Dec 19

NFS, VAAI, NetApp and vCloud Director 5.1

VMware API for Array Integration (otherwise known as VAAI) makes like easier by making processes more efficient in vCloud Director.  I’m not going to go through all of the functionality found in VAAI.  For a look at that see Cormac Hogan’s Blog.  He does an awesome job of detailing VAAI.  So, with that said I’d like to take a moment to go over some of the VAAI components applicable to NFS and NetApp and detail how they translate to vCD and what advantages are gained by using it.

To get VAAI working for NFS a plugin is required.  Information on installing and downloading the plug-in is found in Installing the NetApp NFS Plug-in 1.0 for VMware VAAI. Read through this and follow the setup steps.

Now lets look at a primary advantage inherent in using VAAI with NFS in vCloud Director 5.1:  copy offload and specifically Fast File Clone VAAI primitive. In vCloud Director a “linked clone” like functionality called fast provisioning exists.  Its designed for rapid, space efficient provisioning.  Copy offload makes like much easier in that by checking fast provisioning in the Organization context layer of vCloud Director it offloads the cloning to the storage controller and uses FlexClones instead of fast provisioning.

This brings about all sorts of efficiencies.  Partial writes that can occur with standard fast provisioning become a thing of the past.  Deploying, cloning, snapshotting, and storage VMotioning become about ten times faster. This specific efficiency occurs because it leverages the storage array’s ability to mass copy, snapshot, and move blocks via SCSI commands.  All of this together makes life easier in vCloud Director.  Pretty cool, eh?

One other really cool aspect from VAAI Copy Offload is the ability to offload the vApp Snapshot found in vCloud Director 5.1.  Instead of using a vSphere Snapshot, this functionality is offloaded to the NetApp controller and a NetApp Snapshot is taken.  There are immediate advantages to this offload.  First, the NetApp Snapshot is extremely space efficient.  The NetApp Snapshot is faster as well.  Finally, this SnapShot is treated just like a standard NetApp Snapshot and integrates with NetApp SnapMirror and SnapVault.  Essentially, it behaves and is treated like (and is) a NetApp Snapshot but vCloud Director thinks of it as one of its own Snapshots.  Pretty clever if I do say so myself!

NetApp was nice enough to publish KB article detailing how this works.  Coincidentally, I wrote that one as well.



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  1. George

    Hi Jack, do you know if there are any important changes on vCloud Director 5.5 as far as the NetApp/NFS/VAAI integrations are concerned?

    1. McCloud

      There is little work being done with vCloud Director at this point in terms of integration. Most efforts are now focused on the vRealize Automation Suite and the complimentary components associated with that.

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