Running VMware on ONTAP? Why you should consider upgrading to ONTAP 9.2.


VMworld is right around the corner, so it’s a good time to remind folks about the goodness that is ONTAP + VMware.

ONTAP already has enterprise class storage for VMware, with support for both NFS and FCP/iSCSI on the same cluster to host VMware datastores. ONTAP also has robust support for VMware friendly features, such as VVols 1.0, VAAI, inline deduplication/compaction/compression, vSphere integration via the Virtual Storage Console, backing up VMs with SnapCenter, FlexClones, SRA plugins and much more!

For more information on VMware with ONTAP see:

ONTAP 9.2 went GA a couple weeks ago and included some nice new features that fit very well into virtualization workloads. When you upgrade ONTAP, you are able to do it non-disruptively, especially for VMware environments. Plus, NetApp’s internal predictive analysis points to ONTAP 9.2 having the highest quality of the available ONTAP releases out there, so there’s not a lot of reason *not* to upgrade to ONTAP 9.2.

Now, for those 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.

This is all currently done inline (as data is ingested) only, and currently  on All Flash FAS systems by default. 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. Aggregate inline deduplication brings an average additional ~1.32:1 ratio of space savings for VMware workloads. Who doesn’t want to save some space?

At a high level, this animation shows how it works:


Quality of Service (QoS) Minimums/Guaranteed QoS

In ONTAP 8.2, NetApp introduced Quality of Service maximums 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. (Guarantees only for SAN currently) For VMware environments, storage administrators can now easily apply floors and ceilings to VMs to maximize their SLAs for their end users and customers.

Check out a video on it here:

We also did a podcast on it here:

ONTAP Select enhancements

ONTAP Select is NetApp’s software-defined version of ONTAP software. Select allows you to “select” whatever server hardware platform you want to run your storage system on (see what they did there?).

ONTAP Select has been around for a while, first in the form of ONTAP Edge. In ONTAP 9.0, it was re-branded to Select and NetApp started adding additional functionality to extend the use case for the solution outside of “edge” cases, such as remote offices.

Select runs on a hypervisor, usually ESXi. ONTAP 9.2 added some functionality that could be appealing to storage administrators.

These include:

  • 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

Three of the more compelling bullets above (to me, at least) for VMware environments are 2-node HA, the ability to use ESX ROBO licenses and the vNAS support with vSAN.

If you’re already using vSAN in your environments, you’ll know that they don’t do file protocols like CIFS/SMB or NFS. Instead, they use a proprietary protocol that is intended to speak only to VMs. While that’s great for datastores, it limits what sort of tasks the vSAN can be used for.

With ONTAP Select running on top of a vSAN, you can present NAS shares to clients, host NFS datastores, etc, without having to buy new hardware. Not only that, but you can also present datastores via vSAN on the same ONTAP Select instance.


Pretty nifty, eh?

From the NetApp vNAS Solution Brief:

Starting with ONTAP Select 9.2, the ONTAP Select vNAS solution also supports
VMware HA, vMotion, and Distributed Resources Scheduler (DRS). After deployment
of a single-node cluster that uses external storage or consumes a vSAN datastore,
the node can be moved through VMware vMotion, HA, or DRS actions. The ONTAP
Select Deploy utility can detect these movements, and updates its internal database
to continue normal management of the node.

For more information on ONTAP select, see:

Got questions or feedback? Insert them in the comments below!

Behind the Scenes: Episode 45 – ONTAP Select and ONTAP 9 SAN Improvements


Welcome to the Episode 45, part of the continuing series called “Behind the Scenes of the NetApp Tech ONTAP Podcast.”

This is yet another in the series of episodes for ONTAP 9 month on the podcast.


This week, we welcome Director of Product Management Peter Skovrup and SAN TME Mike Peppers (@NTAPFLIGuy) to talk about ONTAP Select and SAN improvements, respectively.

ONTAP Select is the next generation of ONTAP Edge, which is NetApp’s software defined storage solution. With Select, you can install ONTAP on pretty much any server platform you want and pay only for the storage you use. Select brings HA functionality, better performance and 4 node clusters!

If you want to get ONTAP Select 9.0RC1, it’s available here (requires a NetApp support login):

Finding the Podcast

The podcast is all finished and up for listening. You can find it on iTunes or SoundCloud or by going to

Also, if you don’t like using iTunes or SoundCloud, we just added the podcast to Stitcher.

I also recently got asked how to leverage RSS for the podcast. You can do that here:

The official blog is here:

Check out the podcast episode here:

ONTAP 9 is now available!

UPDATED: Changed title and links to 9.0, as it’s now GA. Check for the GA announcment here:

ONTAP 9.0 is now generally available (GA)!

All month long, the Tech ONTAP podcast has been featuring ONTAP 9 on the show to get people hyped up for the impending release.

Well, today’s the day.


ONTAP 9 is here!

That’s right – the next major release of ONTAP is now available. If you have concerns over the “RC” designation, allow me to recap what I mentioned in a previous blog post:

RC versions have completed a rigorous set of internal NetApp tests and are are deemed ready for public consumption. Each release candidate would provide bug fixes that eventually lead up to the GA edition. Keep in mind that all release candidates are fully supported by NetApp, even if there is a GA version available. However, while RC is perfectly fine to run in production environments, GA is the recommended version of any ONTAP software release.

For a more official take on it, see the NetApp link:

So, why do I need ONTAP 9?

I know what you’re thinking – “Why do I need ONTAP 9? I have a perfectly good working copy of 8.whatever running already.”

Well, honestly, if your version of ONTAP is working for you, super. Don’t change a thing. But, once you take a look at some of the feature enhancements we have in ONTAP 9, you might change your mind…

Features galore!

The list of features and improvements in ONTAP 9 is pretty impressive. It’s so impressive, in fact, that they re-branded ONTAP. (Ok that may be a bit of an exaggeration. We cover why we re-branded to ONTAP 9 in this podcast.)

The list includes:

  • Support for 15TB SSD
  • Inline data compaction
  • SnapLock® software for data compliance
  • RAID-TEC triple-parity protection
  • Headroom for visibility of performance capacity
  • MetroCluster enhancements (8 nodes!)
  • Onboard key manager (Included for FREE)
  • FlexGroups (PVR only in 9.0)
  • Workgroup mode for CIFS/SMB
  • LDAP Signing and Sealing for CIFS/SMB
  • Kerberos 5p support
  • AFF Simplicity templates
  • SAN Optimized factory configurations
  • Performance improvements
  • ONTAP Select (4 nodes, HA failover, software defined storage!)
  • Faster failover times
  • Per-aggregate CPs
  • Filehandle preservation for SVM DR – no more re-mounting after cutover!
  • Volume rehost
  • Global FIPS mode for FIPS compliance
  • TLS 1.1/1.2 support
  • Increased per-node LIF limits (cluster-wide limit remains)

That’s a lot of stuff!

If you have questions about any of the above, leave a comment and I’ll address them in a future blog post.

A few of the NetApp A-Team Members wrote up some blogs for the new stuff:

June 2016 – ONTAP 9 Month on the Tech ONTAP Podcast!

A couple weeks ago, I hinted at some news that was coming to the Tech ONTAP Podcast in June. Now, that news is finally here – ONTAP 9 has been announced!


We kicked off the month with an interview with Lee Caswell, the VP of Product and Solutions Marketing at NetApp to talk about why NetApp decided to go with the new ONTAP 9 version rather than another 8.x release, as well as how the ONTAP software release cadences are changing.

You can listen to that here:

The entire month is listed under a playlist here:

What changed?


With the new release, there is a focus on the following:


  • New AFF deployment templates for Oracle, VDI, SQL to speed up set up (<10 minute set up)
  • Improved and re-vamped management GUIs (Dave Morera does a nice job covering this)
  • Unified data management across on-prem (flash and disk) and cloud datacenters

Maximizing Data Center Agility

Improved Performance

  • 20x faster response times
  • Up to 60% more IOPs than 8.3.1

There’s also a series of new features being offered in ONTAP 9. We discussed some of those with Lee Caswell (see his blog here), but we will also be covering them in upcoming episodes this month.

For a short list of the new features:

  • Support for 15TB SSD
  • Inline data compaction
  • SnapLock® software for data compliance
  • RAID-TEC triple-parity protection
  • Headroom for visibility of performance capacity
  • MetroCluster enhancements
  • Onboard key manager (Included for FREE)
  • FlexGroups (PVR only in 9.0)
  • Workgroup mode for CIFS/SMB

A few of the NetApp A-Team Members wrote up some blogs for the new stuff:

Upcoming schedule


The following is the tentative podcast schedule for the rest of the month, where we talk about all things ONTAP 9!

Week of June 3: Lee Caswell on “Why ONTAP 9”; ONTAP 9 overview with a special SolidFire announcement in a mini-podcast! (2.5 podcasts in one week!)
June 10: ONTAP 9 features: Data Protection
June 17: ONTAP 9 features: Flash Perf
June 24: ONTAP 9 features: ONTAP Select and SAN
June 30: ONTAP 9 features: FlexGroups
July 4: ONTAP 9 features: Manageability Tools

Stay tuned for great things!