Strengths and Weaknesses of Your NetApp Simulator

I’d like to get started with the Netapp’s simulator.  This is a very useful product that simulates a Netapp storage system.  I will be using it extensively in this blog so that even if you don’t have a Netapp storage system available you can still follow along.

What it is:

The simulator is a wonderful tool to learn about Netapp storage systems.  If you are currently supporting Network Appliance products and don’t have a lab or test system at work it is a great way to test concepts before implementation.  To understand the simulator you should realize that it is running real Data ONTAP code.  The Data ONTAP operating system is not simulated.  It is real.  What is being simulated is the underlying hardware and this brings with it some limitations.  The Network Appliance product that most closely resembles the simulated hardware is a FAS270.  Still, having your own “FAS270” to play with is pretty useful.

Limitations:

You will have to scale your test implementations down, but I have still found it to be very useful.  Like a FAS270, the simulator only supports two (simulated) Ethernet network ports and does not support fibre channel ports.  So you can’t use it to test ideas with fibre channel LUNs or run fibre channel diagnostic commands.   It does support iSCSI LUNs, though.  The number and size of simulated disks is limited, but is large enough to be useful. 

Performance will also not be indicative of real hardware.  We can test proof of concept scenarios, but not scalability or sizing.

Strengths:

The simulator supports clustering, so it is possible to build two simulators in a cluster configuration and test various failover scenarios.  Virtually all of the products Netapp has available for licensing are available with the simulator, so if you are interested in testing anything from LUN clones to SnapLock, it can be done with the simulator.  Simulator specific licenses are available for free. 

The simulator is available for free download from your NOW account.  You will either need to get a now account or talk to someone who has one to download the simulator. 

After logging in to NOW, go to the service and support page and look for Toolchest.  Select the toolchest and scroll down the page.  Items are in alphabetical order.  Look for “simulate ONTAP”.  It is currently item number 64, but this will probably change over time.

Environment: 

The simulator requires a Linux host.  Virtually any version of Linux will work with version 7+ of the simulator.  I have experienced Red Hat, SUSE and Ubunto without problems.  It is best to have two Ethernet ports on the Linux machine.  It also works fine in a VMware virtual machine, again configured with two virtual NICs.

Next:  setting up your simulator

 

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