NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

We use it for some SQL databases and a VDI solution. Initial setup is simple; they code the cabling.

What is most valuable?

The input/output is the most valuable feature. When you have high-availability applications that need high IOPS, it's kind of a no-brainer to have an AFF. We're using it for some SQL databases now, and a VDI solution.

How has it helped my organization?

We did see some massive performance increases on all of the SQL databases when we moved over; that made the database administrators pretty happy.

What needs improvement?

It's worked very well. I know we'll see improvements in disk. You'll get better processors and things like that, which will make them faster, but overall, it's fantastic for our environment. Improvements in disk and better processors would be something I’d like to see in the future, but you're going to see that anyway.

I always get surprised when I see a new feature. Usually when something comes out, I'll see something and say "Wow, I would have never thought they would've went there." I'm not that good at future-casting.

I'm sure that people have issues. I haven't had anything, though. It's been great.
Maybe if it had some sort of game-changing technology. They're all very similar; that's the thing I learned through the POC process.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have not had any stability or scalability issues at all, actually. It fit right into our current cluster, and everything works great. We haven't had any issues at all. It’s been absolutely stable.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have not needed to use technical support for anything particular on the AFF. We do have a support contract and we do have support issues from time to time, but nothing's come up with the All Flash, so far.

In general, NetApp support is pretty good; overall, pretty good. I've had a couple of things that needed to be escalated but overall, the staff is pretty knowledgeable and they work pretty well.

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

We drove the decision to invest in AFF a little more than our database administrators had. They were fine with the performance, but we were seeing some things on our side that made us think it was time to go with a flash solution. They were driving too much IO over SAS and SATA, and we wanted to make sure we had the right solution for them going forward. We also wanted to futureproof it a little bit.

How was the initial setup?

If you can set up any FAS, you can probably set up a AFF. Initial setup is pretty simple, if you know that technology.

The thing that I love the most about it is, being a NetApp customer for a while, they code their cabling; you know where the square plugs in, and you have a triangle and a circle. That makes it so much easier; they idiot-proofed it, very much. Then, of course, when you go through the setup and configuration, it alerts you if there's any cabling issue, so you can go back; that was kind of nice, too.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I don't handle pricing. I did a little bit of the negotiation. I thought it was fair for the value that we got, especially compared to certain competitors that we looked at as well.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We're a NetApp shop, and we've had a very good relationship with them over the years. Nonetheless, for certain purchases – obviously, for a big purchase such as moving into the flash arena – we wanted to be certain, so we did look at a few other options.

I felt like the AFF pricing was better. The fact that we had existing NetApp solutions and a great relationship with our NetApp partners was basically what won it there. I don't know that it necessarily does anything different than a competitor, but we've been very happy with it.

In general, when I’m considering vendors to work with, I like solid solutions. I like good support. You wind up trusting people after you get through a few solutions and through a few things with them. That's important to me.

What other advice do I have?

If you have experience with NetApp, you shouldn't have any trouble with it. If you don't, I would suggest the training. It's pretty straightforward, but that'll always help.

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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