NetApp ONTAP Review

Switching workloads from one data center to the other has been great. We have had some issues with the architecture, because of the complex setup with the MetroCluster.

How has it helped my organization?

We have been using it for our entire environment, so we use it in file shares and in our VDI environment, at least for user data. That has reduced our user login times by about 50 percent. This has helped, and probably been one of the biggest benefits that we've recently seen, getting people's logins down to 45 seconds from more than two minutes. It's helped with our backups times, and keeping our backup windows in compliance.

What is most valuable?

The main thing has been performance, but we're hoping that we also get there on the reliability section (with the MetroCluster), so we don't have any disasters. The performance has been so good on it. Even some of their tests that we're doing, switching workloads from one data center to the other, has been great.

What needs improvement?

While its performance has been great, the configuration with the MetroCluster has been a bit of a headache. We've been working through it. However, it's a bit of a tedious process. With the MetroCluster, in theory, we should have good reliability. We have been having some issues just the finishing the configuration. Some of our DR tests have been not successful, so it's been a little troubling.

We have had some issues with the architecture, because of the complex setup with the MetroCluster. While it is getting there, we've had problems. We've had some outages trying to get the system up, so it hasn't been very good, but I'm hoping we get there. This does not seem like it's necessarily a NetApp issue, but the architecting of it has been a little rough.

Going forward, I want to see a simplified deployment and more straightforward recommendations on what is required for it. They're a little vague, and we've had some issues where we would like to have a tool that can scan the environment and find issues before deployment, fixing issues. So, when we're deploying it, we're not running into problems. Simplification would definitely help.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The system stability has been good. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't had it too long, so we haven't needed to scale it up. It does look pretty easy. We have MetroCluster, then we have the All Flash FAS and the new 8200 hybrid. 

We've been able to scale out the 8200, which has been beneficial, as we offload some of the older, slower storage to it. We have quite a bit of room to grow by adding new nodes into it. Right now, we only have two-node clusters, which have been great to upgrade, and not an issue.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support has been good, but since we're using MetroCluster IP, we've been a little bleeding edge. This has been a bit of a problem because there are not as many people who are knowledgeable in it. We have had some issues getting people who have good knowledge on the subject, which has been why we've had some of the issues that we've had. A lot of it is just foundation and architecting. We've had some issues with existing equipment compatibility issues that we didn't really discover in the initial planning. The technical support has been good, but it has been a bit of a slow process.

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

We ran out of space with our old storage. We didn't have any full DR redundancy because we didn't have enough space to do a DR scenario. The main reasons to upgrade: Not enough space, we needed to upgrade, and NetApp happened to be a cheaper solution than some of the competitors.

We migrated from Dell EMC storage, where did have some issues with capacity in the IOPS, and NetApp was the cheapest solution. We got more performance and bang for our buck, so we moved over to the NetApp All Flash system. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty simple, just for the basics. However, when we tried to scale out and run it in production, that's when we ran into issues. Because we were sold Fibre Channel MetroCluster, then that ended up not working for our situation, we had to buy more equipment and switch it over to MetroCluster IP. This was smooth at first, but then the deployment on production was much longer process.

What about the implementation team?

All the support and deployment has been primarily from NetApp. We do have a consultant who has been assisting with some of the networking pieces, but most of the actual storage is all done with NetApp. While they've been knowledgeable, it's a complex configuration, and sometimes we've had some issues with them giving us solid answers on which direction we should go. They'll help us do something, but they don't want to give too much architecting information. That's been a bit of a headache for us. They said it was going to take 60 days, and it's been six months and we're still not fully rolled out.

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

We went through a reseller to buy the solution.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at just Dell EMC and NetApp. Those were the two main choices, as they are similar products with similar performance. We could see Dell EMC was definitely more expensive, but it also had a more complex configuration. On paper, NetApp seemed cheaper and a bit simpler, which was one of the main reasons that we moved over. The performance for cost ratio was really interesting.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend doing your homework and make sure the environment is prepped before getting it set up. Make sure you have any prerequisites and your equipment's compatible: The distance between data centers is the networking pieces being compatible with the all-flash MetroCluster. If you have any issues there, you're going to have constant headaches with the configuration. The main piece is make sure you have all your ducks in a row on your networking gear, make sure it's compatible, and fix the issues early before you start deploying.

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