One of the biggest features, that we've been able to use the most, is spreading out across multiple environments using multiple protocols. Getting all flash in place for us has been really helpful in consolidating a lot of those environments down to a single network structure, as opposed to spreading way out, across fiber and copper. That's probably been the biggest thing.
Improvements to My Organization:
Our organization is very VMware heavy. Going from old spinning media up to all flash has been a night-and-day difference.
Room for Improvement:
I was at an executive briefing meeting recently. One of the things that I brought up, that I will continuously bring up whenever asked, is that it seems easy enough to upgrade the OS straight from the OnCommand management software, but one thing that seems difficult is updating disk firmware and qual packages. They almost require you to have a TFTP HTTP server in order to download those files. The easiest thing for me would be to have something on the GUI to just grab that package, drop it in and update it. That's what I want to see. I hope they add that; additional ways to update not just the OS but disk and shelf and qual packages and all that other firmware. If there was a central page to just upgrade all of that other stuff in ONTAP, that would be fantastic.
Stability has been fantastic. We've previously had other vendors for storage, and there have been issues. Ever since we've had the all flash in, we’ve never had a problem.
Scalability seems to be something that is a non-issue anymore. If we need space, we can throw in a shelf. If we need more compute, we can add more nodes to it. That was part of going into the purchase of our all flashes, knowing that we can scale both down and up. We haven't had to yet, but we know that it's there.
We occasionally use technical support; not too often. I did get certified right before we bought it, so I've been able to do a lot of my own. We have a good relationship with our SE and I've been able to reach out to him. We have several resources available to our company. We've used them, but not a lot.
When we have used technical support, it's been top-notch.
I was not that involved in the decision to invest in the All Flash FAS. I do know that, because I did have experience with it, I probably influenced some of the purchasers within my company. They knew that they had somebody on the team that was able to work with it.
In our particular scenario, we had a failing. We had another vendor storage array that was failing. It was a Hitachi that was all spinning medium. When that went down, we reached out to NetApp. They were able to help us out with CDW to get us loaner equipment while we were purchasing the all flash.
There was a little bit of complexity there. However, once we got the all flash in, we were able to cluster it together with the loaner equipment and move everything over on the back end. There was no impact to VMware, and everything else was as smooth as could be.
Other Solutions Considered:
At the time, I don't think we were considering any other vendors, only because we were moving towards becoming an all-NetApp shop. This was the go-to thing. We did have a relationship with NetApp before. We had previous spinning FAS arrays. We do have some E-Series and so on. We do have a good relationship with our NetApp reps, so that probably went into a lot of it.
Offering advice is pretty difficult for me, because there's a lot of good to it. It depends on the application; that is a big thing. Smaller environments can probably benefit more from the E-Series. We're multi-client, so having the ability to break it out into SVMs is really helpful. The biggest thing is, if you've got multiple clients and you need to deliver performance to them, the AFF is hard to beat.
The two biggest criteria for me when selecting a vendor are knowledgeability and accessibility; being able to reach the people that support us, and having them know exactly what to do. I'm not expecting the first person I call to know it all, but them being able to say, "I know this one person that can help you out." That's good.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.