NetApp HCI Review

All-in-one solution that is very self-contained but it has increased our hypervisor footprint


What is our primary use case?

We're mostly testing it out right now. We have some internal tools we're testing it on. We're testing it for production readiness in our facility. We have a couple of test VMs on it and we're using it for some data collection on our ONTAP systems. It's been testing for around a month. 

How has it helped my organization?

It has not particularly increased application performance but it's not a very demanding app either.

HCI has provided us with efficiencies and mobilities similar to that of the public cloud. It gives us some flexibility for the future if we do decide to go into the public cloud. We are actually considering Microsoft Azure for a lot of stuff going forward. It's kind of like an injection point into the cloud as well.

Maintenance costs have been reduced by around 20%. 

What is most valuable?

The most valuable aspects are that it's an all-in-one solution and it's very self-contained.

HCI's ability to scale, compute, and store independently is nice because we can expand either the storage or the compute. There are different ways to expand different pieces and not do it all-in-one. With some of the competitors, you buy compute and you have to buy storage, so that is an important differentiator for NetApp.

What needs improvement?

HCI has increased our hypervisor footprint. It's another system we have to manage. 

The elemental software has not enabled us to consolidate workflows or break down silos. It's still on test dev, it's not in the main production stuff, so we haven't really gone to that phase of it.

I would like for them to fall a little closer to like the VMware release model. The new features and new solutions tend to come from the VMware side. I would like for NetApp to follow along closely with VMware's release schedule.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's worked very well for us for what we're using it for, so I have no complaints about stability. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We're in the process of adding a couple of nodes now, we haven't completed that yet.

How are customer service and technical support?

We haven't contacted technical support yet but we plan to soon because we need to upgrade. 

How was the initial setup?

The setup was a bit challenging because it's a fairly new product and I think some of the stuff is not quite well baked yet. We had a lot of trouble connecting it up to our network and we had to go through a bunch of different setups. I think that some of the solutions are not quite ready for prime time. It's better now but about nine months ago we had a lot of trouble getting the network configs right on the Cisco side and on the HCI side.

There was a lack of NetApp community knowledge about exactly how to make it work, and then we actually had to change it with about five revisions of our networking setup before we finally got it right.

It's probably much better now. We were on the leading edge of the product. They've upgraded to the newer versions and the documentation is a little stronger and the community knowledge of it is a little stronger as well. 

What about the implementation team?

We went through NetApp for the deployment. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We have not evaluated other solutions but a lot of our sister companies have done Nutanix and some of the other products that are out there. I've heard it's a little more baked, a little easier to use, but it's also not as flexible as you grow. You have to grow in different stacks.

What other advice do I have?

It is a good solution, I'm fairly happy with it. It's passed all of our tests, we're not really having any real challenges. 

I'm on the storage team and then we also have a VMware team and we have a network team, so there's a lot of other people that have to get involved, and I don't know how on board everyone is to one solution for everyone. All of us being in the same sandbox versus having our own sandboxes.

I would rate it a six out of ten but we're an early adopter so it's probably better now.

It works great now, I don't want to say that it's a bad product, it's just that we were early adopters of the product and there were some bumps in the road.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises

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

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