NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

Versatile, easy to manage, saves us on storage space, and has reduced data center costs

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution for in-house data.

How has it helped my organization?

The simplicity around data protection and data management is good with the snapshots and then being able to lock them up. We can conserve the data for our space and then set the layers that we set with the administration. It's very feasible.

Our data staff is smaller than it was because it's easier to manage in one portal. We have moved several employees into different departments.

The IT operations have been simplified through the unification of data services because we have just one window where we can manage it all.

With regard to application response time, I can say that the speed increase is substantially noticeable, but I do not have any numbers. It is probably twice as fast as it was.

I know that the data center costs have been reduced because we have fewer people managing the data, but I do not know by how much.

This solution has lessened our concern about storage as a limiting factor. It comes down to the easy manageability, the deduplication, and the compaction. Our volumes aren't growing as fast as they were.

What is most valuable?

The most important features are the IOPS and the ease of the ONTAP manageability.

The deduplicate process is performed in the cache before it goes to storage, which means that we don't use as much storage.

The versatility of NetApp is what makes it really nice.

What needs improvement?

The certification classes are good, but they don't cover enough of the material, and the exams only test on what is covered in class. When I leave those classes, I only feel half-full. I have to do so much research and I'm trying to get the data for my tasks, and it's a little complicated at times.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The NetApp AFF is very stable and we haven't had any issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

From what I can't tell, this solution is very scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

The NetApp technical support is very good. They have the website and they have the forums where you can get questions answered. You can get a lot of things answered without even talking to anybody.

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

Prior to NetApp AFF, we were using an HPE Storage solution. It was a little more difficult to swap out the drives on the XP series. You have to shut down the drive and then wait for a prompt to remove it. It's a long process and if somebody pulls it out hot and puts another one in then you're going to have to do a complete rebuild. It is not as robust or stable when you are swapping parts.

How was the initial setup?

NetApp is very easy to set up.

All of the solutions by different vendors have setup wizards but with NetApp, it walks you through the steps and it is easy. It has NAS, CIFS, NFS, and block, all at once. Building the lines and going through is done step-by-step. With other vendors like EMC, you have to get a separate filer. There are a lot more questions that have to be asked on the front end.

NetApp also talks seamlessly with VMware, and most people are on VMware.  

What about the implementation team?

We performed the implementation.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Our shortlist of vendors included EMC, NetApp, and HPE, because we have relationships with all of them. Ultimately, NetApp gives us more versatility.

What other advice do I have?

This is my favorite storage platform.

I would rate this solution a nine 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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