NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

It provides sub-millisecond latency, especially with SQL and Exchange.

How has it helped my organization?

We switched over from an EMC array that didn't have dedupe. Now with the AFF model, we were able to do compression and deduplication across the board. I think it's like a 4-to-1 compression rate.

For example, we did probably about 20 TB of space and in the EMC side, it was about, I would say 70 TB but we're not even finished yet.

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What is most valuable?

One of the things that we like is the sub-millisecond latency that we find, especially with SQL and Exchange. Everything's working faster than it did on our previous unit.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see them improve the GUI. It's not really AFF; it's across the board. The GUI is a little antiquated in my opinion. Looking at the other GUIs like the HP, which we've used, and also the Unisphere for EMC, they look a little bit snappier. The NetApp GUI looks a little old.

Also, the way you create storage, where you have to create a volume and then a LUN underneath it is kind of, in my opinion, a waste of time. If it could just do it in one shot, that would be easier.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We haven't had any stability issues, but we've only had the product for about two or three months. It's stable; so far, so good.

Learn about the benefits of NVMe, NVME-oF and SCM. Read New Frontiers in Solid-State Storage.

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

We recently moved from EMC to NetApp. We were pretty much running out of space on our current infrastructure for storage and we knew that we needed something else.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was straightforward, but it was because we used professional services, to have somebody come in and let us drive as they guided us. The console is pretty basic, but the professional services answered all of our questions, which made it easier for us.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did a bake-off with HP, NetApp and EMC, and picked the NetApp solution.

Pricing was a pretty big reason we chose NetApp, but it wasn't up-front pricing; it was pricing across the four or five years that we were going to keep the unit. We also chose them because of the amount of IOPS sent and the sub-millisecond latency requirement we had given them for performance metrics. Also, we were able to just add discs rather than add controllers, which we had to do with the HP and the EMC.

Generally, when we choose a vendor, we pretty much always go with Gartner because if we have the service, why not use it? NetApp is always up there, along with the other ones that I mentioned. That helped out a lot, along with the sales reps, of course. The technical team for both sides and the things that other customers say about it.

What other advice do I have?

Definitely use professional services, because there are a lot of moving parts and they can guide you through the best practices. If you are going to do it, give your current performance metrics to NetApp or whoever else, so that they can see how much storage you're using, how much it would be if it went through the dedupe scenarios and also what your response time should be at the end of everything.

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