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NetApp EF-Series All Flash Arrays OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

NetApp EF-Series All Flash Arrays is the #16 ranked solution in our list of best All-Flash Storage Arrays. It is most often compared to NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS): NetApp EF-Series All Flash Arrays vs NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS)

What is NetApp EF-Series All Flash Arrays?

The NetApp EF560 all-flash array is an all-SSD storage system for applications that demand extremely high levels of performance and reliability. Requiring just 2U of rack space, the EF560 all-flash array combines extreme IOPS, microsecond response times, and up to 12GBps of bandwidth with leading, enterprise-proven availability features.

NetApp EF-Series All Flash Arrays is also known as NetApp EF540, NetApp EF-Series.

Buyer's Guide

Download the All-Flash Storage Arrays Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: October 2021

NetApp EF-Series All Flash Arrays Customers
RP Data, Western Oregon University, Toei Animation
NetApp EF-Series All Flash Arrays Video

Archived NetApp EF-Series All Flash Arrays Reviews (more than two years old)

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VP
CTO
Real User
Easy to set up and performs well, but Technical support is poor for software-related issues

Pros and Cons

  • "The main advantage of this solution is performance."
  • "This solution does not have any compression or deduplication."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case of this solution is for banking services. It is one of three of our production systems in which we store all of our customer's data. 

Thirty percent of our production traffic for our company is stored with this solution.

The deployment model used is a private cloud.

What is most valuable?

The main advantage of this solution is performance. 

This solution does not have any compression or deduplication, but instead gains better performance through concurrency.

What needs improvement?

We cannot share data in what is described as a trunk port, which is a disadvantage.

Technical support is an area that needs improvement.

In the next release, I would like to have staged access. The administrator would be able to connect to all of the storage and see real-time performance and issues, not only in the web interface. If the administrator is working on the console they should have access to all interfaced controllers.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for two years.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have had a couple of technical tasks, but I think that they have good technical support when you inquire about hardware. They have a problem when you ask about software-related issues. 

When you have a hardware issue, it is reloved within the time limit described and agreed to in the SLA. 

When it's a software-related issue, it is difficult to find an engineer that can help you. You spend time describing your issue to a person who then says that they can help you, but it will take time. A week later you explain it again. 

Only when they prioritize your request, will they assign an engineer to resolve your issue.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was easy. I spent an hour with the setup. 

One of the last initial setups I performed was difficult. It was on IBM Storage and the manual stated that you could connect to an IP address. It was supposed to work but when you connected to this address it did not ping and you cannot connect to them.

We had to connect with the console and create a cluster manually. This took approximately five hours. In the last two years, since the deployment, I have not had any issues with it.

It is very easy, and even a person with a minimal background could do it with no problem.

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

We are not talking about using this for all of our data storage, as that can be very expensive. We have singular pricing for the solutions we use.

Vendors who provide all-flash storage have singular pricing that depends on a couple of factors.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

If we compare this storage solution with Concurrent, the price is the same, but the performance is much better.

The pricing is comparable with other competitors and similar in mid-range solutions, and for high range solutions, it would depend on our requirements or needs.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend this solution to others.

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Omar Capaetti
Assistant Engineer at a tech company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Enables us to segregate one storage unit from another but it should have better integration with other products

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution allows us to segregate one storage unit from another."
  • "There could be better integration with some of our Cisco products."

What is our primary use case?

We use NetApp for storage.

How has it helped my organization?

The solution allows us to segregate one storage unit from another.

What is most valuable?

Being able to partition different virtual volumes of storage is really valuable for us. It is pretty simple to manage.

What needs improvement?

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any improvements other than perhaps better integration with some of our Cisco products.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is pretty stable. We haven't had many issues with it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I am not very familiar with how well it scales. Ever since I started it's been the same so we haven't really grown into it.

How are customer service and technical support?

I never had to use their technical support, so I don't have any opinion about it.

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

I would probably switch to one of our new HyperFlex environments, which includes everything that we need. Right now with NetApp, we have to manage the storage and computer networking separately. With the HyperFlex solution, we could manage all three components in one place: storage, computing, and networking. That would be much easier.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty straightforward.

What other advice do I have?

The more you can make it integrate into one solution, the better it is. It is less of a headache than having to configure three or four different things. One solution and one GUI is just the way to go.

I would rate the solution about seven out of ten. It would be closer to ten if it supported integration with other products, not just Cisco.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Find out what your peers are saying about NetApp, Dell EMC, Pure Storage and others in All-Flash Storage Arrays. Updated: October 2021.
542,823 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Максим Чепуков
Engineer at ALC Vitalyur
Real User
A stable solution with an easy setup and an intuitive user interface

What is most valuable?

The stability, speed, and reliability are the solution's best features. The information is also very secure. The user interface is very intuitive.

What needs improvement?

For us, in our country, the solution is a bit expensive. They should try to work on a better pricing model for our market. NetApp could improve the speed of the rebuilding rate.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable.

How are customer service and technical support?

I'm satisfied with technical support. I've called them several times and they were very good.  

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very easy. Deployment only took one or two…

What is most valuable?

The stability, speed, and reliability are the solution's best features. The information is also very secure.

The user interface is very intuitive.

What needs improvement?

For us, in our country, the solution is a bit expensive. They should try to work on a better pricing model for our market.

NetApp could improve the speed of the rebuilding rate.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable.

How are customer service and technical support?

I'm satisfied with technical support. I've called them several times and they were very good.  

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very easy. Deployment only took one or two days of light work.

What other advice do I have?

We are using the on-premises deployment model.

I would recommend this product for high-speed database applications.

I would rate the solution nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
YA
IT Engineer at agiba
Real User
A stable storage solution in our hybrid environment

Pros and Cons

  • "This storage solution is both stable and scalable, and it works for our needs."
  • "We need a center related to NetApp in Egypt so that we can deal with them directly."

What is our primary use case?

We depend on this product for our storage needs. We have a private-cloud deployment.

We use more than the All-Flash Arrays on site. We have a hybrid model with all types of storage including flash, SATA disks, and SSD.

What needs improvement?

We need a center related to NetApp in Egypt so that we can deal with them directly.

If the pricing of equipment were more discounted in Egypt then it would be better.

The implementation could be faster.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for about three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This is a stable solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

Here in Egypt, we do not have an official office or central point of support. This is our biggest complaint. We do not want to have remote support. Rather, we want an office here. It is very difficult to get an engineer here, on-site, from NetApp. This is true even pre-sales; we want to sit with the NetApp team, and not with partners. It's not that partners are bad, but it's better to meet with NetApp directly.

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

We did use another solution prior to this one, and we switched because of the technical support. It had originally started off quite good, but after a while, it was no longer good, which is why we switched.

How was the initial setup?

The implementation of this solution took approximately one month.

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

The pricing of this solution is competitive with other vendors here in Egypt.

What other advice do I have?

This storage solution is both stable and scalable, and it works for our needs.

I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
MC
Engineer at ALC Vitalyur
Real User
Offers better speed for the database and has good support

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature of this solution is its speed."
  • "The pricing could be cheaper and it should have documentation in more languages, specifically, Russian."

What is our primary use case?

We use the on-prem deployment model of this solution. Our primary use case of this solution is for better speed for the database. 

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of this solution is its speed. 

What needs improvement?

The pricing could be cheaper and it should have documentation in more languages, specifically, Russian.

They should develop faster building for the next release. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for around three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't really tested the scalability options. Only I use this solution. We have around 1,000 clients using the database. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is very good. The power went off and they called us around five minutes later to ask what was going on. Whenever we have any questions they have quick answers. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. I read the documentation and it was simple for me. The deployment took around three days. 

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

The prices are average but in the last year we bought three of these and it was expensive. 

What other advice do I have?

I would rate it a nine out of ten. In order to make it a ten, they should make the price cheaper. 

I would recommend it. It is very stable, fast, and offers good support. It fits our needs. We don't have issues with it. If you need a stable solution, you should choose NetApp. We have two NetApp solutions in my company and we don't have problems with either one of them. 

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
VM
IT Storage Specialist - Solutions Architect at Sorint.Lab
Real User
Replication process and mirroring features are valuable for safeguarding data

Pros and Cons

  • "The replication and mirroring features are very good."
  • "It was difficult to implement and lacks some additional features that would be useful, but as a solution fits a particular need for our organization."

How has it helped my organization?

The product allows us to configure and manage the services we choose to provide and to offer the service to the customers. In our organization, there are at least ten people using this solution to service many customers. This solution is dependable for us and our clients and that is what we needed to have.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are those that involve the replication process and mirroring. These are very valuable for safeguarding data.

What needs improvement?

The product might be improved with additional features for encryption. I think they do not do enough with encryption and that would make it more flexible and useful.

I would also like to features that better support the product implementation with cloud solutions. If the problem we need to resolve is with cloud solutions, the product is not so easy compared to other products for easily integrating the cloud data. A cloud solution is important to implement.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using it for about ten years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the solution is quite good. We do not have problems with the stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The EF-Series is not the most scalable solution. However, I think it is a good compromise considering the features and the caliber of the solution for this type of model and how we use it.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support for the product is good. They are quick in the response and they are able to give us the correct person to resolve the issue that we are having. These are the most important things to look at when evaluating technical support. Because we have these two points we can evaluate the technical support as good. The response time is important. But the time and the skill they have to resolve the problem together make a difference.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was quite complex and required assistance.

What about the implementation team?

We installed the solution with the assistance of a consultant. That is mostly because we found that it is complex.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten. It has various small flaws like not being very scalable, difficult installation, lacking good encryption and better cloud support. However, we use it for what it is currently designed to do. From one to ten, I would say it earns a seven for the scalability and a seven for the stability. These things hurt the other things it does well.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user1013601
Senior System Engineer at ICTeam
Real User
Doesn't require much maintenance as it's quite easy to use and very robust as a storage system

Pros and Cons

  • "The NetApp EF-Series gave our organization easy access to our data bases."
  • "This solution has limited storage."

What is our primary use case?

Our company used this solution primarily for databases. The customer who currently uses it mainly uses it for the data store. He uses it as a single silo with the storage it offers, so he implements the project and uses what he needs to. The solution is not that flexible that you can change the workload so it depends on what you designed before. So you have to compute for your load or for your use before you do the setup.

How has it helped my organization?

The NetApp EF-Series gave our organization easy access to our databases. What's great about this solution is that it speeds up our data store because it is a cheap solution for flash performances.

What is most valuable?

What I really like about this solution is that it is easy to use and the implementation was straightforward. The availability is another feature that stands out for me, as it offers a variety of ways to connect to our customers. 

What needs improvement?

One thing that may need to improve is the software monitoring as it is based on a work station that is serviced to give support to the management. The manager may not be as fast on board the controller, so it needs something else to make it easier to manage. Managing the storage is, therefore, the only single point of failure.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using NetApp EF-Series All Flash Arrays for ten years, but currently only one of our customers are still using it. He is using the EF560 version of this solution.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've used the NetApp EF-Series for ten years and it has been extremely stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I think the scalability of the solution is really good. We can scale with the space, but not with the computation capabilities or with the controllers. I believe the reason for this is that it is an old style storage system. There are some new products on the market that are more agile and more scalable. 

I am not sure how many users our customer has, but I think it is about 100 users. The scalability would depend on the kind of VM system they're working on.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is very good. The solution doesn't require that much maintenance because it's quite easy and very robust as a storage system. When we did call in the help of support, they responded quickly and offered the correct solution. 

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

Our client used another solution before but they found that the NetApp EF-Series is much faster when it comes to performance. And they saved a lot of money with the cost of the fast drives.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward and having fewer features to install makes it really simple. You only need a strong internet connection and once you've applied it onto the network, it is easy to find the managing software and to set everything up.

The deployment took no longer than 50 minutes. Once installed, you only need to supply the management IP address and after that, depending on the number of the LANs to be implemented, everything is complete. 

The biggest part of the job is first to configure the IP address for the management. The maintenance is really simple and you can upgrade without interrupting services. When implementing, the main job is to do some configuration, implement the LANs, the zoning and the masking. After that, it will stay as it is for a long time. I believe firmware updates can be handled by one person alone. 

What about the implementation team?

We never use an integrator - we do our installations ourselves. And so far we haven't experienced any trouble.

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

Our license is fully integrated now, so we don't have any additional payments. We do use volume cryptography, but I believe it is free.

What other advice do I have?

I will rate this solution a nine out of ten because it has limited storage. Before you take on a project, you must know how much storage you need, but once you focus on the system, it will give you great performance, reliability and ease of use.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
EK
Senior Storage Engineer at a healthcare company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Low latency was what geared us towards the EF but their willingness to work with us was also important

Pros and Cons

  • "The benefits are better up-time, better response time."
  • "It needs a better management tool."

How has it helped my organization?

We use if for low latency, high performance, OLTP database. It's dedicated to a single application.

The benefits are better up-time, better response time.

What is most valuable?

Low latency.

What needs improvement?

It needs a better management tool.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We found it very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Not very scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

We use tech support and it's pretty good. The system was stable so we really didn't need a lot of support or a lot of help. The few times we called, we got the right answer.

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

We were using ONTAP, a FAS system before, and we couldn't deliver the performance that was needed. We were missing our SLAs. We looked at some other solutions from other vendors and EF gave us the best performance, price, and value.

What other advice do I have?

In terms of important criteria when selecting a vendor, and how important consistent low latency is compared with other criteria, I think what's important is the partnership that we have with them, the relationship that we have with them, that they are willing to work with us to find a solution.

At the end of the day, low latency was what geared us towards the EF. That was the best proposition on the table.

It gave us the performance we were looking for, at an excellent price that no one else was able to beat. We already knew the solution through the E-Series, so we knew how to work with this type of system, we had that familiarity. It's simple to manage. It was a no-brainer, in this case.

I think it's definitely worth taking a look at this solution.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user712191
Practice Head For Hpc And Big Data at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Consultant
It is a pretty stable product; it never fails.

Pros and Cons

  • "It provides multi-protocol, which is what gives the edge when it comes to big lineage PC workloads."
  • "They could improve overall scalability through performance. Denser capacity, which is doable, it is what the competition is doing."

How has it helped my organization?

  • Performance
  • Reliability

The primary use case for our EF-series system is High Performance Computing (HPC) big data analysis. The AF system is dedicated to multiple applications.

What is most valuable?

  • It provides multi-protocol, which is what gives the edge when it comes to big lineage PC workloads.
  • It also gives you a very good throughput using the controllers.
  • It is a pretty stable product; it never fails.

What needs improvement?

Our file system sitting on a controller.

They could improve overall scalability through performance. Denser capacity, which is doable, it is what the competition is doing.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is excellent.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is very good.

How is customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is excellent.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the initial setup. It was straightforward.

What other advice do I have?

Go for NetApp. It has the better stability.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
it_user750729
Senior Systems Engineer at Marq Solutions
Consultant
A consistent platform that can take the same amount of data in less amounts of space from our previous solutions

Pros and Cons

  • "I would have to say performance at this point, because the application it is based on is so diverse."
  • "Better support technicians for CAPP."

How has it helped my organization?

Ideally, the organization is trying reduce the footprint. Our current footprint is all on Lazy Theta and flash hard drives with Flash Pools and so on. To have one consistent platform that takes the same amount of data in less amounts of space is key. It is just a matter of getting to that next level of datacenter integration.

The primary use case for our All Flash EF-Series is currently being used for Vidya, with all subjects, Zinap, using our server to allow us to increase performance of our user experience on Vidya. We have high use cases for SQL databases. Most of our business critical applications use SQL to allow us to complete the DoD mission needs, so we have been using the EF-series for about two years now and everything has been going smoother and faster. We currently purchased 20 efi 60s with 1.92 terabyte SSD drives and it has been pretty effective, so far.

What is most valuable?

I would have to say performance at this point, because the application it is based on is so diverse.

Having low latency is always key, so if I had to rate it, I would rate it a 10 out of 10 of getting the best out of what we can - the best performance and low latency.

What needs improvement?

Better support technicians for CAPP.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

So far, it looks good in terms of stability. It is easy to manage driven by new technology driven, Raytech. Having a singular thing to manage everything and hopefully optimizing the user experience altogether without the need to uplift and remove the expand.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It definitely meets our needs. What we hope for is that it all flies fast and once we get it in that we don't have to scale, because right now we have requirements of random 50 terabytes here and 100 terabytes there, so the ability to not need to scale and hopefully receive the benefits of the new features in 9.3 of reducing your footprint.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have a lot of ONTAP NetApp Sales Engineers (SEs) helping us throughout the process. Some of the partners are being evolved with the beginning to get us acclimated to the new changes.

Their SEs are experts. I would rate them a 10 out of 10.

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

Currently, all of our technology is on Legacy FAS systems that are end of life. We have taken the last one we can go to, and now, we have 20 sites and terabytes of data that we have to refresh and renew, so it is just a matter of time before we get to the next stage. In some instances, it is the HCI, and it other instances, it is the All Flash FAS, so it is not going to be a one-size fits all.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved with the initial setup. The E-series are the easiest to set up.

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

The price is perfect. The price point that we're getting is very competitive in the market. Since we are buying in such a large quantity, they gave us a huge discount.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

In some cases, we do consider Oracle ZFS.

Oracle ZFS is one of the vendors that's in our market arena because they don't have a maintenance policy. They have a contract internally that allows when they submit their cost estimates or their notes there is no maintenance because they have another contract vehicle that takes your maintenance. If NetApp had a similar contract vehicle to allow the maintenance to be excluded, that would significantly increase their business because their maintenance cost is killing them, or the major complaint I hear from my customers is their maintenance cost is insane.

So, in one instance we will go with NetApp. In the other instance, we will go with ZFS, because it is cheaper.

What other advice do I have?

Take advantage of the node transfers that you can have with the SEs and getting to know them at their level where they are willing to help you in all aspects.

Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: support.

Our e-App system is dedicated for use with multiple apps.

We are currently going to buy some All Flash FASs next year to go with the 08300's and the 15.3 terabyte SSD drives. A huge order of 12 nodes, six AJ pairs should be imminent, second quarter for DoD.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
it_user750573
System Administrator at a hospitality company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
It's fast enough that there's no significant latency in our applications; and it's easy to add another target

How has it helped my organization?

It's quick. That was our big requirement, it had to be fast enough that there's no latency in our applications between when the end users are logging in through Citrix, and then those servers all talk back to our back-end servers. There can't be any major latency be it disk I/O or network I/O. So, it's all pretty quick.

What is most valuable?

It's pretty easy. If you ever have to add another target, it's pretty easy to go through, you just add a new one, map the drives out to our ESXi host, and then we're all set and good.

What needs improvement?

I'm not too hands-on with it, so I don't have any major input on things it needs or things it should have. As long as its functionality is there for me to use, as somebody just to use the storage on it, that's all I need it for. I'm very simple.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It hasn't gone down. We have no issues. I'm not their storage admin, so he'd probably know a little bit more about it, but we haven't experienced any major issues that I'm aware of.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't had the use for needing to scale it up as we're going, so it's just kind of been as it is.

How are customer service and technical support?

I think we used the professional services for initial deployment, and then we've gone along with it. I don't think we've used tech support for that. We've used it for our NetApp shelf that we've got; we sometimes run into some issues. But not for this thing.

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

I don't think we were previously using a different solution. Our business was finally letting us spend some money on some good hardware and we decided to take a chance, I guess.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I actually wasn't involved in that process, so I don't know the answer to that.

What other advice do I have?

Our use case is both corporate storage and for all of our datacenter and back-end enterprise applications. We store it all on the flash, so it's quick.

We use it for multiple apps. J.D. Edwards, so it's our accounting software, and then all of our BI business intelligence is sitting on there. Those are the major ones. We'll see, we might be getting HCI soon so that might change, put some more on there. Mostly just our big I/O.

For us the most important criteria when selecting a vendor: oftentimes it's reviews. Support is critical. Ease of use isn't so much an issue. Usually we just look at the feature set and see if it coincides with what we need, what we require, and then we pick whatever most closely fits that.

In terms of advice to a colleague looking at this type of solution I would recommend this one. It depends on the size of the company. Obviously to a small, medium size business, you're probably not going to recommend it because it's probably overkill.

When I say overkill, I mean it's probably way more than a smaller or a start-up company would need. They're not gonna have that much of a requirement for that kind of speed, that quick. I'd say for small, medium, unless they have deep pockets, I don't recommend it. They can probably get something comparable that more fits their budget. Once you start hitting a certain threshold, you're definitely going to have to start investing some money in IT to make sure it's stable and stays up and you have no issues.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user750591
Platform Engineer at a healthcare company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
Easy to set up, easy to manage, easy to provision storage, and faster than our previous solution

What is most valuable?

The ease and the simplicity of setting it up. The managing and the administration's quite easy. It's easy to provision the storage.

How has it helped my organization?

It's easier to set up so I don't have to spend a lot of time administering it, and setting it up. Whereas the FAS systems are a little bit more difficult to set up. So it's the ease of operations.

What needs improvement?

I can't think of any right now. I've only had it for a couple of months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It seems very stable. We've only had it a couple of months.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

From what we've seen, it looks like it's going to be easy to upgrade. We haven't scaled it up.

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

Nexsan. The requirements of the end user dictated we get a different system from what we already had. We're a big NetApp customer, so we like to stick with NetApp. I guess that's why we went with it. It was a customer requirement. They needed a different type of, cheaper, faster storage.

How was the initial setup?

It was pretty straightforward. We had one of the net engineers come outside and help us with it.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I think it came down to Nexsan and Net App. 

We also considered all-flash solutions that offered storage efficiency features, but EF seemed to fit our needs; plus the price was really good.

What other advice do I have?

For the E-Series, it's going to be used for parking cameras, for camera storage, security cameras. Because of the functions, for video and the camera video, we didn't want any latency. We wanted it to be as fast as we could get it. 

The most important criteria when selecting a vendor are service, support, price, the product stability, and stability of the company.

If I were advising a colleague at another company who is researching this kind of solution, I would say take a good look at it because we haven't had any issues. It was easy to set up. We haven't had to do anything with support, but the documentation of it was very easy to follow. 

I know the education field gets better pricing than corporate worlds.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user750588
It Team Lead at a tech services company
Consultant
It increased the speed of our current hosted VMs and their performance

Pros and Cons

  • "The management of it is very simple. that is the most valuable feature."
  • "The management interface, while very reliable, it seems a little old now and could maybe use a little modernization."

How has it helped my organization?

It increased the speed of our current hosted VMs and their performance. It has provided a little bit of ease on the management.

We have an older disk-based system that is working in tandem with it and it definitely has better performance. Because of that, we put all of our VM's on it, which we can.

What is most valuable?

  • The management of it is very simple. that is the most valuable feature.
  • It's been very reliable so far.
  • Its high performance for the VMware volumes that we host. It has multiple applications dedicated to it because of the different guest host that are on it.

What needs improvement?

The management interface, while very reliable, it seems a little old now and could maybe use a little modernization. Instead of having a management tool, more like a management interface or similar to the HTML5 version of the ONTAP off the FAS, such as OnCommand System Manager.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's been very stable so far. Once it was set up, it's was extremely stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It seems easy to expand, but we haven't had the need to do that yet.

How are customer service and technical support?

It was very good. We had some complications in getting the performance where we needed it. They were able to sort that out for us.

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

We were using the E2700 and had a lot of performance bound VMs, so that was the goal behind getting this solution.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the initial setup. It was a little bit complex because we had an InfiniBand solution. It's a little bit different than just setting it up with Fibre Channel, so that was a little bit complex, but everything else was very simple.

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

The price point for EF is considerably lower than the alternatives.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We considered all flash solutions that offered storage efficiency features.

We had two other vendors on our short list. One was a rebranded RAID inc. solution. I don't remember what the other brand was, but there was one other that is fairly new in the market.

We chose NetApp because most of our environment is NetApp. The unified management helps a lot. We've had really good results with everything that we've had with NetApp, therefore it works out.

What other advice do I have?

You can't beat it for the price. With support, everything has been really well. I would say this would be something I would recommend.

Most important criteria when selecting a vendor:

  • Speed
  • Price point
  • Ease of management
  • Also, low latency is important, as it was the whole reason behind getting a faster system.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
Independent Analyst and Advisory Consultant at Server StorageIO - www.storageio.com
Consultant
NetApp EF540, something familiar, something new
NetApp announced the other day a new all nand flash solid-state devices (SSD) storage system called the EF540 that is available now. The EF540 has something’s new and cool, along with some things familiar, tried, true and proven. What is new is that the EF540 is an all nand flash multi-level cell (MLC) SSD storage system. What is old is that the EF540 is based on the NetApp E-Series (read more here and here) and SANtricity software with hundreds of thousands installed systems. As a refresher, the E-Series are the storage system technologies and solutions obtained via the Engenio acquisition from LSI in 2011. The EF540 expands the NetApp SSD flash portfolio which includes products such as FlashCache (read cache aka PAM) for controllers in ONTAP based storage systems. Other NetApp items…

NetApp announced the other day a new all nand flash solid-state devices (SSD) storage system called the EF540 that is available now. The EF540 has something’s new and cool, along with some things familiar, tried, true and proven.

What is new is that the EF540 is an all nand flash multi-level cell (MLC) SSD storage system. What is old is that the EF540 is based on the NetApp E-Series (read more here and here) and SANtricity software with hundreds of thousands installed systems. As a refresher, the E-Series are the storage system technologies and solutions obtained via the Engenio acquisition from LSI in 2011.

The EF540 expands the NetApp SSD flash portfolio which includes products such as FlashCache (read cache aka PAM) for controllers in ONTAP based storage systems. Other NetApp items in the NetApp flash portfolio include FlashPool SSD drives for persistent read and write storage in ONTAP based systems. Complimenting FlashCache and FlashPool is the server-side PCIe caching card and software FlashAccel. NetApp is claiming to have revenue shipped 36PB of flash complimenting over 3 Exabytes (EB) of storage while continuing to ship a large amount of SAS and SATA HDD’s.

NetApp also previewed its future FlashRay storage system that should appear in beta later in 2013 and general availability in 2014.

In addition to SSD and flash related announcements, NetApp also announced enhancements to its ONTAP FAS/V6200 series including the FAS/V6220, FAS/V6250 and FAS/V6290.

Some characteristics of the NetApp EF540 and SANtricity include:

  • Two models with 12 or 24 x 6Gbs SAS 800GB MLC SSD devices
  • Up to 9.6TB or 19.2TB physical storage in a 2U (3.5 inch) tall enclosure
  • Dual controllers for redundancy, load-balancing and availability
  • IOP performance of over 300,000 4Kbyte random 100% reads under 1ms
  • 6GByte/sec performance of 512Kbyte sequential reads, 5.5Gbyte/sec random reads
  • Multiple RAID levels (0, 1, 10, 3, 5, 6) and flexible group sizes
  • 12GB of DRAM cache memory in each controller (mirrored)
  • 4 x 8GFC host server-side ports per controller
  • Optional expansion host ports (6Gb SAS, 8GFC, 10Gb iSCSI, 40Gb IBA/SRP)
  • Snapshots and replication (synchronous and asynchronous) including to HDD systems
  • Can be used for traditional IOP intensive little-data, or bandwidth for big-data
  • Proactive SSD wear monitoring and notification alerts
  • Utilizes SANtricity version 10.84

EMC and NetApp (along with other vendors) continue to sell large numbers of HDD’s as well as large amounts of SSD. Both EMC and NetApp are taking similar approaches of leveraging PCIe flash cards as cache adding software functionality to compliment underlying storage systems. The benefit is that the cache approach is less disruptive for many environments while allowing improved return on investment (ROI) of existing assets.

The best IO is the one that you do not have to do, however the next best are those that have the least cost or affect which is where SSD comes into play. SSD is like real estate in that location matters in terms of providing benefit, as well as how much space or capacity is needed.

What does this all mean'
The NetApp EF540 based on the E-Series storage system architecture is like one of its primary competitors (e.g. EMC VNX also available as an all-flash model). The similarity is that both have been competitors, as well as have been around for over a decade with hundreds of thousands of installed systems. The similarities are also that both continue to evolve their code base leveraging new hardware and software functionality. These improvements have resulted in improved performance, availability, capacity, energy effectiveness and cost reduction.

From a performance perspective, there are plenty of public workloads and benchmarks including Microsoft ESRP and SPC among others to confirm its performance. Watch for NetApp to release EF540 SPC results given their history of doing so with other E-Series based systems. With those or other results, compare and contrast to other solutions looking not just at IOPS or MB/sec (bandwidth), also latency, functionality and cost.

What does the EF540 compete with'
The EF540 competes with all flash-based SSD solutions (Violin, Solidfire, Purestorage, Whiptail, Kaminario, IBM/TMS, up-coming EMC Project “X” (aka XtremeIO)) among others. Some of those systems use general-purpose servers combined SSD drives, PCIe cards along with management software where others leverage customized platforms with software. To a lesser extent, competition will also be mixed mode SSD and HDD solutions along with some PCIe target SSD cards for some situations.

What to watch and look for:
It will be interesting to view and contrast public price performance results using SPC or Microsoft ESRP among others to see how the EF540 compares. In addition, it will be interesting to compare other storage based, as well as SSD systems beyond the number of IOPS. What will be interesting is to keep an eye on latency, as well as bandwidth, feature functionality and associated costs.

Given that the NetApp E-Series are OEM or sold by third parties, let’s see if something looking similar or identical to the EF540 appear at any of those or new partners. This includes traditional general purpose and little-data environments, along with cloud, managed service provider, high performance compute and high productivity compute (HPC), super computer (SC), big data and big bandwidth among others.

The EF540 could also appear as a storage or IO accelerator for large-scale out, clustered, grid and object storage systems for meta data, indices, key value stores among other uses either direct attached to servers, or via shared iSCSI, SAS, FC and InfiniBand (IBA) SCSI Remote Protocol (SRP).

Keep an eye on how the startups that have been primarily Just a Bunch Of SSD (JBOS) in a box start talking about adding new features and functionality such as snapshots, replication or price reductions. Also, keep an eye and ear open to what EMC does with project “X” along with NetApp FlashRay among other improvements.

For NetApp customers, prospects, partners, E-Series OEMs and their customers with the need for IO consolidation, or performance optimization for big-data, little-data and related applications the EF540 opens up new opportunities and should be good news. For EMC competitors, they now have new competition which also signals an expanding market with new opportunities in adjacent areas for growth. This also further signals the need for diverse ssd portfolios and product options to meet different customer application needs, along with increased functionality vs. lowest cost for high capacity fast nand SSD storage.

Disclosure: NetApp, Engenio (when LSI), EMC and TMS (now IBM) have been clients of StorageIO.

Learn more about flash and SSD at http://thessdplace.com and http://thenvmeplace.com 


Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user527328
Manager Unix Storage Group at Stony Brook Medicine
Vendor
The speed is the most valuable feature. Our databases perform much better.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is just the speed. Our databases perform much better since we moved over to it. That's really our value. We use it for SQL and Oracle. The DBAs are happy.

How has it helped my organization?

The end-user experience has improved the organization as a whole; the customers that the DBAs serve. All the application folks are happier, now that their databases are running better.

What needs improvement?

I guess the user interface could be a little more streamlined. There are too many different menus you have to go into. I've used other interfaces on other storage arrays that are just more streamlined, more intuitive. Overall, it's not that bad. It's really just a minor tweak.

Other than that, I really don't see anything.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've had it up and running for two years and have had no problems with it; stable for us.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't scaled it yet. We haven't added any storage to it yet, but I've worked with these arrays in the past, and I know they're pretty easy to scale out.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't had the need to use technical support.

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

We wanted an all-flash array for our databases. We have a previous relationship with NetApp. We decided to just try it out, and it worked out.

Those actually were on a different vendor storage array. They were on SAS drives, and we moved it over to the all-flash from there.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was easy. I've had experience with it in the past. Even if you don't, it's not that bad, really.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at NetApp flash vs IBM. We compared EMC vs NetApp Flash. There were a few other smaller vendors.

We eventually went with NetApp because we had a previous great relationship with them.

The most important criteria for me when selecting a vendor to work with are stability, direction, and service/support; great support. Those are the big ones for me.

What other advice do I have?

I don't think anything's perfect. They could make a few minor tweaks with the user interface, and maybe a few more little things they can tweak, but other than that, it's pretty solid.

If you want cost-effective, fast disk, this is really a good solution.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user527229
Sr. Internet Services Engineer at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
Vendor
Performance and proactive support.

Pros and Cons

  • "I like the performance aspect of EF Series. It basically provides everything that we are looking for as a solution, very low latency and very high performance."
  • "I’d like to see bigger, faster, better hardware, of course. I think that is the way the hardware is trending anyway; bigger, faster CPU, better software, fewer bugs, all that stuff. T"

How has it helped my organization?

When we have certain standards for performance, the customer experience is much better as well. They expect to have that kind of performance maintained or improved in the future. If there's a glitch, for example, whether it's storage or network, that's where customers start complaining about performance and the business goes haywire after that, for a while, until we fix the problem.

NetApp maintains the very high performance that we want to have. We work very closely with their engineer to make sure that every update they have will line up with what we require, or to fix whenever we have found problems in the past. We don't want to run into issues where, this is the price to upgrade to a certain version, and there is a certain impact.

What is most valuable?

I like the performance aspect of EF Series. It basically provides everything that we are looking for as a solution, very low latency and very high performance. That's why we're using NetApp to run our business. For example, with databases. We run a lot of Oracle databases that rely on performance because we want to have the business application respond within a certain amount of time for business transactions.

What needs improvement?

The EF Series has the web services outside the box, not inside. It doesn’t have the full OS, like Data ONTAP. You have to have a proxy web service that interfaces with all of the EF Series and you develop your application through that. I would like to have that interface inside the EF Series, so we don't have any dependence on the proxy service.

I’d like to see bigger, faster, better hardware, of course. I think that is the way the hardware is trending anyway; bigger, faster CPU, better software, fewer bugs, all that stuff. Those are things I trust NetApp to do. It's a company that's doing it right to get all the hardware and software to work together seamlessly.

Nonetheless, there are a couple of other things that NetApp hasn't done right. For example, NetApp still relies on the SAS bus of the backbone, so you still have the SAS controller. That’s a bottleneck for doing the lightning speed of flash. That's the limitation of flash. The industry right now is moving to NVMe. That stuff actually goes directly to the bus. It's actually faster. That's the first one.

As I’ve mentioned, a full OS like ONTAP for the EF Series is another one; actually have a shell and people could work directly on that. It's easier than using a proxy command through another machine. It's a limitation for us to work on.

NetApp is famous for redundancy, data protection, replication and so on, with ONTAP. I’m looking for a solution in the EF Series; a solution to mirror the storage off the chassis, off the data center, such as SnapVault or SnapVolumes. They don't have that yet. That's something I keep comparing with ONTAP because we were probably the biggest customer back in the old days with NetApp for Data ONTAP. I'd like to see those features come on over to EF Series as well.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

As you know, NetApp is very famous for HA and failover, so stability is not a problem with FAS in the past and then now the EF Series as well. They always have hot dual controllers that we can rely on if there are some issues with the hardware; it can still fail over to get the business going. We don't have any problems with that. However, we also have another layer where we rely on technologies such as Oracle. Oracle has multiple technologies to keep the business going and rely less on the hardware redundancy. For example, Oracle has GoldenGate technology, Data Guard and so on, so that’s another layer that we're using.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Our solution is actually focused on breaking the pieces into a manageable vertical, where we focus on performance. When it begins to have a little bit of latency, we start to split it out. That's scalability on the application side. Infrastructure-wise, we design that way because we know NetApp can meet certain requirements that we have. Beyond that, maybe not, so we have to design our application to work around that.

How is customer service and technical support?

I use technical support every day. They’re very proactive. AutoSupport is always the key when getting NetApp; basically, NetApp is famous for AutoSupport. If you buy a NetApp product without AutoSupport, it's not NetApp. We are always relying on the proactive support from NetApp. They call me even if I didn't get a notification from my customers. They call me ahead of time. They page us. They work with our on-call team directly, where they page to the on-call center and then we're like, "Oh, NetApp paged us. What's going on? Oh, because a controller is misbehaving.” Even if the customer has not noticed the performance problem, NetApp is already on top of it. That's what we like about the support. I think we have platinum support, which helps.

How was the initial setup?

Nowadays, we're more like a data center, so we don't necessarily do the hands-on installation but we do have people on-site. We do have the knowledge transfer to those people that do the necessary installation, and then me and my team do the rest when we have a consultant. For example, I don't see the issues every day but we work on them every day.

Initial setup very complex, depending on the solution you're looking at. We're looking at databases, so we're looking at an InfiniBand fabric kind of SAN. Being able to get that kind of setup right the first time is always a challenge. People don’t plug cables in all the way and you have cable problems. You don't necessarily see that until you get everything up and running: "Oh, we’re missing a path." Stuff like that.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

At the time, 7-8 years ago, we were looking at flash, because we have a need to reduce performance lag. There were many solutions back then, such as Violin and all the vendors that provide flash storage, IBM, TMS, Nimbus, and so on. We were evaluating a lot of companies at the time. At the same time, NetApp purchased the company that was running the EF Series. We evaluated everything that we had at the same time. We came up with the solution to continue with NetApp because of the support and the relationship that we had with NetApp, rather than invest our time to go with another company that we don't necessarily know what they're doing.

For example, Nimbus; we don’t know what they're doing. They’re just a startup. We didn’t know if they were going to stay in business or not. Violin might also be gone, and then all of the time you invest working with that company, is also gone.

We use the enterprise support model, where we can rely on almost like a partner. We know that NetApp is a stable company that we can rely on.

In general, when I look for a vendor, the important criteria that I basically look for are the roadmap of the products, support and the customer base. When you have a lot of people that trust the company, you know that you are choosing the right solution.

What other advice do I have?

The EF Series has a lot of lines, a big lineup. Look at your application’s performance requirements. The EF Series is all about performance. Choose the right line of product because you can have so much performance but if your application does not need that much, you waste a lot of money, especially if it’s flash. You waste of lot of money.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user527082
Server Administrator at a energy/utilities company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
We're able to throw a pile of IOPS at it and it will handle it without much issue.

Pros and Cons

  • "One of the most valuable features is the overall performance it provides. You're able to throw a pile of IOPS at it and it will handle that without much issue."
  • "A little more manageability, a simpler management interface. It's not necessarily that it's way overly complex. It's just that it's not as easy as the FAS series."

How has it helped my organization?

I can be less proactive about monitoring it. We don't have to mess with tweaking it as much. On the production SAN, for instance, we're always on there, monitoring performance, checking how it's doing. Whereas with the EF, because there's only one thing running on it, it runs so fast, we just let it go. We had to monitor previous solutions more; it's not that there was ever really a problem.

What is most valuable?

One of the most valuable features is the overall performance it provides. You're able to throw a pile of IOPS at it and it will handle that without much issue.

We had a beefy SQL server that was trying to pull a large number of transactions all the time and it was causing problems on our production SAN environment. They wound up deciding they wanted to go with EF specifically for that and haven't had any problems ever since.

What needs improvement?

I'm a big fan of the cluster shell and everything on the FAS series. I know the E series kind of has its own OS. (I think NetApp purchased them.) To my knowledge, that doesn't even exist in the same way. A lot of that is to provide the IOPS that it does because it doesn't have to focus on all that other stuff. From a manageability perspective, I like the look and the feel of the FAS series better than the EF. I think it's more straightforward and simplistic. Even if it's not to that extent, I would like to see it move a bit more in that direction; a little more manageability, a simpler management interface. It's not necessarily that it's way overly complex. It's just that it's not as easy as the FAS series.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Reliability has been really good.

No problems with stability; every upgrade we've ever done went off without a problem. We were able to do it live to the failover.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We've never tried to scale it because the size of it's been good, so I wouldn't really know.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support depends on the issue. Sometimes, it was really good; other times, it was a struggle. Eventually, we always wound up with somebody who was really knowledgeable and helpful.

One time, we had a problem with a LIF on our FAS 8060s. One of the Vservers was causing intermittent problems. The guy on the phone was adamant that it was not a NetApp issue. After about three hours of working with him, we finally just decided to hang up. I did some other testing, called him back with proof that it was NetApp and then it took about five minutes to solve. They said, “Oh well, just do this, there we go.”

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

They were already using EF when I started.

I have not previously used a solution other than the FAS series.

What other advice do I have?

Plan out everything ahead of time. Have your fabric in place. We've had times before, where that was an oversight. It was never thought of in terms of getting networking fabric set in. Then, whenever we'd bring in the NetApp solution to plug in and the fabric's not there, then you get these long delays. Make sure you know everything that's going to be needed and have it in place ahead of time.

When I look for a vendor to work with for EF or any similar solutions, for me, the most important factors are honesty, prompt response, willing to work with us, a general feeling like that they care about our company and our needs, and not just about the sale. Without that, it's difficult to trust them or work alongside them.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user527274
Director Operations at a media company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
It is a point solution for low-cost, high-performance, low-latency block storage.

How has it helped my organization?

Part of our business is data processing. Any time we can take processes that are slow, find the pain points and speed them up, it helps a lot of different parts of the business.

What is most valuable?

It's a way to get relatively low-cost, very high-performance, low-latency block storage as a point solution. We've been using it to target database applications where there are particular files that really need more performance than we're able to give with our other products right now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've really had no issues. It's been a very stable product for us.

How are customer service and technical support?

We’ve only used technical support to assist with some upgrades. I've always been very happy with them.

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

We were reaching the performance limits of what we could do with SAS at that time, and AFF wasn't really an option yet. We looked around and it was clear to me that I'd prefer to not go with another vendor. We had really good experience with FAS. I'd prefer to stay with a NetApp solution.

How was the initial setup?

I was not involved in the initial setup; my admin was. It seemed pretty straightforward.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There weren’t any other vendors on our shortlist. We pretty much turned to NetApp very quickly, once it was clear that they had a product that we could afford and would meet the need.

When I choose a vendor, support is a huge consideration. I want to have a stable product that, when there are issues, they are prepared to take care of them; they understand what they are doing; they understand our needs. Affordability is also very important for us too. We found all of those things in NetApp. The pricing was reasonable. I have no complaints there. It could always be cheaper, of course.

What other advice do I have?

I suggest looking at your needs and decide whether EF or some of the other NetApp products are more appropriate. If the EF is the most appropriate, I don't have any hesitation recommending it.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user550305
Infrastructure Manager at Pennwell Corp
Video Review
Vendor
Its performance solved a problem with the very strong SQL workload we have.

What is most valuable?

For us, the most valuable feature is the performance. We have a very strong SQL workload that was struggling on several other providers, and it solved that problem for us.

What needs improvement?

If you're not using DDP, it is a little tedious to configure.

I've seen the new firmware with the 2800, and they've automated some things that were manual. It was a four-step process for every volume you wanted to create before, and it looks like they fixed that in the coming firmware, although from what I understand it will be a little while before it gets to the 550.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've had it for about two-and-a-half years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have not had any down time with it at all. We had one controller failure in the two-and-a-half years, and was able to have that replaced with zero down time.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not had to expand the product yet. We sized it for what we thought was going to be growth for three years, and we have not outgrown it yet, so I don't see an issue with it.

How are customer service and technical support?

We've had a very good experience with technical support, especially on the EF products. They reached out to us when we had the failure, and we had somebody onsite within four hours.

We have not had an issue from a performance or a technical standpoint. We had an issue with some monitoring that we wanted to do; finding the right person within NetApp to help us with that.

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

This was a new initiative.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was pretty complex for us. We weren't able to use dynamic disk pooling, just because we were very concerned about performance. NetApp brought somebody onsite for us to help us out, and they recommended against using DDP.
They helped us with the first one, I think we had it configured in about four hours. We added another one six months later and did that ourselves.

What other advice do I have?

The most important criteria when selecting a vendor is the support infrastructure and pricing.

When we compared it to other all-flash arrays, it was the most cost-effective solution and really the most performant that we looked at.

My recommendation to my peers is that they know for sure what their performance needs are; that they size it properly to support those needs.

Performance wise, it's phenomenal. We haven't had to touch it much since we had it up and running.

Making configuration changes on the version of firmware that we have is a little bit more difficult than other products.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
Rob Stickland
Senior Server Network Enginner at a healthcare company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
It is faster than XtremIO. We use it for our VDI environment.

Pros and Cons

  • "We use it for our VDI environment, and have not had any complaints with it."
  • "I would like to see higher-capacity drives, as they come out; I have heard that 15 TB are out on a different NetApp series. Getting those on the EFs would be nice."

How has it helped my organization?

We're able to quickly roll out close to 2,000 VDIs with very little setup. I've had familiarity with a different model of the NetApp device. It was mostly a matter of rolling it over to the new one. It was very easy to work with. The familiarity with it and the speed of it; I can't complain.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is its speed. We had a bake off with another product in our data center, and it blew it away, without any question. It was about 100% faster than the XtremIO. It was just pure speed.

We use it for our VDI environment, and have not had any complaints with it.

What needs improvement?

At this point, we haven't really gotten that far in our stages of it. The scalability is what we need. The administration is really easy. The best way I can say this is, keep on keeping on. It's going to grow organically.

If anything else, I would like to see higher-capacity drives, as they come out; I have heard that 15 TB are out on a different NetApp series. Getting those on the EFs would be nice. That's maybe a pipe dream. The EF series doesn't have them quite yet. I don't think they're really designed yet for the EF series, from what I’ve heard from a couple of solutions engineers. If that happens, great; if it doesn't, great.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have not had any stability issues with it. We actually have two shelves for over a year now. It does not give us any problems. We're not even really pushing it either. That's kind of the other good side of it. It's got a lot of capacity, a lot of IO availability, and bandwidth. It just works.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Everything we've wanted to do, scale-wise, it's done. We started off with one shelf, got about 2,000 VDIs on it; put another shelf in, not a problem. It was about as easy as you can make it.

How are customer service and technical support?

Unfortunately, we have not used technical support. It hasn't had an issue for us to do that, yet. In the 15 months that I've been there, I haven't had to call support for that product.

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

XtremIO is a nice product, but it has so much more overhead. Deduplication involves a little bit more overhead than what the EF does. I kind of look at EF as a dragster as opposed to a road course racer. The EF just goes straight line. It does what it's supposed to do; not a lot of frills, but it does its job really well. XtremIO is a bit more tuned for a general-purpose workload; not so much speed. It's still flash, but the overhead on the XtremIO was more than what we need it for. The price point was better on the EF. You get more speed, better capacity, and better price. The EF was a better value.

The disadvantages of the XtremIO were the speed and the capacity. I think it was a very similar scale out for the XtremIO. It was very similar in size. It was a little bit smaller because there was more overhead; different metadata for the XtremIO. It required a little bit more controller size, and so on.

Also, it was a 4U brick versus a 2U brick. We basically get twice the capacity of two shelves for NetApp versus one brick from XtremIO. The scalability was one of the big features as well.

When selecting a vendor to work with, the one that provides the best value is the most important criteria; does it hit the most amount of needs that we have; once we determine what our requirements are, and how we go forward. What's the best for us? We may spend a little bit different money on something else, but that has to be of a specific need that we need to fit. Basically, what's the best value?

How was the initial setup?

As I’ve mentioned, from familiarity with a different version of the product, initial setup was very easy for us. My cohorts and partners in crime are very familiar with it. They have no problem looking at it, either, and understanding what's going on with it. It's been a very good product for us.

What other advice do I have?

If you can get a bake off, do that. Try to get the same type of test across the board. Put it through its paces. Definitely get your solutions engineers involved; almost pit them against each other. Ask a lot of questions, and really find out what the requirements are. Get them in there and try them out. You lose nothing, except a little bit of time. If you can spend better money the first time out, you look better as an engineer and a person that can influence purchasing.

I have not given it a perfect rating because, as I’ve mentioned, it doesn’t have some features. At the same time, I have rated it high because it does its job really, really well; what we require of it.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user527343
Data Storage Administrator at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
Vendor
It is fast, stable and saves electricity and space.

Pros and Cons

  • "The speed is the most valuable feature."
  • "I would like to shrink it more, if we can. The smaller, the better."

How has it helped my organization?

More things get done faster. Time is money. If we have systems that are down for more than 10 minutes, that's $10,000 out the door, basically. They want true speed and being able to get up there.

What is most valuable?

The speed is the most valuable feature. It's a really good system. It's really fast; the speed's the best thing. It's one thing we love. Everybody wants to have everything faster and faster and faster. Knowing the speed's there, that's the best thing, along with the size and storage. I'm interested in the new stuff that's coming out, with the 32 terabytes. It will be interesting.

What needs improvement?

Once I play with it a bit more, I'll find out more about areas with room for improvement.

Cheaper pricing is always good. NetApp has been doing everything the right way. They've been figuring out things really well, going in the right direction.

I’m looking forward to the new shelves, the new disks and their sizes; how small you can get for lots of storage now. The size and speed are just amazing; always a good thing. Smaller systems save on electricity, save on space. We shrunk our server room down. We actually rebuilt it. We didn't have enough space for people to sit. We needed more office space. With everything so small, we cut our server room down and fit more people in. Our head count can go up and everything. People had jobs.

I would like to shrink it more, if we can. The smaller, the better.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I think stability is really good. We just started using them now. We're just getting into it. We're getting more and more systems as we go along. So far, everything has been stable; we have not had any problems. It's all new.

We never used flash arrays or anything like that before. This is all SSD and this stuff is all new to us.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We'll find out about scalability. I think it will be perfect. We have small sites. We just purchased a big site, a half-a-million dollar site, for Plymouth, Michigan. We'll find out how that works out, scaling up from that point. We used to do the shelves, the SATA shelves, the SAS shelves and so on. Flash is completely new and any SSD drives is all completely different to us. It will be interesting.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't dealt with technical support yet.

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

We go off a price list. We kind of figure out what best fits the needs of each site. We have hundreds of sites in US and Canada.

We just wanted the speed. Everybody wants better IOPS and that was basically the reason why we chose it, to have better speed. Our sites need to be up; they need to be running.

We previously used regular SATA and SAS shelves, strictly disk shelves and so on; no flash, no arrays, nothing like that.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this product, we did not really evaluate other options. They’ve looked at IBM and EMC. They've looked at that for some servers but most of the time, everything we stick to is with NetApp. We don't go all over; we stick strictly with NetApp.

What other advice do I have?

So far, it's been fitting our needs. I've not had any issues with it, but it's all brand new to me. Right now, the install is great; everything is running fine; we haven't had any problems.

Go with the NetApp EF-series All Flash Arrays, if you want good quality, reliability, speed and size. I think that's the way to go nowadays; flash is amazing. I'd give it the thumbs up to do it. Spend the money. It might cost a little more but the quality is the best, for me. Sometimes, you have to spend money for good quality.

When selecting a vendor to work with, the most important factor for me is the relationship. We've had a great relationship with our sales managers and sales reps and we saw them at a recent conference. That's a key thing. You get the support you need. If something happens, they're on top of it, fixing it right away. Good service is the most important factor.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user527178
Consulting Storage Engineer at Columbia HCA Healthcare
Vendor
It does well with some of our higher-end applications.

Pros and Cons

  • "We do a lot of in-house, application-dependent type things, where we find the different niches to the different things. Certain things they do better. We've found that it actually does very well on some of our higher-end applications."
  • "As far as the manageability, being able to port between the two and have to do less training in-house from a customer point of view, that would be the part to improve."

How has it helped my organization?

Cost: it's a lot cheaper. It's a lot cheaper than what the other vendors have for the same type of environment. It saves us money.

What is most valuable?

The ease of use is the most valuable feature; something that we can use for a flash and all-flash type of environment that we can really put a heavy workload on. It gives us an environment to where we can really push a lot harder. We have multiple vendors in our establishment. We have NetApp, EMC, IBM, HP; we have pretty much all of them.

We do a lot of in-house, application-dependent type things, where we find the different niches to the different things. Certain things they do better. We've found that it actually does very well on some of our higher-end applications.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see a way for NetApp personnel that are used to the FAS and the CDOT systems, to be able to easier translate that experience and knowledge into using the EF series. There are some differences in there and it will throw off, when you're trying to train somebody, as far as bringing in somebody new into the group. When they're supposed to be responsible, it's another technology for them to try to learn. Something that would help port that process; make them similar in how the manageability of it is functioned.

Obviously, everything can be improved on so I won't ever give anything a perfect rating. But as far as the manageability, being able to port between the two and have to do less training in-house from a customer point of view, that would be the part to improve.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have not had an outage with it yet. Other vendors, we have. We've had an actual high-end frame completely go down on us.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't done too much with scalability yet in our environment, so I don't really know. From my point of view, I can't answer that one.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have used technical support but to me tech support for the EF is the same as the tech support for the rest of the NetApp environments: pretty quick, pretty easy. It's a lot more fluid.

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

I requested it, but I didn't make the decision.

We knew we needed to invest in the EF series mostly because we have a lot of files, we have some CDOT systems that we have in there with the 8060s right now, and we knew that we had some environments where we're looking at XtremeIO and so on. We were trying to find something comparable to it and, honestly, within our company, there wasn't a whole lot of knowledge that there were more options.

I brought it up and said, "Hey what about these guys?" And they said something like, "Oh, they don't have it." And here it is. That was what brought it in. We were using XtremeIO and I wanted to move over to this, because of cost.

XtremeIO, when it got bought out by EMC, the cost went up and the support model for EMC is the same across all products. However, now it's even more, because you have to call EMC and then EMC points you over to a third party and it's troublesome.
The advantage of XtremeIO is the GUI system, which is extremely easy. It really is. It's based off of almost like the old XIV. The XIV system from IBM was an extremely easy GUI, just slide. It's almost like using a Windows system and they kind of ported that into the XtremeIO, which made it easier for that as far as the manageability side of it. However, as far as flexibility, it didn't have a whole lot there.

Besides NetApp and XtremeIO, we brought another one in-house and it didn't make it through the first stage. We pushed it and actually crashed it. You shouldn't see a flash crash but we did.

Reliability is the most important criteria for me when selecting a vendor to work with.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the initial setup; I helped built it out in the lab.

We normally have the vendors come in and actually do the physical build-out of the systems themselves but then, once they start doing the next part, which is the configuration, they bring us in, it's simple. It was very simple. There wasn't a whole lot for us to do.

What other advice do I have?

Make sure you truly test the possible solutions one-on-one against each other and not just let the vendor tell you the answer. A lot of times, their answer is dependent on the criteria that they use to give it.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user527079
Storage Systems Admin at a university with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
Having the option of high-speed storage in the data center is valuable.

Pros and Cons

  • "Having the option of such high-speed storage in the data center is what makes it valuable."
  • "Things like the FlexClones, SnapVault, SnapMirror, all of that. Some of it's available on the EF series, but we like what we have in the FAS system."

What is most valuable?

Having the option of such high-speed storage in the data center is what makes it valuable. When a request comes in a for an application that requires something on flash, I have the EF to go. I know that whatever the application is, it can't beat it.

What needs improvement?

They could improve the product’s tools. We're going to tie it into our FAS system because the options we have with the FAS system are much greater than the options we have with the EF series. Things like the FlexClones, SnapVault, SnapMirror, all of that. Some of it's available on the EF series, but we like what we have in the FAS system. If the EF were to have that, we would not need to tie it into our FAS system.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It’s a stable solution. We have not had an outage in a year and a half.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scalable. We're about to roll it into our other NetApp products. That, along with the FAS system, makes it scalable for us, at least.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is good; maybe not as good as others, but they're good. It’s a case of finding the right person. NetApp's a pretty large company, with a vast array of protocols and products to dive through when you're trying to troubleshoot a problem. It just depends on the person you get when you call in. Sometimes, it's the best. Sometimes, it's not so much the best. They're good. They could always be better.

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

We have multiple hybrid solutions, but nothing pure flash like the EF. We have been using the hybrid solutions for five years. The trigger to moving to EF was that the cost of flash has come down, and the need for flash has gone up.

How was the initial setup?

For initial setup, we had somebody onsite. We were doing the flash install along with the transition from 7-mode to CDOT. We had professional services onsite to assist us with that.

What other advice do I have?

What is your use case? Depending on what your needs are, I would point to maybe the All Flash FAS. If it was just a one-off, one project, throw everything at it, then I'd say definitely the EF would be the most cost-effective solution.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user352236
Storage Infrastructure Manager with 501-1,000 employees
Vendor
Almost all of our infrastructure is on cDOT, and now we are able to have a single point of management for all our data. The CLI is very difficult to manage.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature for us is the ability to move the workload between peers. It also has a huge advantage of helping us cut down on power consumption.

How has it helped my organization?

Almost all of our infrastructure is on cDOT, and now we are able to have a single point of management for all our data.

What needs improvement?

It's very difficult to manage the CLI. Also, the license model needs work. If you read the label as probable, you need to pay for a license for all the features, even if you are using just one.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using it for one year.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

I guess at the end of this year or the beginning of the next, we will finish the migration of the whole infrastructure.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

9/10 - The problem is about the failover of the interfaces for some problems. We had some issues last week because of the interface of a cluster physically remained up, but we had a report noting issues with traffic management on it.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

8/10

Technical Support:

8/10

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

No previous solution was used.

How was the initial setup?

It was simple.

What about the implementation team?

It was done in-house.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at EMC and IBM, but we chose EF because of the need to take snapshots and to save it to another system.

What other advice do I have?

It must be evaluated depending on the workload of the applications.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user351156
Senior Consultant at Ahd Hellweg Data GmbH & Co. KG
Consultant
We reduced database queries from 32 hours on HP EVA to less than 10 with this, but monitoring and management handling in enterprise environments could be improved.

What is most valuable?

It's fast! It can perform one million IOPS.

How has it helped my organization?

The database queries on our old system (HP EVA) took nearly 32 hours, but on the new one in under 10.

What needs improvement?

Monitoring and management handling in enterprise environments could be improved.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've used it for one year for our Oracle database.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

We've had no problems deploying it.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've had no problems with stability. It runs consistently.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It has scaled to our needs.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

Customer support issues have normally been cleared up in one business day, so it's been really great.

Technical Support:

Normal issues like performance problems and parts replacement are infrequent and are taken care of quickly.

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

We previously used HP EVA, which was slow and old. We switched from HP to NetApp because the customer got a 7-Mode FAS for a different situation and asked what he could do about the slow speed of his EVA. We recommended EF.

How was the initial setup?

In two hours, it was up and running.

What about the implementation team?

I implement it for our customers.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

At first, we thought we could expand the 7-Mode FAS for our client, but the workload was not matching to the system, so we chose the EF.

What other advice do I have?

If you need very low IOPS and throughput and an easy to install and stable solution, then this is the perfect one for you.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user351147
Sr. Systems Engineer IT Enterprise Infrastructure at PAREXEL
Vendor
Our batch processing time went down from 14 hours to seven, but because NetApp acquired the product it's missing a bit in the integration and management performance monitoring.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature for us is its low latency, which is the main reason we bought it. We had performance issues before, and this was a great solution to those problems.

How has it helped my organization?

We run our data warehouse on it and batch processing needs to happen in a certain time frame. If we can’t deliver data processing in eight hours, then we have to keep the system closed for end users at that time. Ideally, we need it done by the start of business in the US, because if we finish late, people can’t start working until after that. Our batch processing time went down from 14 hours to seven hours with this solution.

What needs improvement?

It says NetApp on the badge, but it’s not a NetApp product. NetApp acquired the product so it is missing a bit in the integration and management performance monitoring.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've used it for one-and-a-half years for OLTP databases.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable, and we've never had any problems with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't had to scale it, but I'm sure it will scale.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

We haven't had to use customer service once yet.

Technical Support:

We haven't had to use technical service once yet.

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

We used a traditional SAN array and replaced it with flash.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward.

What was our ROI?

The situation we were in before limited people’s ability to do financial reporting and forecasting and analysis. Now, it’s not a problem because we are able to back everything up overnight and not cut into people’s work day.

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

It cost us $160,000 to implement.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

  • Pure Storage
  • EMC XtremIO

We went with NetApp because price per performance was better.

What other advice do I have?

Before investing in flash, you should be really sure that it is solving your problem. For us, it was really clear that latency was a big part of our issue, so flash was the solution.

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