NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

Efficient, easy to use, reduces latency and has improved application response time

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case of this solution is for our production storage array.

How has it helped my organization?

We have not used this solution for artificial intelligence or machine learning applications as of yet. This product has reduced our total latency from a spinning disc going into flash discs. We rarely see any latency and if we do it is not the discs, it's the network. The overall latency right now is about two milliseconds or less.

AFF hasn't enabled us to relocate resources, or employees that we were previously using for storage operations.

It has improved application response time. With latency, we had applications that had thirty to forty milliseconds latency, now they have dropped to approximately one to three, a maximum of five milliseconds. It's a huge improvement.

We use both technologies and we have simplified it. We are trying to shift away from the SAN because it is not as easy to failover to an opposite data center.

We are trying to switch over to have everything one hundred percent NFS. Once the switch to NFS is complete our cutover time will be one hour versus six.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the FlexClone and SnapMirror. The ease of use, the SnapMirror capabilities, the cloning, and the efficiencies are all good features.

The simplicity of this solution around data protection and data management is extremely easy.

With Data protection there is nothing easier than setting up SnapMirror and getting it across and protecting our data. Currently, we have a five minute RPO, so every five minutes we're snapping across the other side without any issues.

This solution simplifies IT operations by unifying data services across SAN and NAS environments.

What needs improvement?

There are little things that need improvement. For example, if you are setting up a SnapMirror through the GUI, you are forced to change the destination name of the volume, and we like to keep the volume names the same.

When you have SVM VR and you have multiple aggregates that you're writing the data to on the source array, and it does its SVM DR, it will put it on whatever aggregate it wants, instead of keeping it synced to stay on both sides.

This solution doesn't help leverage the data in ways that I didn't think were possible before.

We are not using it any differently than we were using it from many years ago. We were getting the benefits. What we are seeing right now is the speed, lower latency, and performance, all of the great things that we haven't had in years.

This solution hasn't freed us from worrying about usage, we are already reaching the eighty percent mark, so we are worried about usage, which is why we are looking toward the cloud to move to fabric pools with cloud volumes to tier off our snapshots into the cloud.

I wish that being forced to change the volume name would change or not exist, then I wouldn't have to go to the command line to do it at all.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is stable, it's the best. I can't complain.

We move large amounts of data from one data center to another every day without any interruptions. In terms of IT operations, it has cut our ticket count down significantly, approximately a seventy percent reduction in tickets submitted to us.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is scalable, it's phenomenal.

This solution's thin provisioning has allowed us to add new applications without having to purchase additional storage. The thin provisioning has helped us with deduplication, maintaining compaction, and efficiency levels. Without the provisioning, we wouldn't be able to take advantage of all of the great features.

We are running approximately a petabyte of storage physically, and logically approximately ten petabytes.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is one of the best.

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

Previously we had not used another solution. We have been using NetApp for years, we went from refresh approximately two years ago, then sixty to forty to the A300 All-Flash.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward.

We filled out a spreadsheet ahead of time that contained everything necessary to get us going. When it came time for the deployment we went with the information on the spreadsheet and deployed it successfully.

What about the implementation team?

We used an integrator to help us with this solution, we used Sigma Solutions, and our experience was excellent. We worked hand in hand with them.

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

It's expensive. It's in the hundreds of thousands.

It's beneficial, but at times, I feel compared to other vendors, we are paying a premium for the licensing that other vendors include.

You're locked in with NetApp, and you already have everything setup.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We have not evaluated other solutions, it's not worth it.

What other advice do I have?

We are not at the point where we are allowed to automatically tier data to the cloud, but we are looking forward to it.

I can't see that this solution needs any other features other than what it already has. Everything that I need is already there, except for the cloud and it's there but we haven't taken advantage of it yet.

I would advise that you compare everything and put money aside, really take a look at the features and how they will or can benefit you.

It's a total win for your firm.

I would rate this solution a ten 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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