NetApp 2011Sep27 Releases Data ONTAP 8.1 Enhancements to Cluster- and 7-mode functionality

In Data ONTAP 8, Data ONTAP 8.1, NetApp by AdministratorLeave a Comment

NetApp recently announced a new version of their storage software Data ONTAP 8.1 with enhancements to both cluster (Cluster-Mode) and traditional data (7-Mode) storage. They have rolled out Data ONTAP 8.1 to partners, sales and customers as a release candidate that can now be downloaded by any customer worldwide.

Data ONTAP 8.1 enhancements for Cluster-Mode data

Enhanced data mobility

Now Cluster-Mode data can be non-disruptively migrated from one cluster storage system to another.  This is especially useful for technology refresh as an older storage system can now be depleted of data, removed from the cluster and a new storage system inserted to replace it. Another use case is to load balance the IO activity across the clustered storage systems.

The unit of data mobility is a Cluster-Mode volume and all of its attributes are moved along with the data.  That is thin provisioning, deduplication, and data compression are all moved right along with the data from one storage system to another.  As you may recall, compression and deduplication are done only within a volume.  As such, the compression and deduplication dictionaries are also maintained at the volume level.  So when the volume data is moved so is its deduplication/compression dictionary.  In addition, SnapMirror when active for Cluster-Mode volumes is also cognizant of data mobility and where data is moved, all its replication services move right along with it.

Data mobility has some unique benefits for common applications and has been qualified and tested with applications such as VMware, Microsoft Exchange, Sharepoint. SQL server and Hyper-V, Oracle Database, IBM ClearCase and Siemens PLM.  For instance, when using Cluster-Mode volumes with Microsoft Exchange 2010, one can move mailbox database volumes much easier across the cluster than doing this with Exchange facilities alone.

Also, NetApp’s secure, multi-tenancy capability, can now span clustered servers. As such, a service provider can isolate a number of volumes from other client activity and move any of those volumes to other storage systems in the cluster while still preserving isolation and security.

All this is accomplished by synchronously replicating the volume meta-data across all the storage systems in the cluster.   That way all the systems have visibility to all the Cluster-Mode volumes in the cluster.

Scaleable SAN

For block storage, Data ONTAP 8.1 now offers a brand new capability, block protocol access (FC, FCoE, and iSCSI) to a scaleable storage cluster. In this case, LUN volumes can be migrated from one NetApp storage system in the cluster to another without operations intervention.

Cluster characteristics

Cluster interconnect is 10GBE.  File data clusters can span 24 storage systems, SAN data clusters are currently limited to 4 storage systems, but this is all that has been tested at this time and will likely be expanded as needed.

Moreover, clusters can have any type of NetApp storage system currently supporting Data ONTAP 8 which means from entry level FAS2040 to high-end FAS6280, including systems with and without Flash Cache, SSDs, SAS and/or SATA drives.  In addition, Cluster-Mode can also be used for V-Series virtualized external storage providing all the same capabilities to heterogeneous storage pools behind the V-Series controllers.

Other Cluster-Mode enhancements

In addition, antivirus software can be run on the storage nodes.  Also Cluster-Mode now supports NFSv4 and NFSv4.1 including pNFS. Further, Data ONTAP 8.1 provides support for Microsoft’s Server Message Block (SMB) 2.1 for CIFS.

Data ONTAP 8.1 enhancments for 7-Mode data

For 7-Mode data, Data ONTAP 8.1 provides a superset of all prior ONTAP 7-Mode capabilities, which now includes SnapLock®, IPv6 support, DataMotion™ enhancements and support for SAS storage in a MetroCluster™.  The belief is that 7-Mode customers running on old generations of Data ONTAP can now move to the latest version with no restrictions.

Announcement Significance

Cluster-Mode has had a long gestation at NetApp but one can finally see where they are heading with the technology. The new data mobility should appeal to a much larger portion of their customer base than previously.  With prior versions of Cluster-Mode, mainly media and entertainment and HPC/scientific computing were the main users. With this new release many more enterprise customers should be interested.

As for 7-Mode, the time is nigh to move to the latest code base, there doesn’t seem to be any rational reason to linger on old code anymore.  In addition, it’s unclear what if any 7-Mode capabilities are not available to Cluster-Mode data, but whatever the list was it’s getting much smaller with each new release.

[This storage announcement dispatch was originally sent out to our newsletter subscribers in September of 2011.  If you would like to receive this information via email please consider signing up for our free monthly newsletter (see subscription request, above right) or subscribe by email and we will send our current issue along with download instructions for this and other reports.]


Silverton Consulting, Inc. is a Storage, Strategy & System consulting services company, based in the USA offering products and services to the data storage community.

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