That’s right folks, not the 8.4 you were thinking was next, but straight to 9. With the jump to 9 in the versioning also comes a bit of rebranding. When referring to the OS of your FAS, you can finally simply say ONTAP, no more qualifying that with “7-mode” or “clustered” or even prefixing it with “Data”. Alongside this new version comes two variants, one that runs in the cloud and one that you can run in your VMware environment. ONTAP Cloud and ONTAP Select respectively. Currently ONTAP Cloud is AWS only, but all signs point to an Azure release in the very near future. ONTAP Select picks up where Edge left off.
I’ve had some helm time with the new version and the first thing you’ll notice is that System Manager has been cleaned up and rearranged. When you first login, you’ll now get the following dashboard with a quick view of your cluster:
This dashboard is good for a quick glance at performance and capacity, but clicking around the other tabs still leaves something to be desired on the usability front, but only because there is just so much available in this interface. I feel like I’ve got the “advanced view” option permantly checked off. Personally I don’t mind all the various tabs and sub-tabs, but for your day-to-day operator, most of the options available aren’t necessary.
Moving over to the technical side of the equation, ONTAP 9 brings with it a few new exciting features. First of all, support for the new 15.3TB SSDs makes its way into the payload, as well as RAID-TEC triple-parity protection. As far as I know, NetApp will be first to market with these 15.3’s and I can’t wait to see them in the field. RAID-TEC, or RAID Triple Erasure Coding will really help out with the larger disk sizes. While it won’t be mandatory for the large SSDs, I highly recommend it for spinning drives >= 6TB. These drives currently have a max RAID group size of 14, but the introduction of RAID-TEC will increase that to 28 drives. This will not only double your RAID protection level and decrease rebuild times, but most importantly the RAID tax won’t be so bad in the larger deployments. If you’ve already got these large drives deployed, you can move to RAID-TEC and larger RAID groups provided you have the disks to add to the aggregate.
In the realm of performance, NetApp is claiming a 60% increase in IOPS over 8.3.1, as well as the introduction of “Headroom for visibility of performance capacity”. What this means is that at a glance, you should be able to see how much more performance is left in your cluster. NetApp has also introduced a new data-reduction technology called Data Compaction. With this latest addition to the existing data reduction tricks, namely deduplication, compression, cloning and thin-provisioning NetApp is now boasting a 4:1 data reduction number and is backing it with a guarantee.
Finally, two more feature introductions for the compliance-minded folks out there. First you’ll be happy to hear SnapLock® software is back, and for those not looking to introduce the cost and complexity of an external key manager for NSE drives, NetApp has introduced an onboard key manager.
Make sure to check out some of the other posts on this subject by my fellow NetApp A-Team members:
***Note: ONTAP 9 is not out yet, but the details are. The exact release date is not public yet.