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NetApp All Flash FAS Review
Pure Storage M20 vs. NetApp All Flash FAS


Valuable Features

NetApp All Flash FAS:

The speed and low latency are the most valuable features. My customers or users noticed an improvement in our EMR application, once we moved our SQL environment over to the AFF.

I think the OnCommand System Manager has been excellent. I like the newer version myself. We're not on ONTAP 9 yet, but I do love 8.3.

Pure Storage M20:

It's just simple. There's no clustering. You take that complexity away from NetApp, you get rid of the clustering. It’s a dual-node controller system. You can have dual or single aggregates, whatever, the same thing. But they don't do clustering. If you wanted to mirror that data off, you have to purchase another Pure, plug it into the expansion port and basically mirror between platforms. Whereas in the ONTAP, your data is clustered, you've got HA failover. You still have HA failover in Pure, but it is just on the controller only.

Improvements to My Organization

NetApp All Flash FAS:

We're also using FlexClones, and we're able to flex clone our database to a test environment and a dev environment. We're able to keep it all underneath one storage system, so we don't have to manage multiple arrays to run test and dev.

Room for Improvement

NetApp All Flash FAS:

I'm not involved in the price-making decision. I just throw the number at the manager and say, "Hey, this is what I want."

We're going to take a good look at Solid Fire for SQL environment.

I’m not rating it higher because when we piloted our AFF against a Pure Storage M20, we were getting much better deduplication out of our SQL database on the Pure product. I’m told that this has been improved in ONTAP 9. The deduping compression ratios are more on par with what Pure has been able to do. It's not an end-case decision. We have plenty of storage available. Our database is growing. We'd love to keep as small of a footprint as possible, but we still have overhead room in case it does expand beyond what we're expecting it to. Nonetheless, in the future, I'd like to see better deduplication out of SQL. That’s difficult to do; I get it.

Pure Storage M20:

I don't know what could be improved at this point. I haven't used it enough to know where they really are lacking in anything. It's fast, it's very easy to set up, it's very easy to maintain.

Nonetheless, there is no clustered data. Your data resides in a single point, so then it's up to you to mirror it, replicate it, copy it, however you do it; DoubleTake replication or if you buy another Pure product and do their onboard replication. I guess It all depends on your pocket book, really.

I would give it four stars because it's pricey. I do believe Pure was more expensive than the NetApp when we were pricing last time. Of course, that really varies on what time of the year it is. I think NetApp end of year is March or April. I'm really not sure when Pure's end of year is, but they call me every few months with a better price.

Use of Solution

Pure Storage M20:

I have a little bit of experience with Pure. We've run a couple of demos: one for our SQL environment one for our vSphereenvironment.

Stability Issues

NetApp All Flash FAS:

It is very, very stable. I'm noticing a difference between it and my FAS 2230. Storage efficiencies are much faster. Deduplication is awesome.

Pure Storage M20:

We didn't see any issues with stability. Of course, we only ran a demo for 90 days.

Scalability Issues

NetApp All Flash FAS:

We're looking to scale it up because our FAS 3220 is coming up for maintenance renewal. We're thinking we'd probably be better off chucking a couple more shelves at the AFF, and running our vSphere environment off those shelves because we're not touching the controllers on that AFF. I hate to say they're running ideal with 2,000 SQL users on it, but it's running very well.

Pure Storage M20:

Scalability is pretty much the same as on NetApp, depending on what controller you buy, how many shelves you can attach to it.

Customer Service and Technical Support

NetApp All Flash FAS:

Technical support is hit or miss sometimes. Sometimes I get the run around. I have to go through multiple support engineers to help me out with whatever issue I'm dealing with at the time. Other times, they've been spot on: The first guy I get has said something like, "Oh I can fix that for you right now." I think it really depends on the complexity of the problem.

Pure Storage M20:

I did not use technical support for Pure.

Previous Solutions

NetApp All Flash FAS:

I was involved in the decision to invest in the All Flash FAS. We were modeling it against Pure Storage. We already had 3220 running for a couple of years, running VMware. I made the decision; I didn't want to split between multiple vendors. I wanted to keep it all underneath one hood. The AFF allowed us to do that. We could not put our SQL environment on spinning disk, obviously; not with the scalability that it's at or the number of users we have hitting it.

We were previously using Fusion IO cards, striped. They’re PCIe slot cards – some are on x8 slot, some are on an x16 slot – with Windows striped between all those cards. That was what I walked into when I was hired by AHN. They were using SQL mirroring. In the event of a system failure, they could always fire up the mirroring to resume production. Doing it with a NetApp has pretty much eliminated that all the way.

Initial Setup

NetApp All Flash FAS:

I was involved in the initial setup, which was very smooth, very easy.

Pure Storage M20:

Initial setup was very straightforward. You plug in a management port, you plug in your iSCSI, your NFS or your fiber channel ports, and you're up and running.

Other Advice

Keep an open mind. Different vendors do different things in a different way. NetApp is highly complicated, it's very robust. In comparison, Pure's interface is about as simple as it gets. But they all support fewer protocols then NetApp.

The most important criteria for me when selecting a vendor to work with is approachability. I like people I can talk to; if you get overly technical and it's all technical garbage and you're not really a personal type person. I hate to say it, but I base a purchase off that. If I'm going to be working with someone for a number of years, I want to make sure it's someone I can relate to.

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

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