Unboxed: NetApp HCI

By | 2019-11-17

Today I want don’t want to hold back some new stuff from you.
It’s time for unboxing a brand new NetApp HCI System.

When you hear HCI, you think about Hyper Converged Infrastructure. With HCI you converge compute and storage infrastructure into one single chassis. But the biggest disadvantage is the scalability. You cannot independently scale compute and storage. With every node you add to your cluster, you must add compute and storage power at the same time.

This is where NetApp comes in with their “disaggregated” HCI. With NetApp HCI you can scale both compute or storage nodes, without the need of scaling the other. NetApp calls it’s HCI more a Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure. It combines storage nodes running NetApp Solidfire Element OS with compute nodes that can run VMware vSphere, Openstack or any other virtualization software or even bare-metal.

There are two different types of chassis: first a four-by-two chassis, which can host up to four nodes at 2U. In this chassis you can mix storage and compute nodes. And the second chassis is a storage only chassis with 1U, which only hosts one node.

For our Proof-of-Concept we’ve got two chassis with four storage- and two compute nodes.
In our setup, they are splitted 3:3 on both chassis.


First, let’s have a look at the compute nodes. They are called H410C:

The second node type is the storage node. They are called H410S:

Only the storage nodes have SSDs in the front slots. If you remove a compute node and insert another storage node, you must also add drives for this node.

For this PoC we just started with the smallest nodes. Short summary of the technical specs:

  H410C-14020 H410S-1110
CPU 2 x Intel Xeon Silver 4110 2.1 GHz 2 x 64-bit 18-core 2.1 GHz
RAM 384 GB  128 GB
Cache 8 GB NVRAM
Drives 6x 480 GB SSD
10 / 25 GbE 4 2
1 GbE  2 2
Out-of-Band MGT 1 1

In this setup we get around 4 TB usable space with the four storage nodes. NetApp guarantees 4:1 efficiency ratio for the NetApp Solidfire, so we can calculate with about 16 TB usable space. The two chassis still have two slots left empty, so we can add two more hypervisors or two more storage nodes. With this second option, we get around 24 TB usable space (with efficiency).

This post was just a short “unboxing” overview about the hardware. I will write a few more posts about some use cases for NetApp HCI.

To be continued … 

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