How has it helped my organization?
We have a whole bunch of DR and backup auditing requirements, and this simplifies that process and strips back all the operational overhead of managing tape. With that operational overhead of managing tapes gone, we're able to focus people's time on more important things.
What is most valuable?
The flexibility. Being able to virtualize it, port it wherever I like, test my backups, test my DR capabilities whenever I like without impacting anybody. We had some problems with physical devices in the past and the virtual appliances mean I can shift it around whenever I like.
What needs improvement?
More than a 500 volume limit. At the moment, it only supports up to 500 volumes for SnapMirror and that's a problem. We've got 750, so a larger limit for volume replicas for SnapMirror.
It's quite simple to use. We haven't had many issues. This is really the last stumbling block for us. Once that limit goes away, it's almost set-and-forget. It's just how you want it.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It was a bit flaky to begin with, but 4.3 that we're on now has been great. We were early adopters so we ran into a few problems, but in recent times it's been good.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scalability is awesome. With the virtual component, just being able to spin up whatever size one that makes sense, it's great.
How are customer service and technical support?
We had this very technical problem. When we first stood the system up we used rsync to copy files across. That didn't work. We found that AltaVault didn't like hundreds of thousands of files, it wanted big, single files. So, we changed that and tarballed all the files up and sent them across and it all worked happily.
When we went to upgrade to 4.3, to SnapMirror to it, we decided to check with the virtual appliance, that we could actually retrieve data from the physical appliance. And when we did that, we found that there were symlink errors. What had happened when we did the rsync, it created the symlinks but when we deleted that out the AltaVault database didn't clear those symlinks out at the time. So, when we went to retrieve a file, it was looking for a symlink that didn't exist and there were a lot of problems. We worked with NetApp technical support to get a workaround in for us to be able to access that data from a second appliance and then were all up and running.
Technical support were excellent. Knowledgeable.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We were refreshing our storage about two years ago and, at the same time, our tape infrastructure was due for a refresh as well. As part of that our partners, including NetApp, worked with us and they showed us AltaVault and it appeared to be a great solution.
How was the initial setup?
It was very simple. You power it up, give it some basic details, get an Amazon account, plug it in, and it works.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We did look at Hitachi. We did look at HPE. But we had a 15-plus year relationship with NetApp so it was more just kicking tires to confirm that there wasn't anything amazingly better out there. We were happy with NetApp so we stuck with them.
What other advice do I have?
Our use case is cloud-based archive to AWS.
For us, when selecting a vendor, cultural fit is big. But, in this space, the cultural belief in the protection of the data is critical. We see NetApp as a technology company that has that at the heart of their strategy; keeping the data integral is number one, everything else comes after, and that's number one for us too.
The product does as it's intended, as it says. All of the features meet our experience. I would suggest to make sure that you are looking at fabric pulls and storage grid and ensuring that what they do with the AltaVault aligns with those technologies as well because there might be some other efficiencies you can gain there. So just have a broader look. But the AltaVault itself will do exactly what you need it to do.