NetApp today unveiled a series of major enhancements to our Data Fabric, accelerating data protection and application performance in the hybrid cloud. A key part of that announcement is the launch of NetApp® ONTAP® 9.3 software. As ONTAP celebrates its 25th birthday, we continue to help companies modernize storage through data management with improved performance, increased efficiency, and enhanced security and compliance.


ONTAP 9.3 continues our ongoing 6-month cadence of major innovation. We announced 9.3 today at our annual user conference, NetApp Insight, in Las Vegas. If you couldn’t attend in person, live streams and recordings of the general session announcements will be available online at Although plans can change, you can expect to see ONTAP 9.3 available for download in November. This download is a free nondisruptive upgrade for our customers who have a valid support contract on supported All Flash FAS and FAS platforms.


ONTAP is the world’s #1 branded storage operating system and is a key part of why NetApp is the fastest-growing Top 5 All-Flash Array vendor and the fastest-growing Top 5 SAN vendor in the first half of 2017.*


As with any major ONTAP release, there are a whole host of improvements to help our customers. Let’s focus on a few key areas.

Higher Performance with Greater Assurance

ONTAP 9.3 offers up to 40% increased performance compared to previous versions. The exact amount of improvement varies with workload, and there has been significant improvement in iSCSI performance. This free nondisruptive upgrade simply unlocks more performance for our customers on systems they already have, through software optimization and path parallelization to deliver more IOPS at lower latency. A single AFF high-availability pair can now deliver over 850,000 IOPS.


In addition, ONTAP 9.3 introduces a new enhancement to our quality of service (QoS) functionality with Adaptive QoS. With ONTAP 9.3, storage administrators or IT generalists can easily provision storage via application-specific templates and attach predefined – or custom – service levels that include both QoS maximums and minimums. With Adaptive QoS, those QoS resources change dynamically as the amount of capacity consumed increases, ensuring a consistent IOPS/TB level of performance. As a result, ONTAP 9.3 can offer greater assurance that business-critical applications get the performance they need, and no application is able to consume performance resources above what it should receive per its service level.

Increased Efficiency

ONTAP 9.3 offers up to 30% increased capacity savings by optimizing deduplication. Maximum deduplication savings are now achieved automatically on AFF systems with all inline deduplication, compression, and compaction enabled by default on new and upgraded volumes. In addition, the system automatically runs background deduplication dynamically with no performance impact, to capture any additional possible space savings.


This improved ONTAP efficiency is incorporated in the NetApp All Flash Capacity guarantee, which ensures that you will achieve workload-specific capacity savings, or NetApp will make up the difference.


MetroCluster™ gets simpler and more efficient in ONTAP 9.3 with the limited release of MetroCluster-IP (MCC-IP). MCC-IP offers capital expenditure savings of more than 10% and operational savings of 15% or more by eliminating FC-SAS bridges and sharing cluster interconnect switches.

Enhanced Security and Compliance

ONTAP 9.3 offers new encryption, authentication, and compliance capabilities. ONTAP has offered data-at-rest encryption for years and added NetApp Volume Encryption (NVE) in ONTAP 9.1 to offer software-based granular encryption. In ONTAP 9.3, we add external key management via the industry-standard Key Management Interoperability Protocol (KMIP) for NVE, allowing customers to choose from multiple industry-leading external key management providers.


As a result, ONTAP 9.3 customers with NVE and KMIP can:

  • Centralize key management for thousands of volumes across multiple clusters
  • Manage other KMIP-compatible encryption products with the same solution
  • Enable separation of duties, with one administrator for key management and another for storage management
  • Achieve higher levels of FIPS certification, including FIPS 140-2 Level 3 KMIP solutions

ONTAP 9.3 now offers multifactor authentication (MFA) for administrator access to NetApp OnCommand® System Manager and Unified Manager. MFA helps protect administrator accounts against brute force attacks, social engineering acquisition of passwords, and easily guessed or cracked weak passwords. ONTAP 9.3 uses the industry-standard Security Assertion Markup Language version 2.0 (SAML 2.0) to authenticate users against a number of industry-leading identity providers. Command-line access via SSH is also protected via two-factor chained authentication that uses  industry-standard public-private key pairs.


SnapLock is our leading compliance-based solution to provide write once, read many (WORM) file locking to reinforce the permanence and integrity of customer data. SnapLock is certified to meet stringent U.S. government requirements, such as the SEC 17a-4(f) rule, FINRA, and CFTC, as well as national requirements for the German-speaking countries (DACH). ONTAP 9.3 adds the ability for customers to apply compliance policies for legal holds and event-based retention.

ONTAP 9.3: The Next Step in Modernizing Your Data Management

Visit the ONTAP website for more details, and stay tuned for additional deep-dive blogs and other collateral on ONTAP 9.3 features over the next month.


* Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker Q2 2017 — October 2017 (Open Networked Disk Storage System revenue)

Jeff Baxter

Jeff Baxter is Senior Director for Product Management for NetApp ONTAP Scale-Out NAS. In this role, Jeff oversees an elite team of Product Managers and Technical Marketing Engineers working to build and communicate NetApp’s industry-leading approach to scale-out NAS and the broader unstructured data market. Previously, Jeff has held a variety of technical and strategy roles at NetApp, including serving as Chief Evangelist for ONTAP, and Field Chief Technology Officer for the Americas at NetApp.

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