NetApp FAS 3050c Fabric Attached Storage

by February 22, 2006 0 comments

The NetApp FAS 3050c or Fabric-Attached Storage system is a versatile storage device that supports simultaneous block and file level serving, and can work in a heterogeneous environment providing shared access to Windows, UNIX, Linux machines. What that means is that it can work in multiple network configurations, like Fibre Channel SAN, IP SAN, NIFS, or CIFS. Typically, storage devices don’t work in so many environments. This makes it suitable for handling storage for a variety of enterprise applications, such as databases, email/messaging, or even disaster recovery solutions.


$240,000 (3 yrs warranty)
Medium to large enterprises

Maximum raw capacity 84 TB, six dual FC disk adapters, maximum 255 snapshots
Flexible volumes, dual parity check, high throughput, multi-RAID levels within aggregate, support for both iSCSI and FCP
Separate licenses for SnapShot management
Network Appliance, Bangalore Tel: 9868438603
RQS# E10 or SMS 131002 to 9811800601

The good thing about the storage system is its modularity. You can take its capacity up to 84 TB, with a choice of either FC or SATA drives. What we received for evaluation was a single 14-disks enclosure having Seagate Cheetah drives; plus there was a dual controller box.

We put the device to its wits by trying out a number of things. We tried creating, managing and deleting volumes; we played around with its GUI, and the
good thing is that its browser interface has been meticulously designed to let you quickly and easily do all your management tasks. We first did a few basic
checks like doing file copy operations on it over the network. Here, we noticed that the copy time duration did not change even when we manually pulled out a
disk while the data was being copied. However, we did notice that if the entire aggregate was on a single RAID level, then it was rebuilt if a disk was plugged
back in after removal. This is a time consuming task. What was good to see was that the copy operation continued even when data was being rebuilt. So with this device, you won’t really have to worry about downtime. Even if a disk fails, your users can continue enjoying the services of your storage infrastructure uninterruptedly.

Then came our stress test. Here, we took up our standard load of 18 P4 machines that were connected over a Gigabit LAN and used them to bombard the device with various types of I/O requests. This was done using the NetBench benchmark with a test mix customized to really stress the device. Though there were only 18 machines, they were configured to simulate the load of 180 machines, with each throwing its own set of requests to the NetApp FAS. We
did this by running multiple engines on each machine, i.e. the last test in the suite had 10 engines running on each off the 18 machines, which totaled to 180 engines. The results we got were fairly interesting, and impressive. The
throughput kept on increasing until we reached up to 90 engines. This is the highest we’ve achieved so far with this benchmark with so many engines. It’s like having 90 machines on a Gigabit LAN performing constant I/O operations on the storage device. So as expected, the device is a good choice for large enterprises with lots of users accessing the storage sub-system simultaneously. Another test we did was to pull out hard drives while NetBench was running. We
noticed that after pulling out 5 disks, the throughput dipped slightly, but regained its original level later.

Advanced Features
The device provides very flexible storage options. The storage can be configured into one or more than one aggregates each of which can have multiple RAID groups. The default RAID option is RAID-4 with single or dual parity. The creation of multiple RAIDs has a direct implication to storage partitioning wherein an Administrator can configure for example a RAID 0 for high performance requirements such as a database server, and say RAID 1 for the network server on the same device. Thus a single device can cater to different storage needs within the enterprise. The volumes can be configured as traditional or flexible. The maximum volume size for the system is 17.6 TB and minimum is 20 MB. With flexible volumes, the storage space can be changed as per storage space demands.
The volumes can also be configured to be larger than the actual physical storage space available. This feature is particularly useful in cost effectiveness as administrators can at later stages add more disks.

The NetApp appliance provided consistently high throughput, even with a lot of client engines nrunning simultaneously

The system has inbuilt NFS (Network File System) and CIFS (Common Internet File System) and also supports FTP. It also provides automatic mappings between Windows and Unix users (if the user names are same). If the user names are different you will have to provide your own mapping. It can also be configured as a part of an existing Windows/Unix domain and provide security options compliant to both types of systems.

The RAID DP (dual parity) is provided for data consistency that can be used to recover data, and perform consistency checks. It uses two disks for storing parity information, which is different from traditional RAID-4
that provides a single disk. In case of disk failure this parity disk comes into play to rebuild the data.

FAS 3050c Key Specs

Disks/Shelf 14
Maximum No of Shelves 24
Maxmum Raw Capacity 84 TB
Maximum No of Disks 336
Maximum FC Loops 8
Maximum Drives /Loop 84
ECC Memory 8 GB
PCI Express 6 Slots
Disk 6 Dual FC
Tape Extensions
(Single/Dual FC, or LVD SCSI) 6

In addition to this you can provide Snapshots of the data by first assigning requisite amount of space for Snapshots and then scheduling them. It also has provisions for manual creation of snapshots as per users discretion. The Snapshots do not impact performance, as there is no Snapshot redirect area. There is also the option for Locking Snapshots. This locking basically freezes
the Snapshots recorded till a user specified time. It can be done using two different software features, SnapLock Enterprise that provides limited editing and SnapLock Compliance, which completely freezes the Snapshots making them non editable. You have to purchase separate licenses for enabling these features though. The software also features SnapMirror for distributing data for disaster recovery, loading to tape, etc. SnapRestore for recovering data from backups,
SnapVault that creates backups for heterogeneous environments and LockVault require separate licenses. The standard software features available are FlexVol that provides flexible volumes feature, automatic RAID manager (integrated), SnapShot that provides the snapshots feature, NIS, DNS, SNMP, LDAP, NDMP and FilerView.

Management options include Telnet, Serial Console and a GUI
based command interface with wizards that can be accessed over a browser. The device is powered by DATA ONTAP 7G Operating System. The system has some significant storage improvements when compared to the NatApp270c that we reviewed earlier. The 3050c series clearly provides more scalability and higher capacity. Another notable difference is that of the extensive expandability options provided in 3050c. The protocols, both Network and FC supported by these two devices and the management options are pretty much the same though.

Bottom Line: The FAS 3050c is a high performance Storage System that can be employed to serve divergent storage needs within an enterprise. It provides robust data recovery features and can be easily scaled. If you want a high throughput system you can go for the Fiber Channel option or else you can deploy it as an IP SAN, which will still provide satisfactory performance for operations that are not as throughput intensive.

Anindya Roy and Anadi Misra

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