NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP – Understanding Offerings, Licensing, Pricing, and More

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. “All these different licensing tiers are confusing,” Judsonian heard someone say, as he shouldered his way through the crowd around the door of NetApp. “It’s like someone took a simple concept and set the difficulty to 11.” It was a Cloud voice and a Cloud joke.

Simply put, NetApp’s Cloud Volumes ONTAP (CVO) is a simple great product. The licensing around it, well, that’s a lot more cumbersome.

CVO – What is it? How is it licensed?

CVO is NetApp’s ONTAP software running in AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud (colour coordinating that because it’ll be useful later). There are different licensing tiers based on the level of service package (for lack of a better phrase) being utilized. Licenses are either through the cloud provider’s market place (pay-as-you-go) or through NetApp/reseller (bring-your-own-license).

CVO is licensed based on TiB of provisioned capacity per hour for pay-go, or per month for BYOL. That’s TiB, not TB. 10244. If you see any documentation from NetApp where they say GB or TB that’s wrong. ONTAP reports capacity in Base 2. Sometimes it’s a mistake, sometimes it’s willful ignorance, sometimes it’s chronic case of whataboutism.

Up until roughly June 2021 CVO was an instance based license. It’s now a capacity based license with no dependencies on the number of instances deployed. Thus if you have a 100 TiB license, you could either have a single 100 TiB instance, 4x 25 TiB instances, or 10x 10 TiB instances with no licensing impact.

Before I get into the core licensing levels I need to set the stage with some of the common deployment considerations that will effect the end cost.

Single Node, or High-Availability

When you deploy CVO, you can either do a single node instance or a highly available deployment built from a pair of replicating instances. There are different pricing levels for single and HA deployments.

Primary vs. Secondary

When data is stored on CVO, it’s either in an active/write state, or it’s read-only (like a SnapMirror target). Data in the latter is considered Secondary which has a separate pricing tier.

If you have a CVO environment with some primary, and some secondary, CVO will consume licensing from each tier corresponding to the status alignment.


There are several add-on services. These are capabilities that integrate with ONTAP and Cloud Manager but are licensed/consumed independently of the core CVO license.

These include,

  • Cloud Data Sense
  • WORM functionality
  • Cloud Backup (some tiers offer “unlimited” backups but is still limited to general CBS service limits)

Core Offer Levels

Right. Now that we’ve laid a bit of the groundwork here are the various licensing tiers. I italicized some of the specific sections per tier that set them a part.


  • Available in AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud
  • All ONTAP features, with no licensing fee, but limited to 500 GiB of provisioned capacity
  • Limited to 10 instances per NetApp account
  • Does not include any support services


  • Available in Azure only
  • All the core functionality of CVO, but built/priced for static and archive data
  • Base license for capacity, with additional charges for reads or writes
  • Can be deployed as either as a single node or HA with no difference in pricing
  • Full NetApp support


  • Available in AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud
  • All ONTAP features, licensed based on provisioned capacity
  • Separate licensing tiers for single or HA deployments
  • Full NetApp support

Essentials Secondary

  • Available in AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud
  • All ONTAP features, licensed based on provisioned read-only capacity
  • Separate licensing tiers for single or HA deployments
  • Full NetApp support


  • Available in AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud
  • All ONTAP features, licensed based on provisioned capacity
  • Single licensing tier regardless of whether you deploy a single or HA environment
  • Includes unlimited cloud backups
  • Full NetApp support

Cloud Volumes Edge Cache

  • Available in Azure only
  • Licensed differently (’cause why not)
    • 30 TiB of provisioned capacity up front with 6 edge nodes included (or 10 edge nodes depending on what documentation you’re looking at)
    • Grows in 3 TiB increments of provisioned capacity with an additional edge node per 3 TiB increase
  • Includes unlimited cloud backups
  • Full NetApp support


The cost per TiB of each of all these potential configurations will vary greatly. There’s different rates for market place purchases or those through NetApp. And there are different rates whether you’re looking at 1, 2, or 3 year terms. Whenever you see rates, such on NetApp’s public pricing page, look for the fine print as to the offering details.

That pricing page also says GB/month (really GiB – easier to use fine print to obfuscate the specifics than just use international standards). When you purchase through NetApp you’re limited to a TiB/month granularity. When provisioning through a cloud marketplace you might be able to operate at a granular GiB/hour level (something I need to look into get back to y’all about) Marketplace pricing is also charged at a TiB/hour level.

All the packages except Freemium there’s a minimum 4TiB capacity charge. More on that below.

Licensing Overages

If you exceed your license, say your Essential Secondary volumes switch to read/write, or you provision more than your BYOL license, you’re charged hourly through the cloud provider’s marketplace. If you don’t have a subscription (which I think you need when deploying anyway) then you get a 14 day grace period before the instances shut down… maybe? I can find this documented once (in a PPT I take a bit of umbrage with) where this KB says there’s a four day grace period at the top, but a 14 days at the bottom. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

One of the great things about NetApp’s Cloud Manager is the Digital Wallet. It lets you quickly see existing license capacity, how much is being used, and how much overage there is drawing from the marketplace.

Additional costs when considering TCO

Just to be clear, all this is just for the CVO license specifically. It does not include the costs of compute and storage that are directly provisioned from your cloud partner. A proper TCO analysis should include not only the NetApp license, but the size of the provisioned CVO instances (s) and the amount of storage associated with it.

Also  worth mentioning is the 4 TiB capacity minimum per SVM serving primary (read/write) workloads (What’s a SVM?). Each CVO instance has at least one SVM, so outside of the Freemium option this means that licensing starts at a 4 TiB base. Essential licensed instances running read-only workloads can operate under the 4 TiB minimum .

If you have 4x SVMs, but are only using 2 TiB across, you’ll still be paying 16 TiB worth of licensing. When to use SVMs with CVO is a whole other architecture discussion your NetApp CVO experts can help work through.

Additional Reading

Post History

  • July 28, 2022 – Initial Posting
  • July 29, 2022 – Minor tweaks
  • August 1, 2022 – Added bit about minimum SVM requirements
  • August 10, 2022 – Small detail enhancements (Freemium limits, marketplace pricing, 4TiB min clarifications)