NetApp Cloud Insights Review

Enables us to easily nail, locate, and resolve performance issues that would have been very hard to identify

What is our primary use case?

The main benefit of NetApp Cloud Insights is that it's agentless. It just collects information from the SNMP protocol.

We had NetApp ONTAP installed and we paired with VMware. The biggest challenge for any company is to find the bottleneck on the Edge of the technologies, like between VMware and NetApp. Both products have great reporting and monitoring tools, but whenever it comes to finding issues on the Edge between those products, you can hardly identify whether it's a storage issue or whether it's a virtualization issue. NetApp Cloud Insights greatly blends the performance data, approximates, links together the performance usage from the VMware and NetApp perspectives, and provides you a single pane of glass in terms of the reporting and monitoring through the virtual machine to the hardware storage.

You can find any major bottlenecks or any issue points you need to work on. In any IT infrastructure, whenever you improve, like if you buy faster storage, then you move bottlenecks from storage to the network or to the servers. The biggest challenge is to find where that bottleneck is to resolve the issue. I personally found NetApp Cloud Insights very useful in this sense because we were a heavily virtualized environment.

We were a heavily virtualized environment with the NFS Protocol, as our storage main Storage Protocol, we were able to easily nail, locate, and resolve some performance issues using Cloud Insights, which would have been very hard to identify. 

The biggest challenge though is the licensing model for Cloud Insights. For example, for our environment, the price of purchasing was close to the price of the storage itself, which is why we didn't actually pursue using Cloud Insights further. 

How has it helped my organization?

Cloud Insights has helped us to optimize Cloud spend by removing inefficiencies and identifying abandoned resources in VMware. There were a bunch of older virtual machines that were powered off and they were just left there, forgotten to be decommissioned. That was costing us premium storage space.

What is most valuable?

The visibility and usage optimization are the most valuable features. I liked the product very much. Its dashboards and the alerting systems are very easy to implement in any environment.

Its ability to quickly inventory our resources, figure out interdependencies across them, and assemble a topology of your environment is brilliant. There is a price associated with it. Whenever you target a NetApp environment, it is included in the price but whenever you want to add different vendors, like VMware and Cisco, the price greatly spikes. Inventorization helps us a lot to visualize the environment.

It's priceless when you work with eight different vendors, in a multi-vendor environment and Cloud Insights can actually identify those links between VMware and physical servers and storage, and that helps to troubleshoot and solve issues right there. It helps to proactively make decisions.

Their advanced analytics for pinpointing problem areas are great. If you're using separate tools, for example, vRealize Ops manager and Unified Manager from vRealize from VMware and Unified Manager from ONTAP, you can find some anomalies in both of them, but you can never link them together in one logical structure. Unified Cloud Insights, however, really goes through and links them together. For example, if you have a contention, like virtual CMTS contention, it doesn't mean that your storage has issues. It also can mean that there is a network problem below or some faulty network adapter network port, or even a physical server. In this sense, Cloud Insights is very valuable. It enables you to find out multi-tiered issues.

Advanced Analytics also helped to reduce the time it takes to find performance issues. It just reduces the time to find issues. And it can predict issues which otherwise, would take hours or days to find.

What needs improvement?

Their pricing model needs improvement. 

For how long have I used the solution?

We were testing Cloud Insights for a period of around five months. I installed it, configured it, and just didn't touch it for the first two months because I was busy. For the next three months, we actually used it to troubleshoot some issues and to gather more information on the performance of the environment. We found it very useful and helpful.

We have to install the collectors in your environment and then collectors send information into the NetApp private cloud.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is a greatly stable environment. I didn't have any issues during my assessment time.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is also great. You just add notes and it works.

I only showed it to two or three people. The number of users doesn't impact the performance of Cloud Insights. It's more about how many connected devices there are.

We had a six node cluster and maybe around a thousand VMs.

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

We didn't use a solution like Cloud Insights before. We were just given a license with instructions and we extended the license three or four times. NetApp reached out to us and pitched the idea of how great Cloud Insights is. We liked that it offered the opportunity to work with a multi-vendor environment.

The free trial of Cloud Insights helped inform our buying decision. We found value in Cloud Insights.

We also use Datadog but it doesn't have the same functionalities as Cloud Insights. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. You just spin-up the collector. I think one per vendor, one for NetApp, one for VMware, and then link them to Cloud Insights in the private Cloud. That's it.

You can spin-up the environment within an hour for the entire thing. You have the collectible information after the next hour, you will have your environment on a dashboard in Cloud Insights. 

The price that came back to us was so ridiculous that we didn't end up implementing it.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest lesson I have learned is that basic licensing that is free, is useless. That is the biggest lesson. The basic free Cloud Insights does everything, but only with NetApp products, and this information alone doesn't add value to our troubleshooting.

I would rate NetApp Cloud Insights a nine out of ten. I really liked the product. I would have bought it if it wasn't for the cost. I had a perfect business case for it but it didn't work out. 

**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.
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