NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

It provides multi-platform support. FlexCloning is useful for database refreshes.


What is most valuable?

Multi-platform support is one of the most valuable features. It has lots of data protection solutions and cool new features, such as vol moves and FlexCloning. That's very useful for database refreshes.

How has it helped my organization?

We heavily leverage the FlexClone features to clone databases for various environments. We use the multiple protocol feature to support different operating systems and platforms.

It allows us to be more flexible with customer demands and needs. It has not allowed us to save money, per se; there are other solutions that are probably cheaper in the flash arena, but this was a nice transition from our NetApp 7-mode to CDOT platforms.

What needs improvement?

I’d like better performance management tools and a federated provisioning tool to manage our storage. They're working on that right now. They don't have anything out of the box that comes with that at this time that I know of.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using AFF Flash for about eight months; we tested it 12 months ago.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's a very stable platform; so far, it’s been very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It scales very well. I'd give it about a 9 out of 10 on scalability.

How is customer service and technical support?

They have strong technical support. We've had some issues in the beginning with the technical support because it was a fairly new product, but they seem to be scaling up in terms of their support engineers.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We evaluated Pure and Tintri. We're an incumbent customer of NetApp’s 7-mode product, so for the migration from 7-mode to CDOT AFF was easier than transitioning to Pure or Tintri.

Some of the competitors did not offer multi-protocol solutions, so the architecture for those solutions would have been a little bit more complicated.

How was the initial setup?

Me and my team did the initial setup. Setup was more complicated than their 7-mode platforms, but it's a necessary evil to provide the new functionalities within CDOT and AFF.

What was our ROI?

Moving to a flash solution was definitely beneficial.

What other advice do I have?

If you're not already in flash, you should probably start thinking about just buying just flash. Flash helps relieve some of the performance capacity management overhead that comes with traditional spinning disk platforms.

What I would suggest to people that are looking at flash is to make sure they're able to do proper sizing. With buying flash, you need to also make sure your controllers are able to support the workloads you expect the flash to handle. I think flash removes the disk as the bottleneck, but then that pushes that bottleneck down to other hardware components, such as either the network SAN or storage controllers. Make sure that the rest of your system can handle it.

That's what I would offer in terms of evaluating a flash solution, and to look into scaling out versus scaling up for flash.

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