NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

It is stable, has enabled us to buy capacity as needed, and helps us refresh UAT/DEV environments as needed.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the deduplication and compression, along with NetApp's Snapshot technology.

I'm looking forward to the compaction feature after the code upgrade in a few months.

How has it helped my organization?

We have been looking for a flash solution that scales horizontally along with a proven application integration stack. NetApp has been helpful and stable, and enabled us to buy capacity as needed, as well as help in quickly refreshing UAT/DEV environments as needed.

What needs improvement?

The product still uses the concept of decoupling hardware with multiple HA pairs where system resources like CPU/memory is bound to a single controller. This approach definitely helps keep the system more resilient and stable, but it makes the environment a little complex for the end user to decide where to place their application for best performance. This is being mitigated by a few of the performance and automation tools they provide, but it may not be the most efficient approach in real time.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There were no issues with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability in regards to capacity hasn't been an issue. The product really scales well.

With regard to performance, storage pools/aggregates are tied to a single node, so a storage device/LUN can only use CPU/memory of that particular node.

How is customer service and technical support?

NetApp technical support has been excellent for years and they are also improving with their deep software engineering skills/customer reports.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We used to deploy other large storage vendor products that didn't integrate well with the application stack. Automation and efficiency has been a driver in the company, which made us switch to NetApp.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was straightforward.

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

Snapshot/FlexClone are the core licenses that I would recommend to others. Opt for a converged infrastructure like FlexPod, where the Cisco UCS server platform is involved.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated other large flash vendors including EMC and Pure. Every vendor has their own niche in the flash industry.

What other advice do I have?

Decide your current and future requirements in terms of performance, capacity scaling, application (SQL/Oracle/SharePoint/Exchange/SAP) integration, storage efficiency (dedupe/compression), operational overhead, etc., and decide on a vendor based on it.

No vendor is perfect in every aspect, so chose the vendor based on your requirements and test them!!!

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

Hi, I'm a NetApp trainer and wanted to point out a new capability in ONTAP 9.1 regarding your Scalability/Improvement comments:

"With regard to performance, storage pools/aggregates are tied to a single node, so a storage device/LUN can only use CPU/memory of that particular node."

Since 9.1 FlexGroups are GA. Check them out. They decouple FlexVol performance from nodes and aggregates/StoragePools... Check out TR-4557 and TR-4571 for Info and Best Practices.

07 March 17
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