A Brief History, Architecture, and Monitoring Overview of NetApp Storage

by Brock Peterson on November 10, 2016

A Brief History

Let’s start from the beginning: what is NetApp and what do they do? NetApp is a storage and data management company located in Sunnyvale, California. They were founded in 1992, secured venture capital funding from Sequoia Capital in 1994, and made their Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 1995. They are ranked second in network storage providers, just behind Dell EMC.

NetApp Storage Architecture

NetApp offers two main storage systems. First is the NetApp filer, also known as NetApp Fabric Attached Storage (FAS). This series operates in the enterprise class Storage Area Network (SAN) environment. It presents storage over the network using file-based protocols like CIFS, FTP, HTTP, and NFS. NetApp FAS devices can also present storage over the network using block-based protocols such as Fibre Channel, Fibre Channel over Ethernet, and iSCSI. The NetApp FAS series of devices use a proprietary operating system called Data ONTAP which was designed and developed specifically for storage. See Figure 1 below for a visual of NetApp FAS.

Figure 1

The NetApp E-Series devices are hybrid storage arrays that deliver top level performance and high uptime for data-centric applications and mixed workloads. While NetApp FAS is designed as shared storage, E-Series is a better fit for applications that require dedicated storage such as SAN-based applications, dedicated backups, and high-density storage. The NetApp E-Series runs its own operating system called SANtricity. See Figure 2 below for a visual of NetApp E-Series.

Figure 2

Monitoring NetApp in vROps

Management Packs are available for both NetApp FAS and NetApp E-Series, giving you visibility into your NetApp storage right in vROps. The NetApp FAS Management Pack opens a connection to the DFM/API Services server and runs a collection query. See Figures 3 below for a visual of the DFM Services connection method of the Blue Medora Management Pack For NetApp FAS.

Figure 3

See Figure 4 below for a visual of the API Services connection method of the Blue Medora Management Pack for NetApp FAS.

Figure 4

The E-Series Management Pack opens a REST API connection to each configured storage array and queries it to capture metrics for NetApp resources.

NetApp FAS Management Pack

The Blue Medora Management Pack for NetApp FAS provides end-to-end visibility, analytics, and capacity planning for NetApp workloads. The Management Pack utilizes the VMware vRealize Operations (vROps) analytics engine to unveil deep insights into NetApp storage capacity and performance issues. Automated analysis exposes early indications of impending performance and capacity issues before they can impact your business.

NetApp FAS Dashboards

With NetApp FAS in vROps you can monitor the performance and capacity of NetApp storage environments that support your VMware Datastores (as well as non-virtualized workloads). Dashboards are provided out-of-the-box and include Storage Topology, Datastores, System Explorer, Virtual Machine Troubleshooting, Overview, QoS, Performance, and VM Performance.

One of the more popular dashboards is the Storage Topology, which is shown here in Figure 5. By selecting a NetApp resource within the Custom Relationship widget on the left, you can quickly view the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and relationships for the selected resource. Select a resource from the Environment Overview widget on the left to populate the remaining widgets. Then select a metric from the metric selector to see it graphed below.

Figure 5

The NetApp Overview dashboard is another popular dashboard. Collections of heat maps are used to provide a single, dynamic view of the performance and capacity for all of your NetApp resources. See Figure 6 below for an example.

Figure 6

Health, Risk, and Efficiency Analysis

The NetApp FAS Management Pack also delivers actionable health, risk, and efficiency analysis. This provides increased visibility into your NetApp storage resources to help detect issues before they are problems. This is illustrated by Figure 6 below.

Figure 7

While Figure 7 shows the health, risk, and efficiency of a single NetApp Aggregate, you can view these badges or all of your NetApp resources in the Environment tab as seen in Figure 8.

Figure 8

For additional information and documentation please visit Blue Medora’s product pages for  NetApp FAS andNetApp E-Series.

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