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How to determine if NetApp FAS2020 is reliable enough?

Posted on 2007-10-17
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We are considering proposals to virtualize production servers. Dual ESX servers with Vmotion run virtual servers off NetApp FAS2020 (as SAN). I need some advice on how to determine if this NetApp FAS 2020 is reliable enough for my environment.
Summary of NetApp FAS 2020: redundant power supply, fan, RAID-DP disks, single controller. Unit reliability: 99.99%
Q#1. How reliable is NetApp product based on your experience or knowledge?
Q#2. Any standard regarding reliability?
Q#3. I am bit concerned about the risk of single controller. Is 99.99% good enough for small-medium environment?
Q#4. How to interpret such reliability number? Say if the controller fails, the production loss is $100K. With dual controller, the reliability is 99.999%, but the additional cost is $8k. What formula can I use to calculate the potential loss and savings? Can someone help me with this?
Thanks a lot.
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Question by:richtree
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Duncan Meyers earned 1200 total points
ID: 20098184
Q#1. How reliable is NetApp product based on your experience or knowledge?
NetApp systems are enterprise class. They have been rock solid in my experience. Stick to GA WAFL code releases and all will be good.

Q#2. Any standard regarding reliability?
Sorry - I don't undertand the question...

Q#3. I am bit concerned about the risk of single controller. Is 99.99% good enough for small-medium environment?
You'll have to calulate the cost of downtime in your environment. 99.99% represents around 5 minutes downtime per month, however, my experience of NetApp systems is that they're considerably more reliable than that. You'll have to schedule downtime for WAFL code upgrades and things of that nature, but mots hardware faults won't cause an outage.
Q#4. How to interpret such reliability number? Say if the controller fails, the production loss is $100K. With dual controller, the reliability is 99.999%, but the additional cost is $8k
For $8K, I'd get a second head - money well spent. It can also help considerably with performance, but you need more than one shelf of disc to take advantage of that.
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by:richtree
ID: 20101116
How much maintenance is required for the NetApp device according to your experience? I have zero experience on it.
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by:kkrans
kkrans earned 600 total points
ID: 20104947
NetApp pros and cons.

It is a nice platform when used at what they do best NAS. If you start adding protocols such as iSCSI and FC and others it will start to use their processors really hard. Secondly they want you to buy simple and do a later upgrade because that's what they make their money with.

So here is the case. If your system is critical go with the clustered head. It will add some real world performance to the system and eliminate the single point of failure the single head would be for you.

Secondly the ONTap/WAFL filesystem is a disk hog, divide your raw capacity with 2 to get a real world usable capacity for the system.

Third, the 2020 is not very fast and NetApp performance figures are made with most of the needed processes turned off, that makes the perf numbers unusable.

It works well thou!

Good luck!
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by:kkrans
kkrans earned 600 total points
ID: 20104964
EDIT: Cant edit the what I wrote in the previous post, made couple of logical errors ;-) but you see the point I think!

Finally: Good NAS boxes hardly need any maintenance, and this is also the case for NetApp, they just run and run and run...

Cheers!
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by:Duncan Meyers
Duncan Meyers earned 1200 total points
ID: 20105772
Typically, the only things that go wrong on NetApp systems are failed discs. Typically, you'd configure RAID-DP (a RAID 6-like layout) to protect against a double disc failure. The FAS2020 emails a health check to NetApp support every week where any potential problems are flagged. Likewise. It also email NetApp if it has a hardware failure. NetApp support then contacts you and organises replacement of the failed part.
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by:robocat
robocat earned 200 total points
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We've been running Netapp boxes for 4 years now, with zero downtime. Even the single head systems are very reliable.

Clustered systems allow online upgrades of the Ontap OS, something you should also consider if you need to be up 24/24 7/7.
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by:Duncan Meyers
ID: 20135349
Thanks for the points! Glad I could help...
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