mardi 20 novembre 2007

Old spaghettis with a lovely sauce

ok, let's face it, Netapp boxes are ugly: spaghettis, daisy chain connections, 32bits snmp..yuk

but Ontap is really great, no wonder why some companies want to copy it using commodity hardware/OS (check nexenta or opensolaris with Fishworks project)..OnTap is a success and by far.
I really appreciate how easy it is to configure (once you managed to untangle cabling):
  • create a trunk (called vif) of four Gigabit Ethernet links is very easy and it works
  • clustering is straitghforward...and it works
  • GUI interface allows to do 99% of the tasks (ok the interface is ajax or anything dynamic)
  • snapshot, ndmp backup, snapmirror works first time
  • netapp simulator is great as it helps testing configurations

so, although spaghettis are old..the sauce is really good!

mercredi 14 novembre 2007

old spaghettis

did you know that Ontap doesspeak snmpv1 only...i.e in 32bits. so snmp walks are nightmare when dealing with large sizes (above 2GB). Ok it simulates 64bits by sending 2x32bits counters that one has to re-assemble..of course nobody bothers, it's too complicated to modify a monitoring software to do that
also, the spaghettis cabling IS a nightmare: even Netapp engineer had to think hard before we could see all the drives.
last but not least, you cannot swap tray orders: some of them contain the OS, and they must be placed correctly in the scsi chain if you want to boot successfully (especially in a cluster)
these spaghettis are really old
ideally, tray connection should be done as a SAN fabrric topology, not a chain. that eases management and storage expansion (basically ou would not need to break the chain to add a storage tray)

lundi 12 novembre 2007

Cold Pizza

We just received delivery of our new pizzas: made by the pizza market leader EMC.
our pizzas are made of 8 nodes, with linux as basic toppings, and with some special software on it, which nobody understands, and nobody can tell me where it comes from. this pizza has a name: Centera

Does anyone know where Centera comes from? was it built by a clever team of EMC engineers? is it the result of an acquisition?

Well I'll tell you: in fact Centera is the product of a $50Million acquisition of a belgium company called "FilePool NV" the way the name FilePool appears at boot time of a Centera node..acquisition happened in 2001

Have a look at this old document (1999) explaining how FilePool works

Here again an old technology, cleverly marketed, which I believe has made his time. and is still beeing sold

Now during install, one of the node did not work (could not join the centera cluster). So we called EMC for a replacement , here's and excerpt of the conversation:

-EMC: connect the box to the phone line and will troubleshoot
-The Bank: no way, the centera will not be connected to a phone line
-EMC: this is not how it works sir, support must be done remotely over the phone
-The Bank: This box will hold client information, impossible to connect it to the outside world and accessed by an external company. It's against the law
-EMC: well then, troubleshooting can take up to a month to be resolved

imagine that, we spent $200k for 10TB (raw) of data and all we get is several weeks delay for a node replacement....which will not even been done by EMC, but a partner (Unisys).

we get much better service at the pizzeria: if the pizza is cold, we get a replacement within minutes!

mercredi 7 novembre 2007

Do you like Spaghettis?

well if you like bolognaise, try this recipe:

take a NetApp FAS3020c (cluster), with 4 disk trays and cable everything with fibre-channel cables ...power on, don't forget to set the terminator and the tray IDs manually (yep! like in the old days) voilà!

Here's a diagram for appetizer

you end up with more than 16 cables to interconnect the lot and 10 ethernet cables..all this for a mere 4TB of data!

gosh these machines are so old-fashion, I thought the time where we had so many cables+trayIDs where revolved for good..but no, NetApp is really getting old

bon appetit