NetApp ONTAP Review

It's more intuitive to use as they are moving away from command line into more graphical interfaces, but they need to improve stability

What is our primary use case?

It's our enterprise storage solution where we keep 95 percent of our data.

We use it for our mission-critical applications: All our SQL, Exchange, data warehousing, and anything with heaving I/O processing.

How has it helped my organization?

Our company has grown so fast, we spend more in the process. At the same time, we have been able to shrink due to technologies, such as deduplication and compression.

We've been able to keep up with the demands of our business in terms of both performance and storage. Whenever the business needs something, we add it right away. Whenever they say, "Hey, we're gonna throw some big load at you guys. Can you this handle it?" We say, "Yeah, the system can handle it."

What is most valuable?

It's more intuitive to use as they are moving away from command line into more graphical interfaces, which are somewhat easier to use.

What needs improvement?

There is room for improvement in the stability. They have been trying to become simpler, and as a result, there have been road bumps along the way. I have personally experienced this.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have experience a number of bugs recently. The company has also gone through recent changes which has affected stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It scales pretty well. It has a cluster interface connection with multiple systems clustering across the board. 

How are customer service and technical support?

They are pretty good when it comes to critical support. Technical support is something they're still working on, but the critical support is good. The critical support will get back to you quickly and stay with you, so you always know who you are dealing with.

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

The performance was really bad on our previous solution. When we did an analysis with our tools, we saw how bad the storage performance was. It was a ten-year-old system. It was meant to run for a small company. It was never meant for where we were at the time.

Compared to what we had in the past, ONTAP has given us both visibility into performance, as well as, adapted to different changes. Where as before, we had a system that we couldn't do much with.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was complex compared to what we had, since it does more. When we bought it a couple of years ago, it was more complex. Now, they are trying to become simpler at the setup.

The initial setup took a lot of steps. You had to know a lot of what had happened throughout the process. There were a lot of steps involved, where as now, they're condensing the amount of steps involved. Plus, its more graphically-driven now rather than being mostly command line.

What about the implementation team?

We used two different consultants: 

  1. We had one vendor for the architecture of the high-level stuff.
  2. The other consultant was more to come in and fix it up or do the hardware physical stuff. 

We picked the best out of both.

What was our ROI?

With the duplication and compression, we have been about a one and half to two times savings since we are not running all-flash.

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

It pays to get the Cadillac. That's what we call ours.

Don't undersize it. We undersized our first one and ended up having to get rid of it, then buying a new one. We lost money in the process. We should have paid for more than what we needed at the beginning.

What other advice do I have?

NVMe over Fabric is considered the next generation of storage in terms of how fast things move.

Our company chose this solution because they've known it from the past.

We are still looking into machine learning, AI, and real-time analytics.

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