- Reference: NetApp University - Introduction to NetApp Products
Note: You can't have a flexible volume without an aggregate.
Target Workloads and Use Cases
Enterprise content repositories can be subdivided into workloads with similar access patterns, data protection requirements, protocol requirements, and performance requirements.
Infinite Volume is focused on use cases that can be characterized by input/output (I/O) patterns in which data is written once and seldom changed. However, this data is used for normal business operations, and therefore content must be kept online for fast retrieval, rather than being moved to secondary storage.One example of this type of workload is a video file archive. Libraries of large video files are kept in a repository from which they are periodically retrieved and sent to broadcast sites. These repositories typically grow as large as 5PB.
Another example is enterprise content management storage. This can be used to store large amounts of unstructured content such as documents, graphics, and scanned images. These environments commonly can contain a million or more files.
- Reference: Chucks Blog
In ONTAP 8.1.1 to get meaningfully large file systems, you start with a dedicated hardware/software partition within your 8.1.1 cluster. This partition will support one (and apparently only one) vServer, or visible file system. Between the two constructs exists a new entity: the “infinite volume” – an aggregator of, well, aggregates running on separate nodes.
This “partitioned world” of dedicated hardware, a single vServer and the new infinite volume is the only place where you can start talking about seriously large file systems.
- File services represent the portion of the unstructured data market in which NetApp has traditionally been a leader, including project shares and home directory use cases.
- The enterprise content repository market, by contrast, is less driven by direct end users and more by applications that require large container sizes with an increasing number of files.
- Distributed content repositories take advantage of object protocols to provide a global namespace that spans numerous data centers.
By providing a single large container for unstructured data, e-mail, video, and graphics, Infinite Volume eliminates the need to build data management capabilities into applications with big content requirements. For these environments, Infinite Volume takes advantage of native storage efficiency features, such as deduplication and compression, to keep storage costs low.
Further, since Infinite Volume is built into clustered Data ONTAP, the customer is able to host both Infinite Volume(s) and FlexVol volumes together in a unified scale-out storage solution. This provides the customer with the ability to host a variety of different applications in a multi-tenancy environment, with nondisruptive operations and the ability to use both SAN and NAS in the same storage infrastructure leveraging the same hardware.
Advantages of Infinite Volume
- Reduce the cost of scalability
- Lower the effective cost per GB
- Efficiently ingest, store, and deliver large amounts of data
- Reduce complexity and management overhead
- Simplify and automate storage management operations
- Provide seamless operation and data and service availability
Infinite Volume gives customers a single, large, scalable container to help them manage huge amounts of growth in unstructured data that might be difficult to manage by using several containers. Data is automatically load balanced across the Infinite Volume at ingest. This manageability allows storage administrators to easily monitor the health state and capacity requirements of their storage systems.
Infinite Volumes are configured within a Data ONTAP cluster and do not require dedicated hardware. Infinite Volumes can share the same hardware with FlexVol volumes.
Overview of Infinite Volume
Infinite Volume writes an individual file in its entirety to a single node but distributes the files across several controllers within a cluster.
Figure 1 shows how an Infinite Volume appears as a single large container with billions of files stored in numerous data constituents.
In the first version of Infinite Volume, data access was provided over the NFSv3 protocol. Starting in clustered Data ONTAP 8.2, Infinite Volume added support for NFSv4.1, pNFS, and CIFS. Like a FlexVol volume, Infinite Volume data is protected by using NetApp Snapshot, Raid-DP, and SnapMirror technologies, and NFS or CIFS mounted tape backups.
FlexVol Vs Infinite Vol
The following table summarizes the differences and similarities between FlexVol volumes and Infinite Volumes:
- Reference: Back to Basics: FlexClone
This is exactly the problem that NetApp FlexClone technology was designed to solve. FlexClone was introduced to allow you to make fast, space-efficient copies of flexible volumes (FlexVol volumes) and LUNs. A previous Tech OnTap article describes how one IT team used the NetApp rapid cloning capability built on FlexClone technology (now incorporated as part of the NetApp Virtual Storage Console, or VSC) to deploy a 9,000-seat virtual desktop environment with flexible, fast reprovisioning and using a fraction of the storage that would normally be required. NetApp uses the same approach for server provisioning in its own data centers.
Figure 1 FlexClone technology versus the traditional approach to data copies.
Using FlexClone technology instead of traditional copies offers significant advantages. It is:
- Fast. Traditional copies can take many minutes or hours to make. With FlexClone technology even the largest volumes can be cloned in a matter of seconds.
- Space efficient. A clone uses a small amount of space for metadata, and then only consumes additional space as data is changed or added.
- Reduces costs. FlexClone technology can cut the storage you need for dev/test or virtual environments by 50% or more.
- Improves quality of dev/test. Make as many copies of your full production dataset as you need. If a test corrupts the data, start again in seconds. Developers and test engineers spend less time waiting for access to datasets and more time doing productive work.
- Lets you get more from your DR environment. FlexClone makes it possible to clone and fully test your DR processes, or use your DR environment for dev/test without interfering with ongoing replication. You simply clone your DR copies and do dev/test on the clones.
- Accelerates virtual machine and virtual desktop provisioning. Deploy tens or hundreds of new VMs in minutes with only a small incremental increase in storage.
This chapter of Back to Basics explores how NetApp FlexClone technology is implemented, the most common use cases, best practices for implementing FlexClone, and more.
Other Posts in this Series:
- NetApp From the Ground Up - Part 1
- NetApp From the Ground Up - Part 2
- NetApp From the Ground Up - Part 3
- NetApp From the Ground Up - Part 4
- NetApp From the Ground Up - Part 5
- NetApp From the Ground Up - Part 6
- NetApp From the Ground Up - Part 7
- NetApp From the Ground Up - Part 8
- NetApp From the Ground Up - Part 9
- NetApp From the Ground Up - Part 10
- NetApp From the Ground Up - Part 11
- NetApp From the Ground Up - Part 12
As always, if you have any questions or have a topic that you would like me to discuss, please feel free to post a comment at the bottom of this blog entry, e-mail at email@example.com, or drop me a message on Twitter (@OzNetNerd).
Note: This website is my personal blog. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not those of my employer.