NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

It has extremely high performance, and the storage efficiency is far superior to a typical FAS

What is our primary use case?

We use it for high performance, block storage, and file storage. 

The highest performance need apps are usually deployed on AFF. We're using adaptive QoS to identify what applications require higher performance and moving those volumes over to the AFF.

How has it helped my organization?

We are able to offer higher performance to meet the business needs. We see far less issues with applications complaining about not getting the throughput they need, the IOPS, or that they are getting to high of a latency. We put it on AFF and the issues go away.

The user experience with AFF is fast and secure, with continuous access to data. Our users typically don't know where we're putting their data unless we have some benefit in telling them. If they say, "It's not fast enough," we put it over here, and they say, "It's good now. We're happy." Though, we have to be judicious in how we move it, because storage is a bit expensive. Although, the higher storage efficiencies somewhat compensate for it.

The solution is providing IT more headroom so we can give higher performance to more applications. Like every business, our data footprint is growing. Our applications account is growing, and we're just able to keep up with it now somewhat better than we were before.

We are spending less time putting out fires, so there's a tangible benefit right there.

What is most valuable?

  • It has extremely high performance. 
  • The storage efficiency is far superior to a typical FAS.
  • The administration is ONTAP, so it's not like you have a new platform to learn. Everything is consistent with what we have been doing for years.

What needs improvement?

On the roadmap, NetApp is improving the solution's storage efficiency, compression algorithms to achieve more space savings, and the management interfaces. We are looking forward to these feature additions in the next release.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Like every NetApp platform, it's very stable. Occasionally, we hit a bug, but you encounter that everywhere. We've never had any problems specific to AFF. Overall, our problems with NetApp products have been minimal. It is a solid platform.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It scales well, probably more so than the FAS. Because of the storage density with the SSDs, we can't buy enough SSDs to max one out.

How are customer service and technical support?

As with all NetApp tech support, it's outstanding. It is the best in the industry. It is very easy to escalate.

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

We didn't technically switch solutions. We just augmented it because we have been a NetApp customer for awhile. Thus, we're going from FAS to AFF, which is just a natural progression.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was not complex. Even though it's a higher performing platform, you run it, manage it, and administer it the same as you do any FAS.

What about the implementation team?

We have a VAR, Tego Data Systems, whom we work with closely. They know our environment as well as we do. So, when we come to them with a need, we don't have to spend a lot of time feeding them background. They're ready to hit the ground running.

What was our ROI?

Our TCO has probably stayed about the same per terabyte of user data.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at other vendors (Kaminario, Pure Storage, Dell EMC, and IBM), but decided that it made the most sense to stay with NetApp. 

What other advice do I have?

I would look at the performance of AFF, its reliability, and its outstanding tech support. 

AFF is the wave of the future. Spinning disk will be going away and it just makes sense to go where the industry is going.

AFF helps us improve performance for our enterprise applications, data analytics and VMs. We have moved our primary data stores for production over to AFF, and a lot of the problems that might happened have gone away.

To set up and provision enterprise applications using this solution is quick. We're integrating it with ServiceNow, so it is a hands-off storage allocation. A user submits a request and can have storage in five to ten minutes.

We are not yet connected to any public clouds.

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