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NetApp Knowledge Base

ONTAP Upgrades & Your Continued Success

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Applies to

  • ONTAP 9
  • ONTAP upgrade
  • Recommended release


NetApp® ONTAP® 9 data management software provides the foundation for a data fabric, which makes it easy to move your data where it’s needed across flash, drive, and cloud resources. To better align with your plans for adopting ONTAP releases, NetApp will deliver an ONTAP feature release once per calendar year. With this consistent release schedule, you’ll receive new versions of ONTAP that contain bug fixes as well as new features that will help you realize the benefits of a data fabric enabled by NetApp.

Why You Should Upgrade ONTAP

Running a release that NetApp supports is a best practice for decreasing IT risk, because every feature release delivers fixes for bugs along with high-value capabilities that NetApp customers and partners expect. When an ONTAP release reaches the end-of-version-support (EOVS) milestone, that release is under either limited support1 or self-service support2. If you’re running an EOVS version, NetApp strongly recommends that you update to a newer release to minimize your IT disruptions, maintain business continuity, and gain the benefits of new features.


Furthermore, running the latest release of ONTAP unlocks doors to new use cases, new features, and a simplified user experience. The new management UI for ONTAP System Manager significantly reduces the time you spend performing administrative tasks by increasing visibility in capacity, hardware health, networking, and performance history. NetApp ONTAP FlexGroup and NetApp FlexCache® capabilities were enhanced in version 9.7, allowing you to project data seamlessly across sites with a thin cache on any NetApp AFF, FAS, or ONTAP Select system for NFS access. NetApp SnapMirror® Synchronous delivers high value for any SnapMirror user because it enables you to decrease your recovery point objective (RPO) values all the way down to zero, in addition to further reducing recovery time objective (RTO). ONTAP 9.7 has also been significantly refined to expand use cases that include more opportunity for scale-out NAS, and it extends data protection and business continuity. For a list of all the benefits of upgrading from your current version, view this guide.

When to Upgrade

Starting with ONTAP 9.7, NetApp is delivering an ONTAP feature release once per calendar year. Though plans are subject to change, we intend to deliver new releases of ONTAP in the fourth quarter of each calendar year.


As a best practice, you should run the recommended release up to 2 years after general availability (GA). During that period, we strongly advise you to apply service updates every 6 months, or more often. By applying service updates, you’ll incorporate timely fixes for critical bugs.


How to Plan for Your Upgrade

There are several ways you can plan for your upgrade to a newer ONTAP release. NetApp has the following resources to help simplify the upgrade process:

  • Release Recommendation Guide. Use this guide to learn what the current recommended release is, when you need to prepare for your upgrade, and which features and benefits result from each upgrade.
  • NetApp Active IQ® Upgrade Advisor. Use this tool to generate customized step-by-step instructions for upgrading your AFF or FAS system to a newer version of ONTAP.
  • Interoperability Matrix Tool (IMT). This tool provides a consolidated repository, access, and reporting tool for NetApp product compatibility information (“what works with what”).
  • Hands-on Labs. These labs provide a safe environment to practice operational procedures (including performing an ONTAP upgrade) and to try out new features.
  • The FAQ about the upgrade process.
  • NetApp Managed Services. NetApp Managed Upgrade Service is a remotely delivered software upgrade service for installed and configured NetApp technology.

With NetApp’s new ONTAP release schedule, you’ll consistently and predictably receive new versions of ONTAP to manage your data and storage environment. Every feature release contains new enhancements that will help you harness the power of your data fabric, minimize your IT disruptions, simplify operations, and reduce your TCO and security risks. To learn more about how you can stay current with your ONTAP data management software, visit the Upgrade ONTAP page.


1 Limited support: NetApp will provide only technical support, root cause analysis, documentation, and software available online. There will be no maintenance or patch releases.

Self-service support: time period in which NetApp does not provide support for a version of a product, but related documentation is still available on the NetApp Support site. After the self-service support period has expired, the software will be considered obsolete.

Full support: Includes technical support, root cause analysis, online documentation, online software, vulnerability assessment, and service updates (P-releases).


NetApp provides no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or reliability or serviceability of any information or recommendations provided in this publication or with respect to any results that may be obtained by the use of the information or observance of any recommendations provided herein. The information in this document is distributed AS IS and the use of this information or the implementation of any recommendations or techniques herein is a customer's responsibility and depends on the customer's ability to evaluate and integrate them into the customer's operational environment. This document and the information contained herein may be used solely in connection with the NetApp products discussed in this document.
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