ONTAP 9.3 is now GA!

ONTAP 9 is on a new cadence model, which brings a new release every 6 months.

Today, ONTAP 9.3GA is available here!

http://mysupport.netapp.com/NOW/download/software/ontap/9.3

ONTAP 9.3 was announced at NetApp Insight 2017 in Las Vegas and was covered at a high level by Jeff Baxter in the following blog:

Announcing NetApp ONTAP 9.3: The Next Step in Modernizing Your Data Management

Jeff has a follow-up infographic here:

https://blog.netapp.com/10-good-reasons-to-upgrade-to-ontap-9-3-infographic/

I also did a brief video summary here:

We also did a podcast with ONTAP Chief Evangelist Jeff Baxter (@baxontap) and ONTAP SVP Octavian Tanase (@octav) here:

For info on what GA means, see:

http://mysupport.netapp.com/NOW/products/ontap_releasemodel/

Also, check out the documentation center:

docs.netapp.com/ontap-9/index.jsp

The general theme around ONTAP 9.3 is modernization of the data center. Here’s a high level list of features, with more detail on some of them later in this blog.

Security enhancements

Simplicity innovations

  • MongoDB support added to application provisioning
  • Simplified data protection flows in System Manager
  • Guided cluster setup and expansion
  • Adaptive QoS

Performance and efficiency improvements

  • Up to 30% performance improvement for specific workloads via WAFL improvements, parallelization and flash optimizations
  • Automatic schedules for deduplication
  • Backgroup inline aggregate deduplication (AFF only; automatic schedule only)

NetApp FlexGroup volume features

This is covered in more detail in What’s New for NetApp FlexGroup Volumes in ONTAP 9.3?

  • Qtrees
  • Antivirus
  • Volume autogrow
  • SnapVault/Unified SnapMirror
  • SMB Change/notify
  • QoS Maximums
  • Improved automated load balancing logic

Data Fabric additions

  • SolidFire to ONTAP SnapMirror
  • MetroCluster over IP

Now, let’s look at a few of the features in a bit more detail. If you have things you want covered more, leave a comment.

Multifactor Authentication (MFA)

Traditionally, to log in to an ONTAP system as an admin, all you needed was a username and password and you’d get root-level access to all storage virtual machines in a cluster. If you’re the benevolent storage admin, that’s great! If you’re a hostile actor, great!* (*unless you’re the benevolent storage admin… then, not so great)

ONTAP 9.3 introduces the ability to configure an external Identity Provider (IdP) server to interact with OnCommand System Manager and Unified Manager to require a key to be passed in addition to a username and password. Initial support for IdP will include Microsoft Active Directory Federation Services and Shibboleth.

MFA

For the command line, the multifactor portion would be passed by way of SSH keys currently. We cover MFA in the following Tech ONTAP podcast:

SnapLock Enhancements

SnapLock is a NetApp ONTAP feature that provides data compliance for businesses that need to preserve data for regulatory reasons, such as HIPAA standards (SnapLock compliance) or for internal requirements, such as needing to preserve records (SnapLock enterprise).

ONTAP 9.3 provides a few enhancements to SnapLock, including one that isn’t available from any storage provider currently.

legal-hold.png

Legal hold is useful in the event that a court has ordered specific documents to be preserved for an ongoing case or investigation. This can be applied to multiple files and remains in effect until you choose to remove it.

event-based

Event-based retention allows storage administrators to set protections on data based on defined events, such as an employee leaving the company (to avoid disgruntled deletions), or for insurance use cases (such as death of a policy holder).

vol-append.png

Volume append mode is the SnapLock feature I alluded to, where no one else can currently accomplish this. Essentially, it’s for media workloads (audio and video) and will write-protect the portion of the files that have already been streamed and allow appending to those files after they’ve been protected. It’s kind of like having a CD-R on  your storage system.

Performance improvements

improve-perf

Every release of ONTAP strives to improve performance in some way. ONTAP 9.3 introduces performance enhancements (mostly for SAN)/block via the following changes:

  • Read latency reductions via WAFL optimizations for All Flash FAS SAN (block) systems
  • Better parallelization for all workloads on mid-range and high-end systems (FAS and AFF) to deliver more throughput/IOPS at lower latencies
  • Parallelization of the iSCSI layer to allow iSCSI to use more cores (best results on 20 core or higher systems)

The following graphs show some examples of that performance improvement versus ONTAP 9.2.

a700-fcp

a700-iscsi

Adaptive Quality of Service (QoS)

Adaptive QoS is a way for storage administrators to allow ONTAP to manage the number of IOPS per TB of volume space without the need to intervene. You simply set a service level class and let ONTAP control the rest.

The graphic below shows how it works.

adaptive-qos

We cover QoS minimums and performance enhancements in the following Tech ONTAP podcast:

MetroCluster over IP

MetroCluster is a way for clusters to operate in a high availability manner over long distances. (hundreds of kilometers) Traditionally, MetroCluster has been done over fiber channel networks due to low latency requirements needed to guarantee writes can be committed to both sites.

However, now that IP networks are getting more robust, ONTAP is able to support MetroCluster over IP, which provides the following benefits:

  • Reduced CapEx and OpEx (no more dedicated fiber channel networks, cards, bridges)
  • Simplicty of management (use existing IP networks)

mcc-ip.png

The ONTAP 9.3 release is going to be a limited release for this feature, with the following caveats:

  • A700, FAS9000 only
  • 100km limit
  • Dedicated ISL with extended VLAN currently required
  • 1 iWARP card per node

We cover MetroCluster over IP in this podcast:

SolidFire to ONTAP SnapMirror

A few years back, the concept of a data fabric (where all of your data can be moved anywhere with the click of a button) was introduced.

That vision continued this year with the inclusion of SnapMirror from SolidFire (and NetApp HCI systems) to ONTAP.

sf-snapmirror.png

ONTAP 9.3 will allow storage administrators to implement a disaster recovery plan for their SolidFire systems.

This includes the following:

  • Baseline and incremental replication using NetApp SnapMirror from SolidFire to ONTAP
  • Failover storage to ONTAP for disaster recovery
  • Failback storage from ONTAP to SolidFire
    • Only for LUNs replicated from SolidFire
    • Replication from ONTAP to SolidFire only for failback

That covers a deeper look at some of the new ONTAP 9.3 features. Feel free to comment if you want to learn more about these features, or any not listed in the overview.

Behind the Scenes: Episode 117 – Storage QoS in ONTAP 9.3

Welcome to the Episode 117, part of the continuing series called “Behind the Scenes of the NetApp Tech ONTAP Podcast.”

tot-gopher

This week on the podcast, we invited the NTAPFLIGuy, Mike Peppers, to talk about QoS and performance in ONTAP 9.3. Listen for a general overview of QoS maximums and minimums, as well as the new Adaptive QoS feature!

Finding the Podcast

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

This week’s episode is here:

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

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/tech-ontap-podcast?refid=stpr

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

http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:164421460/sounds.rss

Our YouTube channel (episodes uploaded sporadically) is here:

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

ontap-vmware.png

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:

aid-animation2

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.

qos

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.

vnas.png

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 90 – ONTAP Performance Enhancements, including QoS Minimums

Welcome to the Episode 90, part of the continuing series called “Behind the Scenes of the NetApp Tech ONTAP Podcast.”

group-4-2016

This week on the podcast, we invited SAN and Performance TME Mike Peppers (@NTAPFLIGuy) to discuss the new performance enhancements in ONTAP 9.2!

Join us as we talk about QoS minimums, balanced LUN placement and more!

Finding the Podcast

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

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

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/tech-ontap-podcast?refid=stpr

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

http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:164421460/sounds.rss

The official NetApp blog is here:

https://newsroom.netapp.com/blogs/tech-ontap-podcast-ontap-performance-enhancements/

You can listen here:

You can also now find us on YouTube. (The uploads are sporadic and we don’t go back prior to Episode 85):

ONTAP 9.2RC1 is available!

Like clockwork, the 6 month cadence is upon us again.

clockwork_930w_spc-31

ONTAP 9.2RC1 is available for download here:

http://mysupport.netapp.com/NOW/download/software/ontap/9.2RC1/

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:

http://mysupport.netapp.com/documentation/productlibrary/index.html?productID=61373

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:

upgraded

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:

point-reyes-info.png

If I store two copies of the file on a share (no deduplication), that means I use up 16MB.

wo-dedupe

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.

w-dedupe.png

If I have multiple copies of the same image, they all point back to the same blocks:

w-dedupe-multiples.png

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.

dedupe-multiple-flexvol.png

In ONTAP 9.2, that issue is resolved. You can now take advantage of deduplication when multiple volumes reside in the same physical aggregate.

dedupe-aggr.png

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:

aid-animation2

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.

qos

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

Usability enhancements

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

FabricPools

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.

fabricpool

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!