Storage Virtualization: Yep, NetApp

Just as VMware has been the pioneer for server virtualization, NetApp seems to be the virtualization player to beat in the realm of storage at this moment. Although NetApp’s ONTAP Cluster Mode (C-Mode) is not a new release, it is taking some of the legacy, 7-mode users some time to not only understand, but also implement C-Mode given its complexity compared to 7-mode. But an easy way to think of C-Mode, is to find the similarities with VMware’s vSphere.

Cluster mode breaks apart the physical aspect of the storage into a virtualized setup where several virtual storage environments can be created to segregate the diverse logical configurations. C-Mode can be a great use case for a public cloud service provider where the segregation of storage virtual machines is necessary; but let’s keep in mind, that this kind of segregation can also be heavily utilized within a private environment for many use cases.

Having recently achieved a master’s degree in Cyber-security and Information Assurance (CIA), I learned a few things about securing not only public environments, but also making sure we are internally secure. Your company is only as strong as its weakest link. After all, a great number of the attacks are generated internally by users with lack of knowledge or even malicious users. Through storage virtualization and the segregation of storage virtual machines, we can achieve not only better security but also better management through the use of policies.

NetApp_Stor_Virt

 

This virtualized storage environment allows for a more direct relationship with virtualized server environments such as VMware, where more granular control is needed. In my humble opinion, NetApp C-Mode and VMware vSphere are not that much different from each other. As I was preparing for my NCDA certification for NetApp (C- Mode), I couldn’t help but notice the similarities in their architectures. C-Mode acts as the Hypervisor, or in this case vSphere, and both platforms have virtual machines that act as independent identities. Such identities have their own personalities such as IP addresses, login information, mappings to a physical underlying network, etc.

While VMware uses servers for the physical platform, NetApp C-Mode uses their hardware and data ONTAP software to deliver storage virtualization; that once joined with VMware, become an extremely powerful solution for businesses of all sizes. Clearly, I am drinking the NetApp cool-aid, but I believe their technology in addition to VMware’s products make up for great SMB, and enterprise solutions. The two companies provide even better integrations and solutions through the use of VASA, VAAI, VVols, VSC, etc. More on them soon…

 

NetApp UTA2 Config

NetApp UTA2 ports are likely to be set up as FC ports out of the box. At least that has been my experience. That is perfectly fine if you plan to use those ports as Fiber Channel ports. In the event that you would like to use those ports as 10GbE ports, you will need to change the mode of the ports. This configuration should be done through the CLI.

In order to convert UTA2 or CNA ports to 10GbE, the following steps will need to be done.

  1. Check current configuration
  2. Disable the adapters
  3. Change the mode of the adapters
  4. Enable the adapters
  5. Reboot Cluster node

Check current configuration by using the “ucadmin show” command. This command will show the status, current and pending state, as well as current and pending type of the UTA2 ports.

NetApp_UcadminShow

 

Disabling the adapter depends on the current type of the adapter

IF> type=target THEN> run this… “fcp adapter modify -node <filer_node_name> -adapter 0e -state down

IF> type=initiator THEN> run this… “storage disable adapter <adapter_name>” this is a 7-mode command so you will need to run “system node run -node <node_name> -command <storage command>” or “system node run <node_name> and THEN run the command. So many options…

 

Change the adapter’s mode by using the command “ucadmin modify -node <node_name> -adapter <adapter_name> -mode cna

NetApp_ucadmin_modify

Once you have changed all the adapters’ modes. Enable the adapters and repeat on the other node.

Commands:

fcp adapter modify -node <node_name01> -adapter 0e -state up
fcp adapter modify -node <node_name01> -adapter 0f -state up
fcp adapter modify -node <node_name01> -adapter 0g -state up
fcp adapter modify -node <node_name01> -adapter 0h -state up

 

Reboot one filer at a time during non-production hours, of course. (system node reboot <node_name>)

 

Run “ucadmin show” one more time to verify all looks good.

NetApp_UcadminShow_done