NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

Before this solution, patients would have to wait for answers; now they get them almost instantaneously


What is our primary use case?

We use it for our EHR. We have 4,000 users who need to have access to a very large EHR called Epic. We are sharing a cache database through AIX servers. 

How has it helped my organization?

It made everything faster. The user performance went from about eight seconds, for certain screens, down to three seconds per screen. That was the primary reason. Our users can multitask faster. The way Epic works is that you have multiple screens up at the same time. When you have multiple screens up at the same time and you have a patient sitting in front of you, speed is quality. Where before, the patient would have to wait for answers, now they get them almost instantaneously. Our users can run multiple things at the same time. For the users, the nurses and doctors, it is faster. All around faster.

As for IT's ability to support new business initiatives as a result of using this product, we are upgrading to Epic 2018 next year. The older system couldn't have supported it. That is another reason we went to a faster system. Epic has very high standards to make sure that, if you buy the upgrade, you will be able to support the upgrade. They advised me, top to bottom, make sure you can do it. Our new system passed everything. It's way faster.

We have VMs and we're were running VDI. We're running VMware Horizon View. We have about 900 VMs running on it and we have about another 400 Hyper-V servers running on it. Our footprint is very tiny now versus before. We now have some 30 servers running 1,000 machines where we used to have 1,000 machines running 1,000 machines. We have Exchange, SQL, and Oracle and huge databases running out of it with no problem at all, including Epic. It's full but it's very fast.

It takes us a minute or two minutes to set up and provision enterprise applications using the product. We can spin up a VM in about 30 seconds and have SQL up and running, for the DBAs to go in and do their work, in about two minutes.

What is most valuable?

It would primarily be speed. That's why we got it. Storage is costly but it's very, very fast. Very efficient, very fast.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Zero downtime so far. We've had it for two years.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not had to scale it. We bought it at about 128 terabytes and, right now, we are probably at about 80 or 90. Because of the upgrade, next year we are going to grow 30 percent. We will probably upgrade in 2020 or increase the space.

How is customer service and technical support?

Zero downtime, so we've never really called. The engineer who supports it will call for firmware upgrades or for a yellow light: "Why is it on?" For the most part, we haven't had any issues with it at all.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We were on a standard NetApp but we upgraded to the FAS because of performance. We had it in for a test and it succeeded. That's why we bought it.

I have been with the company for 20 years and we have had NetApp for 20 years. We did switch over to IBM, about ten years ago, right before we went to Epic. But Epic said, "No IBM. NetApp." We were switching from NetApp to IBM, because IBM had a little bit of advantage, a long time ago. Then Epic came in and said, "No, switch back." So, we're back.

How was the initial setup?

We have clusters but our guy doesn't know how to do the cluster side of things. That's what the reseller did, primarily.

What about the implementation team?

We used a reseller, IAS. They have helped us. Our experience with them is good. We have had them for 20 years.

What was our ROI?

The benefit of getting the product, versus not getting the product, has allowed the clinic to do more. Since they are doing more, the return on investment is shrinking. We bought it two years ago and we have probably already paid for it.

The old NetApp we had was paid for. The new NetApp was about $3 million and we paid for that in about two years. It was well worth it because we can do more. For example, our advanced imaging is all pictures, videos; huge amounts of data get used up. Now they can triple and quadruple the amount they could do because of the speed. So instead of seeing ten patients a day, they're seeing 30 or 40 patients a day.

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

The total cost, the pricing of it, has gone up quite a bit.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Dell EMC. We looked at them briefly when they were EMC. We looked at IBM. But Epic pretty much says that NetApp sets the standard and we have to follow that.

What other advice do I have?

If you have the money, you can't compare it to what we had at all, you just can't. In fact, the one that we had for production for the entire clinic is now sitting in our DR as cold storage. It went from state of the art to boat-anchor in about two years.

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