NetApp HCI Review

Storage persistence allows us to consolidate workloads across older arrays into one unit that works with Azure

What is our primary use case?

We had a long-running project that didn’t have the horsepower behind it that it needed, and the vendor couldn’t spec the horsepower that it did need. Rather than continuing to chase performance, I took a chance on a quantum leap and put the HCI box in to provide the flexibility, but also the power, that it needed, and it has worked out.

How has it helped my organization?

It significantly reduces downtime on two of our assembly lines. In addition, it allowed us to move forward on one of the products that we’re going to use to improve as a company, to potentially allow us to shore up some things.

In terms of helping us with storage persistence across private and hybrid clouds, we do store data internally and in Azure. It has allowed us to consolidate a number of workloads, across our old NetApp and a number of our older storage arrays, into a single unit and have that unit also working with Azure.

What is most valuable?

It was designed from the ground up to work together. It’s not disparate technologies that the vendors put together and decided, “These can work together.” It was designed from the ground up to work together. You get that slight economy of scale from that fact that it was designed that way. It becomes more than the sum of its pieces, rather than less.

What needs improvement?

I'd like to see some additional graphics capabilities because I'd like to look at some virtual desktop integration for CAD software.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is incredibly stable. That was one of the specific things I was looking for.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability was another thing I was looking at. The solution, by its very nature, is designed to be expandable and flexible, so you don't have to buy performance you don't need today, but you're also not stuck with something you can't expand.

How are customer service and technical support?

So far, the technical support has been excellent. We only have to call one number. Whether it's an issue with the storage node, the compute node, or SolidFire, we're calling a single number. We haven't had a whole lot of issues, but we've found them to be responsive and knowledgeable for the few that we've had.

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

In the first use case, we weren't getting the performance we needed from the old solution. In the second use case, I had an aging infrastructure that I knew I needed to replace. It was simply finding the correct solution to fill those needs.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We used an integrator for the deployment. We purchased it through SHI, which is our strategic VAR, and they brought in a company called Arrow to do the deployment. Our experience with them was very good.

What was our ROI?

We had something that people worked on but was two years late and causing downtime on our assembly line. That downtime leads to overtime. If it goes on, it leads to downtime for your customer.

Using this solution, we have absolutely seen return on investment.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Cisco and Nutanix were the other big ones that we looked at. The reason we didn't go with Cisco, to be honest, was that they made it clear they didn't think a company of our size warranted their attention.

NetApp did a briefing for just me. That wasn't the only reason, but any company that is willing to stand behind their technology and can't wait to get it into your facility to show it off, clearly they believe in it. It checked all the boxes for what I needed it to do. It was also a company I have a relationship with, so I know that their gear is going to be here.

What other advice do I have?

Definitely, have a look at this solution. It is simple, and I don't mean "simple" in a negative way. If you're not a company with a staff of hundreds, and most IT departments don't, you need something that allows you to do more with less overhead, provide better performance, and this is going to check all those boxes.

We don’t use Data Fabric for hybrid or multi-clouds. We are not currently using this solution to leverage microservices from our clouds. We don't yet use it for Dev Ops, but when we start to do so I expect it will save us time and money.

I rate the solution at about eight out of ten. The reason I wouldn't rate it any higher is that it's only been in our facility for less than a year, so I just don't have that long-term experience with it. I have no doubt that it will go to a nine or a ten out of ten. It's simple, flexible, powerful. We've been able to move most of our workload to it. We've seen increased performance across the board. We're pretty happy with it.

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