NetApp EF-Series All Flash Arrays Review

A consistent platform that can take the same amount of data in less amounts of space from our previous solutions

How has it helped my organization?

Ideally, the organization is trying reduce the footprint. Our current footprint is all on Lazy Theta and flash hard drives with Flash Pools and so on. To have one consistent platform that takes the same amount of data in less amounts of space is key. It is just a matter of getting to that next level of datacenter integration.

The primary use case for our All Flash EF-Series is currently being used for Vidya, with all subjects, Zinap, using our server to allow us to increase performance of our user experience on Vidya. We have high use cases for SQL databases. Most of our business critical applications use SQL to allow us to complete the DoD mission needs, so we have been using the EF-series for about two years now and everything has been going smoother and faster. We currently purchased 20 efi 60s with 1.92 terabyte SSD drives and it has been pretty effective, so far.

What is most valuable?

I would have to say performance at this point, because the application it is based on is so diverse.

Having low latency is always key, so if I had to rate it, I would rate it a 10 out of 10 of getting the best out of what we can - the best performance and low latency.

What needs improvement?

Better support technicians for CAPP.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

So far, it looks good in terms of stability. It is easy to manage driven by new technology driven, Raytech. Having a singular thing to manage everything and hopefully optimizing the user experience altogether without the need to uplift and remove the expand.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It definitely meets our needs. What we hope for is that it all flies fast and once we get it in that we don't have to scale, because right now we have requirements of random 50 terabytes here and 100 terabytes there, so the ability to not need to scale and hopefully receive the benefits of the new features in 9.3 of reducing your footprint.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have a lot of ONTAP NetApp Sales Engineers (SEs) helping us throughout the process. Some of the partners are being evolved with the beginning to get us acclimated to the new changes.

Their SEs are experts. I would rate them a 10 out of 10.

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

Currently, all of our technology is on Legacy FAS systems that are end of life. We have taken the last one we can go to, and now, we have 20 sites and terabytes of data that we have to refresh and renew, so it is just a matter of time before we get to the next stage. In some instances, it is the HCI, and it other instances, it is the All Flash FAS, so it is not going to be a one-size fits all.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved with the initial setup. The E-series are the easiest to set up.

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

The price is perfect. The price point that we're getting is very competitive in the market. Since we are buying in such a large quantity, they gave us a huge discount.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

In some cases, we do consider Oracle ZFS.

Oracle ZFS is one of the vendors that's in our market arena because they don't have a maintenance policy. They have a contract internally that allows when they submit their cost estimates or their notes there is no maintenance because they have another contract vehicle that takes your maintenance. If NetApp had a similar contract vehicle to allow the maintenance to be excluded, that would significantly increase their business because their maintenance cost is killing them, or the major complaint I hear from my customers is their maintenance cost is insane.

So, in one instance we will go with NetApp. In the other instance, we will go with ZFS, because it is cheaper.

What other advice do I have?

Take advantage of the node transfers that you can have with the SEs and getting to know them at their level where they are willing to help you in all aspects.

Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: support.

Our e-App system is dedicated for use with multiple apps.

We are currently going to buy some All Flash FASs next year to go with the 08300's and the 15.3 terabyte SSD drives. A huge order of 12 nodes, six AJ pairs should be imminent, second quarter for DoD.

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.
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