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Deploy NetApp ONTAP Simulator on VMware vSphere

This article series focuses on how to deploy NetApp ONTAP Simulator in a VMware vSphere homelab. The idea is to visit the deployment and configuration steps including the setup for the Storage. This will provide the resources for creating VMware Datastores and also the option to visit NAS based shares running on CIFS and NFS protocols.

The series is divided in different steps making it easy to deploy NetApp ONTAP. In particular this one refers to the Simulator available from the NetApp Support site and can be used to learn about this solution. NetApp ONTAP comes in two versions available from Support site: Data ONTAP Simulator and ONTAP Select. Whereas the first one does not have time restrictions, it is fully configurable. Only caveat is, it is officially supported on a best effort basis and the NetApp Forums are the best place to exchange knowledge. The documentation provides detailed information on the current limitations. The other option with ONTAP Select does not come with same limitations and is fully configurable and can be activated with a trial of 90 days.

Personal choice goes with the former as it already includes the large majority of Enterprise features now also available for testing and learning even in a homelab. The purpose of the article series to deploy NetApp ONTAP Simulator is to learn about the nice capabilities of an Enterprise Class Storage solution integrating with Backup applications and offering advanced configurations covering Storage Snapshots, Replication, Deduplication, Data Analytics and a lot more. The idea is to create an environment and step by step:

  • Deploy NetApp ONTAP Simulator on VMware vSphere
  • Install NetApp ONTAP appliance
  • Initial setup for NetApp ONTAP including storage for VMware
  • Provision VMware Datastore from NetApp Virtual Storage Console (VSC)
  • NetApp SnapMirror benefits
  • NetApp SnapVault benefits
  • Integration with Veeam Backup for best RTO and RPO

As per usual the list is open and will grow with new articles along the way.


Deploy NetApp ONTAP Simulator in VMware vSphere

The NetApp ONTAP Simulator is available in the standard OVA format making it easy to deploy the virtual appliance in VMware vSphere environment. The Simulator is also available for the VMware Workstation format. This article refers to the vSphere format.

From the VMware vCenter the wizard to directly deploy from the OVF template. The wizard shows the current version based on NetApp ONTAP 9.4 release.

domalab.com Deploy Netapp ONTAP Sim OVA template

Next is the location where to create the new virtual appliance. It is possible to deploy NetApp ONTAP Simulator in two instances: either two nodes of the same cluster for high availability or two one node clusters. For example Prod and DR environments to test storage replication capabilities.

domalab.com Deploy Netapp ONTAP Sim ova name and folder

Next is to specify the VMware vSphere Host to associate to the NetApp ONTAP virtual appliance. Each ONTAP node requires 2x CPUs and 8 GB of RAM Memory. Once the virtual appliance is running it is not consuming lots of resources. As long as storage intensive tasks are performed.

At this point the wizard shows the different sizes for thin and thick provisioning. Where possible the latter should be used as it provides stable performances over time. In addition, since the ONTAP installer scripts generates the disks for the shelves, it is quicker when the thick provisioning has already allocated the storage in advance.

Next step is to choose the VMware datastore where to deploy the ONTAP Simulator virtual appliance.

domalab.com Deploy Netapp ONTAP Sim ova select storage

The OVA template includes the creation of two networks. These will be used to configure the Cluster and Management Networks. Each NetApp ONTAP node in reality is shipping with 4 network interfaces. The remaining two can be used for Data traffic including path redundancy. For example pointing at two separate network switches in case of fail-over fail-back scenarios.

At this point the wizard has collected all the necessary info to deploy NetApp ONTAP Simulator. Next step will cover the virtual appliance installation.


About the author

Michele Domanico

Passionate about Virtualization, Storage, Data Availability and Software Defined Data Center technologies. The aim of Domalab.com is sharing with the Community the knowledge and experience gained with customers, industry leaders and like minded peers. Always open to constructive feedback and new challenges.


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    • Hi Omar, thanks for your message. It is best to download directly from NetApp website. might take a while for the email approval and the partner/customer account is not required to download the simulator or other trial software. Hope this helps, Michele

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