NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

We use the speed for all of our database. It takes less time to get to the database and to get data back to applications.

What is most valuable?

The best feature is just for databases; the speed that we can use for all of our database, Oracle and SQL. For example, testing with our programmers, testing the systems; as far as the speed of getting to the database, getting their data back to their applications.

How has it helped my organization?

The speed itself means it takes less time trying to run queries.

NetApp for me has been great. We went from about 30 physical servers and some blades, and now we're over 70 virtual servers and everything's on NetApp. Basically, our utility is about 95% NetApp for storage. There's maybe 5% that are actually outside of that. NetApp has been great.

What needs improvement?

We're using it with VMware; being able to do some mirroring to our DR site. The biggest thing I'd like to see would be the ability to break the mirror and stand up the DR site as a production site; see if there's a way to do that almost seamlessly. That would be a big thing to be able to do: if you lose your main site, stand up your secondary site and the customer has no idea.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've had zero stability issues. We've had a disk go bad and the customer doesn't even know it. That's the best part about it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I don’t think we’ve had any scalability issues with it. I think it's great because every time they want more storage or a bigger size, it's easy enough to give them. Growing disk space is great with flash.

How is customer service and technical support?

We haven’t needed to use technical support.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We were not using a different solution beforehand. We had been using physical servers for all of our SQL and Oracle.

Testing with some of our programmers, there were some issues with speed compared to physical servers, physical disks. When we did the testing, the older physical servers were actually faster than some of our virtual. We had to do some testing with that and we determined that by going to the flash, we’d get rid of that latency, that issue of slowness.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup is a little bit complex, but we use a guy who pretty much builds all of our NetApp for us.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing AFF, we looked around a little bit, thought about some Cisco gear, but decided we just wanted to go with NetApp from talking with a couple of other utilities that we know, that work with us. They were using NetApp, so we just gravitated towards it.

In general, when I choose a vendor, the criteria that are important to me are stability, for one; longevity in the business already; and then, of course, word of mouth from other customers. How they treat their customers, how good are they at getting back to you. There’s nothing like having a fire and wanting your vendor to be there on the spot to fix it. Other than that, that's probably the biggest thing.

What other advice do I have?

Start with planning and whatever you think you need, double it. That's the word of mouth; that’s what most everybody says. We bought 20 TBs of flash to start, thinking that's all we would need, and in less than a year, we already reached 14 TBs.

Once you go to it, you don't go back. Once everybody gets their speed, they don't ever want to lose that. The nice thing about flash is that it protects the poorly written code. That's our favorite thing to tell the programmers.

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