NetApp HCI Review

Improves our hypervisor footprint because it's an all-in-one, but the setup is painful

What is our primary use case?

Currently, our primary use case for HCI is testing the product to see if we can find a real business case in the hybrid, hyperconverged infrastructure. We are testing different products and HCI is one of them. Our use case is testing the hardware and the software piece of the product, leveraging the hardware part of the server and storage, in one piece. We're testing that to see how that works out for our infrastructure.

How has it helped my organization?

HCI has reduced the hypervisor footprint because it's an all-in-one box, where you have the server and the storage piece in one physical container, rather than multiple boxes or appliances. Currently, we have separate storage and separate servers. Now we can have server and storage in one box.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature, currently, is the density of the system as hardware. I'm able to leverage the density of the product and remove bigger hardware which requires more space, cooling, and power costs, obviously. There are cost savings, obviously.

What needs improvement?

My biggest pain point is the installation part. I would like to see the appliance itself remove the entire switch that goes behind it and figure out how to do all the cluster interconnects within the box itself. I don't know if that's possible or not, but that's something that could be very, very beneficial to customers because it adds another layer of complexity to the system, once you add the switches.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been good so far. It's worked just fine. Uptime: no problems. No failures at this point. It's still running, so that's a good thing.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

From the looks of it, technically speaking, it looks like it can be scalable. But it's always easier said than done, until I actually bring more workloads and add more capacity to the system.

How are customer service and technical support?

The tech support was fine. They came and they did the work. It took them a couple of days as well. The setting up was very painful, but once we got that going, everything was good.

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

We've been a NetApp customer for the last eight years now. They've been our product; they've been our main storage vendor. That's why I'm here [at NetApp Insight 2019]; to see what they can offer, future-proof. We hope to keep that relationship going.

How was the initial setup?

From what I've experienced so far, the product seems to be fairly easy to deploy. The initial setup is very painful. That's my biggest pain right now, setting it up. It's not straightforward, requires a lot of knowledge to get it going. But once you get it going things work.

Our biggest issue was the switches that we had to install on top of the product itself, which have to interconnect into our main, core switches into the data center. That was very painful. Once we got that past that, things got to be a little bit easier. That was something that I, as a customer, could not do. I had to actually have Professional Services or someone from NetApp to actually come and do the work; a product specialist.

What other advice do I have?

From our initial testing, it's doing what it's what it says it can do, but there are still some caveats that need to be worked out. In terms of making our compute more efficient when it comes to resources, the way we are using it, it's pretty much a one-to-one configuration. It depends on the work I would throw it at it. So it's hard to compare it, what my production environment currently is, to what I'm using HCI for. We are planning on using VDI with the solution. Once we get that configured, then we'll figure out how the workloads will actually be.

I would rate it a five out of ten because of the setup. Post-setup, it still needs a little bit of training and knowledge. It's not an easy product to use because it's got different modules. I'd like to see one single pane of management in a box. Once you get to know the product, I would give it a seven.

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