Thursday, August 05, 2004

NetApps Suck

I had my big meeting today with Microsoft and Network Appliance today. After they reviewed the design, the Network Appliance engineer informed me that there were two Windows 2003 features that I had designed that was not supported by NetApp storage devices. One was Windows 2003 mount points on a cluster server, the other was using 5 nodes in a cluster, NetApps only work with four. Those limitations basically made the entire system unscalable without deploying entirely new clusters. I need the mount points to get around the 26 drive letter limitation for physical disk devices. As for the number of cluster nodes, to solve a perceived performance problem, my supervisor wanted 14 active nodes. I was going to plan four 5 node clusters with 4 active nodes and one passive node. The plan now is to deploy four 4 node clusters with 3 active nodes and one passive node. That only gives us 12 mailbox servers. It is plenty, but I was hoping to be able to talk them down to just two clusters with 6 nodes, 4 active and 2 passive each with room to scale each cluster to two more nodes (windows 2003 supports 8 node clusters). Basically, NetApp forces us to build it as if we were using Windows 2000.

Why use NetApp, well, that is a corporate standard. It does do a few good things, snapshot backups, and snap mirror technology to replicate the data over the wan to another datacenter. Those are features we need, but it almost seems not worth it when it comes to the limitations involved. I would prefer to use EMC’s storage technology, it would meet all of those requirements.

Tomorrow, I go full throttle in design mode, keeping in mind my limiting storage back ends.

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