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Virtual Appliance 9.6: A Fast and Smooth Ride!

Karl Konnerth

If you’ve ever taken a ride on high-speed rail around the world, you know it’s smooth, fast and comfortable. These systems use continuously welded rails and advanced rolling stock to deliver a better travel experience.

As we turned to the next generation of VMware vSphere client software, we used this opportunity to smooth the rails and increase performance. The NetApp® virtual appliance for Virtual Storage Console (VSC), VASA Provider, and Storage Replication Adapter (SRA) is used with ONTAP® storage systems, and has long been based on VMware’s Flash-based vSphere Web Client. The new vSphere Client is HTML5-based and uses VMware’s Clarity theme. NetApp developed UI models and conducted extensive usability tests to polish the experience.

These three tools make it easy to use ONTAP storage with vSphere, and follow NetApp recommended practices.  The VSC plugin for vCenter checks ESXi host settings and has a simple wizard for provisioning datastores (whether SAN, NAS or VVols).  It also offers dashboards and reports to manage VM performance on flash and hybrid storage.  The VASA Provider provides VVol support, and the SRA plugin works with VMware Site Recovery Manager for DR protection.

On the usability front, we’ve added capabilities for new as well as experienced ONTAP customers.  If you are new to the VSC, the Getting Started page makes it easy to discover your ONTAP storage systems, and quickly begin provisioning.

We’ve improved our industry leading ESXi Host Settings wizard to show you exactly what will be changed on your hosts. It’s a lot easier than reading a 70-page Best Practices Guide and updating these manually!  Once updated, they are checked on a regular basis to ensure you continue with NetApp best practices.

A new dashboard design for traditional and VVol datastores now shows storage savings across both SAN and NAS as well as storage capacity and performance data.

Because VVols are individual files and LUNs in ONTAP, we can collect detailed performance data for each VM such as latency, throughput, and IOPS, as well as logical space usage.  The 9.6 release adds detailed reports showing this data for every VVol datastore and VM, and this can be downloaded as a CSV file for analysis.

And speaking of performance, this release adds throughput floors (QoS Minimums) to guarantee performance for your critical VMs and datastores. Use specific minimums and/or maximums, or one of our pre-defined service levels to ensure your applications get the storage performance they need.

There are over 50,000 joint VMware/NetApp® customers ranging from smaller companies to extremely large global enterprises. Some of these large customers use hundreds of ONTAP systems and ESXi hosts in their data centers around the world. We’ve worked with a number of customers to improve performance for these large-scale environments and have optimized the 9.6 appliance to support them. Plus, the HTML5 client itself is fast and responsive, giving you more of that high-speed rail experience!

One other request from our larger customers has been the ability to automate their operations, so this release adds REST APIs to manage the appliance, provision VVol datastores, get reports and storage system information, and more.

While this HTML5 client release requires vCenter 6.5U2 and later for the proper client support, we’ve qualified it with all ONTAP releases that have full NetApp support at this time: 9.1, 9.3, 9.4, 9.5 and 9.6. It also supports vCenter through 6.7U2.  We are working to certify it with the latest SRM as well.

It’s compatible with the latest SnapCenter Plug-in for VMware vSphere (SCV) release 4.2, which is now packaged as an easy-to-deploy OVA appliance that doesn’t depend on Windows-based SnapCenter Server.  If you are still using earlier versions of VSC (6.X) for backup, now’s the time to make your move to SnapCenter together with the 9.6 virtual appliance.  SnapCenter offers greater backup and recovery capabilities for vSphere than VSC ever did.

If you’ll be in San Francisco for VMworld 2019 (August 25-29) please join us at booth 327 to check out the new virtual appliance, SnapCenter, and many other new NetApp products for vSphere!  I would love to meet you in person.

Karl Konnerth

Karl works for NetApp as a Product & Partner Engineer in the ONTAP Group. Prior to that, he spent 8 years supporting NetApp customers around the world. And before NetApp, Karl had a lengthy career in corporate IT groups such as applications, architecture and operations.

View all Posts by Karl Konnerth

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