NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

The tools it has are helpful if you're not a CLI type of person.

What is most valuable?

Support's good. The product seems reliable. The uptime is good. We haven't had any major failures or anything like that. It runs all of our SAN VMware infrastructure with no problems, really.

The tools that it has, such as OnCommand Manager and so on, they're helpful if you're not a CLI type of person. I actually like the CLI as well. They're both pretty easy to navigate, especially with the cluster mode. You can do the tab completions and everything in CLI now. That helps you to navigate through otherwise long commands.

SnapMirror, all the Snap technology, is pretty cool. You can do SnapMirror, the vault and everything like that.

What needs improvement?

The migration from 7-mode to cluster mode probably could be improved. The migration tool that they use, the copy free transition tool, it's new and it seemed like, while I was trying to get everything prepared, few people really knew much about it at NetApp. I had to make a lot of calls, send out a lot of emails to find out if the current version was going to do what we needed it to do. I was told, no it won't; then I was told, yes it will. I'd say they need to keep working on that migration tool.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using NetApp for about three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have not really experienced any downtime to speak of. I did a migration recently from a 7-mode system to a cluster-mode system. While we were doing some of the migrations of some of the live VMs, our older ones started to max out on its processes. It didn't necessarily create downtime. It just kind of messed up our migration a little bit. We had to basically stop, regroup and then schedule it for another weekend. That'd be the closest thing to downtime, but I don't really consider it downtime, necessarily.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's definitely scalable, especially with cluster mode. You can just hook in another set of controllers, add disk shelves. It's definitely scalable.

I feel like it's going to meet the organization's needs moving forward. As I've needed to add storage to it, I just grab another shelf and hook it up. It pulls in all the disks; you create your aggregates and everything. As far as if we ever need to add more controllers, you just connect them into the fabric, they come up and you can start sharing files, LUNs and all that stuff. It's definitely scalable.

How is customer service and technical support?

Technical support is really good, knowledgeable, and responsive. Even with the migration I did, they sent out a professional services engineer at no charge to help us complete the migration of going from 7-mode to cluster mode between new hardware as well. We weren't just upgrading one system from 7-mode to cluster mode, we were actually upgrading and migrating to new hardware, so they sent somebody out and he assisted with the whole thing.

The auto support and everything like that is good. When we've had a disc fail, they're calling, they're emailing, they're sending disks out. I get a disk the next day. Support is definitely good.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup is not too bad. The cluster system I did not too long ago; you just console cable into it. It's got a guided setup on the CLI. After that's complete, you're on the network. You can use your web browser and access the OnCommand Manager application and start configuring SVMs and all that stuff. It's not super difficult. I know there are products out there that are probably easier. I've heard that Nimble Storage is supposed to be one that's really easy to use. On a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of complexity and everything, I'd say NetApp stuff is probably about 7 for me. I've only been in SAN storage and everything for, like I’ve mentioned, about three years. I'm still relatively new to the industry of SAN storage. I'd give it about a 7.

What other advice do I have?

I recommend the product. I don't have a lot of experience with other solutions such as EMC Storage, Nimble, Fujitsu or Hitachi. I've never really messed with any of them so it's hard for me to compare.

I've been doing IT for a while. There some complexity to the NetApp stuff. I know that there are easier solutions out there such as the Nimble one. But overall, the NetApp AFF is a good product. You just need to know what you're doing a little bit or you're going to rely on support and other people. Take the classes. Make yourself familiar with it. That's what I've been doing.

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