ONTAP Select is the software-only version of NetApp’s ONTAP operating system, the industry’s leading storage OS, with the option of running it on a wide variety of commodity and specialized hardware. The list of supported hardware runs the gamut from rack n stack white box servers in the datacenter to highly specialized small form factor ruggedized systems designed for harsh environments frequently encountered in edge networks. Generally, if the server hardware is compatible with a supported hypervisor (currently ESXi and KVM) and meets some storage-specific requirements, it can be used to run an ONTAP Select cluster.
In addition to Select itself, there is another critical software component called ONTAP Select Deploy, or Deploy for short. Deploy enables you to quickly and easily provision new software-based ONTAP clusters. Through a web-based graphical user interface, the command-line interface, or even the included REST API, you can manage an inventory of Select clusters and the hosts, networks, and storage that they run within.
Deploy lets you import license files to create licensed production clusters or deploy a new cluster in evaluation mode when you’re trying out something new. In two-node clusters, Deploy even serves as the cluster mediator – a special role which helps to avoid split-brain scenarios when nodes of small clusters become isolated from one another. One instance of Deploy can manage up to 100 Select clusters.
You’ve heard about the hardware requirements for Select, but what about the requirements for Deploy? Much like the Select node itself, Deploy is provided solely as a virtual machine that runs on either ESXi or KVM. You can download the OVA (ESXi) or raw image (KVM) for Deploy from the NetApp support site and then install it on the hardware of your choice. Once installed, the Deploy VM is pretty light on hardware requirements, needing only 4GB of RAM and 40GB of storage space.
In fact, the requirements are reasonable enough that it’s entirely possible to create a dedicated appliance for Deploy out of small form factor hardware. We figured this might be a great companion to go along with the small form factor deployments of Select, so we put a recipe together for creating one, which you can find here. We chose the Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC) as the platform for a couple of reasons. First off, it’s incredibly compact at around 4” x 4” x 2”. Don’t let the size fool you though, there’s plenty of room in that small package for the CPU, RAM, and storage required to run Deploy on top of your chosen hypervisor, and then some. Our recipe uses 8GB of RAM and 128 GB of SSD as these configurations were readily available and cost-effective.
While you technically won’t find the NUC listed on VMware’s hardware compatibility list, the unit we tested worked straight out of the box without the need for any specialized drivers. It also worked out of the box with KVM.
Go grab the install guide, and build your own Deploy appliance today!