Posts Tagged ‘RAID group’

Replacing hard drives in a NetApp aggregate

May 30, 2013

netapp_disk_driveNetApp uses certain rules to assign hot spares in case of a failure. It always tries to use the exact match, but if it’s not there, the best available spare is used. “The best” means that if you have an aggregate which consists of 1TB hard drives and you have only 2TB spare left, then this 2TB spare will be downsized to 1TB and used as a data disk. After that, when you receive a correct size replacement from NetApp, you need to exchange the downsized 2TB hard drive with the delivered 1TB spare. To accomplish that, use the following command:

> disk replace start disk_name spare_disk_name

It will take considerable amount of time to copy the data. In my case it was 6.5 hours for a 1TB drive.

When the process finishes, replaced drive becomes a new spare. It’s wise to zero it out right away, so that it could be easily used again as a spare. Otherwise when time comes you’ll be waiting hours before it could be added in place of the failed drive:

> disk zero spares

As a side note I want to mention that you cannot take disks out of the raid group. There is no way to shrink aggregates. The only thing you can make is to replace a hard drive with another one.

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NetApp storage architecture

October 9, 2011

All of us are get used to SATA disk drives connected to our workstations and we call it storage. Some organizations has RAID arrays. RAID is one level of logical abstraction which combine several hard drives to form logical drive with greater size/reliability/speed. What would you say if I’d tell you that NetApp has following terms in its storage architecture paradigm: disk, RAID group, plex, aggregate, volume, qtree, LUN, directory, file. Lets try to understand how all this work together.

RAID in NetApp terminology is called RAID group. Unlike ordinary storage systems NetApp works mostly with RAID 4 and RAID-DP. Where RAID 4 has one separate disk for parity and RAID-DP has two. Don’t think that it leads to performance degradation. NetApp has very efficient implementation of these RAID levels.

Plex is collection of RAID groups and is used for RAID level mirroring. For instance if you have two disk shelves and SyncMirror license then you can create plex0 from first shelf drives and plex1 from second shelf.  This will protect you from one disk shelf failure.

Aggregate is simply a highest level of hardware abstraction in NetApp and is used to manage plexes, raid groups, etc.

Volume is a logical file system. It’s a well-known term in Windows/Linux/Unix realms and serves for the same goal. Volume may contain files, directories, qtrees and LUNs. It’s the highest level of abstraction from the logical point of view. Data in volume can be accessed by any of protocols NetApp supports: NFS, CIFS, iSCSI, FCP, WebDav, HTTP.

Qtree can contain files and directories or even LUNs and is used to put security and quota rules on contained objects with user/group granularity.

LUN is necessary to access data via block-level protocols like FCP and iSCSI. Files and directories are used with file-level protocols NFS/CIFS/WebDav/HTTP.