NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

Supported our overall business initiatives, they've done a great job with cybersecurity


What is our primary use case?

We have a pretty amazing story about using AFS. When I went into this organization, we had a 59% uptime ratio, and at the time we were looking at how to improve on efficiency, and how to bring good technology initiatives together to make this digital transformation happen. When the Affordable Care Act came out, it started mandating a lot of these health care organizations to implement an electronic medical record system. Of course, since health care has been behind the curve when it comes to technology, it was a major problem when I came into this organization that had a 59% uptime ratio. They also wanted to implement an electronic medical record system throughout their facility, and we didn't have the technology in place.

One of my key initiatives at the time was to determine what we wanted to do as a whole organization. We wanted to focus on the digital transformation. We needed to determine if we could find some good business partners in place so we selected NetApp. We were trying to create a better, efficient process, with very strong security practices as well. We selected an All-Flash FAS solution because we were starting to implement virtual desktop infrastructure with VMware.

We wanted to throw out zero clients throughout the whole organization for the physicians, which allowed them to do single sign-on. The physician would be able to go to one specific office, tap his badge, sign in to the specific system from there. That floating profile would come over with him, and then you just created some great efficiencies. The security practices behind the ONTAP solution and the security that we were experiencing with NetApp was absolutely out of this world. I've been very impressed with it. One of the main reasons I started with NetApp was because they have a strong focus on health care initiatives. I was asked to sit on the neural network, which was a NetApp-facilitated health care advisory group that focused and looked at the overall roadmap of NetApp. When you have a good business partner like NetApp, versus a vendor where a vendor's going to come in, sell me a solution and just call me a year later and say that they want us to sign something, I'm not looking for people like that. I'm looking for business partners. What I like to say is, "My success is your success, and your success is ours." That's really a critical point that NetApp has demonstrated.

How has it helped my organization?

Everyone looks at health care because health care has been an amazing organization to be in. We're seeing the transformation of how we're becoming a digital company. Every organization is becoming a digital company, and we're starting to see the advancements of technology really come in to place. Your new CEO is the patient, and that's the bottom line. That's my CEO. As an organization and as a technologist, I have to build a very strong patient-centric strategy that focuses the technology on the patient's needs, because at the end of the day, that patient could choose to either go to your organization or to another. We want to keep that good loyalty and that good specific patient in our organization, and we want to make sure that we are creating very strong, asynchronous tools that benefit a patient both inside and outside the organization. That's why I always say patient care is number one. AFS has supported our overall business initiatives.

Applications are a critical point. I think that All Flash FAS is an amazing thing when it comes to speed, efficiency in what it's doing. We've been very impressed with regards to it as well. We look at different initiatives, and we're starting to focus on different initiatives when it comes to data analytics and data mining. Having that specific availability, and making sure that we can focus on those initiatives and those strategies, we're very confident that the solutions that we are choosing with NetApp are going to give us the edge advantage of moving forward into the future.

I think when you look at artificial intelligence and at machine learning, you look at predictive analytics. You have to have very strong data silo in order to get that clean data. I think with all the data that we're creating in this health care organization, we need to make sure that we can create well-structured data which will allow us to data mine that information to come out with some good valuables, meaning better patient care, better ways to reduce readmission rates, better ways to increase revenue. There are so many benefits in regards to good, strong data mining that produce great analytic reports.

Right now we do have a very strong cloud initiative. We are moving forward to the cloud because the thing is I think the future of health care, the future of artificial intelligence improvements is really moving a lot of these health care organizations over to the cloud where there is that data mining capability of really bringing in all these algorithms and all of these good collaborations because collaboration is definitely key. If we can collaborate, and if we could start focusing on more of interoperability, meaning that we're sharing information more successfully, because right now, health care, has no interoperability. Everyone talks about interoperability, but we don't have interoperability. You go from one facility to another, it's like you're getting completely different services. I want that information from one facility to another to go and share information, which I think is going to be a success, because, you come to one facility, you get poked for lab results, you get exposed for radiology results, meaning radiation, then you go over into another organization that's saying that they can't retrieve your lab or radiology results and now we're going to have to re-poke you and re-expose you to radiation. Those are problems.

Another one of my main focuses is on cybersecurity initiatives and cybersecurity improvements. I think NetApp has really focused a lot on cybersecurity. I was really impressed on some of the cybersecurity sessions that they had because you figure health care's one of the most attacked sectors out there and we hear about these health care organizations being ransomed all of the time. If we do get ransomed, we need to think about how we are going to restore that information and making sure that we have the capabilities that are in place. NetApp has done a great job with it. They do see a huge priority when it comes to cyber security, so it's very important for them to continue to focus on those initiatives.

What is most valuable?

The user experience has been absolutely amazing. We're about 80% virtualized on the desktop standpoint, so we do utilize VDI very highly. Using the All-Flash FAS solution, we had to basically determine that there was going to be some efficiencies and some speed as well, too, because you figure we're giving all of these health care users a virtual desktop, plus the utilization of All-Flash FAS, we need to make sure that their specific process is really rolling and moving in an efficient way, because the health care industry is a fast-paced organization. We're basically taking care of patients' lives. The technology that we bring has to be very efficient to provide the best patient care that we can have, and NetApp All-Flash FAS has really proven that point.

What needs improvement?

Considering that NetApp has health care view and that really strong health care initiative, they really need to consider what they need to do next to improve better data sharing and to make sure that the information that we are sharing with one another is fully encrypted, meeting HIPAA and HITECH regulations as well.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability has been pretty amazing as well. I came to an organization that was 59% uptime which was throughout the whole enterprise. That's a major problem because when you start measuring downtime, that is a loss of revenue for the organization. Since I've implemented a lot of these new strategies, we have done a complete 360. We've implemented these strong technology initiatives that have really produced better business efficiencies. We went from a 59% uptime to a 99.9% uptime ratio, which is absolutely mind-blowing. If you look at the before and after pictures, it's going to blow minds because we've been able to do some amazing things. We're a three-time Most Wired winner, which is given to health care organizations, top health care organizations making the most progress of health information technology. It's been an honor to have been able to design the team that I have, the very strong core team, and the good initiatives that we've had together because I always say that we must leave our egos at home. Collaboration is definitely the key to digital transformation, and we need to come together to make a difference in the future.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability, the improvements that we see with AFS, and the reliability has been such a critical element. I think the technology that NetApp has, especially when you look at a disaster recovery standpoint because you figure we're a health care organization and any type of outage is considered revenue loss, we really want to try to avoid those specific elements.

How are customer service and technical support?

Tech support has been absolutely amazing. I think on the technical aspects as well, my staff is able to get great support from the NetApp technical support resources that we have. What I love about NetApp is they have a health care division. At times, it's such an amazing thing because if we have a healthcare-related issue, there's no one better than having prior CIOs from health care organizations that NetApp has hired, and that are part of the healthcare team, to help out with any of those initiatives and support problems. Support has been absolutely phenomenal.

How was the initial setup?

We could definitely spin something up pretty quickly. It takes about ten minutes which is pretty quick. We have a very good team that does that as well.

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

The total cost of ownership has increased a little. When I look at building very strong, good strategies that get presented to the board of directors and the additional executive teams, I look at two things: I look at ROI and I look at total cost of ownership. At times, my overall goal is that I want to get out of the data center business. I know that TCO really does increase because you have that on-prem solution, but I think moving forward into the cloud-based initiatives that we have, we're going to definitely start seeing a decrease within that TCO because now we don't have all of this inventory to take care of. We're being a lot more efficient and a lot more agile as well too.

What other advice do I have?

I am part of the NetApp A-Team. I've been a huge advocate towards NetApp. I would say that nothing is perfect, but NetApp is leading the way when it comes to digital transformation and digital efficiencies as well. Their focus towards health care has been out of this world. I would give that specific product a nine, moving forward to almost perfect ten.

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