NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

I can rely on the IOPS being there. Latency is predictable and low, and snapshots do not affect it.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the speed and the predictable performance. Compared to the spinning disk, I don't have to worry about IOPS anymore. I can rely on the IOPS being there. I can worry about CPU now. It's one less thing I have to worry about as far as performance.

How has it helped my organization?

The latency is very predictable and lower. It's very sustained, we know what it's going to be, and it doesn't get impacted by snapshots and so forth.

What needs improvement?

The AFF, which is what turns on the bit so that you can have an all-flash array compared to the hybrid array; I'm having troubles in my environment buying systems for smaller sites because I want the all flash array and I want the speed. I can go hybrid and still do SSD but it's making choices hard for me when I'm doing a lot of SnapMirrors and SnapVaults between sites.

I want the all-flash but I know I can't because I have to have SATA for the low-cost SnapMirror and SnapVault. It'd be nice if they would turn the switch on per aggregate, or maybe even per node, so that I could use it on some nodes. That way I wouldn't have to choose. Right now, I'm having a hard time choosing between hybrid or flash. I want the flash but I can't get it if I have to go hybrid.

I’m also looking forward to more CPU and power that's coming out in the AFF 700 and so on.

Other than that, so far, I'm pretty happy.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We had a stability issue. We got bit by a bug that was a compression problem, and we had to do a WAFL check. It was the first time we've ever had to do that only on the all-flash array.

The bug had already been identified, but nobody had hit it. We were the first one to hit it. The QA lab had found it. They should have notified all AFF customers before we hit it, because then we could have turned off compression and not hit it until the bug fix was released.

How is customer service and technical support?

Technical support needs improvement. We need access to the backend people without having to go through two layers to get to them, because we're always above the two layers. It's a waste of our time to have to work through them.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We previously used a different solution, which was coming to the end of its lifecycle.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was good. It's quicker, now that they've started sending out the pre-configured systems, or optimized systems.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There weren’t any other flash storage vendors on our shortlist. We were already in a four-year cycle with NetApp, so we just stuck with the same vendor.

In general, when I look at a vendor, the most important criteria is that they have our interests at heart and want to partner with us. Since we're a non-profit organization, we need them to understand what we're doing because we don't have a lot of money to throw around. They have to invest in our belief of what we're trying to do. Cost is part of it, but we still try to pick the technology over the cost, first.

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