NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

Using the compression and the dedupe saves data space.

What is most valuable?

I like the speed and that it's easy to set up. We are now using the compression and the dedupe, which is very useful in saving a lot of data space.

How has it helped my organization?

As I’ve mentioned, we are using the compression to save data space. We do a lot of vaulting. We have our primary storage and our secondary storage. For our secondary storage, we always had to buy big SATA disks but now we can use compression to actually save buying monstrous disks and use compression to save our secondary vault for data.

What needs improvement?

I'm hearing about compaction, I kind of want to find out more about it. I guess it's another level of compression on top of things. I’d like to just see where it takes off from there. I know that the speed of the disks isn't going to be the bottleneck anymore. As far as the NAN technology coming out, I want to find out what the feature design is for NetApp on that, too.

So far, I haven’t seen any features in other solutions that I'd like to see brought in to AFF. I'm pretty impressed with the way we run things for what we have so far.

They could always improve the pricing. It is relatively expensive. When we priced things out before, it was priced by how many GBs you need for whatever you need, how many TBs. Now, it's terabytes compressed. You're looking at a compression tool, so you don't need as much hardware to get the same amount of space. It actually is saving space in our data centers, so we're getting a lot of improvements with heating and cooling, and with tile space; half the data center's coming back. For the past two years, we've been really ramping up on different technologies and decreasing our data center space. We've been looking at AFF now for over a year now. We've been running more and more of those in.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been running the AFF systems now for over a year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have not had any stability issues. We can do vault moves and everything else. It gives us flexibility, mainly in our VMware environment, because we're all NFS. We’re able to buy new equipment, retire equipment, swap things in and out very easily.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not had any scalability issues so far. It's scalable, depending on what your network switch is; we're running ten-node clusters right now.

How are customer service and technical support?

Sometimes we use technical support. It depends on who you get. The last couple of people I had were helpful. We use professional services. For example, when we do an upgrade two or three levels up, we'll mostly use professional services or our contacts. For any kind of upgrades, we'll get recommendations from technical support, and so on. They've been great.

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

Our main kick off was our VDI environment, our work stations, heavy writes. Typically, we were running SAS disks and they were doing good but for the right performance, you really had to have huge aggregates to carry that load. With AFF, you don't really need that because the IOPS are there and it can handle it.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup has been easier and easier because we used to set older systems up with SAS and aggregates and everything else. Now, it's kind of, start it up and let it go. It's getting a lot easier, at least on the hardware setup.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We mainly run NetApp for our NAS environment but for SAN, we run some of the other vendors. However, that's kind of coming around. People are seeing what these AFF systems are doing and I'm actually doing some testing in our SAN environment for some of the NetApp stuff, too. It might be a good thing. We'll have to see.

What other advice do I have?

We do a lot of work with our NetApp professional services or just design teams. Get help with them to start it out, so you have some kind of baseline. Don't just go run out there and buy something. (I guess if you have the money, you can go out there and try it.)

We've been working with a pretty good support team that we get to bounce things off of.

I can't find anything bad about them. It's been a big improvement for us.
When I look for a vendor, support is important to me. You want to be able to buy a piece of equipment, run a piece of equipment, you don't know anything about, and know that somebody can support it, so that when something does crash, they're not going to just say, "Oh, call somebody else," or run away from you. Support is very important; I would think so.

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