WWT Updates NetApp Demo, Workshop and Proof-of-Concept Environments in the Advanced Technology Center

In our quarterly update on NetApp in the WWT Advanced Technology Center (ATC), we offer insights into additions and upgrades to NetApp demos, sandbox activities and even complex, multi-week proofs of concept.

One thing to note about the ATC is that things move fast. In fact, as we prepared this update, two large financial services customers wrapped up separate flash storage proofs of concept using NetApp resources in the ATC. Lasting six weeks each, the engagements not only helped our customers simulate production environments using the latest in flash technology, but did so in a time frame that was a fraction of the 6-8 months the customers said it would have taken them to execute the proofs of concept themselves.

In this update, we’ll explore NetApp’s Flash portfolio in the ATC, as well as an innovative data protection product called FlexVault, which is based on a validated converged infrastructure that combines software, storage, networking and compute. We will wrap up with a quick look at NetApp’s Clustered Data ONTAP in the ATC, including a snapshot of a case study in which a customer used the ATC to compare database performance.

NetApp Flash Portfolio in the ATC

Recent updates to the NetApp Flash portfolio in the ATC center on the All Flash FAS and EF560 products. Our customers bring some difficult performance problems to the ATC, and part of our job is to help them determine whether to apply dedicated or hybrid flash solutions.

The All Flash FAS, which is powered by the NetApp Data ONTAP operating system, is often our first choice when advanced storage control is needed for high-speed SAN and NAS workloads. Customers focused on enabling VDI power users or ensuring consistent low-latency performance of database applications are going to be candidates for the All-Flash FAS option.

Another consideration for organizations exploring Flash choices in the ATC is that fact that All Flash FAS configurations can be deployed as nodes in clusters with hybrid and/or traditional spinning disk FAS systems, giving customers the flexibility to transparently adjust where an application lives, whether they are using all-flash, hybrid flash or traditional disk storage, based on the company’s changing business needs. Non-disruptive operations such as volume, LUN and LIF migrations enable customers to explore on-demand, seamless workload tiering and resiliency.

ATC Capabilities Enable Database Optimization Testing Using NetApp EF560

As the number of database optimization engagements in the ATC grows, the NetApp EF560 All-Flash array has been in high demand. Designed specifically for database-driven environments, the EF560 can be tested using the ATC’s database testing tools. These tools allow customers to perform identical tests against different databases, in a consistent manner with efficient testing cycles. Among the tools WWT uses is Dell’s Benchmark Factory for Databases, which allows for testing against industry standard benchmarks, including AS3AP, Scalable Hardware, TPC-B, TPC-C, TPC-D, TPC-H and TPC-E.

The EF560 is an all-solid-state-drive (SSD) storage system with up to 192TB of raw capacity in a maximum of 120 flash drives, enabling latency-sensitive applications to achieve better results through faster response times. When customers evaluate and test the EF560 product in the ATC they have a choice of 16-Gb Fiber Channel or 10 GbE iSCSI connectivity to a variety of switches that include Brocade, Cisco MDS and Cisco Nexus. The current capacity of the EF560 in the ATC is 6.5TB.

FlexVault Demos Now Live in the ATC

For those less familiar with FlexVault, a quick overview is in order. FlexVault reduces recovery times via high performance compute and storage by combining CommVault Simpana data management software and IntelliSnap® technology with NetApp E-Series storage and Cisco Unified Computing SystemTM (UCS) servers. WWT builds each FlexVault in our Integration Technology Center. The FlexVault offering is exclusive to WWT, providing a single, integrated converged infrastructure with single call support. As a long-standing CommVault partner, NetApp Star Partner and Cisco Gold Certified Partner, WWT has driven efforts to explore, develop and deploy FlexVault, and now the ATC is setup for demos and evaluations.

The ATC’s FlexVault demo was designed to help customers explore a modernized option for cost-effective, enterprise data protection. The demo not only shows how customers can use FlexVault to increase backup success rates to an average of 95 percent while reducing data protection costs as much as 50 percent, but also tackles the following customer challenges:

  • Providing reliable backup copies of data required for compliance reasons
  • Performing recoveries that are fast and reliable, especially from tape
  • Avoiding the high costs and complexity of managing secondary storage or backup data
  • Preventing losses in productivity due to management challenges

The most recent update to the FlexVault demo enables customers to explore automated policy-based D2D2T and D2D2C data movement. This feature improves backup effectiveness and makes it easier to meet audit and regulatory requirements for data backup and retrieval.

NetApp Clustered Data ONTAP

Customers continue to visit the ATC to validate NetApp’s Data ONTAP storage system capabilities “out of the box” (replications, snapshots, and backup and recovery) as well as measure performance as part of customized proofs of concept. We see demand for formal database testing methodologies that allow organizations to measure the impact on traditional file hosting performance when sharing a NAS platform with high transaction rate database applications.

Case Study: Major Financial Institution Evaluates Clustered Data ONTAP for Database Performance

The ATC team continues to address the need for rigorous testing of database performance by creating standardized test plans that allow customers to conduct like-for-like comparisons of different database solutions, such as Oracle, MS SQL and SYBASE. These capabilities proved useful during a recent proof of concept in the ATC in which a major financial institution evaluated Clustered Data ONTAP for database performance using different types of databases with representative production workloads from their environment.

The customer conducted activities such as using Online Transaction Processing workloads to measure performance, with tests ranging from 100 to 1000 concurrent connections with various file-level tests conducted in parallel. Other tests measured the execution speed and impact of native backups, hot backups and cloning activity to determine the impact on production database operations.

NetApp’s Clustered Data ONTAP shined in three primary test categories:

  • Transaction/second performance, average response time and error rates
  • Backup/recovery speed and ease of use
  • Minimal impact on traditional file operations

Get Started in the ATC

The ATC can help your organization reduce risk, complexity and time. Our infrastructure can be custom built according to the exact requirements and parameters of your environments and sandbox environments are designed to address your business challenges in a write-erase state.

Contact your WWT account team to learn more about using industry-standard testing tools and benchmarking platforms in the ATC to evaluate solutions based on real-world features and performance.