Like clockwork, the 6 month cadence is upon us again.
ONTAP 9.2RC1 is available for download here:
If you’re interested in a podcast where we cover the ONTAP 9.2 features, check it out here:
Also out: OnCommand (truly) Unified Manager 7.2:
For now, let’s dive in a bit, shall we?
First of all, I made sure to upgrade my own cluster to show some of the new stuff off. Went off without a hitch:
Now, let’s start with one of the most eagerly awaited new features…
Aggregate Inline Deduplication
If you’re not familiar with deduplication, it’s a storage feature that allows blocks that are identical to rely on pointers to a single block instead of having multiple copies of the same blocks. For example, if I am storing multiple JPEG images on a share (or even inside the same PowerPoint file), deduplication will allow me to save storage space by storing just one copy of the data. The image below is an 8.4MB photo I took in Point Reyes, California:
If I store two copies of the file on a share (no deduplication), that means I use up 16MB.
If I use deduplication, then that means the duplicate blocks only take up 4KB per block as they are pointed back to a single copy of the blocks.
If I have multiple copies of the same image, they all point back to the same blocks:
Pretty cool, eh?
Well, there was *one* problem with how ONTAP does deduplication; the duplicate blocks only count against a single FlexVol volume. That meant if we had the same file in multiple volumes, you don’t get the benefits of deduplication across those volumes.
In ONTAP 9.2, that issue is resolved. You can now take advantage of deduplication when multiple volumes reside in the same physical aggregate.
This is all currently done inline (as data is ingested) only, and currently only on All Flash FAS systems. The space savings come in handy in workloads such as ESXi datastores, where you may be applying OS patches across multiple VMs in multiple datastores hosted in multiple FlexVol volumes.
At a high level, this animation shows how it works:
Another place where aggregate inline deduplication would rock? NetApp FlexGroup volumes, where a single container is comprised of multiple member FlexVols on the same physical storage. Speaking of FlexGroup volumes, that leads us to the next feature added to ONTAP 9.2.
Other storage efficiency improvements
In addition to aggregate inline dedupe, ONTAP 9.2 also adds:
- Advanced Drive Partitioning v2 (ADPv2) support for FAS8xxx and FAS9xxx with spinning drives; previously ADPv2 was only supported on All Flash FAS
- Increase of the maximum aggregate size to 800TB (was previously 400TB)
- Automated aggregate provisioning in System Manager for easier aggregate creation
NetApp Volume Encryption on FlexGroup volumes
ONTAP 9.1 introduced volume-level encryption (NVE). We did a podcast on it if you’re interested in learning more about it, but in ONTAP 9.2, support for NVE was added to NetApp FlexGroup volumes. Now you can apply encryption only at the volume level (as opposed to the disks via NSE drives) for your large, unstructured NAS workloads.
To apply it, all you need is a volume encryption license. Then, use the same process you would use for a FlexVol volume.
Additionally, NVE can now be used on SnapLock compliance volumes!
Quality of Service (QoS) Minimums/Guaranteed QoS
In ONTAP 8.2, NetApp introduced Quality of Service to allow storage administrators to apply policies to volumes – and even files like luns or VMs – to prevent bully workloads from affecting other workloads in a cluster.
Last year, NetApp acquired SolidFire, which has a pretty mean QoS of its own where it actually approaches QoS from the other end of the spectrum – guaranteeing a performance floor for workloads that require a specific service level.
I’m not 100% sure, but I’m guessing NetApp saw that and said “that’s pretty sweet. Let’s do that.”
So, they have. Now, ONTAP 9.2 has a maximum and a minimum/guaranteed QoS for storage administrators and service providers. Check out a video on it here:
ONTAP Select enhancements
ONTAP 9.2 also includes some ONTAP Select enhancements, such as:
- 2-node HA support
- FlexGroup volume support
- Improved performance
- Easier deployment
- ESX Robo license
- Single node ONTAP Select vNAS with VSAN and iSCSI LUN support
- Inline deduplication support
ONTAP is also continuing its mission to make the deployment and configuration via the System Manager GUI easier and easier. In ONTAP 9.2, we bring:
- Enhanced upgrade support
- Application aware data management
- Simplified cluster expansion
- Simplified aggregate deployment
- Guided cluster setup
We covered FabricPools in Episode 63 of the Tech ONTAP podcast. Essentially, FabricPools tier cold blocks from flash disk to cloud or an on-premises S3 target like StorageGRID WebScale. It’s not a replacement for backup or disaster recovery; it’s more of a way to lower your total cost of ownership for storage by moving data that is not actively in use to free up space for other workloads. This is all done automatically via a policy. It behaves more like an extension of the aggregate, as the pointers to the blocks that moved remain on the local storage device.
ONTAP 9.2 introduces version 1 of this feature, which will support the following:
- Tiering to S3 (StorageGRID) or AWS
- Snapshot-only tiering on primary storage
- SnapMirror destination tiering on secondary storage
Future releases will add more functionality, so stay tuned for that! We’ll also be featuring FabricPools in a deep dive for a future podcast episode.
So there you have it! The latest release of ONTAP! Post your thoughts or questions in the comments below!