What you might miss about NetApp from Aug-Nov 2019, including Insight in Las Vegas? Part 3

NetApp & Rubrik

NetApp & Rubrik announced collaboration. First StorageGRID can be a target for Rubrik archives. And second Rubrik now supports NetApp SnapDiff API. SnapDiff API is a technology in ONTAP which compares two snaps and gives a list of files changed so Rubrik can copy only changed files. While Rubrik is not the first in working with NetApp SnapDiff APIs, others like Catalogic, Commvault, IBM (TSM) and Veritas (NetBackup) can work with it as well, but Rubrik is the first one with backing up data to a public cloud. Will be available in Rubrik Cloud Data Management (CDM) v5.2 in 2020.

NetApp & Veeam

Veeam Availability Orchestrator v3 (VAO) provide a new level of NetApp integration for DP:

  • FULL recovery orchestration for NetApp ONTAP Snapshots
  • Automated testing and reports that have become essential to your DR strategies
  • TR-4777: Veeam & StorageGRID

Continue to read

All announcements from Aug-Nov 2019

Am I missing something?

Please let me know in the comments below!

If you spotted an error, please let me know personally 😉

Disclaimer

Opinions & observations are my own, and not official NetApp information. This post contains future looking statements and may contain errors. If you have spotted an error, please let me know.

What you might miss about NetApp from Aug-Nov 2019, including Insight in Las Vegas? Part 2

MAX Data 1.5

  • Support for ONTAP 9.6 GA and later releases
  • Support for FAS storage systems or ONTAP Select systems running ONTAP 9.7 besides AFF storage systems
  • Resizing application memory allocation
  • Support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.7
  • Support for local snapshots on server-only systems
  • Significant performance improvements with more I/o, less latency: 5.4M I/o 4KB READ @ 12.5usec latency

Previously in 1.4

With version 1.4 you can use MAX Data without AFF. Tiering now works between PMEM and your SSD installed in the server.

Some info leaks that HCI will support MAX Data at some point.

Considering new compute node H615C with the Cascade Lake CPUs, which is by the way, required for Optane memory, so it looks like NetApp putting all together to make it happen.

Continue to read

Announcements from Aug-Nov 2019

Am I missing something?

Please let me know in the comments below!

If you spotted an error, please let me know personally 😉

Disclaimer

Opinions & observations are my own, and not official NetApp information. This post contains future looking statements and may contain errors. If you have spotted an error, please let me know.

What you might miss about NetApp from Aug-Nov 2019, including Insight in Las Vegas? Part 1

E-Series

Performance

End-to-End NVMe with EF600 – More I/o (x2 times more than EF570), less latency:

NVMe in EF600

  • 100Gb NVMe/RoCE
  • 100Gb NVMe/InfiniBand
  • 32Gb NVMe/FC

E-Series Performance Analyzer

An automated installation and deployment of Grafana, NetApp E-Series Web Services, and supporting software for performance monitoring of NetApp E-Series Storage Systems. NetApp intend this project to allow you to quickly and simply deploy an instance of our performance analyzer for monitoring your E-Series storage systems. We incorporate various open source components and tools in order to do so. While they primarily intend it to serve as a reference implementation for using Grafana to visualize the performance of your E-Series systems, I also can be customizable and extensible based on your individual needs.

https://github.com/NetApp/eseries-perf-analyzer

New TR docs about EF & DB

Continue to read

announcements from Aug-Nov 2019

Am I missing something?

Please let me know in the comments below!

If you spotted an error, please let me know personally 😉

Disclaimer

Opinions & observations are my own, and not official NetApp information. This post contains future looking statements and may contain errors. If you have spotted an error, please let me know.

What you might miss about NetApp from Aug-Nov 2019, including Insight in Las Vegas? Content

Some competitors might say NetApp do not innovate anymore. Well, read this article and answer yourself whether it is true, or it is just yet another shameless marketing.

Part 1

E-Series

Performance

NVMe in EF600

E-Series Performance Analyzer

New TR docs about EF & DB

Part 2

MAX Data 1.5

Previously in 1.4

Part 3

NetApp & Rubrik

NetApp & Veeam

Part 4

Active IQ 2.0

Active IQ Unified Manager 9.7

Part 5

AFF & FAS

AFF & NVMe

ONTAP AI with containers

ASA

ONTAP

ONTAP Select

ONTAP SDS is in embedded non-X86 systems for edge devices

FlexGroup

SnapMirror Sync (SM-S)

NDAS

SnapCenter 4.2

New with VMware & VVOLs:

Virtual Storage Console (VSC)

FlexCache

MCC

MetroCluster IP

MCC-FC

ONTAP Mediator instead of tie breaker

Part 6

StorageGRID v11.3

Part 7

Keystone

Complete Digital Advisors as part of Support Edge:

Part 8

Lab on demand

Lab on demand for Customers

There are more labs for current NetApp customers

Part 9

NAbox

Harvest 1.6

Part 10

SaaS Backup

SaaS backup for Salesforce

Cloud Volumes

Cloud Volumes On-Premises

Cloud Compliance

Cloud Insights

Cloud Secure

NetApp Kubernetes Services (NKS)

HCI

Part 11

New Solutions

Part 12

Containers

NetApp Trident

Ansible

Part 13

Technical Support

How to collect logs before open a support ticket

How to measure storage performance

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Primary Array

Will NetApp adopt QLC flash in 2020?

Continue to read

All announcements from Aug-Nov 2019

Am I missing something?

Please let me know in the comments below!

If you spotted an error, please let me know personally 😉

Disclaimer

Opinions & observations are my own, and not official NetApp information. This post contains future looking statements and may contain errors. If you have spotted an error, please let me know.

What is NetApp ASA?

ASA stands for All-flash SAN Array. ASA based on low-end & high-end AFF systems that are using ONTAP.

ONTAP architecture in ASA systems remains the same, with no changes. The only change is in the access to the storage over SAN protocols.

In (non-ASA) Unified ONTAP systems SAN protocols like FC and iSCSI are using ALUA which stands for Asymmetrical Logical Unit Access so, this type of connection called active/active but uses ”active optimized” and ”active non-optimized” paths. NVMe ANA works similar to ALUA for SCSI-Based protocols. Both with ANA & ALUA in case of one storage controller failure, the host waits for a timeout, before the host switches to the active non-optimized path. Which works perfectly fine. See more in the section ”Share-nothing architecture”, and “Network access” in a series of articles ”How ONTAP Cluster works”.

But there are some customers who were:

  1. Used to the idea of symmetric active/active connectivity
  2. Looking for a product that will provide fewer notifications to the host at the event of a path loss

NetApp listened to its customers, evaluated both requests and provided ASA products that give the solution they have been looking for.

Video with Skip Shapiro about ASA:

Zoning for cluster storage in pictures

NetApp AFF & FAS storage systems can combine into a cluster up to 12 nodes (6 HA pairs) for SAN protocols. Let’s take a look on zoning and connections on an example with 4 nodes (2 HA pairs) in the image below.

For simplicity we will discuss connection of a single host to the storage cluster. In this example we connect each node to each server. Each storage node connected with double links for reliability reasons.

It is easy to notice only two paths going to be Preferred in this example (solid yellow arrows).

Since NetApp FAS/AFF systems implement “share nothing” architecture we have disk drives assigned to a node, then disks on a node  grouped into a RAID group, then one or a few RAID groups combined into a plex, usually one plex form an aggregate (in some cases two plexes form an aggregate, in this case both plexes must have identical RAID configuration, think of it as an analogy to RAID 1). On aggregates you have FlexVol volumes. Each FlexVol volume is a separate WAFL file system and can serve for NAS files (SMB/NFS) or SAN LUNs (iSCSI, FC, FCoE) or Namespaces (NVMeoF). A FlexVol can have multiple Qtrees and each Qtree can store an LUN or files. Read more in series of articles How ONTAP Memory works.

Each drive belongs to & served by a node. A RAID group belongs to and served by a node. All objects on top of those are belong to and are served by a single node, including Aggregates, FlexVols, Qtrees, LUNs & Namespaces.

At a given time a disk can belong to a single node and in case of a node failure, HA partner takes over disks, aggregates, and all the objects on top of that. Note that a “disk” in ONTAP can be entire physical disk as well as a partition on a disk. Read more about disks and ADP (disk partitioning) here.

Though an LUN or Namespace belong to a single node, it is possible to access them through the HA partner or even from other nodes. The most optimal path is always through a node which owns the LUN or Namespace. If a node has more than one port, all ports to that node are considered as optimal paths (also known as Non-Primary paths) through that node. Normally it is a good idea to have more optimal paths to a LUN.

ALUA & ANA

ALUA (Asymmetric Logic Unit Access) is a protocol which help hosts to access LUNs through optimal paths, it also allows to automatically change paths to a LUN if it moved to another controller. ALUA is used in both FCP and iSCSI protocols. Similarly to ALUA, ANA ( Asymmetric Namespace Access) is a protocol for NVMe over Fabrics protocols like FC-NVMe, iNVMe, etc.

Host can use one or a few paths to an LUN and that is depended on the host multipathing configuration and Portset configuration on the ONTAP cluster.

Since an LUN belong to a single storage node and ONTAP provide online migration capabilities between nodes, your network configuration must provide access to the LUN from all the nodes, just in case. Read more in series of articles How ONTAP cluster works.

According to NetApp best practices, zoning is quite simple:

  • Create one zone for each initiator (host) port on each fabric
  • Each zone must have one initiator port and all the target (storage node) ports.

Keeping one initiator per zone reduces “cross talks” between initiators to 0.

Example for Fabric A, Zone for “Host_1-A-Port_A”:

NodePortWWPN
Host 1Port APort A
ONTAP Node1Port ALIF1-A (NAA-2)
ONTAP Node2Port A LIF2-A (NAA-2)
ONTAP Node3Port A LIF3-A (NAA-2)
ONTAP Node4Port A LIF4-A (NAA-2)

Example for Fabric B, Zone for “Host_1-B-Port_B”:

NodePortWWPN
Host 1Port BPort B
ONTAP Node1Port BLIF1-B (NAA-2)
ONTAP Node2Port B LIF2-B (NAA-2)
ONTAP Node3Port BLIF3-B (NAA-2)
ONTAP Node4Port BLIF4-B (NAA-2)

Here is how zoning from tables above it looks like:

Vserver or SVM

An SVM in ONATP cluster lives on all the nodes in the cluster. Each SVM separated one from another and used for creating a multi-tenant environment. Each SVM can be managed by a separate group of people or companies and one will not interfere with another. In fact they will not know about other existence at all, each SVM is like a separate physical storage system box. Read more about SVM, Multi-Tenancy and Non-Disruptive Operations here.

Logical Interface (LIF)

Each SVM has its own WWNN in case of FCP, own IQN in case of iSCSI or Namespace in case of NVMeoF. Each SVM can share a physical storage node port. Each SVM assigns its own range of network addresses (WWPN, IP, or Namespace ID) to a physical port and normally each SVM assigns one network address to one physical port. Therefore one physical port might have a few WWPN network addresses on a single physical storage node port each assigned to a different SVM, if a few SVM exists. NPIV is a crucial functionality which must be enabled on a FC switch for ONTAP cluster with FC protocol to function properly.

Unlike ordinary virtual machines (i.e. ESXi or KVM), each SVM “exists” on all the nodes in the cluster, not just on a single node, the picture below shows two SVMs on a single node just for simplification.

Make sure that each node has at least one LIF, in this case host multipathing will be able to find an optimal path and always access an LUN through optimal route even if a LUN will migrate to another node. Each port has its own assigned “physical address” which you cannot change and network addresses. Here is an example of network & physical addresses looks like in case of iSCSI protocol. Read more about SAN LIFs here and about SAN protocols like FC, iSCSI, NVMeoF here.

Zoning recommendations

For ONTAP 9, 8 & 7 NetApp recommends having a single initiator and multiple targets.

For example in case of FCP, each physical port has its own physical WWPN (WWPN 3 in the image above) which should not be used at all, but rather WWPN addresses assigned to an LIF (WWPN 1 & 2 in the image above) must be used for zoning and host connections. Physical addresses looks like 50:0A:09:8X:XX:XX:XX:XX, this type of addresses numbered according to NAA-3 (IEEE Network Address Authority 3), assigned to a physical port, and should not be used at all. Example: 50:0A:09:82:86:57:D5:58. You can see addresses numbered according to NAA-3 listed on network switches, but they should not be used.

When you create zones on a Fabric, you should use 2X:XX:00:A0:98:XX:XX:XX, this type of addresses numbered according to NAA-2 (IEEE Network Address Authority 2) and assigned to your LIFs. Thanks to NPIV technology, the physical N_Port can register additional WWPNs which means your switch must be enabled in NPV mode in order ONTAP to serve data over FCP protocol to your servers. Example 20:00:00:A0:98:03:A4:6E

  • Block 00:A0:98 is the original OUI block for ONTAP
  • Block D0:39:EA is the newly added OUI block for ONTAP
  • Block 00:A0:B8 is used on NetApp E-Series hardware
  • Block 00:80:E5 is reserved for future use.

Read more

Disclaimer

Please note in this article I described my own understanding of the internal organization of ONTAP systems. Therefore, this information might be either outdated, or I simply might be wrong in some aspects and details. I will greatly appreciate any of your contribution to make this article better, please leave any of your ideas and suggestions about this topic in the comments below.

All product names, logos, and brands are property of their respective owners. All company, product and service names used in this website are for identification purposes only.

Why use NetApp snapshots even when you do not have Premium bundle software?

If you are extremely lazy and do not want to read any farther, the answer is “use snapshots to improve RPO and use ndmpcopy to restore files, LUNs and SnapCreator for app-consistent snapshots.

Premium bundle includes a good deal of software besides Base software in each ONTAP system, like:

  • SnapCenter
  • SnapRestore
  • FlexClone
  • And others.

So, without Premium bundle, with only Basic software we have two issues:

  • You can create snapshots, but without SnapRestore or FlexClone you cannot restore them quickly
  • And without SnapCenter you cannot make application consistent snapshot.

And some people asking, “Do I need to use NetApp snapshots in such circumstances?”

And my answer is: Yes, you can, and you should use ONTAP snapshots.

Here is the explanation of why and how:

Snapshots without SnapRestore

Why use NetApp storage hardware snapshots? Because they have no performance penalty and also no such a thing as snapshot consolidation which causes a performance impact. NetApp snapshots work pretty well and they also have other advantages. Even though it is not that fast as with SnapRestore or FlexClone to restore your data captured in snapshots, you can create snaps very fast. And most times, you need to restore something very seldom, so fast creation of snapshots with slow restoration will give you better RPO compare to a full backup. Of course, I have to admit that you improved RPO only for cases when your data were logically corrupted, and no physical damage was done to the storage because if your storage physically damaged, snapshots will not help. With ONTAP you can have up to 1023 snapshots per volume, and you can create them as fast as you need with no performance degradation whatsoever, which is pretty awesome.

Snapshots with NAS 

If we are speaking about NAS environment without SnapRestore license, you always can go to the .snapshot folder and copy any previous version of a file you need to restore. Also, you can use the ndmpcopy command to perform file, folder or even volume restoration inside storage without involving a host.

Snapshots with SAN 

If we are speaking about SAN environment without SnapRestore license, you do not have such ability as copying a file on your LUN and restore it. There are two stages in case you need to restore something on a LUN:

  1. You copy entire LUN from a snapshot
  2. And then you can either:
    • Restore entire LUN on the place of the last active version of your LUN
    • Or you can copy data from copied LUN to the active LUN.

To do that, you can use either ndmpcopy or lun copy commands to perform the first stage. And if you want to restore only some files from an old version of the LUN from a snapshot, you need to map that copy to a host and copy required data back to active LUN.

Application consistent storage snapshots 

Why do you need application consistency in the first place? Sometimes, in an environment like the NAS file share with doc files, etc., you do not need that at all. But if you are using applications like Oracle DB, MS SQL or VMWare you’d better have application consistency. Imagine you have a Windows machine and you are pulling hard drive while Windows is running, let’s forget for a moment that your Windows will stop working, this is not the point here, and let’s focus on data protection side of that. The same happens when you are creating a storage snapshot, data captured in that snapshot will be similarly not complete. Will the pulled off hard drive be a proper copy of your data? Kind of, right? Because some of the data will be lost in host memory and your FS probably will not be consistent, and even though you’ll be able to restore logged file system, your application data will be damaged in a way it hard to restore, because against of the data lost from host memory. Similarly, snapshots will contain probably damaged FS, if you try to restore from such a copy, your Windows might not start, or it might start after FS recheck, but your applications especially Data Bases definitely will not like such a backup. Why? Because most probably you’ll get your File System corrupted because applications and OS which were running on your machine didn’t have a chance to destage data from memory to your hard drive. So, you need someone who will prepare your OS & applications to create a backup. As you may know, application consistent storage hardware snapshots can be created by backup software like Veeam, Commvault, and many others, or you even can trigger a storage snapshot creation yourself with relatively simple Ansible or PowerShell script. Also, you can do application-consistent snapshots with free NetApp SnapCreator software framework, unlike SnapCenter, it does not have a simplistic and straight-forward application GUI wizards which help to walk you through with the process of integration with your app. Most times, you have to write a simple script for your application to benefit online & application-consistent snapshots, another downside that SnapCreator is not officially supported software. But at the end of the day, it is relatively easy setup, and it will definitely pay you off once you finish setting up.

List of other software features available in Basic software

This Basic ONTAP functionality also might be useful: 

  • Horizontal scaling, nod-disruptive operations such as online volume & LUN migration, non-disruptive upgrade with adding new nodes to the cluster
  • API automation
  • FPolicy file screening
  • Create snapshots to improve RPO
  • Storage efficiencies: Deduplication, Compression, Compaction
  • By default ONTAP deduplicate data across active file system and all the snapshots on the volume. Savings from the snapshot data sharing is a magnitude of number of snapshots: the more snapshots you have, the more savings you’ll have
  • Storage Multi-Tenancy
  • QoS Maximum
  • External key manager for Encryption
  • Host-based MAX Data software which works with ONTAP & SAN protocols
  • You can buy FlexArray license to virtualize 3rd party storage systems
  • If you have an All Flash system, then you can purchase additional FabricPool license which is useful especially with snapshots, because it is destaged cold data to cheap storage like AWS S3, Google Cloud, Azure Blob, IBM Cloud, Alibaba Cloud or on-premise StorageGRID system, etc.

Summary

Even Basic software has a reach functionality on your ONTAP system, you definitely should use NetApp snapshots, and set up application integration to make your snapshot application consistent. With hardware NetApp storage snapshots, you can have 1023 snapshots per volume, create them as fast as you need without sacrificing storage performance, so snapshots will increase your RPO. Application consistency with SnapCreator or any other 3rd party backup software will build confidence that all the snapshots can be restorable when needed.

NetApp in containerization era

It’s not really a technical article as I usually do, but rather a short list of topics for one direction NetApp developing a lot recently, called “Containers”. Containerization getting more and more popular nowadays and I noticed NetApp heavily invests efforts in it, so I identified four main directions in that field. Let’s name a few NetApp products using containerization technology:

  1. E-Series with running containers on top of the platform
  2. Containerization of existing NetApp software:
    • ActiveIQ PAS
  3. Trident plugin for ONTAP, SF & E-Series (NAS & SAN):
    • NetApp Trident plug-in for Jenkins
    • Converged Infrastructure:
    • Oracle, PostgreSQL & MongoDB in containers with Trident
    • Integration with Moby Project
    • Integration with Mesosphere Project
  4. Cloud-native services & Software:
    • Cloud Insights
      • Monitor Kubernetes environment
      • NKS visibility in Cloud Insights
    • SaaS Backup for Service Providers
  5. Other

Documents, Howtos, Architectures, News & Best Practices:

Is it a full list of NetApp’s efforts towards containerization?

I bet that is far not complete. Post your thoughts and links with documents, news, howtos, architectures and best practice guides in the comments below to expand this list if I missed something!

New NetApp platform for ONTAP 9.6 (Part 3) AFF C190

NetApp introduced C190 for Small Business, following the new platform A320 with ONTAP 9.6.

C190

This new All-Flash system has:

  • Fixed format, with no ability to connect additional disk shelves:
    • Only 960 SSD drives installed only in the controller chassis
    • Only 4 configs: with 8, 12, 18 or 24 drives
      • Effective capacity respectively: 13, 24, 40 or 55 TB
    • Supports ONTAP 9.6 GA and higher
    • C190 build with the same chassis as A220, so per HA pair you’ll get:
      • 4x 10Gbps SFP cluster ports
      • 8x UTA ports (10 Gbps or FC 16Gbps)
      • There is a model with 10GBASE-T ports instead of UTA & cluster interconnect ports (12 ports total). Obviously BASE-T ports do not support FCP protocol
  • There will be no more “useful capacity”, NetApp will provide only “Effective capacity”:
    • With dedup, compression, compaction and 24 x 960 GB drives the system provide ~50 TiB Effective capacity. 50 TiB is pretty reliable conservative number because it is even less than ~3:1 data reduction
    • Deduplication snapshot sharing functionality introduced in previous ONTAP versions allows gaining even better efficiency
    • And of course FabricPool tiering can help to save much space
  • C190 comes with Flash bundle which adds to Basic software:
    • SnapMirror/SnapVault for replication
    • SnapRestore for fast restoration from snapshots
    • SnapCenter for App integration with storage snapshots
    • FlexClone for thing cloning.

Fixed configuration with built-in drives, I personally think, is an excellent idea in general, taking into account we have such a wide variety of capacity in SSD drives nowadays and even more to come. Is this the future format for all storage systems with flash? Though C190 supports only 960 GB SSD drives, and new Mid-range A320 system, can have more than one disk shelf.

Fixed configuration allows to manufacture & deliver the systems to clients faster and reduce costs. C190 will cost sub $25k with min config according to NetApp.

Also, in my opinion, C190 can more or less cover market place left after the announcement for the end of sale (EOS) of hardware and virtual AltaVault (AVA, and recently know under a new name “Cloud Backup”) appliances thanks to FabricPool tiering. Cloud Backup appliances still available through AWS & Azure market places. Especially now it is the case after FabricPool in ONTAP 9.6 no longer have a hard-coded ratio for how many data system can store in the cloud compare to hot tier & allows wright-through with “All” policy.

Turns out information about storage capacity “consumed” more comfortable in the form of effective capacity. All this useful capacity, garbage collector and other storage overheads, RAIDs and system reserves are too complicated, so hey, why not? I bet idea of showing only effective capacity influenced by vendors like Pure, which have very effective marketing for sure.

Cons

  • MetroCluster over IP is not supported in C190, while Entry-level A220 & FAS2750 systems support MCC-IP with ONTAP 9.6
  • C190 require ONTAP 9.6, and ONTAP 9.6 do not support 7MTT.

Read more

Disclaimer

All product names, logos, and brands are the property of their respective owners. All company, product, and service names used in this website are for identification purposes only. No one is sponsoring this article.

How does the ONTAP cluster work? (Part 4)

This article is part of the series How does the ONTAP cluster work? Also previous series of articles How ONTAP Memory work will be a good addition to this one.

Data protocols

ONTAP is considered as a unified storage system, meaning it supports both block (FC, FCoE, NVMeoF and iSCSI) & file (NFS, pNFS, CIFS/SMB) protocols for its clients. SDS versions of ONTAP (ONTAP Select & Cloud Volumes ONTAP) do not support FC, FCoE or FC-NVMe protocols because of their software-defined nature.

Physical ports, VLANs and ifgroups considered as “ports” in ONTAP. Each port can run multiple LIFs. If a port has at least one VLAN, then LIFs can be created only on VLANs, not anymore on the port itself. If a port part of an ifgroup, LIFs can be created only on top of the ifgroup, not on the port itself anymore. If a port part of ifgroup on top of which created one or a few VLANs, LIFs can be created only on top of those VLANs, not on ifgroup or physical port anymore.
It is very common configuration when two ports are part of an ifgroup and a few VLANs created for protocols. Here are two very popular examples, in this examples storage system configured with:

  • SMB for PC users (MTU 1500)
    • Popular example: User home directories
  • SMB for Windows Servers (MTU 9000)
    • Use case: MS SQL & Hyper-V
  • NFS for VMware & Linux Servers (MTU 9000)
    • Use-case: VMware NFS Datastore
  • iSCSI for VMware, Linux & Windows Servers (MTU 9000)
    • Block-deice for OS boot and some other configs, like Oracle ASM

Example 1 is for customers who want to use all of the Ethernet-based protocols, but have only 2 ports per node. Example 2 is more preferable with dedicated Ethernet ports for iSCSI traffic if a storage node have sufficient number of ports.

Notice Example 1, has two iSCSI VLANs A & B, which are not necessary, I would use two, in order to increase number of connections over ifgrp to increase load-balancing but it is up to storage & network admins. Normally each, iSCSI-A & iSCSI-B would use a separate IP subnet. See ifgroup section for the network load-balancing explanation.

VLANs

VLANs in ONTAP allow to separate two IP networks one from another and often used with NFS, CIFS and iSCSI protocols, though multiple IP addresses allowed on a single port or VLAN. A VLAN can be added on a physical Ethernet port or to an ifgroup.

ifgroup

Interface group is a collection of a few ports (typically with the same speed). Ports from a single ifgroup must be located on a single node. An ifgroup provide network redundancy to ethernet. Each ifgroup perceived and used as a physical port. One of the most notable & used type of ifgroup is Dynamic multimode. Dynamic multimode enables LACP protocol on ports so in case one port in a group dies another will be used fully transparently to upper-level protocols like NFS, SMB and iSCSI. Most notable in LACP is the ability to distribute data across links in attempt to equally load all the links in the ifgroup.

Ports starting with latter “e“, means it is a physical port, then number of PCIe bus (0 means on-board ports), and then another latter starting with “a” which represents index of the port on the PCIe bus. While ifgroup (virtual aggregated) port names starts with “a” (can be any latter), then number, and then another latter, for example a1a, to keep same format as physical ports for naming convention, even though number and the ending latter no longer represents anything in particular (i.e. PCIe bus or port position on the bus), but used only as index to distinguish from other ports.

Unfortunately LACP load distribution is far from perfect: the more hosts in network communicate with an ifgroup, the more probability to equally distribute traffic across network ports. LACP uses a single static formula depending on source and destination information of a network packet, there is no intellectual analysis and decision-making as for example in SAN protocols and there is no feedback from lower Ethernet level to upper-level protocols. Also LACP often used in conjunction of Multi-Chassis Ether Channel (vPC is another commercial name) functionality, to distribute links across a few switches and provide switch redundancy, which require some additional efforts from switch configuration and the switches themselves. While on another hand SAN protocols do not need switches to provide this type of redundancy because it done on protocol upper level. This is the primary reason why SMB and NFS protocols developed their extensions to provide similar functionality: to more intellectually and equally distribute load across links and be aware of network path status.

One day these protocols will fully remove necessity for Ethernet LACP & Multi-Chassis Ether Channel: pNFS, NFS Session Trunking (NFS Multipathing), SMB Multichannel and SMB Continuous Availability. Until then we going to use ifgroups with configurations which do not support those protocols.

NFS

NFS was the first protocol available in ONTAP. The latest versions of ONTAP 9 support NFSv2, NFSv3, NFSv4 (4.0 and 4.1) and pNFS. Starting with 9.5, ONTAP support 4-byte UTF-8 sequences in names for files and directories.
Network switch technically is not required for NFS traffic and direct host connection is possible, but network switch is used in all the configurations to provide additional level of network redundancy and be able easier add new hosts when needed.

SMB

ONTAP supports SMB 2.0 and higher up to SMB 3.1. Starting with ONTAP 9.4 SMB Multichannel, which provides functionality similar to multipathing in SAN protocols, is supported. Starting with ONTAP 8.2 SMB protocol supports Continuous Availability (CA) with SMB 3.0 for Microsoft Hyper-V and SQL Server. SMB is a session-based protocol and by default does not tolerate session brakes, so SMB CA helps to tolerate unexpected session loss, for example in case a network port went down. ONTAP supports SMB encryption, which is also known as sealing. Sped up AES instructions (Intel AES NI) encryption is supported in SMB 3.0 and later. Starting with ONTAP 9.6 FlexGroup volume supports SMB CA and thus support MS SQL & Hyper-V on FlexGroup.
Network switch technically is not required for SMB traffic and direct host connection is possible, but network switch is used in all the configurations to provide additional level of network redundancy and be able easier add new hosts when needed.
Here is the hierarchy visualization & logical representation of NAS protocols in ONTAP cluster and corresponding commands (highlighted in grey):

Each NAS LIF can accept NFS & SMB traffic, but usually engineers tend to separate them on separate LIFs.

FCP

ONTAP on physical appliances supports SCSI-based FCoE as well as FC protocols, depending on HBA port speed. Both FC & FCoE are known under a single umbrella name FCP. An iGroup is a collection of WWPN address from initiator hosts which allowed to access storage LUNs. WWPN address is interface on FC or FCoE port. typically you need to add all the initiator host ports to iGroup to allow multipathing work properly. ONTAP uses N_Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) for FC data and therefore require a FC network switch (typically at least two) which also supports NPIV, direct FC connections from host to storage are not supported.
Here is the hierarchy visualization & logical representation of FCP protocols in ONTAP cluster and corresponding commands (highlighted in grey):

Read more about ONTAP Zoning here.

iSCSI

iSCSI is another SCSI-based protocol encapsulated in IP/Ethernet transport. NetApp also supports Data Center Bridging (DCB) protocol for some models, depending on Ethernet port chips. Network switch technically is not required and direct host connection is possible, but network switch is recommended to be able easier add new hosts when needed.
Network switch technically is not required for iSCSI traffic and direct host connection is possible if number of storage ports allows, though network switch can be used to easier add new hosts when needed. Network switch is recommended to have with iSCSI.
Here is the hierarchy visualization & logical representation of iSCSI protocol in ONTAP cluster and corresponding commands (highlighted in grey):

NVMeoF

NVMe over Fabrics (NVMeoF) refers to the ability to use NVMe protocol over existing network infrastructure like Ethernet (Converged or traditional), TCP, Fiber Channel or InfiniBand for transport (as opposite to run NVMe over PCIe without additional encapsulation). NVMe is SAN block data protocol. In contrast to NVMe (just) where an extra layer of transport is not used and devices connected directly to PCIe bus.

Starting with ONTAP 9.5, NVMe ANA protocol supported which provide, similarly to ALUA, multipathing functionality to NVMe. ANA for NVMe currently supported only with SUSE Enterprise Linux 15, VMware 6.7 and Windows Server 2012/2016. FC-NVMe without ANA supported with SUSE Enterprise Linux 12 SP3 and RedHat Enterprise Linux 7.6.

FC-NVMe

NVMeoF supported only on All-Flash FAS systems and not for Entry level A200 and A220 systems due to the lack of FC 32 Gb ports. Subsystem in NVMe used for the same purpose as iGroups, it allows initiator host NQN addresses which allowed to access a namespace. A namespace in this context is very similar to a LUN in FCP or iSCSI. Do not mix up namespace term in NVMe with a single namespace in ONTAP cluster.
Here is the hierarchy visualization & logical representation of FC-NVMe protocol in ONTAP cluster and corresponding commands (highlighted in grey):

Spirit of this article

This article explains principles, architecture, NetApp’s unique approaches and maybe even spirit of ONTAP clusterization. Each configuration, model and appliance have their nuances, which left out of the scope of this article. I’ve tried to give a general direction of the ideas behind NetApp innovative technologies, while (trying) not putting too many details to the equation to keep it simpler but not to lose important system architecture details. This is a far not complete story about ONTAP; for example, I didn’t mention about 7-Mode Transition Tool (7MTT) required for the transition to Clustered ONTAP to make complex information easier to consume nor didn’t go to WAFL detail explanation. Therefore some things might be a bit different in your case.

Summary

Clustered ONTAP first time was introduced around 2010 in version 8. After almost 10 years of hardening ONTAP (cluster) become mature, highly scalable and flexible solution with not just unique, unprecedented on the market functionalities in a single product but also impressive performance thanks to its WAFL versatility & clusterization capabilities.

Continue to read

How ONTAP Memory work

Zoning for cluster storage in pictures

Disclaimer

Please note in this article I described my own understanding of the internal organization of ONTAP systems. Therefore, this information might be either outdated, or I simply might be wrong in some aspects and details. I will greatly appreciate any of your contribution to make this article better, please leave any of your ideas and suggestions about this topic in the comments below.

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