ONTAP Discussions

Simplifying ONTAP User Experience


I am Scott Peiffer, Sr. Director from the ONTAP System Manager Product Management & Technical Marketing team. Thank you to our many passionate customers and partners for sharing your feedback on System Manager 9.8. This post is to provide you with background on the changes being made to ONTAP, information on how to learn more about these changes, and guidance on how best to provide feedback to NetApp.

ONTAP System Manager simplification is to directly address your changing needs as you work to support larger data sets, with new applications while expanding into hybrid multi-cloud environments. The simplification effort has been data driven. Significant time was spent on determining and setting smart defaults based on NetApp best practices, automating, and simplifying many of the everyday tasks, and then prioritized workflows that were most frequently used. Since ONTAP provides AIQ with metrics on feature usage, we were able to understand what features our customer use most and what is infrequently used.

The feedback that has been received is being considered and prioritized. To be transparent, there are other items which will not be addressed as they are considered complex, infrequent, or unneeded based on our desire to provide our customers with self-managing storage.

We also hear analysts, for example Gartner stating by 2023, 60% of organizations will use infrastructure automation tools as part of their DevOps toolchains, and improve application deployment efficiency by 25%. (source: Market Guide for Infrastructure Automation Tools, May 2020). API driven integrations will be essential to our customers success. Anecdotally, we have heard in our virtual EBCs that many of our globals and large enterprise customers are managing their infrastructure with tools such as Service Now and Remedy, and even homegrown tools that consolidate service management across various vendors in their data center, all based on API services. There are a number of such tools that operate in infrastructure and application context that we are looking to support...

To aid you in this transition we have published an extensive set of documents here: https://community.netapp.com/t5/Tech-ONTAP-Blogs/Where-can-I-learn-more-about-System-Manager-9-8/ba-p/162249


Please continue to share your feedback though your NetApp account teams! This is how we can best aggregate feedback, address your needs and respond. Help us along this journey with your improvement suggestions.

Ravi Chhabria (VP Engineering)
Scott Peiffer (Sr. Director ONTAP System Manager Product Management & Technical Marketing)



+1 to @MouradB 's comment. Would like to hear what NetApp is thinking regarding this response to the UI. As for us, we are staying with 9.7 until these issues are resolved.

"As for us, we are staying with 9.7 until these issues are resolved". 

Me too!

Jonathan Colón | Blog | Linkedin

me too


It would be great when someone from NetApp like the thread opener @ScottPeiffer  could react on the last postings.

Maybe it is possible in future releases to add the option to switch to the "old" UI like on 9.7

The new UI is not usable at all, because you have to do most things via CLI.


Having just tried to increase a quota on a qtree post-9.8 upgrade, I can echo the "hot garbage" sentiment above regarding this release.   Even as a novice/occasional NetApp admin, it was easier to assemble a lengthy command at the CLI than it was to use the new UI.


This new interface feels like it's trolling me.


Whatever Steve Jobs wannabe is responsible for this abysmal stupidity should be fired immediately. I don't really use the GUI that much so sorry for being late to the party. Here is my horror story. Last years I spent a couple of days documenting procedures for a customer: basic stuff like creating SVMs, volumes, policies, SnapVaults etc. So now the customer upgraded to 9.8 he comes to the conclusion none of the documentation is valid anymore and wants me to update the procedures. The fact that NetApp takes pride in changing terminology from one version to another just to confuse the hell out of everyone (cDOT to Clustered ONTAP, then Data ONTAP to ONTAP, vservers to SVM, aggregates to tiers, ifgrps to link aggregation groups, ... don't get me started on their cloud portfolio) or tosses things around in their GUI from time to time, that by itself shows they have very little understanding of what admins really care about. But to find out that half of the basic stuff that one spent days screenshotting and documenting has now simply become impossible really takes the cake. God this is depressing, on the brink of losing another customer because they are fed up with having to resort to lengthy procedures involving combined GUI and CLI actions to do BASIC STORAGE ADMIN TASKS...




We are also disappointed to have updated to 9.8P4. The simplest things no longer work through the UI.
Example: We have an SSD and a SAS aggregate. Depending on what the customer buys from us, the volume is configured to the appropriate aggregate. But this is not directly possible with the new UI because there is no option to select an aggregate (tier) when creating the volume. You then have to do a volume move via the CLI after creating the volume.


Not to mention the broadcats domains, over which you have no control anymore (except via the CLI).


There are some other examples I will not list here.


tl;dr The new interface makes a lot of manual rework necessary, rather than taking work off your hands.



System Manager v4 = Complete and utter garbage


Yes it may be simplifying the interface, but it has only done that by removing most of the functionality for performing day to day administration tasks. 


For instance:

- It is no longer possible to only display volumes that are more than a certain % used. You appear to only be able to  filter on available space.

- Aggregates have gone. Now hidden in Tiers, where I can't get a simple table view, they are all spread out over a dashboard, that makes simple gathering of information near impossible. How can I see which aggregates have the most free space, or indeed are getting a bit full? The used and available figures are based on fantasy. I have approx 3.5PB of raw space on my cluster, but the new interface reports that I am "using" 85.5PB. Great for Marketing, but useless to a storage admin

- Slow is not the word. How much additional CPU drain is caused by the overblown "Early Learning" interface?


I have only been using the new "improved" interface for a very short while, so I suspect I will find even more annoyances as I go. Looks like it is time to move completely over to the CLI.


If this is simplifying the user experience it is akin to Ford simplifying the interface on their cars by removing the steering wheel and pedals, and filling the boot with bags of cement.  







The items you mention are all fixed in ONTAP 9.9.1 which was released on 5/6/2021.  There are many more that are detailed in the customer product communiqué for (RC1) of NetApp® ONTAP® System Manager 9.9.1 management software.  The one I haven't shown in the graphics below is the performance improvements.  Engineering has been making progress in the underlying API and UI responsiveness.  9.9.1 has got better and more performance improvements are coming in future releases.


Volumes List Columns with %Used and more.



List view for tiers (aggregates)



Used and reserved is now a prominent value.


Hope this helps!


PM me if you would like to discuss further or have any other questions.  



Chris Gebhardt

Principal Technical Marketing Engineer - Manageability


Chris G, 


Glad to hear improvements are being made and NetApp has actually listed to all the noise about the new interface. 


However since these have only been released into the RC1 build in the last day or so, it will be months before any iteration of 9.9 becomes the recommended release for larger customers, and we are able to update our systems.


Thankfully we are still on a 9.7 "p" release, so have retained access to the "Classic" interface for the time being.  I just hope we can avoid having to move to 9.8 entirely. 


I am in this same boat.  Currently we're delaying on upgrading all our storage arrays out of 9.7 mostly because the new GUI is hot garbage.  If I wanted a flashy blue-themed GUI that's confusing, I'd probably go with that other very blue-themed storage vendor.  I guess I thought NetApp was better than this.

Can I do everything I need to via the CLI?  Sure, and that's always been the case.  However, the old SysMgr not only offered a graphical operational tool, but it did so by conveying relevant information effectively.  I'd argue this made it easier to teach & learn how the storage platform fit together as a whole.  Now in v4 I'm just drowning in near-identical blue boxes.

Where can i find the Flash Cache on new interface? 


Glad to see NetApp is listening. I'll be interested in hearing from those who use 9.9.1 to see if it cleans up all of the missing items or just some of them.




Engineering is making progress...  While I would love to post our plans publicly, that's not something we can do.  My recommendation is for anyone who wants to know what these plans are, to reach out to your NetApp account team and or partner and schedule an NDA briefing on System Manager.


Another way engineering is working to get some of these features out faster is to backport changes into P releases.  A couple of the items that Glenn mentioned in his posts planned to be in P releases of 9.8.



Chris Gebhardt


Nice to hear! Thanks Chris. As you can see the 9.8 interface is a huge pain point for long time users. I am intentionally delaying deploying 9.8 just based on the comments I've read in this thread. Hearing about the recent update is encouraging, and as I said I'll watch to see how real-world users feel about the update and future updates. But this appears to be a good step toward getting back to 'normal'.


While I'm 'here' I'd like to address one pain point that was introduced in 9.3's System Manager. From that point on, the GUI REQUIRES that you add an extension to snapmirror target volumes. Our standard is matching volume names, so ever since 9.3 I have to manually log onto the target system and rename the target to remove the extension. Making the extension optional would remove this irritating manual step. I also have to manually enable thin provisioning and data compaction for each new volume we replicate. Adding the ability to choose these in an 'advanced' button or something would be helpful.




In ONTAP 9.9.1 you can use "more options" and remove the _dest from the UI.  In 9.8 it required either a prefix or a suffix.



Hope that helps!  




Hey @chrisgeb that is great! As I said it's been a pain point for several years. Glad to see it has finally been changed! We'll get to 9.9.1 eventually.


Can’t install it on a 2552. --


I just did an ONTAP upgrade from 9.8P5 to 9.9.1


They have even removed the "Advanced" feature where you can specify the time it waits for "Stabilising Connections"


by default its set to 8 min

I always set it to 1  to speed up upgrades. That alone saves 28 min !


Even 9.9.1 has not added this feature back in


Has anyone any NetApp ever been an ONTAP administrator or managed these in real life..

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