Update: You can now download ONTAP 9 GA from here: http://mysupport.netapp.com/NOW/download/software/ontap/9.0/
There’s so much here, so let’s start with the obvious first – The Name Change. NetApp’s flagship OS “Clustered DataONTAP” is now simple just “ONTAP” with the new release to simply be known as “ONTAP 9”. What’s also a bit different is that NetApp will not refer to ONTAP as an OS, but rather just “NetApp® ONTAP® software.” This has a lot to do with the upcoming release of ONTAP Select, the version of ONTAP that will run on white box hardware (more on that later). Other slight name changes include the renaming of NetApp Cloud ONTAP to just “ONTAP Cloud.”
Here’s a chart comparing the old and new names:
So why the name change and why now? In a word, simplicity. NetApp is heading in the right direction here. NetApp has never been known as the array that’s the most simple to use and operate, but you’ll see that with ONTAP 9 and all utilities going forward this will be a major focus for NetApp and it starts with the name change. A good portion of what’s new in the ONTAP 9 release is to simplify deployments and operations.
Let’s talk about new features in ONTAP 9
This is not meant to be a full list, just some of what I think is really cool.
1. New RAID format: RAID-TEC (Triple Erasure Encoding). This new RAID format is designed for triple parity protection for the larger SATA and SSD disk sizes. This will essentially allow for much larger RAID Group sizes on the large disks. Translation: More usable space and better protection of large drives sizes. RAID-TEC will be the default going forward on any drives 6TB and larger and required for drives 10TB and larger. You will be able to covert existing RAID-DP aggregates non-disruptively to RAID-TEC groups as well. Keep an eye out for an upcoming blog post for more in depth breakdown of RAID-TEC.
2. New inline data reduction technology: Compaction. From the company that pioneered data dedupe and compression on tier 1 data, comes a brand new technology from NetApp: Compaction. So what the heck is Compaction? First of all, NetApp currently has inline dedupe and inline compression. Compaction works inline in conjunction with dedupe and compression. The idea of compaction is that storage space usage can be considerably reduced if multiple I/Os or files can be stored together in a singular 4KB block. Compaction happens on logical blocks as they are being organized before being written to storage. NetApp claims this process uses very little CPU and has no performance impact. I’ll detail the space savings on existing volumes as soon as I have a chance to try out this new tech.
3. Onboard Key Manager for Full Disk Encryption at rest! Making full disk encryption more easily accessible is always a good thing. One of the most welcome features of ONTAP 9 has to be onboard key management. This feature was designed to quickly and simply deploy encryption at rest technology. Only a single passphrase is required to set this up. All keys are automatically generated and stored locally in the ONTAP cluster. Most importantly, no need to manage encryption keys! Of course, external key management (KMIP) servers are still supported as needed, but I’m digging this new feature.
4. Advanced Data Partition Enhancements – NetApp has put a ton of work into enhancing the “ADP” feature that was release in ONTAP 8.3. If you recall, the idea of this feature was to return a ton of usable space that was locked up in the required root aggregates in ONTAP. This ended up being a huge improvement in usable space from RAW. The new enhancements in ONTAP 9 take this idea and expand on it further, which is now even more critical with the larger SSD drive sizes hitting the street. NetApp estimates that the changes in ADP will return 17% more usable space in 24-drive configurations vs 8.3.x implementations. Not bad at all.
- SnapLock returns. If you remember this feature from the 7-mode days, this gives storage operators WORM capabilities and greater compliance with data retention requirements by being able to lock data in place and guarantee that it has been unaltered.
- All Flash Performance Enhancements. It seems that every release from NetApp bumps up performance on all-flash configurations, and ONTAP 9 is no different. NetApp claims that ONTAP 9 should produce 60% more IOPS versus 8.3.1 code.
- Faster take over and give back performance. Planned and unplanned failovers should be much faster in ONTAP 9 vs. previous releases. NetApp is claiming ONTAP 9 should have these events down to 2-15 seconds.
- Enhanced Analytics. Keep an eye out for a new “head-room” metric that works in conjunction with the upcoming OnCommand Performance Manager 3.0. The idea of this new feature will be to show how “utilized” each node in a cluster is. This provides insight into how much additional workload your system is able to handle.
- System Manager Enhancements. The evolution of the on cluster System Manager software continues with ONTAP 9:
- New menu placements
- Real-time performance graphs on any object in the cluster are some of the highlights
- ONTAP Select – This one is going to require a whole dedicated blog post for, so keep an eye out for that. In a nutshell this is a full ONTAP 9 single node or 4-node cluster that runs as virtual machines on any hardware. This is the full goodness that is ONTAP with the full flexibility to run on any commodity hardware! This is certainly an evolution of ONTAP Edge, but EDGE was never multi-node clusters with HA. More to come on this.
With all that is new with ONTAP 9, let’s not forget about all the new hardware announcements as well.
- 15.3 TB SSD – Yes, you read that right. Don’t let the start-ups let you think they’ve cornered the market on innovation. NetApp is first to the market with 15.3TB SSD in a 2.5” form factor. Imagine a single 2 rack unit high – 24 drive shelf full of 15.3TB SSD drives. NetApp is now estimating a 4:1 effective capacity on All-Flash FAS running ONTAP 9. If those numbers hold, a single shelf of these drives would yield over 1PB effective capacity!
- New 12GB SAS Disk Shelves –With shiny new SSD drives we’re going to need some new SAS shelves, correct? In step the new 12GB SAS drive shelves. Take a look at the new drive shelves being announced below. Historically the last digit in the NetApp shelf ID has been the SAS speed of the shelf. So why “C” you ask? “C” just happens to be “12” in hexadecimal.
Want to try on ONTAP 9 for yourself? Neil Anderson over at FlackBox.com has produced a free ebook on how to set up an ONTAP 9 simulator on your workstation to try out all the lovely ONTAP goodness. You can get the free ebook HERE. Thanks Neil!