NetApp Flash Accel for VMware

By | August 12, 2014

In this article I will describe NetApp Flash Accel which makes server-side flash storage available as cache for applications that read from and write to NetApp back-end storage. In a Flash Accel-enabled system, applications write to cache as well as to back-end storage, so that future application reads can be serviced locally from cache. Flash Accel software runs on VMware ESXi hosts and virtual machines.

Flash Accel key features:

  • Data coherency - when a backend storage system changes data, it has coherency implications on the server cache. 
  • Persistent cache - the cache is kept "warm" after a reboot. It remains populated with data from typical read and write activity. Simply put when a VM or server is rebooted, Flash Accel keeps its cache warm and checks / corrects for coherency once the VM or server comes back online.
  • VMware vSphere support (HA, vMotion, DRS, Storage vMotion) - e.g. migration a VM's cache content from one server to another when the VM is vMotioned.
  • Support for VMDK, RDM, and direct iSCSI disks.
  • Up to 2 TB of cache per server. Up to 32 cached VMs per server, with no limit on the total
    number of VMs.
  • Support for PCIe cards (must be listed in the NetApp Interoperability Matrix) and server SSDs
  • Management of Flash Accel components using Virtual Storage Console (article about it here)
  • free for NetApp customers 😉

Flash Accel has the following components:

  • Flash Accel Host Agent - software which manages caching functionality on ESXi hosts. The host agent is installed on each ESXi host with an installed flash device.
  • Flash Accel Guest OS Agent - software which manages caching functionality on virtualmachines. The Agent need to be installed  on each VM running an application that accesses the cache.
  • Flash Accel Management Console (FMC) - browser-based graphical tool used for installation the host and virtual machine software and management caching across the vCenter. This is a virtual appliance (deployed from OVA).
netapp_flash_accelFlash Accel components
Note: The last download of Flash Accel is March 25, 2014, and the last support date is September 23, 2014.

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