NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP Review

Snapshot copies and thin clones have made our recovery time a lot faster

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for ONTAP is for DR. 

How has it helped my organization?

ONTAP has improved my organization because we no longer need to purchase all that hardware and have that all come up as a big expense. It worked out better for our budgeting purposes.

We use it to move data between hyperscales on our on-premises environment. We're able to do that with SnapMirror and it's pretty simple to set up and move data around. 

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is DR backups. 

ONTAP's snapshot copies and thin clones in terms of operational recovery are pretty useful in recovering your data from a time in a snapshot. That's pretty useful for when you have an event where a disaster struck and then you need to recover all your data. It's pretty helpful and pretty fast in those terms.

We use SnapMirror inline encryption for security in the cloud. A lot of people, especially legal, want their data to be protected. That's what we use it for.

Snapshot copies and thin clones have made our recovery time a lot faster. Doing a restore from a snapshot is a lot better than trying to do a restore from a backup.

In terms of time management and managing our infrastructure, we are a lot better because of the consistency of storage management across clouds.

I wouldn't say it has reduced our data footprint in the cloud because whatever we were using was basically a lift and shift as of right now. We are hoping as we go we'll be able to take advantage of all the storage efficiencies like compression and all that. Hopefully, that'll save us quite a lot of space and time.

What needs improvement?

In terms of improvement, I would like to see the Azure NetApp Files have the capability of doing SnapMirrors. Azure NetApp Files is an AFF system and it's not used in any of the Microsoft resources. It's basically NetApp hardware, so the best performance you can achieve, but the only reason we can't use that right now is because of the region that it's available in. The second was the SnapMirror capability that we didn't have that we heavily rely on right now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We haven't had issues with stability so far. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability comes down to what service or what NetApp Cloud solution you're using. There are different solutions for what you're trying to achieve. Based on your requirements, you just need to pick the right solution that works for you.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't had any issues, so technical support is pretty good.

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

We knew we needed to invest in this solution because we were told we were closing the data centers so we had to migrate to the cloud. The management told us we are closing data centers and migrating everything into the cloud. That's what kicked us off.

How was the initial setup?

We used NetApp Cloud Manager to get up and running with Cloud Volumes ONTAP. It could be a little challenging if you don't know how the network security groups and how the roles in Azure work. That's where we had the challenges with deploying because we had cloud managers in different regions, one in Azure West and one in Azure East and we were trying to do replications between the two clouds. The Cloud Central Cloud Manager wasn't able to make a connection and that was because of some of the roles that we had to provide. Even the documentation on that was kind of scattered across. It wasn't just one page and it had all the information. So that was kind of challenging and it took me a lot of time to figure that out. I think it should be in one single pane of a page. Not as scattered around different pages.

Once I reached out to the support they helped me out, but I was trying to figure it out on my own reading documentation and it didn't do anything.

The first one I deployed in Azure was very simple. The second one that we deployed and I was trying to make the connection between, that was complex because of how the roles worked.

What about the implementation team?

We used consultants for the implementation. We had a pretty good experience with them.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI. All of our SLASs via some of our SQL databases,  have SLAs of around five minutes. SnapMirror works great for that. We don't have that and if we have a disaster, then we could be in big trouble if we have SLA breaches and stuff like that.

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

It has not reduced our cloud cost. We're still pretty new and we're still trying to figure things out like how the cost modeling works and which is the best performance and best cost for our workloads. Based on that, it's a lot of tuning. Once you get there, you just need to monitor your workloads and see how it is and just go from there.

For NetApp it's about $20,000 for a single node and $30,000 for the HA.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

For the DR we are using NetApp but for the production, a lot of the cloud architects in our company want to go native to Azure or native to AWS. Since we are a NetApp Cloud shop for a while and even our RND on-prem is mostly just all on NetApps. We want to keep that going, going into the cloud because it's a lot simpler to manage our infrastructure, our storage and take advantage of all the efficiencies that NetApp provides. Whereas if you don't use that, all of those savings, and if you have a lot of data as we do, petabytes of data, and Microsoft and AWS, take advantage of all those efficiencies and we don't because we don't have that capability. With the NetApp integration, we can take advantage of all those efficiencies and other performance.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate it a nine out of ten because of the simplicity of the DR is amazing. You just set it up. If there are any issues bringing it back, bringing it online in a DR site just takes a few minutes and then you're back up online again.

The advice that I would give to anybody considering ONTAP is to give it a try. That's how I learned. I didn't know anything about the cloud. Then our company just started telling us that we were moving everything to the cloud and we had to learn about it. That's how we learned and moved everything to the cloud.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

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