NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud Review

Tools and dashboard enable us to view our peak loads and to tune the system as we go, reducing costs

What is our primary use case?

We do electronic health records, electronic billing, and telemedicine, using artificial intelligence.

We're quite pleased with NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud and we're using it for HIPAA compliance, as well as in Luxembourg, where we have another one of our business units, for GDPR. It's meeting both of those requirements. Google is opening up a new data center in Luxembourg this month, so we've been coordinating with NetApp on that.

The tools are very nice and we've been working with them on upscale and downscale of storage. We've been working with them on the architecture for doing backups and how we do that for the U.S. and in Europe, and they then work with Google.

How has it helped my organization?

On the administrative side, the tools are very good for our backend guys. Their console makes it easy to look at our backup and storage availability, and the tools make it easy to manipulate the volumes on the storage and move things around.

NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud has multiple performance tiers that allow you to closely align it with your workload performance requirements. From the console you can move different volumes around, based on the CPU setup that you want to use. With backups, you need less compute to move the data around, so we use their tools very effectively to tune the environment for storage.

We are able to fine-tune storage and capacity on the fly, as our needs grow and shrink. We're using their tools and their dashboard, which allow us to view our peak loads and to tune the system as we go. That probably reduces our storage costs by 25 percent in the way we are currently using it. It has also lowered our costs by cutting about 10 percent of our time. We need fewer manpower resources to run it. We've got two people, whereas in some cases, in other environments, it takes four to five people.

We also see Windows infrastructure savings. A Windows Server is a little over $1,000 a month. Instead of needing two, we only need one, so the service has helped in regards to our compute costs.

The service enables us to share data across VMs. Those VMs are based on the environments that we have, including dev, test, and production. We move volumes around pretty rapidly when we need to do load testing and scale testing. When you're doing scale loads, you're running routines that will scale up and you look for the failure points, where the VM will crash. Those test loads help us to understand scale.

What is most valuable?

Confidential Computing is really the key for us because of the security requirements for HIPAA compliance. With HIPAA compliance, there are policies and rules in place on the ability to look at a patient's data. There are rules around security, encryption, and decryption on any part of that data. When you put in the data, it is encrypted when it goes to storage, and when you pull the data back, it has to be decrypted. And you have to have two-phase authentication built into that. The Confidential Computing adds another layer of security to the storage infrastructure, which is pretty slick stuff.

The NetApp service's high availability is very important when it comes to upscale and downscale. Our system is a digital system so it requires immediate response for telemedicine. When your patients are going through a telemedicine session, you need the video to work properly and respond in a timely manner, and the doctors are actually taking notes regarding that specific patient session.

In terms of its storage snapshot efficiencies, the service is highly efficient. We are only doing things in small batches right now because we have not converted all of the data, but we have tested them in the Google Cloud and they work efficiently.

What needs improvement?

It would help if they increased the area in which they employ artificial intelligence, by starting to do assessments on the environments, to project those. They're not using any AI tools, currently, on the administrative side.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using it for about three months now. We're getting ready to scale up our solution, which is a patient management platform, so we're looking at very large doctor groups to use our platform. We do all of the diagnosis, billing, telemedicine, and we use Google AI in it as well. It's a new-generation digital platform for healthcare providers. We're replacing some of the older players in the field that aren't very efficient in the new digital age. We're a new startup. In the last nine months we've been building the system out to take it to market.

We'll be launching in the next two weeks and we have proposals in to Luxembourg to provide it to the whole country, as they are putting all of their citizens under one storage area. We're looking to be the front end for that repository. We have proposals in Dubai and several large ACOs in the U.S., as well as for some large healthcare networks that have up to 8,000 doctors.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's industrial-strength technology. I wouldn't use it if it wasn't.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is very good. They're very responsive. I worked with the partner group and we have used the support when we have questions or issues. And if I need to escalate, I call our partners.

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

Overall, they have very impressive technologies. I worked with NetApp in the past, a few years ago at a major entertainment company where they were the core storage provider, worldwide. That's the reason that I reached out to them to partner with us. They've got very solid storage technologies and different grades of complexity.

The Confidential Computing is key for us. Our criteria also include administrative tools and the ability to upscale and downscale these environments rapidly. Those are our key criteria and they're meeting all of those.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward. They were very supportive. They were with us, walking us through the details so our guys could get up to speed faster. We were able to assimilate the tool sets for administration pretty quickly.

The deployment took about three days because we had to set up all three environments from scratch, and a big part of that was Google. That was really the minimum amount of time it could take because this is an enterprise-level application, so we had to configure it properly to run properly.

For our implementation, with Google and NetApp we actually created a whole hierarchical structure for our computing environment. We laid out the number of CPUs, the storage that was going to be required, and what region of the country we were going to put the center in. All of that is about where your business is and where you are going to get the most transaction support, for speed. Our headquarters is in New Jersey and we set this up in Virginia. That was the best place for us, and it's also a hub for the internet.

What about the implementation team?

NetApp helped us with the setup and our experience with them was very good. They were good guys who know their stuff. They did a lot of knowledge transfer and helped our guys get everything set up. That's a good reason why we chose them. They're very professional. We have weekly calls with them on how we're doing and on any needs we may have. Especially with a startup, you need to make sure that you're doing everything properly so you don't have any failures.

What was our ROI?

We see it reducing our cloud storage spend. Being a new startup, I can't really say by how much at this point, because we have not loaded the whole environment in it. As we move into more regions and into Europe, that's when we'll know more about that. We don't have enough time on the system to say more, at the moment.

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

You have to understand what you're going to do with your app. From there, they're very good about working with you to get you set up and make sure you've got adequate storage. Their account people are very good about making sure there's a plan in place and where you're going to be in three months, six months, and 12 months. They work with you on laying out your growth pattern and what markets you want to be in. It's a very professional organization.

What other advice do I have?

You need to plan out your architecture before you jump into any of these cloud environments. The good thing about NetApp is that they run on all three platforms, Azure, AWS, and Google. You need to have some idea of the architecture that you're putting in place, so you don't have to re-tool the thing later.

We're using NetApp's admin tools, but not all of them yet because we're new to Google. And their team has been very proactive in working with us and helping us configure our environment.

The service helped us to quickly move large numbers of files to the cloud. We have 15,000 patients' data that is being converted into this new system and we are doing data migration of about 100 gigabytes of storage. It's complex because we have to use HL7 protocols for that. That is an EDI language used for healthcare. That language stands by itself and there are different protocols to use when doing the migration and the mapping, and then the conversion of the HL7 transactions.

**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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