NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

We use it for virtualization of the Xen desktops and also our VMware systems.


What is most valuable?

It's fast. That's all it needs to be is fast.

We use it for virtualization of the Xen desktops and also our VMware systems. That's it.

How has it helped my organization?

It doesn't improve the way I work. I don't get to use it, really.

It's faster than spinning disk. I don't have people complaining about it being slow. We're still ramping up in the production but our busy season is a little bit later this year. Right now, it's faster than spinning disk.

What needs improvement?

In the GUI, I'd like to be able to click a button that says "sync load-sharing mirrors". There are certain configuration things that you can't do if your load-sharing mirrors aren't synced. It would be easier to click that in the GUI, rather than actually issue the command line every time. It's burnt me a few times on configuration.

When we did our upgrade, if we could have done it without doing a whole migration; the migration was painful. Going from 7-mode to CDOT is painful. To make that easier is the only way to get the rating higher.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using it for six months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We haven't had any stability issues yet. It's only six months old so I would hope there's no hardware issues with it yet.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't had to scale it yet, so right now it's a relatively new install.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support's good. Most of the questions haven't been in regards to the AFF hardware; it's all been more configuration with the ONTAP, the CDOT. They've been helpful. We're getting through the issues.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

This was just a hardware replacement and the promotional deals that NetApp had to offer basically made buying an AFF solution comparable to buying an old spinning disk solution, so it was a combination. We have two nodes that have spinning disks and two nodes that are AFF. To have the whole thing spinning disk, the difference in price made it a no-brainer going with part of it being AFF.

How was the initial setup?

The networking is extremely complex. They advertise it as pretty simple but you have to get through a big install phase before it becomes simple. That's my impression.
To prepare for that install phase and make it a little less complex, make sure your NetApp partner knows what they're doing, by talking to people.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We go through different vendors depending on what we're looking at. Last time, it was Hitachi, EMC and NetApp. One reason we decided on NetApp was that we were replacing a NetApp. We had high confidence it was going to work. Then, its pricing.

What other advice do I have?

The NetApp partner you're working with is important. Understand what you're trying to do and the networking stuff, to make sure that it fails over and everything works from a networking standpoint. I'm guessing it's probably where it's the weakest, so it's the most frustrating for me.

When I look for a vendor for a solution such as AFF or spinning disk, we put together requirements, check them off and weigh the requirements against the vendors. In the end, we make a decision and we also make sure they're comparable in regards to pricing. Quotes are pulled from multiple vendors.

The requirements depend on the application. We buy our storage for specific stuff. As an example, I work at Jostens. We store billions of images. The NetApp product line really wasn't a fit for that, but for our home directories, some of our virtualization desktop stuff and our VMware stuff, NetApp was a great fit.

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