and disk I/O bandwidth—can be easily kept in balance. Clustered Data ONTAP 8.2.1 systems enable users to add or remove storage shelves (over 23 PB in an eight-node cluster, and up to 69 PB in a 24-node cluster); move data between storage controllers and tiers of storage without disrupting users and applications; and dynamically assign, promote, and retire storage, providing continuous access to data while administrators upgrade or replace storage. This enables administrators to increase capacity while balancing workloads, and can reduce or eliminate storage I/O hot spots without the need to remount shares, modify client settings, or stop running applications.

Unified Storage Efficiency. NetApp provides storage efficiency technologies for production and backup data sets that include block-level data deduplication, compression, and thin provisioning. These technologies can be deployed individually and in combination for both SAN and NAS, allowing customers to reduce the capital costs associated with storage. The Automated Workload Analyzer (AWA)available with clustered Data ONTAP 8.2.1 removes complexity and reduces time to deploy Flash Pool using real-time automated learning, computing Flash Pool sizing, and estimating performance gains, increasing both storage and administrator efficiency. Efficiency is also increased with in-place 32-bit to 64-bit aggregate upgrades.

Quality of Service Management. Clustered Data ONTAP quality of service (QoS) enables the definition and isolation of specific workloads. IT organizations can throttle or prevent rogue workloads, and service providers can define specific service level objectives.

Secure Multi-tenancy. Using Storage Virtual Machines (SVMs), clustered Data ONTAP provides secure, protected access to groups of servers and applications, allowing organizations to deliver dedicated administration, IP addresses, exports, storage objects, and namespaces to consumers of IT services.

Integrated Data Protection. NetApp provides on-disk snapshot backups using capacity and resource-efficient Snapshot technology. Customers can reduce recovery time objectives (RTOs) and improve recovery point objectives (RPOs) across all of the storage in their environment. SnapVault, provides block-level disk-to-disk backup. Backup targets can be within a cluster, across multiple clusters, or span multiple data centers, delivering fast, streamlined remote backup and recovery.

FlexClone. Using FlexClone provisioning, built on Data ONTAP Snapshot technology, customers can instantly create clones of production data sets and VMs in order to meet the requests of a dynamic infrastructure without requiring additional storage capacity. Clones can speed test and development, provide instant provisioning for virtual desktop and server environments, and increase storage utilization. This capability is integrated with a number of offerings from NetApp partners including Microsoft, VMware, Citrix, and SAP.

Unified Management. NetApp OnCommand data management software offers effective, cost-efficient management of shared scale-out storage infrastructure to help organizations optimize utilization, meet SLAs, minimize risk, and boost performance. By offering a single system image across multiple storage nodes in a Data ONTAP cluster, NetApp enables organizations to automate, virtualize, and manage service delivery and SLAs through policy-based provisioning and protection.


Additional Capabilities Added/Enhanced in Data ONTAP 8.2.1

NetApp OnCommand Workflow Automation (WFA). Automates common administrative tasks to standardize processes and adhere to best practices. It allows the design of highly customized workflows without the need for scripting expertise. Also, it acts as a point of integration for 3rd party tools such as orchestrators.

Antivirus. Data ONTAP 8.2.1 utilizes in-memory cache for efficiency and performance, integration with multi-vendor antivirus solutions provides highly available antivirus protection for SMB shares.

Data ONTAP Edge. Administrators can deploy virtualized data ONTAP 8.2.1 to extend the environment from the core of the business to the edge, providing centralized management and administration as well as backup and disaster recovery for remote office/branch office (ROBO) environments.

Multivendor Virtualization. Data ONTAP 8.2.1 fully supports NetApp FlexArray Virtualization Software with FAS8000 series systems to virtualize storage and incorporate capacity into a Data ONTAP 8.2.1 cluster via license key activation.


SMB/CIFS Capabilities Added/Enhanced in Data ONTAP 8.2.1

LDAP over SSL. Enables secure, encrypted authentication between clustered Data ONTAP and Microsoft Active Directory or OpenLDAP servers. This minimizes vulnerabilities where network monitoring devices or software are used to view users’ credentials.

Active Directory without CIFS. For Microsoft apps attached to clustered Data ONTAP over a SAN that connect to Active Directory and VMware over NFS, organizations can utilize Active Directory for security and management. This enables IT to comply with corporate standards on Active Directory integration. The ability to search across multiple domains for user mappings allows large, complex environments to maintain their existing cross-protocol workflows. Users with identities in both UNIX and Active Directory domains can map across domains in multiprotocol deployments.

Microsoft SQL Server with SMB 3.0. NetApp Data ONTAP 8.2.1 clusters can provide users with uninterrupted access to SQL Server instances over SMB 3.0. Microsoft Hyper-V with SMB 3.0 is also supported for uninterrupted share access for virtualized applications and servers.


In summary, ESG recommends a serious look at the benefits that can be realized from virtualizing storage environments with NetApp clustered Data ONTAP 8.2.1.Through hands-on testing, ESG Lab has confirmed that NetApp can bring a flexible and efficient service-oriented model to heterogeneous storage environments while reducing complexity and delivering a robust infrastructure foundation for shared, on-demand IT services.


Mike McNamara