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A cluster is the hub of a SolidFire storage system and is made up of a collection of nodes. You must have at least four nodes in a cluster for SolidFire storage efficiencies to be realized. A cluster appears on the network as a single logical group and can then be accessed as block storage.

Creating a new cluster initializes a node as communications owner for a cluster and establishes network communications for each node in the cluster. This process is performed only once for each new cluster. You can create a cluster using the Element UI or the API.

You can scale out a cluster by adding additional nodes. When you add a new node, there is no interruption of service and the cluster automatically uses the performance and capacity of the new node.

Administrators and hosts can access the cluster using virtual IP addresses. Any node in the cluster can host the virtual IP addresses. The management virtual IP (MVIP) enables cluster management through a 1GbE connection, while the storage virtual IP (SVIP) enables host access to storage through a 10GbE connection. These virtual IP addresses enable consistent connections regardless of the size or makeup of a SolidFire cluster. If a node hosting a virtual IP address fails, another node in the cluster begins hosting the virtual IP address.

Beginning in Element version 11.0, nodes can be configured with IPv4, IPv6, or both addresses for their management network. This applies to both storage nodes and management nodes, except for management node 11.3 and later which does not support IPv6. When creating a cluster, only a single IPv4 or IPv6 address can be used for the MVIP and the corresponding address type must be configured on all nodes.

Authoritative storage clusters

The authoritative storage cluster is the storage cluster that NetApp Hybrid Cloud Control uses to authenticate users.

If your management node only has one storage cluster, then it is the authoritative cluster. If your management node has two or more storage clusters, one of those clusters is assigned as the authoritative cluster and only users from that cluster can log into NetApp Hybrid Cloud Control. To find out which cluster is the authoritative cluster, you can use the GET /mnode/about API. In the response, the IP address in the token_url field is the management virtual IP address (MVIP) of the authoritative storage cluster. If you attempt to log into NetApp Hybrid Cloud Control as a user that is not on the authoritative cluster, the login attempt will fail.

Many NetApp Hybrid Cloud Control features are designed to work with multiple storage clusters, but authentication and authorization have limitations. The limitation around authentication and authorization is that the user from the authoritative cluster can execute actions on other clusters tied to NetApp Hybrid Cloud Control even if they are not a user on the other storage clusters. Before proceeding with managing multiple storage clusters, you should ensure that users defined on the authoritative clusters are defined on all other storage clusters with the same permissions.

Before proceeding with managing multiple storage clusters, you should ensure that users defined on the authoritative clusters are defined on all other storage clusters with the same permissions. You can manage users from the Element software user interface.

See create and manage storage cluster assets for more information on working with management node storage cluster assets.

Rule of thirds

When you mix storage node types in a NetApp SolidFire storage cluster, no single storage node can contain more than 33% of the total storage cluster capacity.

Stranded capacity

If a newly added node accounts for more than 50 percent of the total cluster capacity, some of the capacity of this node is made unusable ("stranded"), so that it complies with the capacity rule. This remains the case until more storage capacity is added. If a very large node is added that also disobeys the capacity rule, the previously stranded node will no longer be stranded, while the newly added node becomes stranded. Capacity should always be added in pairs to avoid this from happening. When a node becomes stranded, an appropriate cluster fault is thrown.

Storage efficiency

Netapp SolidFire storage clusters make use of deduplication, compression, and thin provisioning to reduce the amount of physical storage needed for storing a volume.

  • Compression

    Compression reduces the amount of physical storage required for a volume by combining data blocks in compression groups, each of which is stored as a single block.

  • Deduplication

    Deduplication reduces the amount of physical storage required for a volume by discarding duplicate data blocks.

  • Thin provisioning

    A thin-provisioned volume or LUN is one for which storage is not reserved in advance. Instead, storage is allocated dynamically, as it is needed. Free space is released back to the storage system when data in the volume or LUN is deleted

Storage cluster quorum

Element software creates a storage cluster from selected nodes, which maintains a replicated database of the cluster configuration. A minimum of three nodes are required to participate in the cluster ensemble to maintain quorum for cluster resiliency.