NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

Dual Controller gives us great stability and allows us to do daytime maintenance on a controller


What is our primary use case?

We use it for data storage for Citrix VDIs.

How has it helped my organization?

The improvement to our organization is in the ability to put more into the same storage platform. We came from EqualLogics and the ones we had didn't have that nice compression and deduplication to get a little bit more out of the storage.

Also, the protection of the data, being able to replicate between sites easily. We were a "backup shop". The replication doesn't quite back up so I haven't won that fight yet, but at least it protects us offsite, easily.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are deduplication and compression, so we get more out of our storage. The replication is also important.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see a little more flexibility in customizing some of the SnapMirror stuff. We have been having a little trouble and, in the first round with tech support, they say, "Well, this is how we do it."

It's not exactly throttled but it's limited in the number of connections it makes. We would like to be able to tweak that, to increase it a little bit, because we don't have half a dozen large areas that we are protecting, we have more like 40 or 50 areas. They run into each other a little bit and I don't want to spend time on them.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable. It's always there when we need it. With the Dual Controller, if one drops out, the other one comes right online. We don't use any iSCSI so there is a little bit of a latency break but, over the NFS, we don't notice that switch-on. We can do maintenance in the middle of the day, literally rip a whole controller out of the chassis, and do what we need to do with it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not needed to scale it.

How is customer service and technical support?

Technical support is generally very good, once they get a good idea of what the issue is. Occasionally you need to be a little more specific about your problem to get the right team working on it. But they're normally very good, very responsive, efficient, knowledgeable, and very patient. They're willing to take the time to make sure you understand their analysis and their recommended solution.

Which solutions did we use previously?

The reasons we switched were performance and the number of IOPS in the previous product. It was an older product which was dog-slow. Some of the larger file servers were the worst. And that played out to everything else that was sharing the storage with it.

How was the initial setup?

There were a few initial setups. Two of them were relatively straightforward and one of them was a little bit more complex, the AFF8080. On that one there were a lot more network interfaces to figure out where they go.

We also leveraged the IP Spaces which was really good because we house some data for an affiliate, rather than somebody in-house, so that was amazing.

What about the implementation team?

We used a reseller for the deployment. The only problem with doing it that way is that I find we did not have a good idea of the current roadmap. On some of the projects we purchased for, we might have made a different decision had we known what was coming six or nine months down the road.

Some of that was on us. We probably could have pushed for that, but having that reseller "middle-man" made it more difficult.

What was our ROI?

We haven't had the time to do a proper analysis of ROI yet.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

The next closest option that we considered was Dell EMC.

What other advice do I have?

Try to get behind the sales guys to the people who do pre-sales tech support to really understand the roadmap and other aspects of the product. The sales guys are great but they're sales guys. If you can get to the tech guys behind them and really talk to them about what your problems are, and what you are trying to attack, I feel that works much better.

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