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!


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04/20/2012 00:28

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

Reply to  ChewbaccaOnTap
05/14/2012 11:42

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 :-)

04/20/2012 02:20

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,

Reply to  vjoerg
04/20/2012 11:51

vjoerg, 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… Read more »

Dimitris Krekoukias
Reply to  vjoerg
04/23/2012 13:34

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… Read more »

04/20/2012 04:19

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… Read more »

Reply to  nate
04/20/2012 11:53


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!

Fletcher Cocquyt
04/20/2012 15:00

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

05/21/2012 03:02

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

Reply to  Atledale
05/21/2012 09:32

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.

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