NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

It integrates with the NAS solutions we use. Bugs need to be addressed at a much earlier level.


What is most valuable?

It's an all-flash array and it integrates with the NAS solutions we use; that's a key part. We were looking at the different arrays. For example, SolidFire doesn't integrate with the NAS. Our solution mainly focuses on the NAS part of it, so we we're looking for a high-performance array. AFF basically is geared to those needs, apart from the base services which come with the NetApp product.

How has it helped my organization?

It has improved, in terms of latency and performance issues we were having on the spinning media; those will be gone. We can sell the customer what they need; all customers.

What needs improvement?

I haven't thought much about additional features or improvements. We’ve only been using the product for a short period of time; the main part is that it integrates with the NAS solutions and all the backups, SMVI, we would like to do. We're happy as of now.

Maybe thinking from my current problems or customers is why I can’t really think of anything. Maybe our environment is not as challenging as others. That could be a reason that we're not looking for extra things.

An example of something that is lacking, not necessarily for the AFF, as such, and that we might not have faced, is that in the FAS series, we were told about the faster 3200, if we get into an issue wherein it’s looking at a cluster interconnect, we need to basically replace some motherboard. Sometimes even doing a failover and give back wasn't even possible. We had to do a forced takeover and give back, and we basically corrupted couple of databases; it went to that extent. Hopefully, those are not issues in AFF. We haven't faced that yet but you never know until you actually use the product for a while.

Basically, they could do better in terms of software integration. There are a lot of features that, when we try to do it or, when NetApp tries to do it, they come across a lot of bugs which could affect us as customers.

Bugs need to be addressed at a much earlier level. There could be more QA done at NetApp itself before they get it out as a product.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using it for three months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have not been using AFF for a long time, but the FAS series has been stable. We had issues with the 3200 series, wherein motherboards needed to be replaced under certain conditions, which we didn't like. We had to take some hits on that. Otherwise, if we go to the higher-end arrays, they're very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

There haven’t been that many issues. We do not have a lot of performance issues or demands, so we haven’t had many issues, in terms of scalability or performance.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have used technical support. Whether it's a hardware or software issue, we do use it. We use it through a partner, if not directly with NetApp. They're helpful. It’s generally been a good experience with technical support.

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

We were previously using the FAS series with spinning media.

One of the key factors in our decision to move to a new solution was that NetApp was marketing it very well. We were running five-year-old hardware and we were about to do a tech refresh on them. We looked at spinning media, FAS and the AFF solution. AFF was making some sense cost-wise and performance-wise, so that's why we went to AFF.

How was the initial setup?

We used professional services from another vendor for the initial setup, so we didn't feel it was that difficult.

The training for AFF was not difficult; it wasn't complicated.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Tintri for the VM piece of it. Finally, we went to the AFF.

In general, when I’m choosing a vendor, I look at what kind of products or aspects of the product we are looking for, whether they satisfy that or not, as well as performance. Third but not least is the cost, as well as how much difference it is from our current NetApp solution because our staff needs to be trained on that.

What other advice do I have?

It does integrate; if you know the FAS series platform, it's not much different if you know CDOT. It's not much different doing implementation.

Determine which volumes need to go where; do that preparation from the customer’s perspective: how they want to use the product rather than how to deploy a product.

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