NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Review

You can configure everything with the System Manager


What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is for customers who need absolute low latency and have low latency in their workloads. They need maximum performance in their virtualization and file storage environments.

How has it helped my organization?

We had some customers who were running virtualization workloads on classical spinning disks. We implemented an AFF system, and they got a huge performance boost out of it because the latency of the SSDs is simply much lower. Actually, most customers benefit from the improved latency and performance from the AFF systems.

Another important aspect of it is because we have customers who use SAN and NAS, they want only one system. This simplifies things by handling both the same way. You set up data protection, and it doesn't matter if it is SAN or NAS, you know the data is protected to a secondary system or to the cloud, wherever you want it to be.

A few customers are tiering out to their own S3 data center, not the cloud. For them, it has reduced their costs because they had an existing S3 solution. They just tier through that, then they need less space in the SSD tier.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are that it runs Data ONTAP, which is compatible with the whole Data Fabric, and its absolute performance.

Simplicity is a very key aspect of the system because you can configure everything with the System Manager. It does most of the complicated things behind your back, so you don't have to handle them. Since it integrates with the Data Fabric, it's very simple to set up a data protection scheme.

What needs improvement?

We have had customers asking about S3 support for a while now. I heard that is coming in one of the next versions. So, I would like to see S3 targeted support on the FAS system.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the AFF system is very high because it's running on ONTAP, and ONTAP is a proven operating system for about 20 years. So, it's very stable. We have thousands of systems with our customers and the AFF system inherits stability from the FAS system. We know it is stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is great. The cluster scalability can be scaled out. The cluster can be scale out to up to 24 nodes. You can also scale them up if you add disks. So, scalability is not a problem. You can even scale it down if you need to, and we've also done this with a few customers. We can scale down the clusters later if the workload or requirements change. That is definitely one of the big plus points.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support works well for us. We do the first level support for all our customers, so the customers call us. If we are ever in trouble and don't know how to respond to the support call, we can open the second level case with NetApp. That works very nicely. So, the customer is in good hands with us, and we are in good hands with NetApp.

How was the initial setup?

We do the initial setup ourselves. We use the CLI, so we don't use the simplified methods because we have some special requirements most of the time. 

What was our ROI?

It definitely reduces costs because it simply takes less power to run these systems. While the SSDs don't take power, they are in general very big right now. So, the running cost has decreased for a lot of our customers.

What other advice do I have?

The product is at least a nine (out of 10). I have been working with FAS systems for around 15 years. I've come to know how easy and reliable they are. They do what they are supposed to do, and they do it very well. Now, the AFF system is just the flash version, which does the same things, but faster. So, it's almost perfect.

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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