Right on schedule, to coincide with NetApp INSIGHT 2019 is the announcement of the next release of NetApp’s ONTAP, 9.7. Going over the list of improvements, much of what is expected in 9.7 seems incremental. The themes for this release are High Performance, Simplicity and Data Protection. This release will also bring support for a few new platforms, the FAS8300, 8700 and the AFF A400. Also, a new twist on the A220 and A700, the first models in the new All SAN Array(ASA) versions of the all flash FAS’.
FlexCache, the most recent feature to be brought back from the depths of 7-mode gets a bit more attention. First up, both FC and IP MetroCluster support, allowing you to extend a volume namespace across MCC sites and per-site load-balancing for NFS clients. Also, FlexGroups can now be the origin volume for FlexCache, allowing for origin volumes greater than 100TB and higher file counts.
In the realm of security, data-at-rest encryption is on by default for all newly created volumes provided there is a key manager configured. ONTAP will encrypt the data using hardware encryption if the drives are available, otherwise it will leverage software-based encryption. Setting up the onboard key manager is now extra simple with a setup wizard available in System Manager.
MetroCluster network can now co-exist on your data access switches provided they comply with specifications. MCC’s with either an A220 or FAS2750 do not qualify.
There’s an interesting new bit of engineering coming in the new AFF A400 platform where compression will be offloaded to a PCI network card.
FlexGroup improvements include NDMP support, allowing backup by any 3d party application that supports NDMP. ONTAP 9.7 brings NFS v4.0 and v4.1 to FlexGroups, including support for pNFS. The long awaited conversion in-place from FlexVol to single-member FlexGroup is here, allowing you to scale capacity and performance without having to perform a client-based copy. While VMware datastores will work on FlexGroups, this isn’t supported quite yet. If you’re a NetApp partner and you have a customer who would like to use FlexGroups as a VMware datastore, contact your SE.
Another oft-request feature, this one of FabricPools, is the ability to tier to more than one object store. In 9.7, FabricPool Mirrors is announced, allowing you to tier to two separate object stores. FabricPool mirrors can be used to add resiliency, or change providers, perhaps to re-patriate your data to an on-premises StorageGRID deployment. Keeping on the topic of FabricPool, customers wanting to tier to an object store that isn’t officially qualified no longer need an FPVR, though they must perform their own testing to ensure the object store meets their needs. The officially qualified object stores are: Alibaba Cloud Object Storage Services, Amazon S3, Amazon Commercial Cloud Services, Google Cloud Storage, IBM Cloud Object Storage, Microsoft Azure Blog Storage and StorageGRID.
Wrapping up the 9.7 updates, ONTAP Select gets NVMe device support, 12-node clusters and NSX-T support on ESXi.