NetApp ONTAP Review

It has CIFS environment sharing and integrated monitoring with OnCommand

What is our primary use case?

We use Data ONTAP to provide CIFS and NFS shares, as well as direct attached data stores for VMware.

How has it helped my organization?

Four years ago, upgrading a NetApp controller was a command line process which was very arduous. Today, because NetApp listened to their customers and improved their GUI, we can perform a firmware upgrade within minutes.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features would be:

  • CIFS environment sharing.
  • The availability of NetApp to tie into the UCS FlexPod environment.
  • Integrated monitoring with OnCommand.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see some sort of a free version of OnCommand: A stripped down version of OnCommand Unified Manager offering a bit better usage for enterprise users. We have found that it's very hard to get it without buying it outright. I wish they had a better marketing with the product. It's probably my biggest gripe with them. You really need OnCommand to do a lot of cool stuff with NetApp, and they make it hard to get.

It's not an all inclusive model. You have the option to purchase modules to make the entire ecosystem coherent. I would like the option to pay one price and get everything all inclusive, like OnCommand.

If you don't have a TAM or SAM, it can be difficult to get P1 cases.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We serve out data from a multitude of different properties through FlexPod environments, as well as a centralized data serving location in the Las Vegas area. We have had minimal downtime over the past five to ten years that we have been using the product.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability has been less of an issue. 

Unfortunately, NetApp does forklift upgrades. This is probably the biggest negative that I have with NetApp as a whole. We found to upgrade a FlexPod environment, if we wanted to upgrade the UCS on the Cisco side, due to the interoperability matrix, sometimes we'll have to upgrade controller units. Basically, if we upgrade one part of our infrastructure, we have to upgrade another part. 

This affects our scalability. Instead of being able to simply add a couple of shelves, that controller may only be able to hold four shelves. However, we already have four shelves, so now we have to buy a new controller unit. Whereas, some of other companies, you can just add another controller unit and an HA pair, then you are off to the races with more shelves.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is good. We had a TAM for a long time. Now, we have a SAM, and working through them we found that our cases get risen in priority level whenever we need it. We haven't had to fight for quite some time to get P1. It is easy to escalate.

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

We were previously using DAS-JBODs, but this was in 2007. We pretty much followed everybody else when the industry went to NetApp. We have been using NetApp ever since it was 7-Mode.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward after we used EVOLTECH as a third-party. We actually took the process over after watching them do it a couple times. It was that easy.

Upgrades are great. One of the best things about NetApp is that their products are so easy to upgrade now. That did not use to be the case.

What about the implementation team?

We used EVOLTECH for the deployment. We were happy with them. They did the job that we asked them to do.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We were considering Pure Storage and Dell EMC. NetApp won out with a far superior price point.

What other advice do I have?

ONTAP has a lot of stuff that most people don't utilize it for. For example, the entire Snap Management package is an underutilized piece of software in our industry. 

Get it and use a lot of the features, then have your mind blown. The moment you start using it is when the magic happens. If you don't use it, then you don't know how awesome it is.

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