NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

Pricing is competitive, you can get it up and running quickly, and it's easy to use.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are cost, performance and usability. NetApp’s really good with usability; to get it up and running quickly and usable.

How has it helped my organization?

We've been using for our internal cloud environments, for internal cloud storage. Response time's very fast. Capacity's very good. Performance is very good; it's quick.

What needs improvement?

We've only had it in production for about three months, so we don't have a lot of time with it. For what we're using it for, it's been fine. I don't know of any issues or anything that we need to do, that I would request additional features right now, aside from the scalability improvements I’ve mentioned.

I know we use external monitoring. There's some level of monitoring on the systems themselves, but we do use a lot of external monitoring, whether it's NetApp versus third party. I know with ONTAP 9, they're working on more monitoring capabilities and more features within the unit, but they don't have that yet. I would like to see more monitoring onboard, on the system, instead of having to throw another third-party system at it.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I've been a NetApp customer for quite a while, at least 12 to 13 years. Stability's never been an issue for any of our systems that I've been associated with; it's been very good. We haven't had any issues with those units, knock on wood, so far; it's been good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability has been OK. We've been scaling them vertically instead of more horizontally because you can only scale the FAS horizontally so far, so we've scaled out vertically.

I would like to see them improve its ability to scale vertically. With flash, you can only drive so many IOPS, the controllers can only handle so many IOPS. There's a limit; there's physics, a mathematical limit that they can do.

How are customer service and technical support?

It's been a long time since I've actually called technical support with a case. I try not to call tech support. At my level, I usually need something like a third-level support. You call in, you have to say what your issue is, they can't help you and then they have to pass it to the next person and then usually it's third level. Usually, it's a third-level, advanced person that I would need to speak to.

They've been fine. Once you get to that level, someone that's knowledgeable, support's fine.

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

In this environment, we were using spinning disks. When we needed to expand capacity, that's when we decided to go with all flash, and NetApp made it very price competitive. They were trying to push those units, so it was worthwhile to get flash instead of more spinning disks.

How was the initial setup?

NetApp's initial setup is very straightforward. It's very easy to get up and running within a day, as long as you have the cabling in place and the power, but that's outside of NetApp's control. Once you have that infrastructure in place and they come on site, it's very easy to get up and running within a day.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing the All Flash FAS, I also considered Hitachi. We chose NetApp because NetApp is in our internal cloud, and that's what we were expanding. We didn't see the need to switch vendors at that point. NetApp's easier than Hitachi HNAS to get up and running.

For my manager, price is the most important criteria when selecting a vendor to work with. NetApp's been very competitive with pricing over the last 2-3 years.

NetApp's features are easier, and the capabilities are a lot more advanced than Hitachi and other vendors that we look at. The software's much more mature than the other vendors. That's why I like NetApp. It's easy to use. It's easy to get down to what you want to do with it; the features and capabilities are there.

What other advice do I have?

Everybody pretty much can do the same. The issue is how complicated it is to get to what you're really trying to do. That's the one thing that I've seen. NetApp does a good job. They're much more mature, as I’ve mentioned. It's easy to drill down to get to the data, get it set up and get it configured, and it works.

We've only been using it three months. We haven't hit any issues with it yet; I can't say that we won't, but I'm not expecting to.

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