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NetApp Knowledge Base

Data ONTAP Licensing

Last Updated:


Applies to

  • Data ONTAP 8.1 7-Mode
  • ONTAP 9


Check Active IQ if this impacts your systems

The FAQs in this article are in the following categories:

General Data ONTAP Licensing Questions
  • What is an 'Entitlement'?

An 'Entitlement' is a customer's right to use a specific piece of software (e.g., CIFS) or service offering (e.g., SSP) in a specific manner under defined terms of use. Entitlements are recorded in NetApp business systems through the sales process. A License is then granted, and in most cases a License Key is provided to enable the licensed software to operate. A customer's completed sales order is proof of entitlement.

For example, consider the rental car model. A customer of ABC rental is entitled to drive the car with certain restrictions once the customer has signed the rental agreement. The restrictions include things like a prohibition to drive the car over another country's border. The rental agreement is proof of entitlement. Just as software IP is NEVER sold, only licensed, the rental car company retains ownership of the car but allows the customer to drive it. Many rental cars have GPS logging and can provide a reference source for auditing usage, much like software audit clauses in software license agreements.

For example, a customer is entitled to use SnapMirror and CIFS on a specific FAS controller for the life of that controller; for the original purchaser only. This entitlement is represented by purchase order and license agreement. The license details 'usage rights'; how the customer can use and should not use the entitlement, while the purchase order is proof the license was legally acquired.

  • What is the difference between 'Entitled' and 'Licensed'?

'Entitled' means that the customer has purchased a software entitlement for a specific controller, and NetApp business systems contain proof of the entitlement (e.g., Support Site shows the feature related to the controller). If NetApp and/or Partner business systems do NOT show an entitlement for a specific feature (e.g., CIFS), the controller is most likely not entitled to use that feature.

'Licensed' (which is a term often seen in ONTAP and management tool user interfaces) means a license key has been installed on a controller for a particular package or feature. However, in Data ONTAP 8.1 and earlier, this is not necessarily proof that the controller is entitled to use the related feature(s). For example, in Data ONTAP 8.1 7-Mode, license keys can be installed on any system; therefore, in some cases a key might have been used on a controller that is actually not entitled to use the related feature(s). Technically, this is a breach of the license agreement and constitutes a non-compliance situation that must be rectified.

  • How do Data ONTAP 8.2 and 8.3 enforce the license keys?  

Data ONTAP 8.2 and 8.3 use node-specific license keys that will only install on the controller for which they were purchased. Data ONTAP features have always been sold with node-specific license keys, but Data ONTAP 8.1 and earlier did not enforce where the license keys could be deployed, leading to not entitled use in certain situations.

In 7-Mode, Data ONTAP 8.2 checks to make sure that license keys have the correct Controller Serial Number upon installation, and the installation will fail if the host Controller Serial Number does not match the Controller Serial Number embedded in the license key. Data ONTAP also checks for the proper license key during certain transactions, at certain time intervals, and upon a re-boot. Different features might check their license key at different times.

Clustered Data ONTAP 8.2 and 8.3 does not check the license keys during the installation. The license keys can be added before the entire cluster is assembled, or after.  Data ONTAP will validate the installed license keys against the Controller Serial Numbers in the cluster at the time the cluster is fully assembled and booted up. If there are license keys installed that do not match a Controller Serial Number, error messages will be displayed. The emphasis in Clustered ONTAP 8.2 and 8.3 is to ensure easy setup and non-disruptive operation of the cluster.

  • Once the customer decides to change to Data ONTAP 8.2 or 8.3, how will they obtain the new node-specific keys for the existing systems?

New license keys are not required for an upgrade.
If you believe you have a situation where new license keys are required, see KB article What is the procedure to request License Keys for different versions of Data ONTAP?

  • How can a customer tell if a controller is using upgraded license keys or matching-version license keys?

When you upgrade Data ONTAP on a controller, the license keys "carry forward" to enable the associated features non-disruptively. However, when you run the license show command, or if you view the license information in System Manager, upgraded licenses are displayed as ‘Legacy’ licenses. This is the indication that the feature is operating with upgraded license keys. 

Data ONTAP Evaluations
  • How does a partner obtain Data ONTAP evaluation license keys for a customer?
    Currently, Data ONTAP 8.2 and 8.3 evaluation license keys can only be generated by NetApp employees through the Support Site, therefore partners must work with their NetApp contacts to obtain 'eval' keys for their customers. While the forms for requesting some evaluation license keys are internally accessible only, the license keys produced are intended for external use for NetApp business purposes.

    For clustered ONTAP 8.1 evaluations this is also true, please work with your NetApp contacts to obtain evaluation license keys.

    For clustered ONTAP 8.2 and 8.3 evaluations, use the following Cluster Base eval Key along with the feature eval keys provided by NetApp:

    License Key:                   UJBGVLVQJHOJKBAAAAAAAAAAAAAA 
    Cluster Serial Number:   1-80-000099
    Description:                    External "Eval" Base license, mandatory for cluster create and/or initial cluster setup

  • How long can a user evaluate Data ONTAP 8.2 and 8.3 features?

Data ONTAP 8.2 and 8.3 evaluation license keys provide approximately 90 days of feature use. You can extend an eval by requesting and installing a new eval key with a later expiration date.

  • Are Data ONTAP 8.2 and 8.3 evaluation license keys node-specific?

No, Data ONTAP 8.2 and 8.3 evaluation license keys can be installed on multiple controllers.


  • What is the licensing process to convert my evaluation system to a production system (i.e., running with purchased licenses)?

For 7-Mode systems, simply install the permanent license keys purchased for your controller. They will take precedence over the evaluation license keys.  This is a non-disruptive process that will not affect operations.

For clustered ONTAP 8.1 evaluation conversions, first ensure your eval licenses are still valid, then install your purchased Cluster Base Key (the one associated to your 180XXXXXX Cluster Serial Number), and then install all the purchased feature license keys that came with your Cluster Base Key. 

For clustered ONTAP 8.2 or 8.3, simply install your purchased Cluster Base Key, and then install the purchased feature license keys on each controller in the cluster. Nothing happens to the features configured with demo licenses even when the demo period has expired, the permanent keys takes precedence. License removal is non-disruptive. The license cleanup or license remove commands can be used to remove unnecessary demo licenses.

Clustered Data ONTAP Licensing
  • What are the license enforcement differences between clustered ONTAP 8.1 and clustered ONTAP 8.2 and 8.3?
    Clustered Data ONTAP 8.1 requires a single set of license keys for the entire cluster, and each license key includes a node count that cannot be exceeded. For example, on buying a 4-node cluster with CIFS, a Cluster Base License Key with a node count of 4 is made available, and a Cluster CIFS License Key that only works with the related Base key is also issued. In addition, the license keys are related to the Cluster Serial Number, and there is no relation to the controllers. 

    With clustered Data ONTAP 8.2 and 8.3, a Cluster Base Key is still required to create a cluster, but features like CIFS are enabled using the node specific license keys as in Data ONTAP 8.2 7-Mode. Cluster size limits are enforced by Data ONTAP, so nodes can be added to clusters more easily. While NetApp requires the same features to be entitled across all the controllers in a cluster, it only takes one license key to enable a feature within a cluster. Care MUST BE TAKEN to not violate NetApp's license agreement requiring each FAS node in a cluster to be uniformly licensed.

  • Is a Cluster Base Key required to create a Single-Node Cluster?
    Yes, a single-node Cluster requires a Cluster Base Key to run the create cluster command.

  • How do I install V-Series license keys in an ONTAP 8.1 cluster?
    In clustered ONTAP 8.1 you must use ONTAP 8.1 7-mode licenses keys to enable the V-Series feature (7-mode keys are 7-character, all uppercase alpha-only strings, e.g., ABCDEFG). To do this, you must first access the "node shell" by using the 'node run local' command.  Once there, use the 'license add' command to install your 7-mode V-Series license key. Complete this process on each node in the cluster.

  • How will a customer know if the nodes are uniformly entitled? Is there an easy way to keep track?
    The presence of a license key is not necessarily proof of entitlement for the entire cluster.  The Cluster Uniformity policy is a business policy that is different than the license enforcement implementation.  For ease of use, a single license key will enable a feature across an entire cluster, but the Cluster Uniformity policy requires that ALL nodes in the cluster be entitled for that feature, regardless of whether a key is installed on each node. For more information, see the Software Licensing Guide.
    The output of the system license entitlement-risk show command in ONTAP (and on the System Manager “Licenses” page in the “Entitlement Risk” column) identifies if a feature is at risk of being in compliance with the Cluster Uniformity policy (note this function only identifies if a RISK exists, it does not identify if a compliance breach is actually present).  The output shows each feature licensed on the cluster, and whether there is no risk, a medium risk, or a high risk that the feature is non-compliant with the Cluster Uniformity rule (“unlicensed” and “unknown” are also possible states for a specific license).  If a feature shows a medium or high risk, you should verify the entitlement for each node, and take actions to eliminate the risk (e.g., install missing license keys).
    You can verify the proof of entitlement on the NetApp Support site.  In the Software Licenses section, search for each Controller Serial Number that is in the cluster (the first results should include all the controllers in the cluster, but this might not always be the case). The results will display the Data ONTAP features entitled to each controller. It will also provide the related license keys which, if missing from the cluster, can be installed to eliminate the elevated risk status.

  • What about software support scenarios; what happens if a customer does not have entitlements to a feature on the controller they are calling about?

The support team will check to see if the customer is entitled to support and then check to see if the controller in question is entitled to the software feature with the issue. If the customer is not entitled for the feature on the controller, the support team will inform the customer that they are operating the feature out of compliance, and to contact their Sales team for assistance in rectifying the issue. They will then provide support, but they will not provide a permanent license key for the feature (however, they might provide a temporary license key). Furthermore, the support team will notify the appropriate Sales team.


  • How does a customer break a cluster into multiple clusters? How do cluster base keys get assigned for new clusters?

You will need to request a new Cluster Base Key through the Sales team. In most cases, you will need additional hardware to create the new cluster and the new Cluster Base Key will be generated with that order. If no new components are needed, the Sales team can submit a request for just the new Cluster Base Key, which is a no-charge item.

If you believe you have a situation where new license keys are required, see KB article What is the procedure to request License Keys for different versions of Data ONTAP?

  • If operating a Data ONTAP 8.2 or 8.3 cluster that was upgraded from version 8.1 (and using 'legacy' license keys), can new nodes and/or features be added by using version 8.2 or 8.3 license keys?

Yes. You can join new nodes to the cluster, and you can add Data ONTAP 8.2 or 8.3 license keys to the cluster to enable additional features without any disruptions.

  • What is the licensing procedure for expanding a Data ONTAP 8.1 cluster for maintenance purposes (e.g., controller swaps, hardware upgrades, etc.)?

The following process includes a specially serialized Cluster Base Key for use in controller HW Upgrade situations:

  1. Run the license show command and copy all your current cluster license keys to a secure location (you will need these keys at the end of the process)

  2. Install temporary (e.g., evaluation) license keys for all currently licensed features (i.e., if you are running CIFS, install the CIFS temp key, and so on.)

    • You can get the ONTAP 8.1 cluster feature temp keys from your NetApp representative

    • IMPORTANT: If you do not install temp keys, licensed features might stop operating when you complete step 3.

  3. Install the following Cluster Base Key, which will enable you to join additional nodes to your cluster:

    • Cluster Base Key:  PNWFGJVQHMRBBG

    • At this point, your cluster's operation should be unchanged, but you will be able to join new nodes

  4. Complete your Controller Upgrade process

  5. When the new controllers are in the cluster and the old controllers are removed, install your original set of license keys copied in Step 1 above.
    Install your Cluster Base Key first, then install your protocol and feature license keys
    If you have questions or issues completing the process, please contact your Support representative.

Transitioning from Data ONTAP 7-Mode to clustered Data ONTAP
  • Are new license keys required to transition from Data ONTAP 8.2 7-Mode to clustered Data ONTAP 8.2 or 8.3?

In Data ONTAP 8.2 and 8.3, the only new license key required to build a cluster is a Cluster Base Key, which you can request through your Sales team. For licensable Data ONTAP 8.2 features, the same license keys used for 7-Mode are also used for clustered Data ONTAP 8.2.  Data ONTAP 8.3 does not support 7-mode operation.
Note: Some features available in 7-Mode might not be available in clustered Data ONTAP.

If you believe you have a situation where new license keys are required, see KB article What is the procedure to request License Keys for different versions of Data ONTAP?

  • Are new license keys required to transition from Data ONTAP 8.1 7-Mode to clustered Data ONTAP 8.1?

Yes. In Data ONTAP 8.1, there are distinct sets of license keys for 7-Mode versus clustered Data ONTAP. Data ONTAP 8.1 7-mode keys are seven (7) characters long; whereas clustered ONTAP 8.1 license keys are fourteen (14) characters long. Clustered Data ONTAP 8.1 license keys are also 'tied' to the Cluster Base Key they are associated to, such that those keys will only work when installed in a cluster with the matching Cluster base Key. Therefore, if you have 7-Mode systems that you want to transition to clustered Data ONTAP, you must work with your sales or support representative to request a mode transition, which will include issuing new license keys.

Note: Clustered Data ONTAP 8.1 license keys also contain a 'node count' that enforces how large a cluster can be. Therefore, new license keys are also required to expand a Data ONTAP 8.1 cluster.  These keys will typically be generated as part of the order for the new systems (assuming new systems are being purchased to add to the cluster). If a customer wants to join existing systems to an existing cluster, they must submit a license key request through their sales or support representative.

  • If a customer is operating ONTAP 8.1 7-Mode, can they upgrade to 8.2 7-Mode and then to Clustered ONTAP 8.2 or 8.3 without any disruptions?

No. They can upgrade to Data ONTAP 8.2 7-Mode non-disruptively, but transitioning to clustered Data ONTAP requires a system wipe and reinstallation of Data ONTAP 8.2 or 8.3, which then requires 8.2 or 8.3 license keys.

  • My customer is operating Data ONTAP 8.1 but wants to use SnapVault in clustered ONTAP 8.2 or 8.3, how do they get their license keys?

If the customer owns SnapVault already (e.g., they own a Complete Bundle on an ONTAP 8.1 7-Mode system or they own Premium Bundle on an ONTAP 8.1 cluster), as long as their SSP is valid, they can request their Data ONTAP 8.2 or 8.3 license keys from their Sales or Support representative.

If you believe you have a situation where new license keys are required, see KB article What is the procedure to request License Keys for different versions of Data ONTAP?

Upgrading from Data ONTAP 8.1 to 8.2 or 8.3
  • Are new license keys required to upgrade from Data ONTAP 8.2 to Data ONTAP 8.3?

No, the license keys for Data ONTAP 8.2 and 8.3 are the same, there is no change in licensing that requires new license keys.

  • Are new license keys required to upgrade from Data ONTAP 8.1 to Data ONTAP 8.2 or 8.3?

No, upgrading from Data ONTAP 8.1 to 8.2 or 8.3 is a seamless, non-disruptive activity. If you wipe the system clean and install Data ONTAP 8.2 or 8.3 fresh, you will then require version appropriate license keys.

If you believe you have a situation where new license keys are required,see KB article What is the procedure to request License Keys for different versions of Data ONTAP?

  • Is a customer allowed to upgrade Data ONTAP without a valid software support contract for the controller?

No. While the controller will enable you to upgrade Data ONTAP if you have the appropriate software, to be compliant with your software license agreement you must have a valid support contract (i.e., SSP) for the controller. Software Upgrades are a benefit related to the Software Support contract and entitlement.

  • If a customer has a controller purchased with ONTAP 8.1, and wants to install Data ONTAP 8.2 or 8.3 fresh after wiping the system, are new license keys required?

Yes. The license keys for Data ONTAP 8.1 and 8.2 or 8.3 are not compatible when used for clean installations. When controllers are purchased, they are shipped with a specific version of Data ONTAP (for example, Data ONTAP 8.1 7-Mode, clustered Data ONTAP 8.1, Data ONTAP 8.2 7-Mode, etc.), and the license keys for that ONTAP version (and Mode) are posted on the NetApp Support site. However, if you wipe the controller and install a Data ONTAP version different from the one purchased, the license keys available on the NetApp Support Site for that controller (or cluster) will not work and new license keys will need to be generated. 

If you believe you have a situation where new license keys are required, see KB article What is the procedure to request License Keys for different versions of Data ONTAP?

  • If a customer owns SnapVault on a system purchased with Data ONTAP 8.1 7-mode or earlier, are they eligible to use SnapVault in clustered Data ONTAP 8.2 or 8.3?

As long as the controller in question has a valid SSP contract, the associated SnapVault entitlement is eligible to be upgraded to Data ONTAP 8.2 or 8.3 at no extra charge.  Therefore, if you are operating ONTAP 8.1 7-mode and you own SnapVault (either by purchasing it alone or with Complete Bundle), you can request an 8.2 or 8.3 SnapVault license key; and if you're operating clustered ONTAP 8.1 and you own Premium Bundle, you can request an 8.2 or 8.3 SnapVault license key.

To request the Data ONTAP 8.2 or 8.3 SnapVault license key, see KB article What is the procedure to request License Keys for different versions of Data ONTAP?

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