ONTAP (Open Network Technology for Appliance Products) is an operating system for managing storage systems developed by vendor NetApp. A proprietary, closed-source OS that optimizes working with data on NetApp arrays. The ONTAP core was created by the company’s founders David Hitz and James Lau in 1992.

OS Features

Compared to other management software, ONTAP has a number of features:

  1. The WAFL file system provides the user with support for high-performance arrays in RAID, thin allocation of disk space, deduplication/compression, instant system snapshots and many other functions.
  2. RAID-DP is a unique development of NetApp. It is a RAID-4, but two disks are allocated for checksums, not one. These media work in group recording mode due to the features of the WAFL file system.
  3. RAID-TEC is similar to RAID-DP, but the number of parity disks has been increased to 3. Hardware fault tolerance is increased 100 times compared to the previous level.
  4. FlashCash. Using SSD drives as an additional cache for controllers on hybrid storage systems. As a rule, the media is connected via a PCI Express connector in the amount of 4 pieces. The data that users are currently accessing is automatically moved to these disks, while the rest remains on the “slow” disks.
  5. The FlexClone function is designed to virtualize replicated information. Creates a virtual copy of the snapshot instantly and does not affect the performance of the storage. The client sets a schedule for FlexClone and receives instant copies of backups.
  6. FabricPool. Distributes information to different levels of other storages, both local and remote. The process is fully automated, which reduces the final cost compared to manual control.
  7. Storage QoS distributes the load on the storage depending on the priorities. The function monitors the storage status and allocates a minimum of resources for tasks with low priority. The distribution takes place automatically.
  8. VST (Virtual Storage Tiering) tiers hardware storage systems depending on the read/write speed. It works in automatic mode, increasing storage performance by splitting information into blocks of 4 KB each. If data is constantly moving between levels, it is automatically placed in the cache of controllers.


Separately, it is worth mentioning the security features that ONTAP provides for end customers.

The Fpolicy and Vscan functions prevent malicious code from operating inside the OS. The first option controls access to files, allowing you to differentiate user rights, and monitors the state of the storage. If suspicious activity is detected, Fpolicy blocks the process and notifies the administrator. Vscan provides a check of files in the white list of well-known antivirus vendors for the presence of malicious code.

Encryption is used both at the volume level and at the storage level to protect data. The technology uses a processor, which temporarily reduces the performance of the operating system.

ONTAP is NetApp’s own development, which provides end users with an operating system with a full set of functions for working with storage. Some of them, which are integrated into the OS, are also the vendor’s own development.

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