NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

Gives you full functionality, is easy to use and enabled us to add new applications without having to purchase additional storage


What is our primary use case?

We use AFF to serve out the Oracle and for the virtual storage VDI.

How has it helped my organization?

Before we implemented AFF, Oracle was running on a traditional storage spindle and at a very low speed with high latency, and the database was not running very well. After we converted from the spinning disk to the all-flash array, it was at least four times faster to access the volume than before. For the VDI, they were not able to run the traditional spinning disk. This is what we bought the AFF for.

The thin provisioning has enabled us to add new applications without having to purchase additional storage. The basic rule we practice is that every time we create a flex group, we also create it with thin provisioning. That gives give us a little bit more cushion.

AFF has enabled us to automatically tier cold data to the cloud.

It has absolutely improved application response time. Now they talk directly to the SSD rather than a spinning disk. It has improved by at least four times.

We are able to reallocate resources or employees that we were previously using for storage operations. It allows us to do lots of things that we would never have been able to do before, like provisioning, dedupe, and data compacting.

We are able to move large amounts of data from one data center to another or to the cloud. We call it the SVMDR. I am able to replicate the entire native storage to the new location without a lot of effort. 

What is most valuable?

We stay away from what is called a silo architecture. NetApp cluster enables us to do a volume move to different nodes and share the entire cluster with the various sub setups as well as using the most storage we have on ONTAP. We are able to tailor and cut out at a file level, block-level or power level, to our various clients.

What needs improvement?

The monitor and performance need improvement. Right now we are using the Active IQ OnCommand Unified Manager, but we also have to do the Grafana to do the performance and I hope we will be able to see the improvement of the active IQ in terms of the performance graph. It should also be more detailed. 

In the next release, I'm looking for a flex group because that is the next level of the volumes, extended volume for the flex vault. In the flexible environment, we run into the limitation of the capacity at a hundred terabytes and sometimes in oil and gas, like us, when the seismic data is too big, sometimes a hundred terabytes are not big enough. We have to go with the next level, which is the flex group and I hope it has features like volume being able to transfer to the flex group. I think they said they will add a few more features to the flex group. I also wanted to see the non-disruptive conversion from flex vault to the flex group be easier so we don't have to have any downtime.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Every time we start up the system, they have an HA, so the failover capability helps us do a non-disruptive upgrade. It really helped.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is a non-disruptive add on so if we need to grow the system we are able to either add an additional shell to it.

How are customer service and technical support?

We never have any issues with technical support. They are very responsive to our problems because we have a NetApp account manager, so we are able to to engage the level two level three engineering much quicker.

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

We also evaluated Pure Storage. They also provide an all-flash array but I like NetApp better. With NetApp they allow us as a system administrator, we are able to do everything we want.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. We have been doing it for a while, so we know how to put it together.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented it ourselves. 

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

You have to pay a little bit more for the storage but you gain with the speed provided.

What other advice do I have?

AFF is just like any traditional NetApp. It has Snapshot, SnapMirror, and SnapVault.

I don't see anybody get even close to NetApp. NetApp is one of the best. I would rate them a nine out of ten.

My advice to anybody considering this solution is to look at the best out there and NetApp is one of the best in terms of ease of use and gives you a full-functionality. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

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