Enterprise IT today is a world of constant innovation, with an endless stream of new business possibilities, new challenges, and new technologies.
Applications are the cornerstone of this transformation, and to succeed, they have to be intuitive, responsive, and fast. That’s why so many enterprises today are upgrading to flash and NVMe storage systems that deliver high performance and low latency.
This is especially true for enterprise workloads like Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and SAP HANA databases, as well as the business-critical apps they support—for enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), OLTP, and more.
These use cases typically involve SAN workloads, and over the past few years, NetApp has grown to become the fastest growing SAN vendor worldwide by revenue. As a result, more and more companies are looking to find the most efficient way to transition from legacy storage systems to new NetApp® ONTAP® configurations.
Whether the data migration project is managed in-house or with assistance from professional services consultants, your project team should include people representing all aspects of the process:
- IT or infrastructure architects, to design the overall application and data storage architecture
- Data storage managers or administrators, to understand each workload’s capacity and maintenance requirements
- Database managers, if data from Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, or other databases is being migrated
- Data protection specialists, to confirm that all the data is backed up and recoverable before migration starts
- Line-of-business owners, who often are closest to the application’s end users and understand what’s needed to ensure a nondisruptive experience
- You’ll also need a project manager with overall responsibility for keeping the migration on track and for maintaining a punch list of all tasks.
Data Migration Process
Thousands of organizations have successfully used a five-step migration process to move their data from legacy storage environments to modern all-flash data centers.
- Discover. Information is collected about all the hosts, storage, and fabrics in the environment.
- Analyze. The data is used to determine the optimal migration approach for each application’s data.
- Plan. Migration plans are created and tested, the destination storage device is provisioned, and migration tools are configured.
- Execute. Data is migrated, and host remediations are performed.
- Verify. The new system configurations are validated and documented.
The same basic steps are often organized into a different structure. For instance, the NetApp Professional Services experts divide the process into six steps: Scope, Initiate, Discover, Design, Implement, and Close.
Migration Process: Discovery
The discovery phase focuses on collecting all the information needed for host remediation and creating migration plans. NetApp solutions engineers, channel partners, and customers typically rely on NetApp Active IQ® OneCollect software to collect data on all the hosts, switches, and storage devices in an organization’s IT environment.
In addition to data migration, the OneCollect data is also useful for troubleshooting, solution validation, and deciding on when to implement upgrades.
The key benefits to Active IQ OneCollect are:
- It provides detailed information about the hosts, switches, and storage devices from many different manufacturers.
- It supports various data collection methods, including solution-based, device-based, or component-based collection; automatic discovery by IP range; or import of device credentials from a file.
- It streamlines the data migration process by analyzing your environment and revealing the best migration methods— for example, by identifying host and snap relationships.
The Brocade division of Broadcom also provides a free SAN Health tool that identifies components, software, and operating system versions on SAN switches (Brocade and Cisco MDS), storage products (NetApp, Dell EMC, Hitachi, HPE, and IBM), and host bus adapters (HBAs, from Emulex and QLogic).
Migration Process: Planning
During this phase, you create detailed project plans for how to get each host from its current state to the target configuration determined during the analysis phase. Each plan must include specific steps required, timelines, change-control requests, scheduling windows, and any related activities.
It’s a good idea to break the remediation tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks with detailed step-by-step plans and schedules. This level of detail helps facilitate planning and allows you to better manage the entire migration project.
During the planning phase, you’ll also want to try several dry-run migrations to:
- Confirm that everything is properly configured and no part of the process is broken.
- Enable the engineers performing the migrations to get comfortable with the workflow.
- Determine Foreign LUN Import (FLI) throughputs. After you’ve completed several test migrations, you will be able to extrapolate across your environment to get time estimates for various parts of the data migration process.
Other activities during the planning phase can include:
- On the source array, creating and modifying LUN masks to allow destination access to the LUNs being imported.
- On the data fabric, creating zones for migration and post-migration connectivity.
- On the destination array, creating initiator groups (igroups) to allow host access to the new LUNs.
Foreign LUN Import (FLI)
FLI is a data migration utility that’s fast, efficient, and works with virtually all third-party devices.
Data from the NetApp AutoSupport® system shows that hundreds of customers have successfully migrated tens of thousands of LUNs and multiple petabytes of data by using FLI, from legacy systems made by Dell EMC, HPE, IBM, Hitachi, Pure Storage, and others.
FLI is strictly a block-based tool; file, record, NFS, and CIFS-based migrations are not supported. All FLI migrations operate at the LUN level.
Key benefits of FLI include:
- Support for both offline and online migrations
- Operating system independence: it doesn’t rely on volume managers or OS utilities
- Compatibility with all major FC fabrics and storage arrays
- Support for native multipath and load balancing
How FLI Works
In a nutshell, FLI works by placing an ONTAP array as an initiator (a storage host) in front of a third-party storage array. Then it mounts the LUNs to be migrated and performs a block-for-block copy of the data in the original LUN to a new LUN hosted by ONTAP.
FLI supports both offline and online modes. In offline mode:
- The host is disconnected from its LUNs and is offline until the migration is complete.
- When data migration is complete, the host is remediated and then pointed at the new NetApp hosted LUN.
- The disruption window is approximately the time the migration takes to copy the source LUN to the destination.
In online mode:
- First, the NetApp LUN is presented to the host.
- The NetApp LUN is synchronized with the source LUN before cutover.
- Reads go to the new NetApp LUN and are redirected to the foreign LUN. •
- Writes are split to the foreign LUN and the NetApp LUN
- The disruption window is the amount of time it takes to repoint the host to the new LUN.
NetApp Professional Services
NetApp recently introduced a pre-packaged SAN Startup Service to help customers deploy a reliable and effective SAN solution. The service includes design, implementation, and validation of purchased components for business critical applications, providing value to new or existing NetApp SAN customers as well as customers migrating from other platforms.
The SAN Startup Service includes:
- Discovery and assessment of the production environment
- Creation of storage design documents; validation of network configuration
- Deployment and integration: advanced SAN implementation
- Data protection advice and best practices
- Migration advice and best practices
- Knowledge transfer
- Project management
- Follow-up services: tools installation, customer calls to interpret or discuss reports
NetApp also has channel partners around the world with specialized expertise in different industries, workloads, and use cases. These partners deliver a wide range of SAN design, implementation, and management services.