NetApp Private Storage and VMware vCloud Hybrid Services (vCHS)

As a member of the VMware Technical Marketing team at NetApp, I get access to the latest greatest offerings of both NetApp and VMware. One of the technologies that has piqued my interest lately is VMware’s Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering, vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS).

This is first of a series of blog posts dedicated to all things vCHS from a NetApp perspective. As I started to write a post on a technical preview called NetApp Private Storage for vCHS I realized this elephant is easier consumed when served in small portions.

With VMware Partner Exchange 2014 (PEX) just around the corner I think a great place to start is by sharing a sneak peek at one of NetApp’s PEX sessions 3586-SPO, Successfully Deploying NetApp Storage in a VMware Hybrid Cloud Environment presented by Public Cloud Architect, Mark Beaupre (@mark_beaupre) and Sr. Product Manager, Rajib Ghosh.

In this session Mark and Rajib will discuss how NetApp Private Storage and vCloud Hybrid Service enable companies to fully realize the advantages of Hybrid Cloud while allowing them to maintain their intellectual property. They will identify the benefits and popular use cases we have seen in other NPS for public cloud offerings (i.e. Disaster Recovery, application continuity, dev\test, and cloudbursts to name a few). They are also demonstrating VM provisioning that completely automates the storage provisioning or connection to NetApp Private Storage in a vCHS collocated datacenter.

What is NPS for vCHS?

NetApp Private Storage for vCHS allows enterprises to build an agile hybrid cloud infrastructure that balances public and private cloud resources to best meet their business needs. The solution couples dedicated NetApp enterprise storage using vCHS for on-demand performance computing. Organizations can now bi-directionally replicate data from on-premise NetApp private clouds to NetApp storage in a vCHS connected data center to leverage on-demand public cloud computing services while retaining full control and mobility of their enterprise data using standard Data ONTAP storage replication technology. The solution provides the on-demand capacity benefits of a hybrid cloud, with proven enterprise storage providing enhanced data protection at lower cost than traditional approaches and the agility to adjust private and public cloud resources to optimize business outcomes.

The NetApp Cloud Solutions Group and VMware Technical Marketing teams have been actively testing various combinations of NetApp storage and vCHS offerings. Our goal is to provide solutions for leveraging NetApp Private Storage (NPS) for virtual servers hosted by vCHS. This means using NetApp clustered Data ONTAP systems, owned and managed by you, installed at a vCHS direct connection facility to provide storage for your company’s data.

Use Cases

• Disaster Recovery
NPS for vCHS enables disaster recovery leveraging the on-demand, pay-as-you-go, features of the cloud. Your data is replicated from the local NetApp to NetApp Private Storage located at a colocation facility using standard SnapMirror and SnapVault tools across secure VPN tunnels. In the event of a disaster, vCHS servers are created and connected to the NetApp Private Storage providing quick recovery and minimal effort.


• Multi-Cloud Continuity
By replicating your data between your Private Cloud and one or more vCHS regions, you can provide continuity in the event of large scale events.
• Test and Development
Replicate your production data to NPS for vCHS, then leverage vCHS on-demand compute capacity for testing and development. Alternatively, if vCHS is your production environment, replicate to a smaller private cloud to provide local access for developers.
• Burst Capacity
Data replicated to NPS for vCHS is immediately available, using high speed, low latency connections, for when your website or other enterprise application needs additional capacity due to burst workloads. Create on-demand vCHS servers, connected to NetApp Private Storage, to ensure your SLAs continue to be met.

Connecting NPS to vCHS

During our testing, we have been using NPS for vCHS with two connection methods: IPSec VPN and direct connect. All vCHSofferings provide VMware Edge gateway services to configure IPSec VPN to connections to either the on-premisis or collocated vSphere environment. We also have a 10Gb connection between the collocated data center and vCHS. I don’t think it come as a surprise to anyone, but the direct connect method seems to be the more appealing configuration for connecting to NetApp Private Storage for tier one applications in the vCHS cloud.

How to Connect NetApp Private Storage when Provisioning Virtual Servers

The vCHS web portal is a fairly simple interface that has 3 main tabs: Dashboard, Virtual Machines (you guessed it, to provision and manage VMs) and Gateways for configuring networking.
vCHS talks to vCloud Director on the back-end to perform administration tasks. The way that vCHS talks to vCD is through the vCloud API and so the API is also available to you as a consumer of the cloud to allow you to provision and manage workloads as you see fit. The API will connect directly to the Organization Virtual Datacenters (Org vDCs) to manage your workloads.  You can provision a VM using either the vCHS web portal or from vCD.

Virtual Server Deployment Templates

VMware offers a catalog of supported virtual server deployment templates that can be selected by the customer. Because we wanted to simplify the process of connecting NetApp Private Storage to our vCHS VMs we decided to create and deploy our own templates. The templates we created, and have tested with, use Server 2012 with NetApp SnapDrive and the Host Utilities Kit installed.
• Using the NPS4vCHS Manual template we demonstrate what it looks like to connect to or provision new storage from the NetApp Storage Virtual Machine (SVM) located in the NetApp Private Storage colocation facility.
• In the NPS4vCHS Auto template we have added some storage specific configuration parameters to the vApp to prompt users for storage configuration when provisioning new VMs. (more about that later)


Connecting to NetApp Private Storage

1. Once your server has been provisioned launch SnapDrive and configure connection to establish a session with Storage Virtual Machine (SVM).
2. From the Disks menu select Create Disk to create a new disk or Connect Disk to connect to existing storage.
3. Choose the desired parameters for your disk.
4. Verify your disk is accessible.
As you can see, connecting to NetApp Private Storage from vCHS virtual servers is exactly the same as connecting to NetApp storage hosted locally from virtual servers in your private cloud.

Automated NetApp Private Storage Provisioning

Because provisioning NetApp storage is exactly the same using your private cloud or vCHS, all the same tools for automating the provisioning of storage are available. Using VMware vApp properties and Windows PowerShell together, we created a custom vApp which prompts the deployer for the desired storage configuration and source. After cloning and customizing the virtual server, NetApp’s SnapDrive CLI and PowerShell cmdlets are used in the background to automatically create, connect, and format LUNs from NPS connected to your vCHS datacenter.
This same technique could be used to provision virtual servers, cloned from a template with the required applications, and have them connect to Flex Cloned instances of the data, providing test and development, burst, or disaster recovery capacity on-demand.

VMware Partner Exchange

If you are at VMware’s PEX , be sure to check out the NetApp Private Storage for VMware vCloud Hybrid Service session 3586-SPO to see a demonstration of these deployment methods in action

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