How has it helped my organization?
As far as our VDI environment goes, it's allowed us to exponentially expand it. We've gone from essentially a trial project to a full-out deployment, corporation-wide, for VDI. It's allowed us to facilitate that quite well.
For example, the bottleneck for speed was one. We’ve tried out some different solutions. We've got some Pure technology in there and we have a couple of other vendors. We've done a lot of business with NetApp over the years. We've kind of decided to stick with them for a while.
What is most valuable?
We're changing over all of our older models to the new FAS stuff, the AFF especially, because we want high performance, high availability for VDI environments. We're having some pretty severe bottlenecks on spinning disk with VDI, of course. We're changing over almost all of our sites to the AFF to get the performance that we need for the VDI environment.
What needs improvement?
I would give it a higher rating if they would work a bit on the interface and similar items, especially the metrics that it has displayed, improvement on those, maybe a little bit more historical, maybe have some additional metrics on the graphs and stuff on that.
Otherwise, it's a fantastic product. I'm quite happy with it now. It would have been nice if they would have jumped on the bandwagon a little earlier with flash but hindsight...
Actually, they've already improved it quite a bit; the 7-mode to cluster-mode migration, which they've worked significantly on. We actually have one coming up sometime in the next couple of months for one of our sites, 7-mode to cluster-mode. We were originally anticipating that it would involve a significant amount of downtime. Now, we're at the point where they're assuring us there's no downtime.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
With some of the older technology, we have had stability issues; with the NetApp technology. With these new AFFs, they've been rock solid.
How are customer service and technical support?
We frequently use technical support. They're great. Our SE's fantastic. He comes out all the time, helps us out. We've got a couple of other people that we have on speed dial that will come out and give us a hand when we require it; have issues setting up, making significant changes or anything like that.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
Most of the time, investing in the AFF was a result of upgrading our current technology of stuff that we have in there, whether it be older NetApp stuff that we're replacing with a new AFF, or a need presents itself, such as a new project that we would have to look at. We don't have a policy of always having the newest technology in here, immediately; it's project-based or replacement based.
We've been with NetApp before I got to the company. They've been with NetApp for a while and I worked with NetApp in previous companies as well.
When I’m choosing a vendor like NetApp, I look at the support and how the company treats us as a customer. We don't want a company that's just going to sell us a nice, great big box, bow-wrapped, and then never speaks to us again. With NetApp, we've had a lot of continuity with, not only the SEs but, the sales staff and so on. They continually come in and make sure that we're good; checking to see if we have any projects that are coming up; checking to see if we have any problems that we need to solve with them; being very proactive and so on. Some of the other vendors that we've tried out have been, sort of, "Okay, it's in, thank you."
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
I don't get involved with the pricing, so I'm not familiar with that. I know it's a pretty penny, but I'm not familiar with that.
What other advice do I have?
Depending on what the project is, I'd definitely tell someone looking asking me for advice to take a look at NetApp. Although NetApp is a great product, it doesn't fit every single solution, the different sizes. NetApp is a little more on the expensive side, so it'd just have to fit whatever that they're trying to do, whatever their company is. I'd probably tell them to take a look at what's out there, what would fit them, but I would give a good nod to NetApp. They've always done us quite well.