NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

We use it for backups instead of using tapes.


Valuable Features

Backups are the most valuable feature, because our company has very intensive backups; we need it forever. They have to be fast, so we cannot keep them on tapes.

Room for Improvement

Actually, we are looking for better Oracle backups. In production, it takes about 24 hours to run the online backups. We decided to take the backups in the DR. Currently we do the backups in DR, we do not back up production. We were looking for some solution from NetApp; it could be SnapCenter. We are looking at that.

That would make backing up faster. In the next six months, maybe, we plan to implement that.

Stability Issues

For the last two years, we haven’t had a major outage; so far, it looks stable.

Scalability Issues

The cluster mode is really, really scalable. Before that, we used to have 7-mode. We are migrating everything from 7-mode to cluster mode, and we are seeing huge benefits in our company.

Before, we had a 7-mode cluster, and we were having CPU issues. We could not migrate a volume to another node without an outage. Now, we have something like six nodes. When we have a performance issue, we can just migrate the volume to a different node.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Technical support is 7/10. I’ve had good experiences and also bad experiences.

For example, we were in the middle of a performance issue, and we called support. The support person takes all the information, and then he confirms it that he received everything. He said hew would analyze the logs and get back to us. After two days, they started asking for more logs – "Can you send me these logs? We didn't get it." – even though we had confirmation that they had received them. We lost two days. Then, we had to escalate it, and only then did we get a response. We had to be proactive on our end too.

Previous Solutions

We previously used EMC products for backups, then we migrated our data to NetApps because of the SnapDrive, which is really easy to restore. I am not comparing it to EMC; but we are more happy on the NetApps regarding the backups. We see a big difference between NetApp and the EMC solution we were previously using, and it's multi-protocol. Right now, there might be many products are offering it, but NetApp has been offering multi-protocol for years. We use NFS, we use CIFS, we use iSCSI, we use fiber channel; all in one really. It's got everything in one solution.

Initial Setup

Setting up cluster-mode, initially, close to two years ago, was a little bit difficult, but after I started using it and after I went for NetApp training, I now feel it's easier than 7-mode.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

I haven't checked the new startup companies, but we compared NetApp with Oracle and EMC. NetApp costs a lot less than both EMC and Oracle. We looked at Exadata, and we ended up buying all-flash because it offered a better ROI. Exadata was not even all-flash, but it cost more than the all-flash.

Other Solutions Considered

We compared it to other vendors, and also with the return on investment we were expecting. This is cost efficient. We went to all the vendors to see how it would impact our IT budget.

We have been using it for a long time. As our storage increases, we keep on adding NetApps because we are happy with it.

Other Advice

I have been working with NetApp for something like 10 years, and I have worked for about a year with IBM and EMC. The choice depends on the company and the user. For some companies, NetApp might not be suitable for different reasons. For example, my previous company used fiber channel more.

Every company thinks that NetApp is a NAS solution, not a SAN solution. In that case, if they need a SAN solution, they think it has to come from a different company. My previous company thought the same way. However, we implemented some SAN on the NetApp side, and they're happy.

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