NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

Predictable performance has stayed below a millisecond. Low latency has been good.

Video Review:

What is most valuable?

The most valuable thing I have seen since we've got it is that predictable performance has stayed below a millisecond, which was not the experience we've had with spinning disk. So, I was looking forward to that coming in and giving my customers predictable performance, and it’s proven to be doing that for us.

Learn about the benefits of NVMe, NVME-oF and SCM. Read New Frontiers in Solid-State Storage.

What needs improvement?

We're having a hard time deciding what goes on flash and what doesn't now. When we're doing replication, where you have an all-flash array and we're replicating between sites, we want this flash but we want to have SATA for replication, as well, for a target. So, we're having a hard time deciding, should we go FAS or should we go all flash?

While at the recent Insight conference, I talked to some of the more senior technical guys. They were able to give me the difference in impact on performance from a FAS running SSD and an all flash running SSD. There's not that big of a gap. And so, that gave me more confidence that we could go hybrid if we need to on our smaller sites, and then still get the replication done on low cost and not lose the big performance that we got out of flash.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has been very stable, just like the other products that we've had from them in the past.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We bought small and hoped that the efficiencies would bring in what we need, and it did. But with everything going on in our environment, we actually increased it so that we can have a little more capacity. Right now, it's probably 2% utilized, which is completely different than a spinning disk, which is 70% utilized. So, the scalability's just easy to do; it's incredible.

How is customer service and technical support?

Support, I think could use a little bit of help. We can't seem to get to the backend guys fast enough. We've had conversations with them about that. So, we would love to see some of that going on and get better support quicker, to the right guy.

Learn about the benefits of NVMe, NVME-oF and SCM. Read New Frontiers in Solid-State Storage.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was very straightforward, with the new optimized arrays that you can purchase and they come in with a 10-minute setup. That did take away a lot of the steps that we used to do before. So, it did come in, we were able to just plug it in and in 10 minutes have it up and running.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We were already a NetApp shop, so for us this was just adding it to the cluster. And it was time for us to do that with a hardware refresh, so we really didn't compare to others.

What other advice do I have?

The most important criteria when I’m looking for a vendor are stability and availability. Cost is always thrown in there, but it's not the first one. And then support is becoming more and more important to us; being able to get to the right person at the right time.

From the All Flash, from being a NetApp customer for quite a while, having all protocols in one box is very powerful. And so, I would say, that would be a great thing to consider when you're considering the all flash array is, most of the all flash arrays out in the market today are block. They do have the file protocol, they're leading in the industry with it. And we've switched over to the file protocols quite some time ago. And we're seeing much more savings in operational costs because of the file. We take out the zoning and all of the block stuff that comes with it, and we're being very successful with file and we've reduced our operational costs significantly because of it.

I'm very happy with it and the low latency has been good. It's met the mark.

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