NetApp Element: Red Hat OpenShift with NetApp

Contributors ac-ntap netapp-dorianh kulkarnn Download PDF of this page

NetApp Element software provides modular, scalable performance, with each storage node delivering guaranteed capacity and throughput to the environment. NetApp Element systems can scale from 4 to 100 nodes in a single cluster, and offer a number of advanced storage management features.

Error: Missing Graphic Image

For more information about NetApp Element storage systems, visit the NetApp Solidfire website.

iSCSI login redirection and self-healing capabilities

NetApp Element software leverages the iSCSI storage protocol, a standard way to encapsulate SCSI commands on a traditional TCP/IP network. When SCSI standards change or when the performance of Ethernet networks improves, the iSCSI storage protocol benefits without the need for any changes.

Although all storage nodes have a management IP and a storage IP, NetApp Element software advertises a single storage virtual IP address (SVIP address) for all storage traffic in the cluster. As a part of the iSCSI login process, storage can respond that the target volume has been moved to a different address and therefore it cannot proceed with the negotiation process. The host then reissues the login request to the new address in a process that requires no host-side reconfiguration. This process is known as iSCSI login redirection.

iSCSI login redirection is a key part of the NetApp Element software cluster. When a host login request is received, the node decides which member of the cluster should handle the traffic based on the IOPS and the capacity requirements for the volume. Volumes are distributed across the NetApp Element software cluster and are redistributed if a single node is handling too much traffic for its volumes or if a new node is added. Multiple copies of a given volume are allocated across the array.

In this manner, if a node failure is followed by volume redistribution, there is no effect on host connectivity beyond a logout and login with redirection to the new location. With iSCSI login redirection, a NetApp Element software cluster is a self-healing, scale-out architecture that is capable of non-disruptive upgrades and operations.

NetApp Element software cluster QoS

A NetApp Element software cluster allows QoS to be dynamically configured on a per-volume basis. You can use per-volume QoS settings to control storage performance based on SLAs that you define. The following three configurable parameters define the QoS:

  • Minimum IOPS. The minimum number of sustained IOPS that the NetApp Element software cluster provides to a volume. The minimum IOPS configured for a volume is the guaranteed level of performance for a volume. Per-volume performance does not drop below this level.

  • Maximum IOPS. The maximum number of sustained IOPS that the NetApp Element software cluster provides to a particular volume.

  • Burst IOPS. The maximum number of IOPS allowed in a short burst scenario. The burst duration setting is configurable, with a default of 1 minute. If a volume has been running below the maximum IOPS level, burst credits are accumulated. When performance levels become very high and are pushed, short bursts of IOPS beyond the maximum IOPS are allowed on the volume.


Secure multitenancy is achieved with the following features:

  • Secure authentication. The Challenge-Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP) is used for secure volume access. The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) is used for secure access to the cluster for management and reporting.

  • Volume access groups (VAGs). Optionally, VAGs can be used in lieu of authentication, mapping any number of iSCSI initiator-specific iSCSI Qualified Names (IQNs) to one or more volumes. To access a volume in a VAG, the initiator’s IQN must be in the allowed IQN list for the group of volumes.

  • Tenant virtual LANs (VLANs). At the network level, end-to-end network security between iSCSI initiators and the NetApp Element software cluster is facilitated by using VLANs. For any VLAN that is created to isolate a workload or a tenant, NetApp Element Software creates a separate iSCSI target SVIP address that is accessible only through the specific VLAN.

  • VRF-enabled VLANs. To further support security and scalability in the data center, NetApp Element software allows you to enable any tenant VLAN for VRF-like functionality. This feature adds these two key capabilities:

    • L3 routing to a tenant SVIP address. This feature allows you to situate iSCSI initiators on a separate network or VLAN from that of the NetApp Element software cluster.

    • Overlapping or duplicate IP subnets. This feature enables you to add a template to tenant environments, allowing each respective tenant VLAN to be assigned IP addresses from the same IP subnet. This capability can be useful for in-service provider environments where scale and preservation of IPspace are important.

Enterprise storage efficiencies

The NetApp Element software cluster increases overall storage efficiency and performance. The following features are performed inline, are always on, and require no manual configuration by the user:

  • Deduplication. The system only stores unique 4K blocks. Any duplicate 4K blocks are automatically associated to an already stored version of the data. Data is on block drives and is mirrored by using the NetApp Element software Helix data protection. This system significantly reduces capacity consumption and write operations within the system.

  • Compression. Compression is performed inline before data is written to NVRAM. Data is compressed, stored in 4K blocks, and remains compressed in the system. This compression significantly reduces capacity consumption, write operations, and bandwidth consumption across the cluster.

  • Thin-provisioning. This capability provides the right amount of storage at the time that you need it, eliminating capacity consumption that caused by overprovisioned volumes or underutilized volumes.

  • Helix. The metadata for an individual volume is stored on a metadata drive and is replicated to a secondary metadata drive for redundancy.

Element was designed for automation. All the storage features are available through APIs. These APIs are the only method that the UI uses to control the system.