NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

It's offloaded workload that was compromising other workloads because of performance degradation.


What is most valuable?

At this point, performance is the most valuable feature. We're just putting it into production, on a pretty heavy performance-intensive workload. So far, its performed exactly how we wanted it to. Performance is the key on that particular device.

How has it helped my organization?

It's offloaded workload that was compromising other workloads because of performance degradation. It's enabled us to take that and isolate it; give it the performance it needs, saving other applications’ performance as well.

What needs improvement?

We don't have it running ONTAP 9 yet. Upgrading the OS to ONTAP 9 will definitely give us some advantages. From what I saw at a recent NetApp Insight conference, about how ONTAP 9 looks and feels, there are things to look at and learn how to use that, in performance monitoring tools as well. We still had some learning to do about what's available. We're using rudimentary performance monitoring. As far as that goes, the old tools are giving us what we want, but we're looking forward to upgrading to be able to take advantage of better tools.

We are especially looking for better performance monitoring. We want to be able to truly see what the load is doing at any given point in time, and especially if the user wants to know, “We're going to load this up. We want to see what effect it has on it.” We want to be able to give them real-time numbers.

Right now, that’s not easy to do. We can't get to the detailed level that we want to. We believe that that's available going forward.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've only had it in production a short time. We've had it a total of about six months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In the short time we’ve had it in production, six months, we haven’t had any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't had to scale it out.

How is customer service and technical support?

We've had to call technical support only because the performance monitoring on it has given us some skewed numbers. Getting back to us on that was a little bit slow, to get us the answer that we really needed to see, but we got the answer that we needed. All is good now.

Which solutions did we use previously?

I wasn’t involved in the decision process to invest in this particular All Flash FAS, but I've been in many, many discussions about going to that technology. I'm part of our team to say, "This is what we think we're going to need based on what we've seen. This could be the right tool for the job." In general, with decisions like this, there’s no one person making the decision.

We were previously running on a different vendor platform. We had that device saturated, and there was nowhere to go with it. The scalability was non-existent. It was disk. This was a good opportunity for us to move into this flash environment with this particular workload because of the performance.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

At this point, there really wasn't another player that was going to offer us familiarity with NetApp, for one thing, and what we needed.

The most important criteria for me when selecting a vendor to work with are the ease of administration of an appliance; reliability of an appliance; and being able to adequately monitor what's going on with the appliance (which ties in with the administration of it). Support’s got to be on it, especially if it's in production. It's like, “We need help; we need it now.” The vendor has to be there.

Those are probably the three most important criteria. Price comes in there, but you pay a premium for those particular things. If the price point is right and those things are all right, then you've got a great thing going on.

What other advice do I have?

Flash right now is just a hot ticket. If you've got performance-intensive workloads, and because the NetApp suite of tools that can come along with it, then, yes, I would recommend to colleagues that they take a look at it.

It's still pretty new to us, but what we expect it to do, it's doing. As we get more familiar with it, and if we see that we can scale it out and add more to it, I think I would be able to rate it higher pretty easily.

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