FlexPod Review
Ease of data management and data portability are valuable.

Valuable Features

A couple of the valuable features are the ease of data management and data portability. That would probably be the crux of it. That came into effect with migration from or upgrading an existing cluster to another cluster; it is quite easy to port across using similar technologies, etc.

Obviously, it has the high availability features; you've got storage failover, or takeover, to upgrade a node non-destructively. Those would be the main valuable features.

Improvements to My Organization

The main thing is providing high availability to internal business customers, whether it be just day-to-day operations, HA and, again, non-destructive maintenance.

Room for Improvement

Specifically, with ONTAP, I would like to see it support more snapshots for retention; greater than 255 snapshots. There are competitors out there offering far more than the 255 snapshots per volume; Nimble, actually, being one of them. Their current marketing blurb is 100,000 snapshots. I need to find out some more details on that. I’d like to see very long-term data protection, an increase in the number of snapshots.

Stability Issues

I haven’t had any issues in the day-to-day operations. We have had a few stability issues with some major bugs with it, with ONTAP. We had a particularly nasty bug with one of the QLogic CNA cards, which actually took, probably, seven months to resolve. Eventually it was resolved. It was actually a new bug that was still under investigation with NetApp but that was eventually solved. That's been the only really major glitch recently.

Overall, it's been a very stable platform.

Customer Service and Technical Support

I used technical support for that bug, in conjunction with our SAN managing that process.

Technical support was very good. Obviously, we've used on other occasions as well when we've had difficulties and they usually have been resolved quite quickly.

Previous Solutions

We've been a NetApp customer probably since 2005, not so much in the FlexPod but actually from the initial FAS arrays. Because we already had the FAS arrays or the FAS systems, it was a natural progression, really. We were looking to refresh or move away from HP for our compute. With FlexPod, we already had the NetApp storage and it was sort of a natural progression. The price point was pretty good.

Initial Setup

Initial setup was quite straightforward. I guess our first FlexPod implementation was with one of our data centers. It was a sizable deployment but quite straightforward.

Other Solutions Considered

At the time, there weren’t any other vendors on our short list. I guess we were looking at EMC in the early days but I don't remember what the reasoning was. We eventually decided on FlexPod.

When I choose a vendor, cost and ROI are the most important criteria that I look for.

Other Advice

Follow the best practice guides and you can't go wrong.

If you've already got a storage compute environment, a good analysis of what your existing environment is like, what your workload's like, will assist where you place data, where you place your volumes on the FAS system. You generally have a good understanding of what your existing workload is, so you can obviously scale and design your storage layout with FlexPod correctly or most efficiently.

I guess I'm a bit biased in my opinion but I've worked with it for probably seven, eight years. I’ve never had an issue with it and everything that I need to do with it, I've been able to do pretty much.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.

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