Virtualization saves money, reduces hardware, and improves IT flexibility. And yet, we are often reluctant to co-locate new applications with existing production applications in a virtualized storage environment for fear it could adversely affect other applications’ performance. Most IT shops have had firsthand knowledge of what can happen when applications are placed in a production storage environment without really understanding how they will behave. It’s an experience we don’t want to repeat.

Predicting Performance

Clustered Data ONTAP Transition Zone.jpgTo better predict application performance, we adopted a simple approach called the Transition Zone to take full advantage of our virtualized environment when migrating, deploying, or moving an application. A transition zone is what it implies–a live NetApp® clustered Data ONTAP® quarantine area where we evaluate applications to understand how they will behave before they are fully merged into a production environment. By separating new applications into a transition zone, we can identify and understand their behavior before they negatively impact our operations.

First, we designate a transition zone within our production clustered Data ONTAP environment. Then we use NetApp® OnCommand® Insight storage resource-management software to perform application intelligence, compile a performance baseline, and conduct surveillance without affecting production applications. With this approach, we are able to prevent contention between applications as well as balance workloads and maximize utilization in a shared environment. We have been able to integrate our virtualized storage environments into one location, improving efficiency and reducing our hardware footprint. Because the transition zone facilitates the easy movement of applications as needed, we can focus on performance parameters instead of worrying about uptime.

Another obvious benefit of the transition zone is that it helps the infrastructure and application teams to proactively understand the application workload profile performance and the impact of changes on the entire workload profile in clustered Data ONTAP. Sharing this information has helped us improve storage stability and operational efficiency as one team.

Many Applications

We use the transition zone for many different situations:

  • Data migrations, or where any application is being moved into production operations
  • Clustered Data ONTAP transitions
  • Clustered Data ONTAP cluster-wide upgrade
  • System lifecycle management, including upgrades

We have also improved our storage planning by profiling the applications and placing them in categories based on performance workload characteristics. We transparently move the applications using the clustered Data ONTAP VolMove capability into the appropriate storage node when they are ready. The resulting highly stable IT environment gives us a pathway to continually integrate stand-alone applications into a common pool of virtualized storage-and make sure the applications play together nicely in production.

Check out our new infographic below to see the role of the Transition Zone in NetApp’s IT operations.

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