A tale of NetApp and Wireshark discovery

–==For those interested, Pluralsight has an excellent video training course called Introduction to Wireshark. I highly recommend Pluralsight as the go-to source for IT video training!==–

I was cleaning up a client’s /etc/rc file yesterday while preparing to move some IP addresses to different interfaces and I noticed they had configured the vMotion network as a VLAN interface on both controllers. This isn’t right because the vMotion network only needs to exist between ESXi hosts – the storage array never touches the traffic. Storage vMotion doesn’t use the vMotion network either.  It uses the storage network, whether IP- or FC-based.
I wanted to see if the interface was being used at all and fortunately, NetApp has a command for that. The ifstat command shows the count of frames received and transmitted on any or all interfaces, total bytes for each, and the number of multicasts or broadcasts. So in this case, it looked something like:

NETAPP-A> ifstat VIF-A-79

-- interface  VIF-A-79  (22 hours, 57 minutes, 50 seconds) --

 Total frames:      150k | Total bytes:     10924k | Multi/broadcast: 21869
 Total frames:     4767k | Total bytes:      7177m | Multi/broadcast:   138
 Queue overflows:     0
 Vlan ID:            79  | Phy Iface:        VIF-A

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Using PowerShell to prevent thinly provisioned NetApp LUNs from going offline – Part I

Happy Day-after Thanksgiving dear readers! I hope everyone is as satisfyingly full on food, friends, and family as I am.  As an early gift to myself, I’m writing a PowerShell script that utilizes NetApp’s PowerShell Toolkit.  The script will help me quickly determine current volume and LUN settings so I can see what LUNs are at risk of going offline due to out of space conditions.  In scripting tradition, I couldn’t find anything online that did exactly what I wanted so I rolled my own!

Here’s what the output looks like. The column names are abbreviated because I expect to have several more columns. The abbreviations are, Volume Thin Provisioning, Fractional Reserve, Snapshots, Volume AutoGrow, Snapshot AutoDelete.

Volume Best Practices script output

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Will Write for Fame and Fortune

I had the good fortune this past summer to be presented the opportunity to write a book.  I had been reviewing VMware-related books for some time already when a publishing company reached out with an offer.  I eagerly accepted and began writing in June.  In less than a month, I was done.  Not because I had finished setting pen to paper, but because my topic, vCenter Server Heartbeat, was put out to pasture…then shot.  VMware put the focus of my road to virtualization glory and stardom on its End-of-Life list and stopped selling vCSHB on July 2nd, 2014.  Soon after, my publishing company killed the book, too.

I was disappointed I wasn’t able to finish.  What I did complete, though, I’d like to share, with the hope that maybe someone out there is looking for an author and likes my work. Actually, you don’t even have to like my work to make an offer. I like the idea of writing a book, but articles work well, too, or even training materials. I would most like to write about NetApp – maybe an introduction or a design, installation, and configuration guide.  They have plenty of products that could be written about and besides vendor documentation, there’s not a lot of info in book form.  I especially like the idea of third-party training videos – I know there are several for EMC, but none for NetApp.  I think it’s time to change that. My other interests include VMware and Cisco UCS.

Chapter 1

View this document on Scribd

Chapter 2 (never finished)

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NetApp Initiator Group Best Practices for VMFS LUNs

I’m often asked by my clients the best way to configure NetApp igroups when connecting to VMware VMFS LUNs, especially after I deploy a new system for them and I’m training them on their use.  I appreciate the question because it means someone’s actually thinking through why something is configured the way it is rather than just throwing something together.

The Problem

So this is what I see a lot of out in the field.  Single igroups are created with multiple initiators from 5multiple hosts.  This can be a problem, though, as I’ll show you.  Functionally, this configuration will work – each host will be able to see each LUN, all things being equal.  The problem arises when you want to either 1. remove a host from the igroup or 2. stop presenting a LUN to only a subset of hosts.
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Reviewing NetApp Shelf Faults

imageWith the arrival of Spring days away, I’m getting the fever to get moving and share some great content.  I’m excited to be putting out some NetApp-related posts that I think people will find useful.  I’ve installed several new NetApp systems for clients recently and these posts should help them start managing, monitoring, and configuring their systems correctly from the start.  Or perhaps you’ve had NetApp in your environment for some time but have had questions about getting insight into your systems or some “best practices.”  These posts should get you started and answer some of those questions.

A coworker recently received an alert from NetApp AutoSupport and he didn’t know what to do with it.  Since the alert itself wasn’t detailed enough to take action, I thought I’d share this for those who also receive these less than ideal alerts.

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Upgrading NetApp Data ONTAP with HFS

I wanted to take a quick moment to document the awesomeness that is a quick and easy upgrade of Data ONTAP 7-mode with HFS. HFS is a lightweight web server that’s run as an executable and lets you quickly and easily transfer your Data ONTAP images from a Windows machine to the FreeBSD-based NetApp operating system. I can’t take credit for finding this gem of the storage admin. That goes to Mike Mills (@MikeasaService) who found this while we were implementing NetApp systems in a war zone. Thanks, Mike! Of course, if you’re a Mac-man (or gal, but that doesn’t really roll of the tongue as nicely) or a Linux dude, you can easily mount the /etc/software directory using NFS in which case you don’t need a web server. But I digress…on to the steps!

Download Data ONTAP image – from the NetApp Support site (support.netapp.com) and follow the prompts and be sure to download the correct version, in this case, 7-mode

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NetApp FAS2240-2 with DS4246 Expansion Disk Shelf Design

I recently had the opportunity to design and implement NetApp’s entry-level storage solution for a client and I’d like to take this chance to share my approach to the design decisions. One reason for posting this is to help others that may be contemplating similar designs. I know there are a lot of talented and experienced engineers out there that may come across this and I encourage you to comment on this design. I look forward to learning from your experiences and at the same time I hope mine can help others. I should note that the hardware purchased was outside the scope of this design as the decision had already been made, hardware ordered and shipped. Also, common sense says that I’ve changed hostnames and IP addresses to protect the innocent.

The hardware specifications include

Feature FAS2240-2
Controller Form Factor Single enclosure HA; 2 controllers in a 2U chassis 
Memory 6 GB per controller 
CPU  Dual Core Intel Xeon C3528 @1.73 GHz, HT enabled
Onboard I/O: 6 Gb SAS  2
Onboard I/O: 1 GbE 4 
Mezzanine I/O: 10 GbE  2

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