NetApp All Flash FAS Review
We moved from an old 7-mode cluster using old SAS drives to a new all-flash pool, mostly for performance purposes.


Valuable Features

When I’m looking at a vendor to work with, I'll be blunt: I don't want to worry about it. I don't have to deal with it. I don't want to work with it a whole lot. I'd like it to be, "I have a use for it and I want it to do that". I don't want to have to do a lot of configuration, tweaking or perpetual updates and patches. NetApp, specifically, was very, very good about one-time patches, no-downtime patches. They work well from a it-just-works standpoint. I can't always say that about all my vendors.

Room for Improvement

There is room for improvement in the migration step. The no-copy copy has a lot of caveats. We felt like they weren't brought up early in the process. They were gotchas as we moved through the process. None of them were earth shattering or show stopping, but they often resulted in another night of work, another evening worth of work, or we had to shut down this over the weekend to make this happen, that we weren’t really planning on. That would be the change, but that's just at this point.

These setup hangups are why I’m not giving it a perfect rating. It’s close to being perfect, but I am going to have to round down in this situation.

For more detail:

We had a head fail – fortunately everything failed over as expected, but obviously having a system that’s less than 4 months old fail is hard.

Post hardware repair the new head needed a manual intervention to get all of its firmware where it needed to be, which did cause a downtime for CIFS users. We were able to schedule for after hours, but downtime is not something we ever really want in our storage systems.


Stability Issues

So far, it is a stable solution. We haven’t had it that particularly long. We haven't had many issues with it.

Scalability Issues

It’s met our scaling needs.

Data is growing everywhere, so we’ll work with the data we’ve picked up and it will help us for the next calendar year. I fully expect we'll need to add more more shelves within a year.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Technical support is excellent. They are very responsive to our questions. As I’ve mentioned, we did a 7-mode cluster transition; there was a lot of learning on our side and they have been very patient with keeping us informed, getting us up to date on what we need to do on the storage side end.

Previous Solutions

We're still in the VMware environment but we moved from an old 7-mode cluster using old SAS drives to a new all-flash pool, mostly for performance purposes. We had some expectations and we're blown away. They all paid off, to the point the users actually saw big changes as well. We knew we'd see things on the back end, but we weren’t sure they would trickle down to the end user.

Initial Setup

Initial setup was both straightforward and complex. We used their tool that provides a no-file-copy copy. The goal was to switch all of our existing shelves to our totally new heads. It was sold as being fairly painless, no-change process. In practice, there were a fair number of changes, a fair number of tweaks, but that's from a purely time perspective. The amount of time it would have taken us to actually copy the data was nothing compared to the hour of downtime that we actually had to do the head shelf. From that perspective, from a user’s perspective, everything paid off quite well. From the admin side, there was a little bit more work than just turning off a switch and flipping a switch.

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

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