NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Room for Improvement

Storage Engineer at Missile Defense Agency

I want an interface through ONTAP that look more like what it does for the E-Series with SANtricity. One of the things that I liked about the SANtricity GUI is that it is standalone Java. It doesn't have to have a web browser. Secondly, when you look at it, there are a lot more details. It shows the actual shelves and controllers, and if a drive goes bad then it shows you the exact physical location. If it has failed, is reconstructing, or whatever, it shows you the status and it shows you where the hot spares are. In other words, be rearranging the GUI, you can make it look like it actually does in the rack. From a remote standpoint, I can call and instruct somebody to go to a particular storage rack and find the fourth shelf from the top, the fifth drive over from the left, and check for a red light. Once they see it, they can pull that drive out. You can't get simpler than that.

There are a lot of features with ONTAP, and the user interface is far more complicated than it needs to be. I would like to see it more visual.

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Christopher Privitere
Unix Engineer at a healthcare company with 5,001-10,000 employees

But I find some issues with other administrators on my team when it comes to management of the data because they have to either learn a CLI, which some of them really don't like to do — to really get into managing how volumes should be moved or to edit permissions and stuff like that. Or they go into a user interface, which is fine, it's web-based, but it's not the most intuitive interface as far as finding the things you need to do, especially when they get complicated. Some things just hide in there and you have to click a few levels deep before you can actually do what you need to do. 

I think they're working on improving that with like the latest versions of ONTAP. So we're kind of excited to see where that's going to go. But we haven't really tried that out yet to see.

One of the areas that the product can improve is definitely in the user interface. We don't use it for SAN, but we've looked at using it for SAN and the SAN workflows are really problematic for my admins, and they just don't like doing SAN provisioning on that app. That really needs to change if we're going to adopt it and actually consider it to be a strong competitor versus some of the other options out there. 

As far as other areas, they're doing really great in the API realm. They're doing really great in the availability realm. They just announced the all-SAN product, so maybe we'll look at that for SAN.

But a lot of the improvements that I'd like to see around AFF go with the ancillary support side of things, like the support website. They're in the middle of rolling this out right now, so it's hard to criticize because next month they're going to have new stuff for me to look at. But tracking bugs on there and staying in touch with support and those sorts of things need a little bit of cleanup and improvement. Getting to your downloads and your support articles, that's always a challenge with any vendor. 

I would like to see ONTAP improve their interfaces; like I said, the web one, but also the CLI. That could be a much more powerful interface for users to do a lot of scripting right in the CLI without needing third-party tools, without necessarily needing Ansible or any of those configuration management options. If they pumped up the CLI by default, users could see that NetApp has got us covered all right here in one interface. 

That said, they're doing a lot of work on integrations with other tools like Ansible and I think that might be an okay way to go. We're just not really there yet.

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Michael Archuleta
Chief Information Officer at Mt. San Rafael Hospital

Considering that NetApp has health care view and that really strong health care initiative, they really need to consider what they need to do next to improve better data sharing and to make sure that the information that we are sharing with one another is fully encrypted, meeting HIPAA and HITECH regulations as well.

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Learn what your peers think about NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS). Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: March 2021.
473,792 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Storage Architect at a energy/utilities company with 10,001+ employees

The manufacturers are moving very fast with releases and additions of features. Versions 9.5 and 9.6 are already out and they are adding more and more features to every release. It has got way too many features as-is right now. The only improvement they need would be to make what they already have perfect.

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Data Protection Engineering at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees

The cost of this solution should be reduced.

SnapCenter is the weak point of this solution. It would be amazing from a licensing standpoint if they got rid of SnapCenter completely and offered Veeam as an integration.

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Consulting Storage Engineer at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees

Early on, the clustered architecture was a little rough, but I know in the last four years, the solution has been absolutely rock solid for us. 

Something I've talked to NetApp about in the past is going more to a node-based architecture, like the hyper-converged solutions that we are doing nowadays. Because the days of having to buy massive quantities of storage all at one time, have changed to being able to grow in smaller increments from a budgetary standpoint. This change would be great for our business. This is what my leadership would like to see in a lot of things that they purchase now. I would like to see that architecture continue to evolve in that clustered environment.

I would like to see them continue to make it simpler, continuing to simplify set up and the operational side of it. 

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System Administrator at Bell Canada

We are looking at Cloud Volume today. We would like to be able to have on-prem VMs that can just be pushed o the cloud, making that transition very seamless in a situation where you are low on capacity and need to push a VM to the cloud, then bring it back. Seamless transition is something that we really would enjoy.

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Senior Network Technical Developer and Support Expert at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees

The read latency is higher than we would expect from SSDs.

The quality of technical support has dwindled over time and needs to be improved.

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Systems Engineer at Cleveland Clinic

We currently use some thin provisioning for our planning system, but we will probably move away from thin provisioning because our Solaris planning system actually has some issues with the thin provisioning and way Solaris handles it, since Solaris uses a ZFS file system. The ZFS file system doesn't like the thin provisioning changing things and it brings systems down, which is bad. 

One thing that could be improved is the web interface. I would like to see some of the features in the web interface, like where the Snapshots are located, brought up a bit more to the front. This way I don't have to do as many clicks If I'm using the GUI, which I do once in a while. We are usually going in and looking at Snapshots for doing restores, etc., and if it is more upfront or to the surface, it might save a few clicks. It's not so bad.

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Greg Rose
Principal Engineer at a retailer with 5,001-10,000 employees

I would like for them to develop the ability to detach the fabric pool. Once we've added it to an aggregate it's there for life and it would be nice to disconnect it if we ever had to.

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Manager at Pramerica

In terms of what needs improvement, I would like to see more consistency with the UI. It seems to change every few versions. The menus can be in a completely different place.

It's just a small learning curve. The menus are all the same, just in different places. You've got to get used to it. One of the features, which I thought was strange that was missing was when you snapvault from one cluster to another, the option to mirror that second cluster is not available unless you use it for the CLI. So you can't use it for the user interface. You have to go to the CLI. I thought that's a bit strange. To make it better it should be available as an option through the UI.

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IT Director at a legal firm

I really don't have anything to ask for in this regard because we're not really pushing the envelope on any of our use cases. NetApp is really staying out ahead of all of our needs.

I believe that there were firmware issues. I think it was just a mismatch of things that were going on. It could have possibly been something in the deployment process that wasn't done exactly right.

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Senior Data Center Architect at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees

There are little things that need improvement. For example, if you are setting up a SnapMirror through the GUI, you are forced to change the destination name of the volume, and we like to keep the volume names the same.

When you have SVM VR and you have multiple aggregates that you're writing the data to on the source array, and it does its SVM DR, it will put it on whatever aggregate it wants, instead of keeping it synced to stay on both sides.

This solution doesn't help leverage the data in ways that I didn't think were possible before.

We are not using it any differently than we were using it from many years ago. We were getting the benefits. What we are seeing right now is the speed, lower latency, and performance, all of the great things that we haven't had in years.

This solution hasn't freed us from worrying about usage, we are already reaching the eighty percent mark, so we are worried about usage, which is why we are looking toward the cloud to move to fabric pools with cloud volumes to tier off our snapshots into the cloud.

I wish that being forced to change the volume name would change or not exist, then I wouldn't have to go to the command line to do it at all.

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Storage Architect and Engineer at United Airlines

On the fiber channel side, there is a limit of sixteen terabytes on each line, and we would like to see this raised because we are having to use some other products.

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Senior Storage Engineer at Hyundai autoever

I'm at the NetApp Insight events and seen that new features and functionality are either in the roadmap or coming. However, I think adding more features to make it more cloud enabled will help us with cloud tiering and simplify the whole cloud operations when it's integrating with our on-prem AFF products. That is one area where we would like to see more improvements from NetApp.

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Systems Engineer at Nordstrom, Inc.

The stability is good but there is room for improvement with other options.

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Systems Management Engineer at Linklaters

We have been seeing some challenges around the application layer implementation. We are having some teething problems now with the cooperation between the application layer and backups to things, like SnapCenter. This may be a question of product maturity. Overall, for the pure back-end, we are not seeing any issues whatsoever.

With our previous storage solution provider, we had the availability of synchronous mirroring. SnapMirror is asyncronous. I would just like to see if NetApp has any plans to implement synchronous mirroring for DR solutions into the tool in the future.

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Sr Data Storage at a energy/utilities company with 10,001+ employees

The monitor and performance need improvement. Right now we are using the Active IQ OnCommand Unified Manager, but we also have to do the Grafana to do the performance and I hope we will be able to see the improvement of the active IQ in terms of the performance graph. It should also be more detailed. 

In the next release, I'm looking for a flex group because that is the next level of the volumes, extended volume for the flex vault. In the flexible environment, we run into the limitation of the capacity at a hundred terabytes and sometimes in oil and gas, like us, when the seismic data is too big, sometimes a hundred terabytes are not big enough. We have to go with the next level, which is the flex group and I hope it has features like volume being able to transfer to the flex group. I think they said they will add a few more features to the flex group. I also wanted to see the non-disruptive conversion from flex vault to the flex group be easier so we don't have to have any downtime.

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Storage Analyst at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees

I would like to see better tutorials available, beyond the basics, that cover subjects like MetroCluster and automation.

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Infrastructure Team Lead at a pharma/biotech company with 51-200 employees

The procurement process could be improved. It takes a long time for us to receive stuff. The product is good. It's not the product, it's just that it takes forever to get it. It's not our reseller's problem; it's usually held up at NetApp.

Waiting for equipment is one of our biggest hiccups. I live in Pennsylvania and we flew out to Washington state to do an install. We were there for three days, but the product didn't show up. We left and the product came the next day. Then we had to send somebody else out. That's because things were getting held up in shipping and stuff like that. The shipping is my only beef with NetApp.

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Systems Engineer at a tech services company with 51-200 employees

I would like to see NetApp improve more of its offline tools and utilities. Drilling down to their active IQ technology, that's great if your cluster is online and attached to the internet, with the ability to post and forward auto support, but in terms of having an offline cluster that is standalone, all of those utilities don't work. If there's a similar way to how NetApp has a unified manager, but on-premises where the user could deploy and auto support could be forwarded to that, and maybe more of a slimmed-down active IQ solution could be made available, I'd be interested in that.

I need a FlexPool to FlexGroup solution.

I would like to see the FAS and AFF platforms simplified so that the differences will disappear at some point. This would reduce the complexity for the end-storage engineers.

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Tech Solutions Architect at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees

We would like to have NVMe on FabricPool working because it broke our backups. We enabled FabricPool to do the tiering from our AFFs to our Webscale but it sort of broke our Cobalt backups. I think they're going to fix it in v9.7. 

The SnapDrive is just another piece of software which is used to manage the storage on the filers. They could use some updates.

We are still a lot of things that we have to think about, like storage and attributes, to be able to go ahead with it.

We haven't gone to their standard Snaps product yet, but that's supposed to centralize everything. Right now, we have to manage individual hosts that connect to the stores. That's sort of a pain.

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Solution Architect at Advanced UniByte GmbH

We have had customers asking about S3 support for a while now. I heard that is coming in one of the next versions. So, I would like to see S3 targeted support on the FAS system.

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Storage Administrator at a computer software company with 5,001-10,000 employees

It would be very useful if we could do the NFS to CIFS file transfer, but it is not supported at this time.

We are finding limitations when it comes to moving data to AWS.

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Director at a tech services company with 11-50 employees

The certification classes are good, but they don't cover enough of the material, and the exams only test on what is covered in class. When I leave those classes, I only feel half-full. I have to do so much research and I'm trying to get the data for my tasks, and it's a little complicated at times.

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Storage Administrator at a energy/utilities company with 1,001-5,000 employees

During a maintenance cycle, there are outages for NAS. There is a small timeout when there is a failover from one node to another, and some applications are sensitive to that.

We are in the process of swapping our main controller, and there is no easy way to migrate the data without doing a volume move. I would like a better way to swap hardware.

Technical support could use some improvement.

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Specialist Senior at a consultancy with 10,001+ employees

The price of NVMe storage is very expensive.

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Sr Storage Engineer at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees

Technical support can be a little slow when it comes to escalating through levels of support.

We have had trouble with restoring applications, and if there is more support for application-aware backups then that would be great.

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Director of Infrastructure Engineering at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees

I would like there to be a way to break out the 40 gig ports on them. We have a lot of 10 gigs in our environment. It is a big challenge breaking out the 40 gig coming out of the filer. It would be nice to have good old 10 gig ports again, or a card that has just 10 gig ports on it.

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System Programmer at a energy/utilities company with 5,001-10,000 employees

This solution should be made easier to deploy. A lot of systems nowadays just come with a box where everything is included. With AFF, you have to manage it, you have to install ONTAP, and you have to configure the networking.

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Technical Lead at USAF

It has not reduced our data center costs. NetApp charges a pretty penny for their stuff. 

The next release desperately needs NFS4, extended attributes.

In terms of what needs improvement, the NAS areas are a little behind on technologies. For example, SMB 3 is not quite up to speed with a lot of the storage spaces stuff. NFS4 doesn't support some of the features that we need.

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Angel Barra Madrigal
Consultor and Co-founder at OS4IT

The admin tools and the integration with other products and clouds can be improved. 

It should also be easier to identify and troubleshoot problems in this solution. It takes a long time, and it should be improved.

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Storage Engineer at a computer software company with 10,001+ employees

We have had issues with CIFS presentations and outages, so if that was removed, we could do seamless upgrades without affecting CIFS presentations. That would be an advantage. That's about the only improvement I can think of.

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Storage Team Lead at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees

It is a fast product, but NetApp could focus even more on the configuration.

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Bob Mulders
Head of Infrastructure, Network & Security Management at Vos Logistics N.V.

The only problem is that when you change to NetApp, it may have a large impact on your backups or something else.

When comparing with Pure for example, with Pure you have no maintenance anymore and with NetApp, you still need maintenance. For the maintenance, you need an external company to maintain the system. With Pure you have less maintenance which is a good item.

I think it could have better monitoring.

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Consulting Manager at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees

Their backup software could be improved.

In the next release, I would like to see a complete S3 protocol. Also better compatibility and integration with VM-ware.

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Sarith Sasidharan
System Administrator at a government with 201-500 employees

Its integration could be improved.

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Ricky Santos
System Administrator at ON Semiconductor Phils. Inc.

I would like to see an improvement in the High Availability of the NFS and CIFS sharing during upgrade and patching; this would help to avoid downtime.

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Learn what your peers think about NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS). Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: March 2021.
473,792 professionals have used our research since 2012.