NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

Reliable, fast, easy to manage and enables us to scale up and create servers a lot faster


What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for this solution is for production storage.

We don't use ONTAP for artificial intelligence or machine learning applications.

We're not replicating to the cloud yet. We're replicating from on-prem to on-prem, but replicating to the cloud is probably our next step in our data center evolution.

How has it helped my organization?

ONTAP has improved my organization because we now have better performance. We can scale up and we can create servers a lot faster now. With the storage that we had, it used to take a lot longer, but now we can provide the business what they need a lot faster.

It simplifies IT operations by unifying data services across SAN and NAS environments. We use our own type of SAN and NAS for CIFS and also for virtual servers. It's pretty basic. I didn't realize how simple it was to create storage and manage storage until I started using NetApp ONTAP. We use it daily.

Response time has improved. IOPS reading between reading and the storage and getting it to the end-users is a hundred times faster than what it used to be. When we migrated from 7-Mode to cluster mode and went to an all-flash system, the speed and performance were amazing. The business commented on that which was good for us. 

Datacenter costs have definitely been reduced with the compression that we get with all-flash. We're getting 20 to one so it's definitely a huge saving.

It has enabled us to stop worrying about storage as a limiting factor. We can thin provision data now and we can over-provision compared to the actual physical hardware that we have. We have a lot of flexibility compared to what we had before. 

What is most valuable?

The data protection and data management are very user-friendly. We use a software-based, disk-encryption and it comes with ONTAP and it's just very easy to implement and very easy to manage. In fact, you don't even have to manage it once it's working. 

What needs improvement?

In terms of what needs improvement, I would like to see more consistency with the UI. It seems to change every few versions. The menus can be in a completely different place.

It's just a small learning curve. The menus are all the same, just in different places. You've got to get used to it. One of the features, which I thought was strange that was missing was when you snapvault from one cluster to another, the option to mirror that second cluster is not available unless you use it for the CLI. So you can't use it for the user interface. You have to go to the CLI. I thought that's a bit strange. To make it better it should be available as an option through the UI.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have never had a single fault in the 10 years we've been using it. Nothing bad happens, it's an unbelievable system. Really reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

If we want to expand,  the option is there for us to do that. It's not a requirement at the minute, but I know that we want to do it. It should be really easy to do, just add another cluster and then just configure it. We know it's available to us. We know how easy it is to configure, so that's a great option that we have there if we need it.

How are customer service and technical support?

We don't go through NetApp directly. We go through a vendor. They've been great. Obviously they're certified, they know what they're doing. They have had to escalate sometimes to NetApp themselves if they didn't know the answer. We've never had a problem that we couldn't resolve.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. We use a metric cluster in NetApp, so getting that set up initially is very complex. Once it's working, it's very simple to manage. But a reseller helped us install that. I don't think it could be any more straightforward. It's a necessary complexity.

What about the implementation team?

We used a reseller for the implementation. We're in an ongoing relationship with them. They support us 24/7 if we need. It's going really well. We never had any problems, so it's nothing to really complain about really. I've been working with them for about five years, but the company's been working with them for about 10 years.

What was our ROI?

We have not seen ROI.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated solutions like Dell EMC and HP. I think from the reputation that NetApp has, that was definitely the choice for us.

What other advice do I have?

The advice I would give to anybody considering this solution is that it's expensive but it's worth it. It's worth it because of its reliability. When you're working on infrastructure reliability and uptime are the most important things. You have to provide a service to the business and make sure it's up all the time. So if you can have a system that does that, and I know that other products have their own problems, I know that I have got friends that use HP or use Dell and they have problems. Maybe it's because of the way they've configured it. With NetApp, we've never had any issue, never had an outage. If you're looking at reliability, you're going to pay a little bit extra, but that depends on your reseller. NetApp is definitely the way to go.

I would rate it a ten out of ten because I've got no reason not to. It doesn't break. It's reliable. It's fast. It's easy to manage. It's scalable and we've never had any problems that we can't fix. The worst thing we can ever have is really the disc fails and then within three hours, we get a brand new one. We just plug and play where we go with no outage, no downtime, and that's probably the main thing for us is having 100% uptime and we've never not had 100% uptime.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Amazon Web Services (AWS)
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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