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ONTAP 9.10.1 and later licensing overview

Last Updated:

Applies to

  • ONTAP 9.10.1 and later
  • Licenses


Note: For licensing in 9.9.1 and earlier, see: ONTAP Licensing in 8.2 to 9.9.1.

Licensing Updates Summary
  • ONTAP 9.10.1 and later for FAS/AFF storage systems use a new file-based licensing solution to enable per-node ONTAP features (e.g., CIFS, SnapMirror, etc.).  The new license key format is referred to as a NetApp License File (NLF).
  • The NLF format supports “bundle” licensing, meaning one NLF can enable one or more individual features. For example, you will only get one NLF for ONTAP Core Bundle, as opposed to receiving individual license keys per feature.
  • The NLF format supports multiple node-based license models, for example, “capacity” based licenses and “enabled” licenses.  See Packaging details for which ONTAP features are sold under each model.
  • Non-Disruptive Upgrade and Controller FRU Replacement processes are unchanged.  However, it is recommended that you convert your legacy license keys to the NLF format and install the new NLFs when convenient (future upgrades may require the NLF format to be in place).
  • Legacy license keys can be converted to the new NLF format using a self-service tool on the NetApp Support Site.  See this video for details: License Files in ONTAP 9.10 - NetApp Support Site
Supported License Types
  • ONTAP 9.10.1 and later licensing supports the following license types (* = New):
  • Enabled* (node-locked): included features are enabled on the node to manage all data on the system (example: Encryption Bundle).
  • Capacity* (node-locked): included features are enabled to manage a specific amount of data on the system as measured in TibiBytes (TiBs) (example: Data Protection Bundle).
  • Capacity-Term (cluster-locked): included features are enabled to manage a specific amount of data on a cluster as measured in TeraBytes (TBs) for a specific period of time (example: Hybrid Cloud Bundle).
  • Evaluation: included features are enabled for a specific period (term) to evaluate ONTAP features in a non-production environment on any host node or cluster
Adding Storage to a System
  • For “Capacity” licenses, the capacity value is determined based on the System’s total Storage Capacity.
  • At point of sale, the system capacity is recorded in each capacity license record for the system.  For example, if a system is purchased with 10TB of storage capacity, all capacity-type licenses for that system will have a 10TB capacity limit.
  • If additional storage is purchased after the point of sale for a specific system serial number, it is recommended (but not required) that the user regenerate their capacity-based licenses and apply them to the system.  This enables the System Manager to display the new total license capacity value.
Non-Disruptive Upgrades
  • For systems running ONTAP 9.8.x or 9.9.x, non-disruptive upgrades to ONTAP 9.10.1 or later are supported without any changes to the system licenses.

Note: In a future release, NLFs will be required to upgrade. So, it is recommended that you convert your licenses to NLFs and install the new NLFs on your systems at your earliest convenience.  You can convert your licenses on the NetApp Support Site (NSS).  See how in this video:  License Files in ONTAP 9.10 - NetApp Support Site

Controller FRU Replacements (failed controller replacement)
  • The Controller FRU Replacement process has been updated to include NLF licenses along with the legacy 28-character keys. 
  • When a replacement controller is shipped, the new Serial Number is assigned both license types, so the user has the ability to deploy the system using any ONTAP version. 
  • The user must retrieve the licenses for the new System Serial Number from NSS and apply them to the replacement controller within 90 days (same as today).
Controller Upgrades (e.g., AFF A700 to AFF A900)
  • When a Controller upgrade is purchased, the existing System Serial Number must be provided and the existing licenses for that system are identified.  Equivalent licenses are then assigned to the new (upgraded) System Serial Number and will be available on NSS after the Sales Order is fulfilled.
  • When implementing the PCM upgrade, go to NSS and retrieve the new licenses for the PCM Serial Number, and install them when the system boots up. 
  • Due to a known issue, the NLFs for the new Serial Numbers will have a capacity value of “1”. This is a display issue only and will not impact product operation.
Licensing and “Packaging”
  • Licensing refers to the technology used to enable software features.  Packaging refers to what individual features are sold either individually or in “bundles” (i.e., a single license that enables multiple features).

Note: Not all licenses are available on all platforms. See product documentation for those details.

License Key Conversions
  • Most FAS/AFF controllers that are already deployed are operating with “legacy” license keys.  These are the 28-character license keys that were issued one-per-feature for ONTAP 8.3 through 9.9.1.
  • To convert “legacy” licenses to the new NLF format, log in to NSS, look up your controller serial number on the Software Licenses page, and click the “Check Eligibility” link.  See this video for details: License Files in ONTAP 9.10 - NetApp Support Site
  • To convert NLF format to "legacy" licenses to use if the cluster will be configured with ONTAP prior to 9.10.1, follow these steps.
    1. Log in to the My Support Site.
    2. Select the Systems menu.
    3. Choose the Software Licenses option.
    4. Look for the column with links referring to Check Eligibility (if that column isn’t visible you may need to activate it using the View Settings dropdown menu).
    5. Once you click that link and the subsequent screens, it will start the process of converting the license keys. 
NLF Installation
  • System Manager is the preferred method for adding a NetApp License File
  • Alternatively, an API call using /cluster/licensing/licenses can add an NLF
  • NLF files can be installed via the ONTAP CLI starting with 9.10.1P13, 9.11.1P10, 9.12.1P3, and 9.13.1RC1 via the following command:
    • clustername::*>set advanced
    • clustername::*> system license add -use-license-file  true
    • Note: The license file needs to be renamed to lic_file and then copied to /mroot/etc/ prior to running the command.  This can be done via SCP.

Why does my Core Bundle and/or Data Protection Bundle license show a higher-than-expected TeraByte (capacity) limit?
There is a known issue with the calculation that displays the license capacity value. For some systems with large overall storage capacity, the license capacity value is displayed inaccurately.  This issue is being addressed in a pending release.  See: ONTAP 9.10.1 Licensing: Capacity License Has Inaccurate Value
What if you add 2 new nodes that have the new NLF license format to an existing cluster using 28-character keys, running 9.10.1 and above?
Mixed key deployments are fully supported.  Each ONTAP NLF includes a list of features to enable, and that list is the same that legacy keys enable individually.  For example, a Core Bundle NLF enables the same protocols that legacy keys enable in 9.9.1 and prior.
Can I add a new HA pair running 9.10.1 or higher with pre-installed NLF to a cluster with an effective cluster version <9.10.1?  For example, a cluster that has FAS8080 systems that I intend to refresh?
Yes you can, however, do not remove pre-installed NLF files prior to adding them to the cluster as System Manager/API installation methods require an effective cluster version of 9.10.1 or higher.  If removed, ensure the new HA pair is running a version that supports the system licesense add enhancements: 9.10.1P13, 9.11.1P10, 9.12.1P3, and 9.13.1RC1 or later.
All ONTAP features that involved capacity will be limited by the ONTAP ONE/ONTAP Base license capacity after 9.10.1 and above?
Only features involving cloud-end data transfer will be limited by the capacity of the ONTAP ONE/ONTAP Base license. Features used on a physical platform, such as NFS and Snap Mirror, will only be limited by the storage capacity of the physical platform.


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