NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP Review

Cloud Manager enables us to automate scheduling of data synchronization

What is our primary use case?

We are using it for storing files, to get high-performance access to files. We are also using NetApp for DR. We copy the information to the same system in other regions.

How has it helped my organization?

The solution's high-availability features are cost-effective for us because we are able to use the cloud benefits to reduce the cost of DR. For example, if we have it in one region, we can copy the data to another region. They keep it powered off and then they power it on for a few minutes, copy the data, send the data again, and shut it down again. That reduces the costs by approximately 80 percent.

Similarly, the data protection provided by the solution's disaster recovery technology is cost-effective and simple.

We're using Cloud Manager to automate some of the management. We use it for bringing the DR environment up and down as well as for scheduling data synchronization between different regions, worldwide. It's almost impossible to do that manually. Compared to an engineer doing it manually, it's about 90 percent faster. That's specifically for this kind of operation. In reality, the automation is enabling such capabilities. It's not actually reducing the time taken. If it didn't exist, we would never do it. That's even better than saving time.

Overall, NetApp has standardized and certified file services, both on-prem and in the cloud, corporate-wide. In addition, by using the automation, it has provided us cost-effective DR and management. In the cloud it has enabled us to provide tailor-made storage solutions for each of our cloud customers. The storage efficiency has reduced our storage footprint because we are offloading all the data to the storage account. So it has reduced the cost of corporate storage. And the data-tiering has also saved us money.

What is most valuable?

What is most valuable is that the system is the same as what we use on-prem. So the guys who are responsible here for managing NetApp feel comfortable with it& and that they have enough knowledge to manage the system in the cloud. We are able to& keep the same standards that we have on-prem in the cloud.

The usability is& great. We don't have any issues with it.

We're using snapshots as well and it's a pretty useful feature. That is one of the main NetApp benefits. Knowing how to use snapshots in the on-prem environment, using snapshots on the cloud solution was natural for us.

What needs improvement?

The DR has room for improvement. For example, we now have NetApp in Western Europe and we would like to back up the information to another region. It's impossible. We need to bring up an additional NetApp in that other region and create a Cloud Manager automation to copy the data. So we do that once, at night, to another region and then shut down the destination. It's good because it's using Cloud Manager and its automation, but I would prefer it to be a more integrated solution like it was in the NetApp solution about a year ago. I would like to see something like AltaVault but in the cloud.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using it for about half a year in production; longer when we include the PoC.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been great. We haven't had any issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We still haven't needed to scale up, but I think the scalability is good.

We are using it for a system which stores files and parts of databases, but the system is used by hundreds of customers. NetApp is not used directly by them, rather through the system. We may plan to increase NetApp according to the usage of the system but we still have no specific plans.

How are customer service and technical support?

We are using NetApp engineers and they are great.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Before NetApp we used a home-grown server in the cloud, a Linux server with a big disk. It was less simple to manage.

We're also using Avere, a storage solution that was purchased by Microsoft a month or two ago. It's mainly responsible for real-time data synchronization between on-prem and the cloud environment. It's different than NetApp which doesn't provide the kind of synchronization solution that Avere does. It's two-way, real-time data synchronization between the Oracle storage solutions which we have on-prem and the Avere solution that we have in Azure. NetApp does not help with such requirements.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very simple. It was quite easy to set up the environment in just one day. We started with a small implementation and then added more and more parts of the solution. We started with just one desktop and then added additional ones and then added tiering.

It required a small number of staff members. That's all we needed because it was pretty simple. We did a few sessions online and one or two onsite, for the entire solution. For our specific case it requires almost no maintenance. It only requires management to expand the disk capacity or perform the management operations, per-request. Generally we wouldn't require an increase to our storage team to manage the solution.

What about the implementation team?

We used a NetApp engineer to help us.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

In addition to the standard licensing fees, there are fees for Azure, the VMs themselves and for data transfer. The DR environment is billed by the hour and paid to Azure directly and NetApp is paid on a yearly license.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We checked Dell EMC and HPE but we chose NetApp. The Storage team made the decision. One of the main reasons they chose NetApp was the existence of NetApp on-prem and the knowledge of it the team had. We are familiar with NetApp and the products are good, so we decided to extend the success to the cloud as well.

What other advice do I have?

Implement it. Do not think about it. It's very simple and very useful.

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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