NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

Provides low latency and high performance, but cloud retrieval needs improvement


What is our primary use case?

We have a range of customers, from manufacturing to oil & gas, in Malaysia. We have been using NetApp for quite some time, but now performance is a big issue for our customers, along with other challenges for them, so they are opting to go to All Flash.

NetApp is doing a good job of delivering to and satisfying customers. All Flash cloud technology has helped them a lot.

How has it helped my organization?

We try to provide a value-added proposition to customers, as a partner to NetApp. Most of them have been dealing with us for quite some time, five to ten years. They've been using a traditional base of NetApps and some other products. We have transitioned some of our customers from other companies' products to NetApp.

It provides our customers with a secure, fast, and always reliable solution. It also definitely affects the ability of our clients' IT departments to support new business initiatives because things become simplified for them, easier to deploy and to get off the ground faster. It gives them more flexibility to scale in the future.

In terms of it helping to improve performance of enterprise applications, data analytics, and VMs, I have one customer that is running SAP on NetApp. The performance improved about 40 to 45 percent. That was a great improvement for the IT infrastructure services team.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the low latency and high-performance. Some of our customers are dealing with seismic data from the oil & gas industry, so they need data extracted and transported to the application faster. That's one reason we bring in All Flash.

What needs improvement?

We'd like to see improvement in the time to retrieve from the cloud, whether it's on-prem to cloud and whether it's public or private cloud. That's the most important thing we need.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We don't have many issues related to the appliance itself. In terms of the OS, we do have some hiccups here and there. Our support team and the technical support from NetApp are able to handle that.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

At this point in time, a few customers are looking at scaling it. Since NetApp provides vast scalability, whether they scale up or scale out, it gives them better flexibility.

How is customer service and technical support?

Technical support is good. We have not had to involve them much. Most of the first-level and second-level cases are handled by us because we have a range of certified engineers. Only if it's really a critical issue that urgently needs an expert to dive in, then we will engage them NetApp support.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We have customers who are not NetApp customers. We teach them what the capabilities and challenges are. Our main goal is to comply with and meet our customers' challenges. If NetApp really fits their needs, we move on from there. In a case where we need to transition the whole infrastructure from a different storage brand to NetApp, we'll do that.

If the customer is an existing user, it's easier for us to convince them. If they're a non-NetApp user, it takes time because we have to do proofs of concept to justify it to them. If they agree technically, then the commercial conversation starts. Normally, the commercial conversion does not take that long, because the technical team has agreed to the solution.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. It is GUI-assisted. There are a lot of step-by-step guides, which are easy for certified engineers to follow. That makes things simple and we are able to make a good impression on our customers.

What about the implementation team?

We are an integrator and a consultant for our clients.

What was our ROI?

For some of our customers, within one-and-a-half years, they get a return on investment. One year after the deployment, the customer will either scale up or scale out. That will give the customer's site a better footprint.

What other advice do I have?

First thing first, I would advise you to gather the exact requirements and challenges. Try to blend those requirements with the NetApp solution, or part of the product, that suits you. Doing so will create a better engagement in the discussion. Otherwise, it could be very difficult to say that NetApp is the best product for the use case.

It takes less than half a day to set up and provision enterprise applications using the solution.

So far we have not connected any of our customers to public clouds. We have some challenges in Malaysia where some of the data, especially from the banks but also from the government and oil & gas, can't go out of the country. So we are not able to do that. In those cases, usually our customers will engage a managed services provider locally in Malaysia.

I give this solution a seven out of ten. There's still a long way to go and there are a lot of new start-up companies that also provide all-flash and hybrid. For some of our customers' applications, the new solutions are better.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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