NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

Good DR with SnapMirror and our application responsiveness has improved

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use NetApp AFF for file storage and VMware.

How has it helped my organization?

Coming from a financial background, we are very dependent on performance. Using an all-flash solution, we have a performance guarantee that our applications are going to run fine, no matter how many IOPS we do.

We use NetApp for both SAN and NAS, and this solution has simplified our operations. Specifically, we use it for SAN on VMware, and all of our NFS storage is on NAS. They are unified in that it is the same physical box for both.

This solution has not helped us to leverage data in new ways.

Thin provisioning has allowed us to add new applications without having to purchase additional storage. This is one of the reasons that we purchased NetApp AFF. We almost always run it at seventy percent utilized, and we only purchase new physical storage when we reach the eighty or eighty-five percent mark.

I find that we do have better application response time, although it is not something that I can benchmark.

As a storage team, we are not worried about storage as a limiting factor. When other teams point out that storage might be an issue, we tell them that we've got the right tools to say that it is not.

What is most valuable?

I think that the DR applications are the most valuable, including Snapshots and SnapMirror. They are one of the market leaders in this regard. It is a very solid platform that has been in the market for a while.

What needs improvement?

Technical support can be a little slow when it comes to escalating through levels of support.

We have had trouble with restoring applications, and if there is more support for application-aware backups then that would be great.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have rarely had an issue where there was an outage. Whenever we have an issue, we can rely on NetApp support.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We are running in cluster mode, which is known for its scalability. I would say that it is good.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support has been all right, but it takes a while to get a hold of the right person because you've got to go through the level one, level two support. But, after a while, you get the support that you need.

We do have experts within the company, so we only go to NetApp's support when we have a very serious issue that we need to work on.

Overall, it has been all right.

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

We have used NetApp for a very long time. Our reason for implementing AFF was that we wanted to go for an all-flash solution. We didn't want to keep using hard disks, but we still wanted to continue using SnapMirror and Snapshots. This was the way to do it.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is straightforward, at least for me. I've deployed NetApp before in my previous jobs, and it was easy with my experience. That said, it is not very complex.

What about the implementation team?

We used Professional Services from one of NetApp's partners, Diversus, to assist with our deployment. Our experience with them as been good. They are one of the top NetApp partners in Sydney, Australia. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not evaluate other options.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

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