NetApp ONTAP Review

Enables us to file Linux symlinks in the Windows environment and is more cost-effective


What is our primary use case?

My primary use case is we have both Windows and Unix and they share file systems for compiling code. The big advantage with NetApp is the ability to file Linux symlinks in the Windows environment. 

How has it helped my organization?

When I came on board they had NetApp and ONTAP was old and the system was getting to its end-of-life and corporate wasn't sure which way they were going to go. They couldn't quite make a decision on whether to buy a very large unit or a small unit because we were gonna become a central hub. They decided to scrap, and what to choose landed in my lap. I decided to go with a smaller NetApp that would fit the main requirements that I needed NetApp for and I use other types of storages for VMware. My volumes, that are NFS and SIFS, there's a lot of stuff that's used both on Windows and Unix so I need the ability to maintain the permissions between the two. I get better security with ONTAP and I get better control of users space requirement because I have qtrees and quotas and then I have the masking of user accounts, NIS to AD. The other thing that's a really good bonus is that ONTAP has a deprecated NIS and a lot of other vendors are deprecated NIS.

Critical applications are not as critical as like you'd normally experience because I am R&D and it is a production environment for R&D, but I have time to build a recover. I can recover hourly from snaps, everything else I recover from tape backup because my backup uses MDMP and it'll be just as fast as Snap and storage are cheaper.

Cost of storage hasn't reduced but it's more cost effective because the very specific requirements drop the ball. Especially when it comes to user account translation from Unix to Windows. ONTAP and Dell EMC are the only two real vendors that know how to do that properly.

What is most valuable?

For me and my users, the most valuable feature is the ability to mask Unix accounts to Linux accounts.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability's perfect because I have two nodes, I'm not overloading the nodes because it's just R&D and it's very specific lines, so it's a lot of terabytes but we're not in petabytes. For what I do it's very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is perfectly fine. Right now I only have the two nodes and one shelf. I'll be able to easily upgrade additional shelves. They gave me plenty of cabling when I got the unit so all I have to do is disconnect and reconnect the cabling and that's it.

How is customer service and technical support?

Tech support has been pretty awesome. The only thing is that 9.4 has been presenting a couple of challenges and there was one case, for example, where I didn't want Snaps. There's a command to be able to disable the scheduler, but with 9.4 that command doesn't quite work. I ended up using a workaround which tells the scheduler that it has zero snap capability on all snap jobs.

How was the initial setup?

The initial installation could've been quite easy, but there was a lot of miscommunications with professional services and there are a lot of details that they didn't quite provide which caused a very complicated installation.

What was our ROI?

A lot of Windows builds have been failing simply because when they go through the file system they can't file the symbolic links that are created on the Linux file system. Now they will resolve because ONTAP supports that.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate this solution a ten. It's very easy to use. What I really like about it is it incorporates the same thing as CentOS and RHEL 7 which is the Tap commands. If you have an idea of what commands you want to use, you can tap through and figure out what you need without having to go and look for the full syntax.

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