NetApp OnCommand Insight Review

These products are extremely durable and last over time. They are designed to take a beating.


What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is for Oracle, SQL, and seismic data. We use it as NFS mounted storage and also replicate to another location (or SnapMirror it). It's just storage right now.

How has it helped my organization?

It houses our most important data for the whole Gulf of Mexico. As a whole, it works on the most critical data on NetApp right now. So, it's critical.

What is most valuable?

The cost, reliability, and support are great features.

We are in New Orleans, so being able to SnapMirror, moving the data to another place protected. Also, Snapshots have been very helpful. These are helpful because we are in a hurricane zone. We test SnapMirror every year by doing disaster recovery tests in April.

We do our Mirrors every hour. Within four hours during the last hurricane, we had our basic infrastructure up in Houston. We had stuff that we could bring up, so our data was protected, which is what it is all about.

There are other admins who use a lot of the features, like FlexGroup and SnapMirror restore volumes, along with the dev and test stuff. So, we use a lot of the components.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I am very happy with the stability. When your customers don't notice anything wrong, that's the biggest win for a product. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have like three or four petabytes, but we can use a lot more than that. As an example, back in 2012, we had about 13 racks of it, then we went down to three racks. Recently, we went down to one and a half racks and got more space than we had with those 13 racks, which was only six years ago.

We didn't even buy the solid state stuff this time. We just bought the 10 terabyte drives this time, which is pretty cool. The scalability goes way beyond anything we need. 

How is customer service and technical support?

We have an advanced support agreement and a good relationship with our NetApp support team and systems engineer, whom we call up and open cases if we have questions. We also have our own internal company group that has a lot of NetApp people who can help.

We have had some problems on weekend and the middle of the night. They have even written code for us on the fly within a few hours to address an issue that we were having. We receive 24/7 coverage. 

We have a monthly meeting with our customer support people through NetApp. They go through all the cases with us, and we analyze everything. They help us with the upgrades. We tell them, "Treat our data like their data." So, they come down and meet with us, they fly to New Orleans, and if they see something they don't think is right, they tell us. That's a great relationship, when different companies act as one.

Which solutions did we use previously?

In 2001, we switched from LSI Logic. We were sort of building storage on a cheap at the time. Anyway, a guy who used to work here suggested NetApp, though it was certainly more per gig or megabyte at the time. 

You pay a little bit more but you get enterprise storage. You don't have anybody upset that they lost something nor do you have downtime. In the old days, you could reboot something in middle of the day and everybody would be sort of be okay. Now, they freak out. So, downtime is not acceptable anymore. Whatever it costs, we're going to have to pay for it. 

How was the initial setup?

When we first went to Cluster Mode, we had a lot of problems. Setup took a few months. We had people onsite, including one of the top guys from NetApp for a while. Going from 7-Mode to Cluster Mode was rough. However, the last couple of upgrades to Cluster Mode have been fine.

The newest release was a lot easier, especially now that they're talking about their upgrades being more frequent. The whole non-disruptive upgrades can be scary because they are not 100 percent guaranteed. While it's always a little scary doing all non-disruptive upgrades, they have worked out well.

What about the implementation team?

When we buy the equipment, we buy NetApp's technical support time. This last time, we received 30 days of their time and only used about five days, but over the next five years we will use that time up. 

They were great and helped with the deployment.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI. We still have an OCI on one of our drill ships and some of our platforms in the Gulf from 2012 and 2013 running on 7-Mode. We have had to extend the service maintenance time on them. These products are extremely durable and last over time. They are designed to take a beating.

We have saved money using the dedupe and compress. The price per gig has gone down, so it is easy to upgrade every three or four years, and say, "We can get twice as much data for half of what we paid for it." We just bought two systems. I probably paid as much for one system four years ago as I did for two now.

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

We like that it is one license and everything is bundled in together.

We just made a major investment back in May of this year, so we'll have it for another four and a half or five years easily. Thus, we have a five year bumper to bumper agreement.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

The last dozen years, nobody's been on our storage list. It used to be Digital Equipment Corporation, but that was so long ago.

What other advice do I have?

NetApp is a major player. You should look into them. Their service around the world is incredible along with their support. 

OCI is moving at light speed. They are doing a good job on the trends.

I am looking at he NFS in the cloud and Cloud Volumes.

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