Career / Career Progression

Tips from a NetApp Pro

by Raju Woodward
Tips from a NetApp Pro picture: A
Published on February 16, 2015

Editor's note: We asked one of our in-house IT pros, Mike O., to share his experiences and advice about working with NetApp computer storage technology. Here's what he had to say.

First things first: If it's your first day on the job, make sure you have a support contract with NetApp. This is important when it comes to upgrades and you get access to their AutoSupport feature. You want to be working with the latest version of NetApp. So, If there isn't a support contract in place, get one. To that same effect, make sure you have all the support contact info handy. And if you need a little more training, get some. It's your responsibility to know the software and technology.

One of my daily tasks is to walk through the server room and check for warning lights on the NetApp, as well as other network and server equipment. Yes, failed drives and other Kills are logged, but a flashing red light is easy to spot and it only takes a few minutes to walk through the data center. Also, check to make sure cabling is secure and properly managed in your server rack. Over the course of time, other equipment is often added or removed, which could affect the cabling situation of your network or power cables.

If you have an SNMP trap server configure your NetApp for that SNMP server. Confirm that your SNMP server is configured to send messages to your email. Here's a helpful tip: One thing you should try to do is only have Kill- level messages sent, not just all messages. Sending all messages to your email you mentally treat those messages as spam. Go to your SNMP server to read additional messages.

After going through email, I open the NetApp OnCommand System Commander. By selecting the controller, you get a quick view of storage that is available, but don't stop there. Check your volumes and and make sure they are all online — and individually have enough space.

NetApp makes it very easy to increase volume size or set your drives to autogrow. Whether you set you volumes to autogrow or not,  you should routinely monitor the situation.

Many NetApp admins thin provision their systems which enables them give out more space than you actually have. I recommend that you have good communication with your server owners to help you forecast your storage needs. While budget is always a concern, more often than not, the problem is poor communication, which results in poor planning. Even though system admins don't actually use the space, we're responsible for letting others know about our storage situation.

Get familiar with NetApp's AutoSupport. You get all of the information about your NetApp that you get from the OnCommand System Commander with regard to system stats and much more. The "Upgrade Advisor" is fantastic. It gives you comprehensive, detailed steps to get your OS to NetApp's most current OS.

And last but not least, back things up — and often. This can not be overstated, enough. As I like to say, "You are only as good as your last backup!"

Ready to dive into NetApp technology? Watch the completed videos of our in-progress "NetApp Certified Storage Associate (NCSA) NS0-145" training course…

Or still need more convincing? Here's five reasons you should learn NetApp today!


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