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NetApp ONTAP Simulator and ESX Server

In preparation for some NetApp training that I’ll be attending next month, I downloaded the NetApp ONTAP Simulator. The ONTAP Simulator runs on top of Linux (a few different distributions are supported) and allows you to simulate a NetApp Filer. This is pretty cool for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that it allows you to perform testing of NAS and iSCSI operations without having an actual Filer. Unfortunately, I had some problems getting the ONTAP Simulator working in a virtual machine on VMware ESX Server.

To setup the ONTAP Simulator, I created a Linux virtual machine on ESX Server 2.5.3 and installed Red Hat Linux 9.0. Red Hat 9.0 is a supported distribution for the ONTAP Simulator as well as a fully supported guest OS on ESX Server, and so I didn’t expect any issues. However, after installing and configuring the simulator, I couldn’t get any network connectivity whatsoever. I had full connectivity to the guest OS, but not to the simulator.

Finally, after digging around in the documentation for the simulator, I came across a statement indicating that the network interface that was being used by the simulator had to be in promiscuous mode. That rang a bell: ESX Server, by default, doesn’t allow NICs in guest operating systems to be in promiscuous mode.

The fix is this:

echo PromiscuousAllowed yes > /proc/vmware/net/vmnic0/config

Replace vmnic0 in this command with whatever virtual switch or NIC team the virtual machine in question is using. Once I did this (from the Service Console on the ESX Server) and rebooted the virtual machine running the ONTAP Simulator, it worked like a champ.

(Note: You must be a current NetApp customer or partner in order to use the ONTAP Simulator.)

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