Playing with NetApp Data ONTAP Edge

edgeLast week I’ve started to build my new home lab. Unfortunately I still haven’t got any shared storage device in place, only a 500GB SATA direct-attached hard-drives.

For the last 3-years I was surrounded by NetApp’s technologies and although I wasn’t the actual storage guy at the site, taking NetApp Edge virtual storage appliance for a ride was the obvious thing for me to do.




Taken from NetApp “Data ONTAP Edge 8.1 Installation and Administration Guide”:

The NetApp Data ONTAP Edge family of products are storage solutions designed for remote offices.

In addition to managing storage and protecting data, they are configured to use NetApp SnapVault and SnapMirror technology to automatically copy and move data to a central-site NetApp storage system where it can be archived or used for disaster recovery.

Data ONTAP Edge products use Data ONTAP-v technology to run Data ONTAP storage software in a virtual machine on a high-performance server in order to manage the local storage for applications running on other virtual machines on the same server.


NetApp ONTAP Edge high level architecture taken from the “Installation and Administration Guide”

In simple words, if you have a remote branch office with ESXi hosts running virtual machines on local disks which need to be replicated to your primary data center, you can utilize NetApp SnapVault (Edge) or SnapMirrot (Edge-T).

Both the Data ONTAP Edge and Edge-T appliances comes in a standard OVF format armed with ONTAP-v storage software designed to run in a virtual machine environment.

Check out this basic comparison from the Edge datasheet which can be found here.


Deployment and Configurations

In my lab, I used the Data ONTAP Edge 8.1.1 OVF (not the Edge-T) and if you are already a NetApp user the configurations part of things and dealing with ONTAP should be a walk in the park for you. If you’re not familiar with the technology, you should give a shot and see how easy it is.

As you can see, the wizard discover all my available space in the 500GB direct attached storage. For best performance, NetApp recommends to go with the lazy zeroed thick provisioning format. For the purpose of this lab, I chose thin provision disk. This is not where you decide how much storage capacity the Edge will be managed, this part is next.

Deploy 8

Part A is all about the management network and OS credentials configurations. Later on in this guide I will configure the NFS network for the appliance. I have also created edge-n1.lab.local A record in my DNS server.

In part B enter the amount of storage space the Edge will manage and will be available for ESXi datastores. In this lab, I allocated the appliance 400GB to play with.

Deploy 9

Deploy 10

Once the OVF deployment finishes the appliance will start to boot and to load ONTAP.

Boot 1

Before diving into the configurations part, let’s go over on some of the appliance VM hardware components.

VM Hardware 1

Hard disk 4 is where the data volumes located

VM Hardware 2

The system uses an internal ISO live cd to load the OS. Do not change this setting!

After the boot process finished and the password prompt is shown, open SSH session to the appliance and login as root.

The first step is to license all the goodies NetApp offers with the Edge appliance.

For the purpose of this lab I added the NFS, iSCSI, CIFS and Deduplication evaluation license keys.

Use the license add command

Configuration 1

Next, run the setup command (The configuration here can be done via the GUI later on).

I used all the default answers accept configuring DNS server for the appliance. Hit the reboot command once you done.

Configuration 2

The next step will be adding EDGE-N1 to my NetApp OnCommand System Manager 2.1.

Configuration 3

Configuration 4

In this lab, I will be doing all the “juicy” configurations in the GUI so start by login the appliance.

Configuration 5

Configuration 6

NFS Configurations

In my lab I got both my ESXi hosts configured with a non-routable VMkernel port for NFS purposes in the network.


The next thing is to configure a dedicated NFS network adapter in the Edge appliance by going to Configuration > Network > Network Interfaces. I will be using e0b adapter for this one.

Edit the adapter settings and enable it


To create NFS volume navigate to Storage > Volumes and hit the create button.

Give the volume a name, choose the volume aggregate and the NAS storage type, volume size, the amount of percentage reserved for snapshots and decide if you want the volume to be thin provisioned on the storage layer.

Under the Storage Efficiency tab you can enable deduplication for this volume.



The last step on the Edge side configurations for this volume will be configuring the exports permissions by navigating to Storage > Exports.

Mark the new created NFS volume export path and edit its security settings.

Because the VMkernel requires root access in order to mount NFS datastore, add your hosts and provide them root access in the export rule.


Now, all that is left to do in order to mount the new NFS volume to your ESXI hosts is to add the new datastore and just like that, you got yourself a new NetApp Edge NFS datastore



A Word About Appliance Performance

Data ONTAP-v does not release the CPUs when idle, so vSphere will report a high CPU warning because it sees 100% usage. You can ignore or clear the vSphere alarm for CPU usage.

Performance 1

You can use ONTAP sysstat command to check the true CPUs usage.

Final words

The Edge storage appliance is a cool one. I find it very useful in a low budget home lab and it gives a great value if your design requires backup-to-disk, snapshots and replication capabilities.

The built-in FlexClone support is awesome for VMware View deployments and can be used to leverage your design providing rapid deployments.
Mixing it with local SSD disks in your ESXi hosts will give a powerful combination.

It integrates with vSphere API for Storage Awareness (VASA), VAAI and NetApp Virtual Storage Console plug-in (VSC) to provide a very good software-defined storage platform.

If your design requires a more robust solution, maybe the Edge is not the one for you and you should look at NetApp’s or other storage vendor’s solutions but like I said, it could be a very resourceful design piece. 


  1. I am curious what you consider a low budget home lab? All the prices I have seen for edge are in the 10k+ range.


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