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5 minute read9 NetApp Terms You Need to Know

When it comes to NetApp technology, there are a lot of different terms floating around that you may or may not understand. So, we want to provide a brief overview of some of the essential NetApp terms you need to know. We hope that this will help you feel more educated and empowered to talk about NetApp technology.

NetApp Terms You Should Know

1. SnapMirror

SnapMirror is NetApp’s disk replication technology, which is essentially a way to duplicate data either between the same data center from one system to another as a local backup or rolled up to a remote site. SnapMirror can also be synchronous or asynchronous.

2. MetroCluster

MetroCluster is similar to SnapMirror. Unlike SnapMirror, which is just a copy with only one type running at a time, MetroCluster has both systems working active-active synchronously in real time. It is essentially a cluster where all the heads works together, so that if you lose a whole site, you’re still up and running.

3. SnapVault

SnapVault is for long-term storage of your SnapMirror protected data. SnapVault essentially takes your SnapMirror copies and marks them as an archive forever. These vaults can be deleted, but are not something you can accidentally delete.

So, say you have two sites, one in Georgia and one in California. You’re running Exchange on your site based in Georgia and are SnapMirroring your data to the California location.

Your Georgia location may be on more expensive disks, but when you SnapVault that data to your other site, you can vault that data off to another class of disk that is less expensive.


WAFL stands for “Write Anywhere File Layout” and can write any file system block within an aggregate to any disk location. It supports high-performance RAID arrays and will not just write to one drive, but will write it in multiple locations simultaneously to provide better write performance as well as better read performance.

5. OnCommand

OnCommand is a suite of software that replaced FilerView. It controls all of your filer heads within a single site or multiple sites.

Rather than going to a command file on a particular filer to set up and aggregate, volume, etc, you go to a single pane of glass, one GUI (graphical user interface), where you can see all of your disks and volumes. If you need to grow a volume you do it there, even if you need to create a new one.

6. Data ONTAP

Data ONTAP is the operating system for NetApp. You can use OnCommand to control all the features that run on ONTAP. The most recent iteration of NetApp’s Data ONTAP allows for unified, scale-out storage that can be adapted to varying business needs.

7. Aggregate

Disks are pooled into RAID groups that are then concentrated into an aggregate where your volumes live. An aggregate is basically a collection of drives that are dedicated to an application or multiple applications – depending on the performance profile.

To create an aggregate, you have to have at least three disks, so that if you lose two of those drives you can still be up and running. With the newer OS, since there’s no 16TB barrier, you can have a petabyte volume – depending on the model.

You can set up your aggregates in different ways depending on the apps running on those aggregates. For example, if you have a heavy-hitting application such as Oracle, Outlook, or Exchange, you may set those up as their own aggregate so that those applications do not affect the performance of the other aggregates.

8. 7-Mode

7-Mode is the older ONTAP version from NetApp. While it is still supported on most filers, it is not supported on the 8000 or 2500 series of filers and will eventually be phased out. 7-Mode can only have 2 controllers, so instead they are moving to a new ONTAP version called Clustered Data ONTAP.

9. Clustered Data ONTAP

With Cluster Mode, depending on the model, you can have up to 16 filer heads within a single cluster. So, for example, if you have six filer heads in a cluster and a hardware problems with one filer head, you are able to pull a whole head out of the cluster, fix it, and put it back into the cluster and nothing will go down.

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Reid Smith-Vaniz

by Reid Smith-Vaniz

Reid is the founder and CEO of Reliant Technology and for 14 years has pursued his mission to remove the pain associated with maintaining IT infrastructure. Reid writes on common challenges related to maintaining, servicing, tracking, budgeting, and upgrading technology.

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As Data Center and storage experts, Reliant Technology is available to provide consultations and solutions to your server backup needs. Our experienced engineers and IT specialists are ready to help you determine the best option for your Data Center. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, or if you would like to submit an article for possible publication, please, get in touch with us.