NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

Because of the cloning and snapshots that we do, we are getting a high data efficiency ratio out of our production array

What is our primary use case?

NetApp is our primary storage device for our line of business. We use NetApp as our primary storage device and also for our DR.

We are a workers' comp insurance company that has been in business for a 120 years.

How has it helped my organization?

It has helped us improve the performance for our enterprise applications, data analytics and VMs across the board. We recently upgraded from a FAS3250 platform to the AFF A300 all-flash array. Batch times went from approximately seven hours down to about two and a half. Functionality during the day, such as taking or removing snapshots and cloning instances, is higher than it has ever been. 

We are employing the native encryption on disk along with NVMe. Therefore, it is a more secure solution. Our user experience and performance have been remarkably better as well. 

A lot of application administrators have a lot more time. We have been able to do some things that we were unable to do before, so it has helped streamline our business a lot.

What is most valuable?

We enjoy the native built-in replication and the snapshot functionality (to take snapshots).

What needs improvement?

I just got through the session where it looks like they are going to support Oracle running on Linux with SnapCenter. That is one of the main things that we are hoping to get integrated.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

NetApp has always been a stable platform with very few problems at all.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable. Because of the cloning and snapshots that we do, we are getting a data efficiency ratio out of our production array of about 32:1, which is a high ratio. So, we took quite a bit of data and shrunk it down in size, letting it scale out better.

We are going to be adding another shelf to it, but storage to the NetApp application has always been easy to do. We usually do it ourselves without getting a third-party contractor involved.

How are customer service and technical support?

NetApp's support has always been top-notch. I haven't met anyone in the NetApp institution who hasn't been a remarkably intelligent, easy-going person to work with. It is amazing. Everyone from their support crews to their sales engineers are good. We have a good relationship with them.

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

A big guiding point for upgrading hardware of any type now is to look at the support costs. If support costs get high enough, it financially doesn't make any sense to not upgrade.

Usually once a new technology matures enough, you can look at TCO and decide to make the decision to move ahead. So, we invested in this solution because of costs and the technology improved to the point where we knew it would be stable.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward. It was intuitive to set up storage volumes and get the networking functioning. Their engineer was very helpful. We got the current array on our production site the very same day it was shipped in. We had it up on the network and started to put some storage on it. 

What about the implementation team?

We used a NetApp professional services for this deployment. It worked out really well. We had involvement of several different support engineers to help with all aspects of the rollout.

What was our ROI?

The total cost of ownership has decreased a great deal. As far as percentages, it's hard to gauge, but we did have quite a few personnel staying up, making sure batches ran well every night. Now, batches are being done by 8:00 in the evening, so we don't have to do that anymore. When you start adding the employee hours that we have for people working in the off-hours, and it is not an issue anymore, I suspect TCO might have gone down 25 percent.

Setting up storage for an application (storage provisioning) is quick and easy. Maybe a quarter of the time is now spent getting the application up and running, or even less. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also talked to Tegile and HPE, but nobody else offered up the functionality or snapshots. It was a no-brainer.

What other advice do I have?

We have been an NetApp customer for about ten years and have enjoyed the relationship a lot.

The important thing for anybody to check out is the snapshot functionality of NetApp, and how well it works to provision for backup. It also provisions test environments with it. There are so many advantages to the way they do snapshots compared to other companies, and they have all these wondrous tool sets to leverage the snapshot functionality. Anybody who is looking into a storage solution needs to look at all of the attributes to the NetApp platform.

Connecting it to public cloud is our next project. We are looking at DR using NetApp cloud services, so that will probably be coming up first quarter of next year.

We are looking at a new series arrays for our building video security storage as well, and there is no doubt that we will be going with NetApp. NetApp just does a solid job, and their support is top-notch.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
More NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) reviews from users
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