October 4th, 2017 David Brown

NetApp Announces ONTAP 9.3


NetApp announces the release of the latest version of their ONTAP operating system, ONTAP 9.3.

In today’s IT world that is ever changing there are a number of issue areas that most companies are facing.

  • Shrinking pool of admin resources
  • Data Centre costs
  • Security
  • Data mobility

These issues really play into the overarching vision from NetApp Data Fabric by offering the following:

  • Simplicity
  • Automated Efficiencies
  • Security Enhancements
  • Performance Optimizations

NetApp continues to refine and enhance ONTAP. Take a look at the new features below.

Simplifying Operations:

  • Application-Aware, data management with MongoDB
  • Adaptive QoS – see below
  • Guide cluster setup and expansion
  • Simplified data protection setup, much simpler.

Efficiency Enhancements:

In ONTAP 9.2, NetApp introduced inline, aggregate-level dedupe. In ONTAP 9.2, the dedupe domain was restricted to the data in the NVRAM. With 9.3, a post-process aggregate scanner has been implemented to provide true, aggregate-level dedupe. This would be ideal for virtualised workloads as well as SnapMirror/SnapVault destinations with a high fan-in count. This new dedupe scanner is triggered dynamically based on change rate and will always stand down process-wise if data serving cycles are becoming scarce. However, neither NVE volumes nor FlashPool aggregates are currently supported and this is for AFF platforms only.

Efficiencies Overview:

Data Deduplication / Zero Elimination

  • Volume Deduplication.
  • Inline (ON by default).
  • Post-process (ON by default).
  • Inline zero-block elimination (ON by default).
  • Inline Aggregate Deduplication.
  • Inline (ON by default).
  • Post-process (ON by default).

Data Compression

  • Inline (ON by default).
  • Existing data scanner.

Data Compaction

  • Inline (ON by default).
  • Existing data scanner.

*“All inline storage efficiency features are enabled by default on all AFF 9.3 volumes (new and upgraded)


  • Both AES-256 and FIPS 1402
  • Two levels of data at rest encryption, NSE drives and NetApp Volume Encryption (NVE)
  • Kerberos 5p, SMB encryption, TLS 1.2 for in-flight encryption
  • Support for both on and off-box key management
  • Support for data retention compliance using SnapLock


NetApp continues to refine ONTAP. Further read latency reduction on AFF SAN has been realized through WALF optimizations. Performance improvements have been gained on the both the mid and high-end platforms through improved scheduling and better parallelization resulting in more throughput and lower latency for all workloads. Significant iSCSI performance improvements due to the parallelization of the iSCSI layer allowing it to utilize more cores in platforms with 20 cores or more.

FlexGroup Performance Improvements

FlexGroup volumes offer 2-6 times the performance for certain workloads. With 9.3 it brings some key feature advancements.

  • FlexGroups gains support for the following features:
    • QTrees
    • Anti-virus support
    • SnapVault
    • QoS maximums
    • SMB change notification
    • Improved ingest heuristics

Quality Of Service (QoS)

ONTAP 9.3 brings more advancements around QoS with the ability to not only control the high end workloads, but to also make sure they control noisy neighbours. Customers can achieve this by assigning performance controls to those high impact workloads by configuring high and min QoS.

  • Adaptive QoS policy lets performance (IOPS) scale automatically with storage (TB)
  • Maintains performance (IOPS) of critical applications along with used or provisioned storage
  • No need to constantly monitor performance levels when storage size changes – reduce OpEx

Data Mobility

The data fabric from NetApp is now coming to fruition, bringing SnapMirror from ONTAP to the SolidFire platform. With ONTAP 9.3 you will be able to replicate from a SolidFire system to a NetApp destination. The source can be any SolidFire system, including the new NetApp HCI platform. Management can be from the SolidFire GUI, ONTAP CLI or via ZAPI making it is as easy as ever to mange and automate the SnapMirror relationships. SolidFire can only act as the source system and not as a SnapMirror destination, except for when reverting after a DR invocation event.

Want to find out more about NetApp.

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About the Author

David Brown
David Brown Technical Consultant for Simplify IT Solutions Limited, focusing on NetApp, VMware, Microsoft, Cisco and Veeam. Member of the #NetAppATeam

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