NetApp ONTAP Review

Incremental Snapshots keep us protected from ransomware attacks


What is our primary use case?

It's our main storage platform for our business applications. We have SQL and we do a lot of video editing. We also have a lot of media and sound data. Radio stations and TV stations keep some of their data on it.

How has it helped my organization?

Primarily, I do the data replication, the disaster recovery. Often someone will say, "Hey, I deleted this thing yesterday, can you get this back for me?" It's good that we have all those incremental Snapshots at different points in time that we can refer back to, to get them whatever they need.

Or we'll have someone download a virus, something malicious that corrupts a whole folder-tree of files. We can easily go back to right before they did that and just grab everything back. There are also ransomware attacks where they hold your data hostage by encrypting it. We can easily just go back and grab the data from before the attack. We can look back at the footprint and see when the whole tree was changed and restore the whole folder or the whole subset of folders. We might be down for two hours from it. An attack like that hasn't happened in the last nine months, but it has happened in the last two years.

It has also helped us reduce our overall cost of storage. Through dedupe and compression, we save a lot of capacity. Without that, we'd obviously have to buy more capacity. The last time I checked we were saving about 40 percent over our previous storage.

What is most valuable?

One of the things I find most valuable is the way they do the Snapshots, taking incrementals at points in time.

We just upgraded to 9.3, which is not the latest version, and it has some adaptive QoS built in. We have been using WFA for that. I'm interested in checking that out. I'm really glad they added it.

What needs improvement?

They use a lot of PowerShell for managing things and there are still a few things that you can't do through PowerShell cmdlets that you can do in the native CLI. It would be nice if they got more of those added in.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's very scalable as well.

How are customer service and technical support?

The tech support is really good. We go through a support provider, Datalink, and those guys are really good. Anything that they don't have immediate knowledge of will be quickly escalated to NetApp and they're really quick about getting an engineer on it and getting us a solution. If we need a part replaced - of course, it depends what level of support we have for that particular system - everything is usually pretty quick.

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

In terms of a previous solution, when I joined this team they were already using NetApp. We did upgrade our controllers from 6290s to the 9000 but that was because of the age of the system. It was out-of-support and the support cost to maintain them got higher and higher as the years rolled by. It was cost-effective to invest in a new controller.

How was the initial setup?

I wasn't part of this team when they initially set up all the storage, but we've had some upgrades, and we've gotten new controllers and added them to the cluster, and taken some out. All of those steps have been really straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

Our reseller is Datalink and our experience with them has been really good. We've used them for several years. They negotiate really good prices for us and they give us really good support. If we need someone at a remote site, they'll schedule someone to support us at that site.

What was our ROI?

I don't handle the numbers, but the biggest ROI, to me, would be the ease with which we have our data protected.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did look at Pure Storage and they were comparable in performance but they didn't have as many features. The gain in performance, for us, didn't offset the loss of the features, coupled with losing the relationship, or hurting the relationship, that we have with NetApp and Datalink.

The Pure system didn't have a way to do the iSCSIs that we need to use, and the impact to the relationship, to have a one-off system that didn't match the rest of them, didn't seem worth it to us.

What other advice do I have?

In terms of NVMe over Fabrics, we no longer have any Fibre Channel. That was all phased out before I got on the team. In general, NVMe over Fabrics is good, it's quick. We aren't yet using machine-learning, AI, or real-time analytics but that is something we're looking into.

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