NetApp DataONTAP 8.1 GA!

It’s been a long-time-coming.  Work on a level that even I cannot comprehend has led to this day:  Cluster-Mode has officially arrived. (Requires NetApp Support account)

I know a lot of you are chomping at the bit for the continuation of the series I started about a month or so ago regarding Cluster-Mode, and… hang tight… it’s coming!   I decided to hold off until the product GA’ed, and you’re going to see a lot of those trickle out over the next few days, but I wanted to jump in and throw out some things and tools you’re going to need to know.

FilerView – ByeBye!  OnCommand Systems Manager is the new kid on the block.  Supported versions available for Windows and Linux.  There is also a Community-Supported ported release for MacOSX.

DS14 disk shelves – ByeBye!  Beginning with Data ONTAP 8.1, DS14mk2 disk shelves with ESH2 storage I/O modules are no longer supported. If even one of these devices is attached to your storage system, do not upgrade to Data ONTAP 8.1 or later until after you replace the devices.

FlashCache & Older platforms – If you have a 3210 or 3140 storage system with Flash Cache modules installed, do not upgrade your system to Data ONTAP 8.1. Flash Cache modules are not supported on 3210 or 3140 storage systems with Data ONTAP 8.1.

Unicode or BUST! – Data ONTAP 8.1 Cluster-Mode and later in the 8.0 release family only support Unicode clients when accessing data using CIFS. Prior to upgrading your cluster to Data ONTAP 8.1 Cluster-Mode or later, ensure that all CIFS clients can access data using Unicode.

And finally…


If you’re a NetApp customer running any of the major platforms, virtualized or not, you’re likely to have read a Technical Report (TR) or two.  Our most popular, still to this day, is TR-3749, vSphere on NetApp Best Practices.  This document was updated to v3.0 in December to include and reflect changes introduced in vSphere 5.0.

I’m happy to report that over the last few months, we have been hard at work on the next large document, vSphere 5 on NetApp Cluster-Mode, and it will be released very soon.  As soon as it is published, I’ll be highlighting some key sections in detail.  Over the coming days/weeks, I’ll also be blogging heavily about Cluster-Mode and vSphere.

What’s this 7-mode vs Cluster-Mode all about?

7-mode is what you’re traditionally used to.  One or two filer heads, typically in an HA pair, hosting shared storage across a unified set of protocols.

Cluster-Mode is the next-generation scale-out, non-disruptive operations, architecture, and is going to change the game of shared storage infrastructures.  More on this in coming posts, or you can check out the first two posts here and here.

More to come very soon, just wanted to quickly get these things out to you to be aware of!


  1. ChewbaccaOnTap

    Great News, Lots of great work being done in 8.1. Cant wait to get this up and running with customers

    1. Guest

      So far it pretty much does what it says on the tin.

      After running GX for several years, we’ve finally got a scale out platform which can do more than basic file serving.

      NFS4.1, dedup, compression, SMBv2, on the fly volume moves. It’s all good :-)

  2. vjoerg

    Don´t want to sound rude but the idea of Netapp Cluster-Mode was THE main motivator for me to decide for Equallogic a few years ago. All the features like hot-move volumes between shelves, live-move whole shelves between pools and live-move luns between pools is all Equallogic elementary stuff from the very beginning, it´s Equallogics DNA. Thus, i am very happy to hear that NetApp finally integrates THE most important feature for me personally.
    Best regards,

    1. that1guynick


      Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading!  I have to disagree with you though.  Cluster-Mode still brings to the table and carries forward all of the NetApp Value-Add that trumps the idea of “linear scale” that Equallogic brings to the table.  We’re scaling out, but not linearly.  That’s been tried in different areas and different technologies for decades and simply does not work

      If you were to compare Equallogic to say, our E-series line, where the controller and disks live in the same shelf, you might have an interesting debate there.  But we’re still going to win with block-level dedupe, flashcache, etc.

      The “idea” and “promise” of linear-scale is a fun one, but it never truly plays out well.  You always have to be able to do both.  And ultimately, it becomes wasteful when your capacity required becomes greater than controller horsepower required.

    2. Dimitris Krekoukias

      Hi Joerg,

      Dimitris from NetApp here.

      Multiple scale-out architectures share similar concepts to solve similar problems. Only to be expected…

      However, there is a huge difference regarding scale.

      Compare, for example, the max disk count of a single 6280 node (1440 disks) vs a single Equallogic node.

      It’s a hugely unfair comparison, and I did it on purpose to highlight that these two solutions are not similar when it comes to scale.

      Nor do you get a “NetApp Lite” if you go Equallogic.

      NetApp is fully unified (single OS for everything, not 3-4 as in other “unified” boxes), can do FC, iSCSI, NFS, CIFS, over pretty much any kind of connection (1GbE, 10GBE, 4GbFC, 8GbFC, 10Gb FCoE).

      Our technology powers the world’s largest datacenters running the word’s biggest payloads.


  3. nate

    From what I see the 3210 was released at the same time as the 6200 series – I don’t understand why the 3210 would be considered old when the rest of the 3200 and 6200 series is not ? Maybe saying it’s old is the polite way of saying the 3210 doesn’t have enough memory to run it or something?

    Can you clarify on the cluster mode how data is distributed? Is a particular volume spread across all cluster members? Can the data of a volume be re-striped as cluster nodes are added?  I looked through your previous two posts and is seems like more of a collection of arrays that can transparently move data(in the form of volumes) back and forth, I assume with at least a global name space.

    Sort of along the same lines – can an aggregate(assuming that concept still exists) span a cluster? Can the de-dupe stuff span the cluster?

    Does 8.1 do away with the “7 mode” altogether ? I mean cluster mode has been available in some form for a while now.

    Does 8.1 cluster mode support V-series ? (your past posts implies it does), my last NetApp (about 1.5 years ago) I noticed cluster mode did not support V-series (and my box was a V-series), or at least the docs said if I recall right the disks needed to be “netapp disks”, not sure why it would of cared.

    How is cache handled? I assume it is at least mirrored as with a traditional HA pair in 7-mode. In cluster mode if a node goes off line either by fault or say software or hardware change does the system go to write through mode or does it mirror the data to another member in the cluster?

    How is access to the cluster load balanced? I was an Exanet customer at one time(I do miss that platform it was a nice cluster) and the way they handled things was primarily a round robin DNS entry for the cluster with each interface having it’s own IP. Each node in the cluster was responsible for a subset of the data, if a request came in for data for a node that did not have ownership of the data it transparently sent the request to the node that did have access across the cluster interconnect. Files were fairly evenly distributed across all cpu cores in the cluster.

    Can the cluster balance itself based on load? I was talking to Compellent recently and was pretty surprised to hear that their live volume software can move volumes between arrays automatically based on I/O load and stuff. Though this functionality is only sort of a stop gap vs a real cluster where all controllers are participating in the I/O for all volumes eliminating the need to have to move data between arrays for this purpose.

    Looking forward to some more technical information!


    1. that1guynick


      First, thanks for the thorough response!  

      Second, since you took the time to write such a big question, you’ve just won your own post.  :)   Rather than hide the responses to these questions down here in the comments, they need to be made to shine brighter in their very own post.

      Hang tight.  I’ll get that up to you today!

  4. Fletcher Cocquyt

    Upgrading the DR cluster to 8.1 right now!
    Will have to start planning cluster mode migration path

  5. Atledale

    regarding ds14mk2 shelves. isn’t it true they can be used with esh4 modules in them?

    1. Guest

      That’s the implication from the release notes: “Beginning with Data ONTAP 8.1, DS14mk2 disk shelves with ESH2 storage I/O modules are no longer supported. If even one of these devices is attached to your storage system, do not upgrade to Data ONTAP 8.1 or later until after you replace the devices”

      Since it says ‘with ESH2’ rather than ‘and ESH2’, it’s the combination that’s not supported so you’d think ESH4 would be OK.

Leave a Comment

Sign Up

New membership are not allowed.