If you run NetApp equipment in your data center, you’re almost certainly familiar with 7-Mode (also called ONTAP Traditional or 7G), the basic operating system for NetApp enterprise storage solutions for more than 20 years. NetApp’s newer and more complex operating system, Clustered Data ONTAP (cDOT), has gone through several versions since its’ rollout 10 years ago in an attempt to achieve more feature parity between 7-Mode and cDOT. As it stands now, the features that truly separate cDOT from 7-Mode are mostly for scale-out solutions as opposed to scale up. Despite offering minimal downtime during hardware upgrades or refreshes, the market has not quickly taken to cDOT. The main reason? It can be quite pricey to convert, which is why literally thousands of companies are still using 7-Mode.

So is converting to cDOT the right move for the NetApp equipment in your data center? If the performance of your current gear is stable and hasn’t resulted in many support calls, then it’s probably best to stay with 7-Mode for the time being, and here is why. As mentioned earlier, moving to cDOT can get expensive, but it is also quite complex. Because of this complexity, your best bet is to use NetApp’s professional services to perform the upgrade, and the service is certainly not free. Performing the upgrade in-house will likely require more prep time and man hours than you can reasonably allocate.

Now, all of that being said, there is a compelling reason to upgrade; the current version of 7-Mode is the final one. NetApp is no longer upgrading the OS. If you foresee the need to greatly expand the size and capability of your data center sometime in the near future, then upgrading to cDOT is something you should consider, as the enhanced OS has been shown to make things run faster, more efficiently, and reduce downtime. If you currently have issues in your data center that would be solved by a hardware refresh, then upgrading to cDOT at the same time is something to consider, especially if you foresee more hardware updates coming down the road and need as little disruption as possible in the process. However, if your data center has been performing well and the business does not require large upgrades in size and capacity soon, you should be fine staying with 7-Mode for quite a while despite the likely push you’ll get from the OEM to upgrade.

If you are concerned about 7-Mode no longer being supported since there are no further versions coming, not to worry. 7-Mode is so widely adopted and entrenched in countless data centers that NetApp is likely to keep supporting it for the next several years. There is a chance the price tag for OEM support will increase, but third-party maintenance from companies like Reliant Technology plan on supporting hardware running on 7-Mode for a long time.