NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

Good performance, easy to learn and manage

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for NetApp AFF is performance-based applications. Whenever our customers complain about performance, we move their data to an all-flash system to improve it.  

We have our own data center and don't share our network with others.

How has it helped my organization?

We have moved all of our AI and machine learning applications to all-flash to improve their performance. Prior to this, they were SaaS or on disk. The latency has certainly decreased.

Data protection is a big part of NetApp, and we are using SnapMirror as well as MetroCluster. We did use SnapVault before, but we moved to SnapMirror and we want to take advantage of the synchronous replication in MetroCluster.

I would say that NetApp has helped us to leverage data in new ways. Because it has the PowerShell modules and workflow automations, we have been able to create volumes, give access to them, and automate workflows.

I think that we have been able to reallocate resources that were dedicated to storage because of the automation tools that NetApp has. It helps to speed up our day-to-day tasks. What used to take us thirty minutes, now takes us five minutes.

Our application response time has increased, but it is hard to quantify with a number. I can just say that it has improved in general.

Using this solution has helped to decrease our worry about storage issues. We normally limit our customers' space, giving them less. We try to ask them questions about the type of data and the applications that they have. Sometimes, they will say that they want ten terabytes, but don't really know what they are going to use it for. With regard to our storage, we are not worried about limitations at all.

What is most valuable?

It is easy to manage data through the GUI by using Active IQ and the unified manager.

Being a non-storage guy, I think that it was quite easy for me to pick things up and learn this solution. They way they are built is really good when it comes to people who want to start fresh. cDOT is a really good OS.

The most valuable feature is the performance.

This solution is getting cheaper over time.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see better tutorials available, beyond the basics, that cover subjects like MetroCluster and automation.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for about one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

When it comes to stability, NetApp as a whole is good. We have never had any of these kinds of issues.

At the end of the day, we always have the replication going on, so if there is an issue on-premises then we still have our DR site. The replication is still there and everything is up to date.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have expanded a lot. We had an eight-node cluster and now we have a twelve-node cluster. Scalability is really easy when it comes to NetApp.

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

As storage space is getting cheaper, we wanted to move to newer hardware.

How was the initial setup?

NetApp does the initial setup when you buy the equipment.

What about the implementation team?

We have a NetApp resident who works with us on-site. I would rate their service and our experience with them a ten out of ten.

What other advice do I have?

We did have some applications that we were using in the cloud, but we came back because of financial issues.

We do have performance issues from time to time that we have to deal with, but it is not specific to AFF. Sometimes the application is not well-managed by the application teams. The load may not be being handled correctly, which is not related to the type of storage but could be related to users not selecting the correct storage options for their applications.

We have not tested the recent graphical update yet, but if it works well then I think that it will be one of the big advantages this solution has. We used to do the upgrades using the CLI.

My advice to anybody researching storage solutions is to go with NetApp. My experience with the vendor is good. The AFF is a good tool to have, whether the client is a small business or a larger enterprise like a bank.

I think the problem with smaller companies is that they don't always understand the importance of data. Perhaps they don't see storage as a solution, but rather just an expense.

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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