Monday, December 17, 2012

Why Clustered ONTAP for Virtual Desktops - Ponce de Leon Would Have Loved it!

Hi All,

For those of you that have been NetApp fans for awhile I'm sure you've heard of Clustered ONTAP.  It's had a variety of names, over the years, GX, Cluster-Mode, C-Mode, but essentially what you were seeing is the evolution of a new butt kicking product!

What's one of the hardest things we have to face with technology?  We've all been hit by it, upgrading!  Technology moves so fast that by the time you buy anything, it's already outdated.  Replacing the hardware sucks, but migrating your data sucks worse!  How about patching?  That's an administrator's nightmare!  As painless as vendors try to make patching it almost always requires downtime, and it's inevitable that something doesn't come back up.

With Clustered ONTAP, no longer do you need to halt production to add new hardware, to patch or migrate data!  How is this possible?  Let's take a look at our friend Data ONTAP 7-Mode and vFilers.  So what's a vFiler?  basically, a virtual filer inside of a filer.  And like a hypervisor, you can have multiple vFilers within a single filer.  Take that power and capability increase it and you've got vServers in Clustered ONTAP.  With Clustered ONTAP, everything is dealt with at the vServer layer.  So what?  Remember when we didn't have Flexvols and how cool it was when you got them?  Yeah, it's like that.

In general, vServers can span multiple heads and aggregates and what that gives you is the ability to move stuff on the fly.  Move stuff on the fly you say?  So when I need to do maintenance, I can just migrate volumes to another node and keep production running?  Why yes, yes you can!  You can move volumes, with no downtime, upgrade, replace, service a node and your users will be none the wiser.  In essence, your cluster is now immortal!  Muahahaha!  The cool thing is you can have high end and low end nodes in your cluster for both dev/test and production all in one.

So what's the big deal about virtual desktops and Clustered ONTAP?  All of the coolness I've stated above, PLUS, say you have your desktops separated out by department.  When crunch time hits and users need more power, you can move those users to a faster node!  What if a node crashes?  Migrate the users and their data to another node without them knowing.  Or say you're a service provider and have multiple companies living on your cluster.  You don't want them interacting and vServers can do just that.  Completely different volumes, networking, etc.  Plus, you can give administrative rights of a vServer to each group, while still being the master of the cluster.

Until Next Time

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