NetApp StorageGRID Review

The implementation went smoothly. It is a 'setup and forget' type of appliance.

What is our primary use case?

We use StorageGRID at our DR site for backup solutions. We have it as an S3 bucket where we have an AltaVault in place which communications with our StorageGRID, replicates our backup data, and whatever we place on our AltaVault sends it over to our StorageGRID. We also have another AltaVault virtual appliance in DR, which helps us do the backup in case of a disaster. 

We use the solution purely for backup. 

How has it helped my organization?

This solution helps us automate our storage infrastructure. We now have backups where everything is automated from A to Z. All we have to do is monitor it and make sure the jobs do not fail. If the jobs are failing, we resolve the issue. StorageGRID is our backup data store.

What is most valuable?

The S3 bucket.

The ability to get to the StorageGRID from anywhere on my network. The solution is remote. You don't have to be at a physical location.

Backup and recovery as fast as you can using AltaVault.

Deduplication and compression: You save up to 70 to 80 percent of your data size, if not more. This is for nonencrypted data. 

You can save up on your own storage using StorageGRID.

What needs improvement?

The GUI should work a bit better. ONTAP is great. They should take the lead of ONTAP and apply that to StorageGRID. 

There was a small amount of confusion when working with StorageGRID and Active Directory for access. We had to do things three to four times resulting in our engineer troubleshooting a couple of things. The location of the menu, along with what is inside the menu: configurations, settings, etc., is not straightforward to users. Most users are Windows-based. So, when make logical changes to the menu which are not similar to Windows, users and administrators get confused. 

The redundancy and reliability are great, but I also see room for improvement there. I would like to see more efficiency in the storage and dedupe/compression solutions.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable. It is a hardware appliance which comes with redundancies. Hardware can always fail at any given time. However, we have known all the NetApp solutions to be "on". 

It is not a single unit, so you always have to have redundancy in place. The reaction time for NetApp support to bring the appliance back online if one of them goes down is pretty high, so we are comfortable.

We have not experienced any failures yet.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is known throughout NetApp appliances. You can add more nodes to the cluster, and it is seamless and nondisruptive. As long as you have the first two nodes, you are in HA. Then, everything else you add to it is seamless and nondisruptive.

How are customer service and technical support?

I am thrilled with the support.

We implemented the solution three to four months ago, so we have not yet experience the toughest support cases.

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

We used to use tapes as backups. We have heaps of tapes lying around. Now, we don't need to use tapes. We have our own backup solution and it integrates well with the tool that we use. It is compatible with most of the tools out there, especially the leading tools for backup. StorageGRID is easier to use and has saved us a lot of time, storage place, logistics, moving tapes around and placing them in a third location, shipping tapes to our DR site, etc. It creates our own private cloud.

We also had a local storage solution, which we still have, as a backup (just in case).

We moved to this solution because we wanted a hybrid cloud solution where we owned our data, not having to request it from third-parties.

How was the initial setup?

The implementation with NetApp went smoothly. It is a 'setup and forget' type of appliance. 

The initial setup was as straightforward as it gets. It took us two days to do the racking and stacking, the physical parts. Configuring and running it is plug and play. It came out-of-the-box. All we had to do was set up the network and access configurations along with our S3 bucket, then we were good to go. 

What about the implementation team?

We used a reseller, but NetApp implemented the technology for us. The reseller just connected us to NetApp, and we bought the appliances. The total implementation A to Z was with a NetApp engineer.

Our experience with the reseller was great.

What was our ROI?

It has enabled us to save money on storage costs. We removed our tape library.

The capabilities of the appliance will save us a lot more in the long run.

It has improved our operational efficiency through time consumption and logistics by 40 to 50 percent. Everything that had to do with our legacy tape solution has been improved and is now more efficient. 

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

We are planning to go to the cloud. Due to the expenses of the cloud, especially when you are downloading your data off the cloud from AWS or Microsoft Azure, that is where they get you. Creating your own data stores, backups, or storage grids, helps eliminate all these costs of downloading all the data back after you upload to the cloud.

Buying the solution is expensive, but it saves you money down the line when you factor in the logistics of not having to buy tapes.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We are a NetApp shop. We have FlexPod in place. We are just comfortable dealing with NetApp.

The consideration of other vendors was not in the picture at the time of evaluation.

What other advice do I have?

Make sure you explore all solutions and use cases for StorageGRID. If you are using it for backup, ensure you understand both the backup and the restore site. At the time of implementation, we used AltaVault. However, we never talked about restoring the data on the DR site. Apparently, if you want to restore data, you need to open the S3 bucket but you also have to use the same AltaVault appliance to restore the data.

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