May 31st NetApp released the latest version of their industry leading ONTAP operating system ONTAP9. Many of my NetApp A Team colleagues have blogged about the above in a lot more detail so please check the #NetAppATeam hash on twitter to find these newly released blog posts.

From my perspective I’ve looked at the new features and releases and decided to go a little deeper into what they actually mean and what this can bring to the industry. I intend to cover several of the new features in upcoming posts.

For this post though, I’d like to focus on;

NetApp ONTAP Select

“NetApp ONTAP Select is the software-defined version of ONTAP deployed on customers’ choice of commodity servers and hypervisors. The May 31, 2016 release is ONTAP Select 9.”

First of all, I have to introduce the new NetApp ONTAP Select a Software Defined Storage play allowing for ONTAP to be leveraged on commodity hardware and not requiring FAS hardware. Previous to Select NetApp had released a product called ONTAP Edge a similar use case but limited to VMware.

NetApp ONTAP Select is a Software Defined Storage solution allowing for ONTAP to be installed on commodity hardware and not requiring bespoke FAS controllers. ONTAP Select is the evolution of its predecessor ONTAP Edge removing some of the limitations of hardware and hypervisor choice.

Edge was great for me from a test and development point of view, I didn’t have the power or budget to run a full blown FAS in my home lab, so Edge gave me that possibility rather than relying on what has become a flaky at best ONTAP simulator. The biggest let down though was it was only available for vSphere as an OVA format appliance. More to come on this later.

Back to ONTAP Select, the key benefits to this new SDS platform are the following:

Flexible and Agile – the ability to deploy “Cloud Like” storage on commodity server infrastructure. To be able to deploy, expand and procure in a very fast and efficient way.

Enterprise Availability – Ultimately this solution is running ONTAP which means all the rich management features and tools are all available. Something that ONTAP Edge didn’t have and was lacking was the ability to provide high availability across multiple ONTAP Select nodes. More on this later also.

Efficient and Effective Protection – As I said previously this is an ONTAP system so all the Snapshot, SnapMirror and SnapVault technologies are also available here, this includes all of the storage efficiencies are also ported over meaning significant space savings on commodity hardware.

High Availability

I mentioned above about the high availability enhancements that have come with ONTAP Select. It delivers this with improved scale, up to 4 ONTAP Select nodes. (a 1 node cluster is still available for those sites that really don’t require that HA capability)
What we have here is a Software Defined Storage, Scale out solution with the same namespace across all four nodes. And with all the same benefits around non disruptive operations. As with ONTAP we have the ability to still move workloads Non disruptively between these nodes as well as rebalance that workload.

This solution today is scalable to 400TB RAW, but with all the benefits of storage efficiency around Thin Provisioning, deduplication and compression this makes it a particularly great option for some of the following scenarios.

It’s also worth mentioning that this will allow for a unified storage offering, providing File level services in NFS and SMB as well as block with the iSCSI protocol.



Test & Development
Given the hardware requirements ONTAP Select is great for Test and Development use cases, the ability to send production volume data to an ONTAP Select node and then be able to use that in a development environment allowing developers to run against the ONTAP capabilities, obviously the downside here the ONTAP Select platform may not be as performant as the production FAS system but still provides fantastic way to drive development within an enterprise business.


Tier 2 / 3 primary workloads
Because this is commodity hardware there is no real limitation on what hardware can be used (when I say this I mean regarding the disk spindles or SSD that are used within the hardware) this means you are able to appropriately tier your production storage to leverage this easily adaptable platform as part of the enterprise storage solution.


DR / Offsite Secondary storage
Why put a like for like storage solution in your disaster recovery location when you can drop in some commodity hardware with disk and then have ONTAP Select on top accepting all SnapMirrored data appropriately? What about longer term retention and SnapVault again use commodity hardware and storage rather than a full enterprise array for such retention. Cutting costs but still retaining the fabric enabling the transfer of data between sites and locations.


Service Providers
The above scenario I mention is purely for private clouds, what about leveraging that same technology in a Service Provider environment and allow for Backup as A Service or even DR as a Service using ONTAP Select, this is going to be possible with all the built in isolation and multi tenancy capabilities of ONTAP 9.

Technical Requirements & Specification

The final thing I am going to touch on in this post is the NetApp ONTAP Select technical requirements.

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