NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

Snapshots make it easier to revert to stable configurations and our downtime has been reduced


What is our primary use case?

We use NetApp AFF to host all of our on-premises applications and data.

How has it helped my organization?

We use NetApp for artificial intelligence and machine learning applications, and we find the latency to be pretty decent.

Data protection and management is one of the best features of NetApp. We like the SnapVault, SnapShot, and SnapMirror, and we use those features extensively.

Our IT operations have been simplified by unifying data services. We have fiber channel, block data, NFS, and CIFS, and we can deploy multi-tenancy boxes from each one. Sometimes, we have all of the different data types in one box. You can add more clusters or more nodes to your cluster. It is easy for us to modularly grow if the need arises.

NetApp has allowed us to leverage our data in new ways, including our test scenarios. A lot of the time it is really hard to test production data because we do not have multiple copies of the same thing that we can use for testing. The solution is flexible enough to allow us to create multiple copies, then try out seven or eight scenarios, then pick which one will be the best going forward. We can do that all within minutes.

We have utilized thin provisioning so that we haven't had to purchase additional storage for our applications. The snapshot technology, unlike other ones, doesn't take up extra space when you're making multiple copies. This means that we don't need extra storage for our temporary tests. Once we are finished we delete the extra copies.

We have used this solution for moving large amounts of data between data centers. We are currently migrating data from a cloud in Atlanta to a cloud in Chicago, and we are using the SnapMirror technology extensively for this.

Using the all-flash solution improves our application response time, and it also has a smaller footprint. You can also tier it, depending on the needs of the application.

NetApp AFF has definitely reduced our data center costs. We have been increasing our storage but not increasing our footprint. I would estimate the savings to be thirty percent.

We have not tested tiering cold data to the cloud, but we are currently working on finding appropriate use cases.

Overall, this solution has really reduced our downtime and has made our lives a lot easier.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the ease of administration and configuration, as well as the speed of deployment.

Using snapshots at each stage of the configuration for applications means that administration is easier because you don't have to worry about messing it up. It makes things a lot smoother.

What needs improvement?

On the fiber channel side, there is a limit of sixteen terabytes on each line, and we would like to see this raised because we are having to use some other products.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using NetApp since 1998.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This is a stable solution. The dependability and reliability of the product have improved significantly over time, and there is redundancy built into the boxes. We don't worry about stability anymore.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scaling this solution is easy. You can start small with one HA pair and add them as you go. You can make new clusters and add new nodes to clusters. 

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support for NetApp is decent. I mean, it's improving. I understand that it is hard to get people up to date with all of the new technologies but NetApp has done a pretty good job.

Using the online documentation, we are able to find answers most of the time. If not, we can find an expert who will come online and help us to get through. The combination of technical support, Professional Services, and online documentation has really helped.

Service is one of NetApp's strengths.

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

We were using a bunch of other products prior to using this solution, and we are still using some that have been deployed because of the sixteen terabyte limit on each line of the fiber channel.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is not complex at all. It has been made easier compared to other vendors.

What about the implementation team?

We're a big corporation and we have the expertise in-house. Once in a while, we use Professional Services to get through some situations. Our experience with them has been very positive and we have a very good relationship with them.

What was our ROI?

It is very hard to measure ROI, but we know that it is very good compared to other products. 

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

The price to performance ratio with NetApp is unmatched by any other vendor right now.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We have products from HPE, Dell, and NetApp in our environment right now. They each have their share, and each one is equally working.

What other advice do I have?

I am a long-time user and I love this product. Over the years we have asked for improvements and they are doing a great job. I will be happy to see them continue to make improvements, overall.

My advice to anybody researching this type of solution is to look at NetApp. If they don't then they are missing out on great technology and a feature-rich product.

I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.

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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