NetApp Virtual Storage Console – It’s Free? What’s the Catch?

We have built-in suspicions and defense mechanisms when it comes to “free” things:

  • “It’s too good to be true!”
  • “What’s the catch?”
  • “There is no free lunch!”
  • “Can’t be good if it’s free”.

Many of us have attended seminars promising free items for sitting through a presentation, only to find out that “free” meant having to deal with high-pressure tactics to purchase something we never intended to buy.  Experiences like that make us even more convinced that “free” cannot be good or provide unconditional value.

NetApp Virtual Storage Console (VSC) for VMware vSphere is free, which begs the questions such as “How come?”  and “Why would NetApp give it away for free?”   Let’s highlight two reasons why NetApp provides VSC as a free download and the associated benefits for our customers, for our partner VMware, and for NetApp, too . 

First of all, VSC allows NetApp to offer a stronger, fully integrated solution for VMware environments.  VSC improves efficiency and reduces cost and complexity with comprehensive, end-to-end virtual storage management capabilities all from within VMware vCenter.  You can use VSC to leverage all the powerful capabilities of NetApp clustered Data ONTAP and other licensed software, capabilities such as discovery, health monitoring, capacity management, provisioning, cloning, backup/restore, disaster recovery, and non-disruptive operations.  This stronger solution makes it more attractive to customers to adopt NetApp storage for VMware virtualization, which leads to better revenues for NetApp and a stronger partnership with VMware. 

Secondly, VSC provides a better customer experience in VMware virtual infrastructure environments.  One benefit is improved performance through the detection and non-disruptive correction of misaligned I/O created by virtual machines.  Furthermore, VSC ensures optimal efficiency, uptime, and performance by checking for and configuring VMware and NetApp best practices settings for your ESXi hosts.  In fact, installation of VSC resolves (and would have prevented) 60% of NetApp support calls related to VMware.  VSC is essential for deployment with best practices for VMware environments with NetApp storage.    

As you can see, even though NetApp offers VSC free of charge, there is no catch.  It’s a win-win-win proposition for you, for our partner VMware, and for NetApp.  It is an enabler for us to grow our business by delivering a stronger VMware virtualization solution and a superior customer experience.

To learn more about VSC, here are some resources:

NetApp Virtual Storage Console for VMware vSphere (NetApp VSC web page)

VSC:  The Essential Tool for VMware on NetApp (Tech ONTAP article on VSC)

Datacenter Dude Blog on VSC (written by Nick Howell, NetApp Virtualization Solutions Architect for VMware)

To download VSC at no charge, go to the bottom of the following page:

VSC for VMware vSphere download

It’s truly free!


We are migrating to VMWare and I am in the process of setting up VSC/backups.  We also have OnCommand Core 5.2 which also provides backups capabilities.  Which product should be used, VSC or OnCommand?


For pure VMware environments, use VSC as that is NetApp’s plug-in to vCenter. 

There definitely is a catch - VSC only runs on Windows. If you want to talk about best practices, don't roll out and/or depend on Microsoft products for any critical pieces of your infrastructure. I see no good reasons why this service absolutely needs to be running on Windows. Why not just distribute VSC as a VMware appliance?? Oh you can't, because of Windows licensing.


I did a lab on VMworld Barcelona.

It's a nice and easy tool.

Still it seems difficult to find a perfect tool to backup Netapp NFS datastores with snapvault.

I'm not a VMware specialist... still I think this gap is not filled.  What is missing? (Snapvault support,Protection manager support,single file restore from nearstore,easy to use)

Does it exist? (veeam/commvault/backup exec/tsm)

If it exists... I really would like have the name of it.

If not? I really netapp should prioritize this on the roadmap.



We are looking at making VSC multiplatform with support for both Linux and Windows.

davidy Netapp Alumni


There is a community support SnapVault script that can be added to VSC and is commonly used. Please see:

We will also be adding SnapVault integration as a supported feature in the future.



Hello David,

Do we need to buy a NetApp SnapManager for VI, to use a VSC?

The catch is you need SMVI, snaprestore. flexclone license for the bulk of the functionality to work.

This post seems a bit misleading. It doesn't state that you do require SMVI License for Backup & Recovery feature, and you also require SnapRestore license [Clarified it with NetApp SE Presales Helpdesk]. Below are details from VSC Guide on licenses:

Virtual Storage Console 4.2 for VMware vSphere Installation and Administration Guide:

Installing the capabilities

By default, VSC installs the following three capabilities:

• Monitoring and Host Configuration

• Provisioning and Cloning

• Optimization and Migration

You have the option of also installing Backup and Recovery . If you choose Backup and Recovery,

you must purchase a license for SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure.

Software licenses

The following software licenses might be required for VSC depending on which capabilities you use:

• The required protocol license (NFS, FCP, iSCSI)

• SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure (if installing Backup and Recovery )

• SnapMirror (if using Provisioning and Cloning or if using the SnapMirror update option in Backup and Recovery )

• SnapRestore (if installing Backup and Recovery )

• A_SIS (if using Provisioning and Cloning when configuring deduplication settings)

• MultiStore (if using Provisioning and Cloning and working with vFiler units)

• FlexClone

The FlexClone license is required in the following situations:

• You are using Provisioning and Cloning to clone virtual machines. 

• You are using Backup and Recovery in NFS environments and running a version of Data ONTAP prior to 8.1.

You do not need a FlexClone license if you are running Backup and Recovery in NFS environments with one of the following versions of Data ONTAP:

• Data ONTAP 8.1 operating in 7-Mode

• Clustered Data ONTAP 8.1.1 or later