New ONTAP 9.3 release highlights NetApp Data Fabric announcements

NetApp has announced upgrades to key software products that make up their Data Fabric, including ONTAP 9.3.

Jeff Baxter (L) and Octavian Tanase onstage in their keynote

LAS VEGAS – On the second day of their INSIGHT customer event here, NetApp made multiple announcements around releases of their core software products that make up the company’s Data Fabric. These include their ONTAP 9.3 release. They also include the SolidFire Element OS, StorageGRID Webscale, and OnCommand Insight software.

“NetApp is uniquely positioned in the market, with our capabilities, product set and expanding opportunities in cloud and software,”  said Brett Roscoe, NetApp’s VP of product and solutions marketing. “We want to be the data authority in a hypercloud world. Our story is the data fabric – breaking down boundaries between on-prem IT and public cloud and making it easier for customers to deal with a hybrid world.”

NetApp ONTAP 9.3 was formally announced in the Day Two keynote.

“We are announcing 9.3, which will be available for download in a couple of weeks,” said Octavian Tanase, SVP ONTAP. “It is faster, more efficient and more secure than ever.”

A big enhancement in 9.3 is Adaptive QoS, which simplifies setup with streamlined application of QoS policies and automatic adaptation of QoS levels to changes in the workload.

“It’s ONTAP magic,” said Jeff Baxter, Chief Evangelist for ONTAP. “It figures out what the right node is, and the right quality of service. It assesses the mess, focuses on applications, and accelerates workloads and analytics.”

Other enhancements are path parallelization to deliver more IOPS and lower latency, and optimizing deduplication through aggregate level dedupe.

“You will have the ability to go from 95 per cent full storage to 15 per cent with ONTAP 9.3,” Baxter said.

Chris Maki, Vancouver-based Senior Solutions Architect and national NetApp advisor at Scalar Decisions, thought both the path parallelization and dedupe improvements were significant.

“The parallelization of iSCSI and aggregate level dedupe are both big improvements that will be welcomed,” he said.

The improved ONTAP efficiency has been incorporated into an updated NetApp All-Flash Capacity Guarantee, which pledges that customers will achieve workload-specific capacity savings or NetApp will make up the difference. With VDI specifically, NetApp is now guaranteeing a 6-1 reduction.

Security and compliance capabilities have also been enhanced in ONTAP 9.3, to provide external key management for NetApp Volume Encryption and multifactor authentication. Users can now also apply compliance policies for legal holds and event-based retention.

“The security improvements will have a big impact for us in the public sector, as well as some other areas,” Roscoe said.

NetApp’s SolidFire Element OS has had a major enhancement. An integration with NetApp SnapMirror supports data movement one-way from Element OS systems to ONTAP systems across the Data Fabric.

This is immensely important, said Ian Rae, Founder and CEO of Montreal-based NetApp partner CloudOps.

“Integrating SnapMirror and Solidfire is so significant, because it is critical that these two universes unite as a single unified solution,” Rae said. “They represent the convergence of the traditional data centre and software-defined. Anything that allows us to move the data more efficiently between the private cloud and public cloud will help. That’s the hardest problem, the most expensive thing, that slows everything down. It’s all about getting the data to the right place at the right time and with the right governance.”

Right now, it’s just one-way movement, and it needs to go the other way as well, Rae said.

“The SnapMirror integration is a big deal, and it will be bigger once it goes both ways,” said Scalar’s Maki. “The fact that SnapMirror can do this will really help the HCI story.”

The big news in the release of the StorageGRID Webscale 11 – NetApp’s object storage offering – is new and tight integration with AWS.

“You can now create an S3 bucket to copy and replicate into the AWS cloud using the StorageGRID CloudMirror technology,” Roscoe said. “This lets you use StorageGRID compute resources in the cloud.”

The final enhancement to the data fabric involves OCI — OnCommand Insight.

“It has evolved into more of a hybrid cloud planning tool,” Roscoe indicated. “It can now look at the cost of AWS resources to migrate. Adding the AWS cost monitoring is the new element here. With Azure, you can look at it, but it doesn’t have the cost monitoring capability –not yet.”