NetApp ONTAP 9.6 New Features and Functions (plus some new hardware!)

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NetApp announced ONTAP 9.6 with new features and functions as well as a new mid-level NVMe hardware platform, the all NVMe A320.

  • (Going forward (9.6 and up)) All version of ONTAP will be “long term supported”
  • New (and renamed) version of ONTAP System Manager that is based on REST APIs   
  • Simpler FlexGroup management
  • Adaptive QoS support for NVMe/FC (maximums)  
  • Additional host support for NVMe
  • FabricPool tiers to Google and Alibaba clouds
  • FlexCache extended to use with Cloud Volumes ONTAP
  • FlexGroups on MetroCluster.
  • Larger ONTAP Select “Premium XL” license  
  • Over-the-wire encryption with SnapMirror and FlexCache
  • Per tenant / SVM encryption key management
  • Aggregate-level encryption which enables aggregate level dedupe with NVE
  • Entry level AFF and FAS MetroCluster over IP 
  • Easy deploy plugin for ONTAP Select in VMware
  • SnapMirror Synchronous support for NFSv4, SMB2 & 3
  • Self Encrypting Drives (SED) NVMe SSDs

Now let’s look at a few of my favorites:

New ONTAP Support Policy
Going forward all ONTAP releases will be “long term supported.” Previously, “even” versions were short term supported (one year)  and “odd” versions were long term supported (three years). The new support policy will be fully support for three years, limited support for two years, and “self-service” support for three years after.

FlexGroups operate as a “scale-out NAS container” utilizing a single NAS point to allow access and automatic load distribution across multiple constituents, which rests on multiple aggregates across the ONTAP cluster. In ONTAP 9.6, support for MetroCluster (FC and IP) is now supported and can be created on existing MetroCluster deployments after upgrading to ONTAP 9.6. Additional Out-Of-Space protection was also introduced; this is called in to action when one of the constituents gets a little fuller than the others. It will end up “borrowing” space (up to 1%) from the other constituents to allow the write to complete.   

Over-the-Wire Encryption With Snapmirror and FlexCache
Snapmirror has been around since just about the dawn of NetApp. Tried and true, it’s the backbone of replication and migration in ONTAP systems. Now with ONTAP 9.6, SnapMirror and Snapmirror Synchronous  is encrypted (TLS v1.2) end to end and is enabled by default on all new SnapMirror relationships.  End-to-end encryption is also now available on the new version of FlexCache, which made its debut with ONTAP 9.5. FlexCache is a feature of ONTAP that allows you to extend and/or accelerate data access within a cluster or more, typically across the WAN to remote clusters.

Aggregate-Level Encryption:
NetApp Volume Encryption was introduced back in ONTAP 9.1 as a quick and easy way to get encryption at rest on ONTAP.  Shortly after, aggregate level dedupe was introduced back in 9.2. The downside was that you could not do NVE and ALD at the same time due to each volume being encrypted with a different key for security.  However, with ONTAP 9.6 you’re given the option to encrypt at a aggregate level, giving each volume the same key (technically), so ALD is able to read all the blocks across the volume.

Entry Level AFF and FAS MetroCluster of IP:
The A220 and FAS2750 will now support MetroCluster over IP (MCC-IP) which was initially only available on the larger A700 and FAS900 system, and then later on for the mid-level A300 and 8200 systems. This gives the entry level solutions the ability to utilize MetroCluster of IP functionality. To further lower the entry cost of MCC IP, new deployments of MCC IP are able to use existing switches within the customers datacenter for the ISL.  (Note: Certain requirements are required for this option.  Please contact your NetApp Partner or NetApp Rep for further details. )

New Platform AFF A320 All NVMe Controller
The A320 is the mid-level version of the all NVMe A800 that debuted last year and offers the same end-to-end NVMe connectivity. Onboard are 8x 100GbE (can also support 40GbE) ports for connectivity and shelf expansion. Ports “e0a” and “e0d” are reserved for shared cluster and HA interconnects. Each controller has two expansion slots that can be configured with either the 4 port 10GbE networking, or the 4 port 32Gb FC or 25/100GbE RoCE. Along with the release of the A320, there will be an all NVMe expansion shelf,  the NS224 that will be available.


Rear view of the A320 each controller has 8x 100GbE ports + 2 expansion slots.  


2 thoughts on “NetApp ONTAP 9.6 New Features and Functions (plus some new hardware!)

  1. This is still unclear if 9.6 is LTU, says “going forward”, so to me that means 9.7 and above.


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