NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

Gives us high performance and deduplication capabilities with simpler management

How has it helped my organization?

The primary use case for our Flash FAS is general storage for our hypervisor, software as a service provider. We primarily use it for storing our applications, web servers, file servers, and whatever other applications we have. We mainly utilize the AFF platform for the high performance and the deduplication capabilities. The management is a lot simpler on an AFF.

What is most valuable?

  • Deduplication
  • Compressions
  • Simpler management
  • The performance is great.

What needs improvement?

I'm not sure there are any additional features which I want to see, except for maybe more compatibility within the hardware universe and more compatibility for cables and other hardware. Some better integration with the E-Series to give us more options to scale. The other issue though is a completely different product called HCI, so this might not even be an AFF request.

It would be helpful if the compatibility matrix was a bit better. That's what we run into a lot. Our datacenters have a need for more flexible cabling and NetApp has very strict guidelines on what kind of cables you use. That's the only reason why I wouldn't rate it a 10 out of 10, but everything else is great.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is very good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Regarding scalability, on a scale of one to 10, I'd say about a five.

How are customer service and technical support?

Tech support is great. I'd rate it as a nine out of 10.

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

The initial reason for going to NetApp was that our original solution, which was Dell Storage, just wasn't cutting it. We did our own in-house testing, performance-wise, resilience-wise, etc. The Dell Storage just wasn't cutting it. Dell's other solution at that time was Compellent, and NetApp was just better. The initial reason we didn't go with NetApp was because of cost, but they were able to meet us in the middle and we just went from there.

How was the initial setup?

Not straightforward, there is a learning curve when it comes to AFFs, but once you understand the setup it's pretty easy.

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

Our initial perception of NetApp was it's extremely expensive and a little too inflexible. However, once we did get into the NetApp ecosystem, we realized that the cost effectiveness was greater than we originally thought.

The cost effectiveness is due to deduplication compression, the number of managed hours that we need to maintain the system, and the flexibility of NetApp which is geared toward keeping their systems more resilient.

What other advice do I have?

I would check to see that you're okay with centralized storage because that's what NetApp's bread and butter is. If you want a centralized storage platform that is bulletproof, NetApp is great.

We use AFF for both block storage and NAS storage. We are more likely to consider NetApp for mission critical storage systems based on our experience with AFF.

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