NetApp Simulator Disk Fix

One of the great things about NetApp is that you can actually run fully functional Data OnTap Simulator of their storage appliances on any UNIX machine. It is a great way to test their product suite and demo up solutions before deploying to your production environment. I do have one minor gripe that is that you have to have a NOW account (NetApp’s Customer Portal) before you can download, and to get that you have to be a customer with registered product so evaluating before your first box arrives is impossible unless you can get you VAR to get you a copy.

Anyway, I’ve had a problem with the last couple of simulators that I have set up. When I create additional “disk” during the setup, they always come in as failed when actually start the simulator running. I first experienced this running as virtual machine on a VMWare server, and then on a actual hardware linux box. I was getting errors similar to the following:

Disk v4.28 Shelf ? Bay ? [NETAPP VD-1000MB-FZ-520 0042] S/N [66324112] has no valid labels. It will be taken out of service to prevent possible data loss.

I finally found a solution in the following comment on Scott Lowe’s blog entry about NetApp and ESX Server.

Once the simulator is running here are the commands that I use to get the disks back into a operational state:

>priv set diag
*>disk unfail -s v4.19

I repeat for each disk that I want to recover. When they are all unfailed, I follow that with a disk zero spares I’m not sure that is really needed but it guarantees that the disk are good to go. At this point I’m all set to use the disks however I want.

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Like a Gunshot In the Server Room

I’m told that’s what it sounded like when the power supply in our NetApp FAS 3020 dramatically failed last week. One of my administrators got a message saying there was problem with one of NetApps when he was home during the holiday weekend. He immediately called NetApp tech support which had already opened a case for the unit (you have got to love AutoSupport). They couldn’t tell 100% which power supply it was because it apparently blew the circuit breaker in the power strip (and because the power supplies are bus powered so that even though one had died it still showed up as being “in” the system). So they sent one for the drive shelf, and my admin headed into the office.

When he arrived they determined that it probably as the power supply on the head unit and not the drive shelf. So to make sure they had him pull the head unit’s power supply, reset the circuit breaker on the power strip and then reinsert the power supply. At that point a huge spark came shooting out of the head unit’s power supply, and the circuit breaker blew in the rack’s surge suppressor, as well as the circuit breaker in the electrical panel. That’s what sounded like the gunshot. Supposedly the smell of burnt electronic was very strong as well. So they canceled the one power supply shipment and sent another one. It arrived in about 2 hours, and when swapped we were back to 100%.

But the great thing was that during the entire time the unit kept running and passing data without even one hiccup. Way to go NetApp.

Syncing Files Between PC’s and Mac’s

I don’t know how I missed this, but Microsoft has a really great product/service that allows you to synchronize files between multiple computers (PC’s and Mac’s) across the Internet (thanks Mike for pointing this out). In addition the product also allows you to share files with your friends. This communication happens in a private peer-2-peer fashion and is encrypted. The product is called FolderShare, and Microsoft purchased late last year and is offering the service for free.

Quoting from their site you can:

  • Synchronize all your devices – Retrieve work files at home or access photos at work. With your devices in sync, you no longer have to be frustrated that your information is on another computer.
  • Share files, photos, and home videos with your peers – Select the content you want to share, invite members, and they will be able to access the shared files directly from their device.
  • Access your computer or device remotely – FolderShare mobile access allows you to access your computer from any web browser.

The service works as advertised and is something that I plan to share with my Dad and Father-in-Law as a way for them to backup their information between their machines (they both have desktops and laptops) as well as provide them a way to backup to my house as well (if they want).

Initially I had thought that it would be perfect, easy to use solution to my off-site storage problem related to backup. While it works great, it does a have a few limitations that make it unsuitable for use in my particular situation.

The three big limiting factors are that it only supports files up to 2 GB in size (not that big of deal if you take that into account and split your big files), but the real killer for me is a limitation of 10,000 files per “library”. Some of my directories have over 25,000 files (think all the pictures my wife takes). I started thinking about workarounds, but eventually nixed those ideas as just too complex. The third issue is that it runs as a user level application. So that means that you have to be logged in and have the application running in order to it to sync.

This is a great tool for your personal and/or small business use. It is really easy to use, its free (at least for now), and it fills a niche in most people’s backup strategy by providing off-site backups, as well as access to your files (particularly if you are a laptop user), and finally it is cross platform Mac OSX and Windows.

Storage Assessment, Datalink, and Rick Shangle

Way back in February we had a Datalink “an information storage architect … [who] analyzes, designs, implements, and supports information storage infrastructures that store, protect, and provide continuous access to information” come out to our site to perform a Storage Assessment. During that process they looked not only at the systems we currently have in place, but also at our workflow process and areas where data storage my be limiting our growth and productivity.

The primary consultant on this project was Rick Shangle (who happens to be Mac user), along with Teron Jones their Storage Architect. The firm was very impressed with both individuals and the report they presented is helping us to lay the ground work for where we are heading with our storage infrastructure.

Rick maintains two blogs, the first is one focused on storage technology called Storage Management: Building & Maintaining Powerful Systems the other is his personal blog, simply named rickshangle.com. I found myself reading his personal blog regularly so I’ve also added it to my Blog Roll.

Goodbye Dell, Hello NetApp (almost)

I’ve been writing about how Dell’s PowerVault 220s are junk for quite awhile now. We experienced our 3rd major crash for the year this week. We had everything restored and back in operation 23 hours later.

In the meantime we brought in a data storage consultant to analyze our storage infrastructure. They presented a detailed report about a month ago, and this past Monday the partners decided that it was time change the way we store data. The decision was made to no longer use Dell for our storage system (we will still keep using them for our application servers), and instead move to a Network Attached Storage appliance. In our case we’ll start by moving our headquarters office to NetApp FAS3020c enterprise storage application from Network Appliance (NetApp).

We are still working out the final details and pricing (that’s another story for another time), and hopefully will be placing an order within the next couple of weeks. Then the real fun begins as we get to install and configure the new system.