NetApp ONTAP Review

With ONTAP we have more shelves, disks, aggregates, and dedupe savings


What is our primary use case?

We use ONTAP to take care of the filers. We have quite a few filers and we use it to increase and decrease storage and make new volumes. All the stuff we use Data ONTAP for makes managing all the filers very easy to take care of.

The reason that we use Data ONTAP for everything is that we have it on all of our systems, we have a lot of customers. We use it for our virtual environments in which we make a big data store. Our way to tell people is to just pop in VMs and they use it. We have a cloud environment and a lab environment. We either do NFS VM stores, people just pop in VMs or we put them on iSCSI, they connect to the VMs and poof they're there. We have NetApp and then the networking, so we're right on top as an oxygen service. It's used everywhere, production, development, whatever you got, we're there.

How has it helped my organization?

The way it has improved our organization is that we get a lot of requests for new volumes and new data structures. We go and talk to the user and tell them what we can do with it. We also find that we're a very diverse organization and they want to move data around. We provided SnapMirrors for them and they put data in one location and then we SnapMirror it to the other, and they can do their data. They get it, no need to worry about it. Just poof it's there. I call it the conveyor belt of data. You put it here, we snap it, it's here, it's available, and they love it. They love that feature and that they don't have to worry about shipping it, they don't have to worry about commissions, it's just there. They love the speed of use. 

We look at the numbers because we make sure everything has been provisioned and deduped. There are other products that we've put into Data ONTAP. We have the OCUM, the On Command Unified Manager, which helps us figure out when we do things for Data ONTAP. We put all of our tools that go into Data ONTAP and we have the unified manager where we can see any of our alerts or anything. Then we can do our performance manager. All the tools that we hook into Data ONTAP make it very easy to run because it's a tool that can feed other products and it's the tools that we get from NetApp that makes it very easy to figure things out. It makes it more efficient, we can see things. People complain that their NAS is slow and we're able to bring up the performance manager. It makes life a lot easier because these are tools that we don't have to pay for. Management loves that, they're free tools, we just install them and away we go. 

What is most valuable?

Ease of use is the most valuable feature for us. We brought a new storage person online, he knew another product, we easily taught him what he needed to know using Data ONTAP. He came up quickly, became very valuable to our team because he could use Data ONTAP. It was poof, he was done and became a valued member of our team. It didn't take him months and months to spin up on the product, so it's very nice. It took longer to spend on all the names we had and where all of our locations were. Data ONTAP was no big deal for him.

We know how much space we'll save. We have compression. Within provision and dedupe, one volume that we have problems with is we do 30% and it's around 12 terabytes. It's a very large volume and we dedupe everything and we get huge savings. We over-allocate our aggregates and it still works, it's great, it's fun. We dedupe everywhere, we get huge savings. We went back and deduped the whole thing again, we could get more, so that's what we do. We go back and look to see if there's an option we can set and do it from the beginning, but still 13 terabytes, that's a lot of dedupe savings. Sometimes we get 50% or more in our savings, so we love dedupe.

What needs improvement?

We're at 9.3 so when we go to 9.5 we would like the synchronous SnapMirror because our users would like that, especially the ones that do the conveyor belt of data. We'd like that. A lot of the other ones, I'd like just to see go to HCI, but that's just another investment to go to. I'd have to go back and look at everything else. For ONTAP 9, 9.5, we like to keep up with everything that's going on because we don't let anything lag too much.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is great. It's very stable. A couple of times we've had to reset some of the settings. We just go look on the web and it tells us that we just have to turn certain settings on or off and everything's back up for the web. That's the only time we've only not had the web interface come up, but all the other times it's there. If it's not there, the NAS is having problems, we have bigger problems than just ONTAP. Otherwise, ONTAP is very stable, it's always there. It's great.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

ONTAP scales because it's always on the NAS, and our NAS scales. Right now our business is growing so we keep hearing that they need more storage. We tell them that they need to buy some shelves and we just keep connecting shelves onto our NAS. With ONTAP we have more shelves, more disks, and aggregates. We just go click, click, click and it does, and we're good. It makes it very easy to use the product overall. It's not a big deal to scale out on Net App ONTAP. Then it tells you on the shelf, if the disk goes bad, ONTAP knows about it, it'll send auto support off to NetApp because we have the maintenance contract. Then NetApp points out that they need new shelving. 

What other advice do I have?

I'd rate it about a nine because I just don't want to give anything a ten. We love it. We also have production on the backup filers that we use. It's great, it's easy.

I would advise someone considering this solution to take the classes and get some education. Especially if it's cluster because cluster's a little bit different, you need to know how to take care of that. Make sure you know all the networking parts of cluster ONTAP and go take the class and then implement it. Then if you have problems, call up and find out what the problem is and go forth and do it because it's great.

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