If you or your company own a NetApp Storage System, you can access and download the NetApp Simulator – it’s basically a NetApp filer in a Virtual Machine. Very cool; and great for learning and experimenting in a Lab.

Why increase the disk size?

The Simulator, by default, presents you with 28 x 1GB disks, giving you a mere 28GB raw disk space.

While this is fine for learning; I wanted to use it as the main SAN provider in my Virtualization home lab; where I plan to run an entire lab including ESXi hosts, a SAN appliance and networking inside a single small form factor computer.

Why not use Nexenta, or Openfiler, or FreeNAS?

Two reasons:

  1. I’m used to NetApp systems, and want to learn more
  2. I can use NetApp’s Deduplication and Compression features to squeeze much more out of the limited SSD space inside my Gigabyte Brix.

I tried Nexenta, but found it really slow and it also randomly hogged an entire CPU core for seemingly no reason.

Standing on the shoulders of giants

All of the information below is available and possible thanks to this post from Vidad Cosonok, which covers how to create new larger disks in Cluster-Mode. The commands are different for 7-mode; hence this post. All credit however, should rest with Vidad Cosonok ๐Ÿ™‚

I believe that this method below is much easier and simpler than some of the alternatives, one involving adding another 28 disks (not enough) and another which involves tweaking partitions with a FreeBSD boot disk.

Increasing the size of the disks in the NetApp simulator

Following Vidad’s instructions, it’s possible to create a NetApp simulator with up to 400GB of raw disk space. PRetty impressive! In the example below, I only want to use a maximum of 224GB, so I’m choosing to use 4GB disks rather than 9GB disks. Note that going over 224GB can be a pain in VMware ESXi, as you’ll need to increase the size of an IDE disk, which is non-trivial in ESXi.

Setup the Simulator

  1. Download and extract the ONTAP 7-mode NetApp Simulator (I went for 8.2, and this is tested working on 8.2).
  2. Follow the setup guide to install it into your VMware environment.
    • I installed it into ESXi using the VMware Converter to ensure that the VMDKs were thin provisioned as they went into the Brix’s local SSD datastore
  3. Boot the Virtual Machine
  4. Press Ctrl+C when prompted and choose option 4, to wipe the config and initialise the disks.
  5. Once done, complete the first time setup (where you give it a hostname , IP, etc)

Delete the disks and re-create new ones

Once you’ve configured the Simulator, follow these steps. I’d advise doing this from an SSH client, so you can copy/paste easily, rather than using the VMware console.

priv set advanced
useradmin diaguser unlock
useradmin diaguser password
(login as diag, with password you just set)

setenv PATH “${PATH}:/usr/sbin”
echo $PATH
cd /sim/dev/,disks
sudo rm v0*
sudo rm v1*
sudo rm ,reservations
cd /sim/dev
vsim_makedisks -h

Make a note of the options available for -t (type), as you may wish to deviate from what I’m doing.

To make ~224GB usable disks:

sudo vsim_makedisks -n 14 -t 31 -a 0
sudo vsim_makedisks -n 14 -t 31 -a 1
sudo vsim_makedisks -n 14 -t 31 -a 2
sudo vsim_makedisks -n 14 -t 31 -a 3

To make ~550GB of usable disks:

sudo vsim_makedisks -n 14 -t 36 -a 0
sudo vsim_makedisks -n 14 -t 36 -a 1
sudo vsim_makedisks -n 14 -t 36 -a 2
sudo vsim_makedisks -n 14 -t 36 -a 3

Check they’re present, then exit and halt.

ls ,disks/

Configuring the new disks for use

  1. Power off the Simulator VM
  2. If you made your total disks larger than 224GB, you need to Edit the VM settings and make Hard Drive 4 550GB (rather than 250GB). If you’re doing this in vCenter/ESXi it can be tricky as the HDD is IDE rather than SCSI.
  3. Power on the Simulator VM
  4. Press Ctrl-C for Boot Menu when prompted
  5. Enter selection 5 ‘Maintenance mode boot’
  6. Assign 3 disks for the Clustered ONTAP dedicated root aggregate, and halt

    disk assign v4.16 v4.17 v4.18
    disk show

  7. Power-cycle the Simulator
  8. Press Ctrl-C for Boot Menu when prompted
  9. Enter selection 4 ‘Clean configuration and initialize all disks’ and answer ‘y’ to the two prompts
  10. Wait for the wipe/initialise to complete, then re-do the setup if needed.
  11. Log in to the system, and assign the disks, so they’re usable:

    disk assign all

  12. Now you can create a new aggregate/volume/qtree/LUN etc and use the Simulator to its full potential ๐Ÿ™‚
  13. At this stage, you may want to add the Licences, which include iSCSI and NFS. You can’t use iSCSI or NFS without installing the license (and for iSCSI, enabling and starting the service).

Written by Phil Wiffen

Phil is an IT Professional working in Cambridge, England. He generally blogs about useful solutions that he comes across in his work/play.

1 Comment

Jon Herns

I am trying this on a C-Mode sim and it seems to lose the Cluster Identity but the setup script doesn’t start completely over so I can’t re-add the cluster license. Any ideas?

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