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I'm thinking now about buying a NetApp for my vSphere environment (use NetApp NAS features). I'm looking for a solution that will give me at least 6000IOPS, and i need about 15TB of storage. I thought about buying FAS2240-2 with 24 drives (600GB SAS) and an additional DS2246 with 24 drives too (600GB SAS).

My questions are:

  1. will this configuration give me the required performance?
  2. Is there any less-pricey way to achieve the same results?
  3. If i buy FAS2240-2 HA, does it mean i should set each controller to work with different set of disks? one controller with the internal disks, and the other with the external disks? should i treat each controller as a different datastore?
  4. Can i use vSphere SRM with FAS2240 and NFS datastores?
  5. which additional license i need to buy from NetApp?
  6. Each controller has 4GbE ports. My network is 1GbE network (not 10Gb). does NetApp include any NIC Teaming option that will give me 4Gb for each controller?
  7. Regular RAID controller have built-in read/write cache. does NetApp have one too (if i don't buy any flash cache solution)
  8. Is it easy to install and configure? what's the steps of the setup process? i didn't find any manual for this that i can read.

Thanks.

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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted
 1. will this configuration give me the required performance?

JUST. 48 x 600GB 15krpm disks add up to about 9,000-10,000 IOPS...but that's if they were in RAID 0 and the read data was evenly distributed across disks - and without caching. In reality caching will occur but the data won't be evenly distributed and NetApps use RAID-DP (kinda,sorta RAID 6) - plus there are other considerations we'll go into. What I would do is buy what you suggest but also get some spare EMPTY shelves so that you can easily fill them as you need.

 2. Is there any less-pricey way to achieve the same results?

I'm not your man for saving money to be honest but if you speak to your NetApp sales staff they'll help you with their smart caching but it'll need more data from you than you've provided.

 3. If i buy FAS2240-2 HA, does it mean i should set each controller to work with different set of disks? one controller with the internal disks, and the other with the external disks? should i treat each controller as a different datastore?

Yes/No/Maybe - certainly you can split them across heads - SOME disks (usually 4) will be needed for the second head just to boot from even if you don't put any data disks on that head - which will rob you of IOPS of course if you do this. Generally people do split the aggregates across heads but you can get size and performance mismatches this way. The SIMPLEST way is to pop all disks on one head except for the second head OS disks and leave it at that, but you lose performance opportunities that way. Again planning is key here.

 4. Can i use vSphere SRM with FAS2240 and NFS datastores?

Yes, SRM works with FC/FCoE, iSCSI and NFS. By the way we're a BIG VMWare customer and gave up with NFS from NetApps, choosing to use iSCSI insteads - we found it much more performant but that's just us, your use case could be very different.

 5. which additional license i need to buy from NetApp?

NFS is free out of the box and SRM doesn't need any other licences. If you buy a dual-head filer then it usually comes will all the licences needed to enable the HA functionality. By the way I use FAS 2240's in out labs and they're good value boxes.

 6. Each controller has 4GbE ports. My network is 1GbE network (not 10Gb). does NetApp include any NIC Teaming option that will give me 4Gb for each controller?

Yes, but you obviously need to buy 4 x 1Gbps NICs for each head - I've done this myself, not the simplest thing in the world but if you have any experience of doing this on a *nix-based system then you're half-way there, worst comes to worst let me know and I can email you my configs to 'crib' from ok.

 7. Regular RAID controller have built-in read/write cache. does NetApp have one too (if i don't buy any flash cache solution)

Some but not much, but then you need to speak with NetApp about their various options, they'll need to understand your read-profile in detail but can help with that.

 8. Is it easy to install and configure? what's the steps of the setup process? i didn't find any manual for this that i can read.

If you do it from 'bare-metal' without any help and no previous experience then no, it's really not easy - their commands don't follow any *nix-based standards, although they're fairly close to be honest, but are sufficiently different to be a pain. If any of this is even mildly scary to you then pay someone to do this design and implementation work for you - leaving you with the web-based tools.

The steps of the process are;

  1. Configure RLM/BMC
  2. Carve up disks between heads
  3. Create aggregates & base volumes
  4. Install base OS
  5. Configure base OS
  6. Configure NIC - or NIC tree if teaming
  7. Configure IP and supplemental protocols (DNS/NTP etc.)
  8. Create additional aggregates and volumes
  9. Configure protocols
  10. Configure shares
  11. Apply security to shares
  12. Apple management configurations (SNMP etc.)
  13. Test and snag

All the manuals are online, I'd point you there but you need a login to their site, which needs a valid support contract and also they're specific-OS-version specific, if that makes sense.

Anyway, good luck with this - if I'm reading your questions right you need to pay someone to do a good chunk of this.

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Thank you for your detailed answer! –  Shahar May 15 '13 at 18:03
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To be honest, I'd ask NetApp directly. A qualified sales engineer could answer all of your configuration and management questions.

As for IOPs, you should determine whether you need that type of performance over the entire set of data (unlikely) or a smaller, more manageable working-set of data (makes more sense).

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