Sunday, July 28, 2013

NetApp Publishes Flash Accel 1.2

NetApp last week updated its server-side caching software, Flash Accel, to version 1.2. In addition to supporting VMware vSphere hosts, Flash Accel 1.2 also includes a new command-line interface, called the Advanced Management Terminal (AMT), allowing administrators to monitor the status of the Flash Accel Management Console (FMC), change the network interface for the FMC virtual machine, and perform other system management tasks.

Flash Accel 1.2 now supports:

  • VMware vSphere ESXi 5.1 hosts
  • VMware vSphere vMotion and Storage vMotion, High Availability (HA), and Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS)
  • LUNs attached directly to a VM through a software iSCSI initiator (iSCSI in the VM)
  • Fusion IO ioDrive2

Coherency, Persistence
As with previous releases, Flash Accel detects and corrects for coherency at the block level -- rather than flushing the entire cache. Flushing the entire cache may be good as there are no data coherency issues, but terrible for performance. Flash Accel cache invalidation corrects cache, while keeping the cache persistent.

In addition to intelligent data coherency, Flash Accel also provides persistence across VM / server reboots.

The benefit of both intelligent data coherency and persistence is to ensure that both the cache optimizes performance at its peak (i.e. when the cache is warm) and that peak performance can last as long as possible (by keeping the cache warm for as long as possible).

Side note: Flash Accel code manages server cache, accelerating access to data that is stored and managed by Data ONTAP on the storage system.  Flash Accel is NOT Data ONTAP code.

Support
Flash Accel 1.2 currently supports caching VMDKs, RDMs, or direct iSCSI virtual disks only. Direct NFS or SMB mounts within the Guest OS are not supported with version 1.2.

It's also important to note that VMware vSphere's Fault Tolerance (FT) and Site Recovery Manager (SRM) features are currently not supported in this release.

Finally, Flash Accel supports connections to NetApp FAS systems and V-Series systems only. It does not support NetApp E-Series systems or non-NetApp storage systems today.

Summary
A demo (note: requires login) for Flash Accel 1.2 is available on NetApp communities site; it's also available to download at no cost for NetApp customers with either server SSD drives with a VMware-supported RAID controller or PCIe cards from Fusion-io, LSI, Micron, etc. For Fusion-io and Micron flash devices, Flash Accel 1.2 requires the SCSI driver from these suppliers.