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Azure NetApp Files OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Azure NetApp Files is #3 ranked solution in top Cloud Migration tools, #6 ranked solution in top Public Cloud Storage Services, and #7 ranked solution in top Cloud Storage tools. IT Central Station users give Azure NetApp Files an average rating of 10 out of 10. Azure NetApp Files is most commonly compared to Microsoft Azure File Storage:Azure NetApp Files vs Microsoft Azure File Storage. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 32% of all views.
What is Azure NetApp Files?

Extreme File Performance
Azure NetApp Files allows you to target any of your business-critical file workloads with extreme file throughput with sub-millisecond response times.With three service levels you can change on-the-fly, you get the performance that’s best suited to the application.

Simple, Seamless Experience
A seamless Azure experience for your file services workloads. You can deploy and manage Azure NetApp Files directory from the Azure Portal or automate using the Azure API or CLI integration.

Secure Your Data
Built-in capabilities ensure your data is protected at all times in Azure: from always-on encryption to point-in-time data copies (without added capacity costs). And with Microsoft‘s world class support, you can rest assured that you‘re in good hands with Azure.

Azure NetApp Files was previously known as NetApp ANF, ANF.

Buyer's Guide

Download the Cloud Migration Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: November 2021

Azure NetApp Files Customers

SAP, Restaurant Magic

Azure NetApp Files Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Azure NetApp Files pricing:
  • "NetApp is a premium offering, so it's not a cheap product, but it is well-priced. It combines a couple of properties which customers like us are willing to pay. Could it be cheaper? Yes, but if you combine fully supported, fully managed, easily provisioned, scalable, and quick all in one product, it's a good selling point. You can ask a lot of money for all these. If you have a use case like we do, it's a perfect match. It's like the Porsche of storage solutions in the cloud. It is totally worth the cost."
  • "It is expensive in small environments, which could be better. The reason is the four terabyte minimum. A one terabyte minimum would be better."
  • "We are currently on a pay-as-you-go model with the storage that we use."

Azure NetApp Files Reviews

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Vladislav Malicevic
Vice President Cloud Operations at a tech vendor with 201-500 employees
Reseller
Top 5Leaderboard
We can expand our storage on-the-fly without the need to reprovision

Pros and Cons

  • "It's elastic, so it scales with our demands. We can start small, then with the addition of customer loads, we can expand on-the-fly without the need to reprovision something."
  • "I have a hunch that storage could be now the most expensive portion of our monthly bill. So I can imagine that, not this year, but next year we will be talking about looking deeper into ways how we can optimize the cost."

What is our primary use case?

We were looking for a five-part solution that scales well, is fast, and has the ability to be quickly provisioned in the Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) environment. Our product requires it to be quick because It is a memory database that also has persistence, which has to be real-time.

We are an enterprise performance management (EPM) company. As an 18-year-old company, we have a lot of legacy systems. Around 2011 to 2012, we decided to move to the cloud. We have pretty ambitious plans to lift and shift all of our customers to the cloud. For the past three years, we've been aggressively pushing our cloud offering. It is a fully managed cloud EPM solution that we are providing to our customers. The whole infrastructure, platform, and product are totally managed by us. We are partnering with Microsoft and running it on Microsoft Azure. 

We are in the process of modernizing the whole offering and making it cloud native. We've been modernizing for the past year and a half. One of the problems that you need to solve is also storage. This is where we bumped into NetApp. It's not only about compute. It's also about storage and networking. The storage becomes quite an important role. 

How has it helped my organization?

We have seen solutions where you need to provision totally new storage, e.g., two terabytes, then reconfigure, shut down everything, reconfigure, and copy data to bigger storage and restart. This requires a lot of manual work, etc. With NetApp, you don't need that. You just do it via the API, and say, "I require an increase." Four terabytes is the smallest pool size, and I can say, "Give me additional terabytes," and it happens immediately. 

If you go to our website, you can trial our products by clicking a button. In the past, you would go to the website, click on that button, and fill in a form, then you would get some notification saying, "Thank you for registering. We will let you know as soon as this is over," or something like that. 20 minutes later you get an email saying, "Your environment is ready. Go ahead and try it out." What we managed to get with AKS, and especially with NetApp, is that this is almost a real-time experience. You fill in the form, click on the button, create, and the process takes around 20 seconds. You still get email in the back, but you end up with the trial environment provisioned on-the-fly in real-time. For this use case, this increases the marketing funnel. We get more inquiries and leads through it as the people trying it out are more engaged and do not get bored by waiting.

For example, if you go to Google and search for a product/offering, you find it. You don't want go to their site only to get the message, "I'll let you know when it's done." You want to try it immediately, as you're hooked on it. If you're already in the product, you want try it as a potential customer. You already know with a high probability that, "Yeah, this is the right product for me," or it's not. But, this saves the customer time.

In the past, we would provision for as much as we need or guarantee to a customer. E.g., if a customer said, "Look, I need two terabytes," or he pays for two terabyte of storage, we provisioned two terabyte of storage. Although, he's consuming only fraction of it, we still provisioned and kept that in use. With NetApp, you can do this on-the-fly.

What is most valuable?

Ease of provisioning: It's very easy to consume the product. We are not doing this manually. We are doing this programmatically, but it's very easy and seamless for us to consume it. It's like any other Azure component. It's very good and well-integrated into the ecosystem of Azure. There is tight integration. 

We didn't need to learn anything new. It feels like we know everything already, although under the hood, the product is something totally different. However, it seemed very easy for us.

It's elastic, so it scales with our demands. We can start small, then with the addition of customer loads, we can expand on-the-fly without the need to reprovision something. 

The performance is quite good, so it's almost on par with the make of SSD storage. It provides a quick, scalable storage solution.

We were looking for a supported solution. We didn't want to experiment. We didn't want to look for open source, though we did look into open source initially before we bumped into NetApp. We figured out that adding yet another unknown into our system was not going to bring us benefit. It would be another problem that we would need to tackle. So, we said, "Okay, let's look for a supported solution," and NetApp was one of them. Then, we turned to NetApp.

What needs improvement?

I have a hunch that storage could be now the most expensive portion of our monthly bill. So I can imagine that, not this year, but next year we will be talking about looking deeper into ways how we can optimize the cost. However, I'm pretty sure with NetApp we nailed the cost thing by literally provisioning only what we need.

For how long have I used the solution?

We started around February to March 2019. It went general availability (GA) only in the summer when it went live. We needed to raise tickets to get it provisioned, as it wasn't globally available. We were one of the early adopters of the technology, but we have never had any issues with it.

It is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solution. Therefore, I say, "Give me storage," and NetApp provides me storage in Microsoft Azure.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We looked for a solution with good performance, and so far, this has kept being constant. We do increase loads over the time, but we haven't had any hiccups or slowdowns. The performance has scaled with the solution and its usage.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

NetApp works technically with something called pools. The smallest pool that you can allocate is four terabytes. Then, you can slice off a chunk of data, which is 100 gigabytes, and that is the smallest chunk of data. In our load, we've been slicing and taking those chunks, then once we reach out near the end we just extend the size past the four terabyte thing. I think we have done this numerous times in the past. It's been almost a year since we used it in production. We kept constantly increasing it, so we never needed to decrease anything. We keep adding more customers to it.

How are customer service and technical support?

We are quite savvy on our own. There has been not much to learn. It was very seamless and easy for us to switch to NetApp. Therefore, we didn't even need support from NetApp. The only support we ever asked for was regarding provisioning and that was due to the fact that we didn't have access to it because it was still not generally available. It was still in preview and we were not able to use it everywhere in Azure, only in selected regions and subscriptions. This is why we engaged support. Other than that, we had a couple of calls regarding alignment, but it was nothing technical. We didn't need support because the system was working and still works without issues. It has been very seamless to consume.

We were doing a migration of one of our workloads from legacy to Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) to manage the Kubernetes offering. In the process, we evaluated different storage solutions. One that popped up in Azure's store preview was from NetApp. Since we have a pretty good connection to the AKS team in Seattle, they said, "Maybe you're looking for something like this. Have a look at the NetApp Files." We tried it, and it was a perfect match. 

It's fully supported and fully integrated into the Azure ecosystem. There is an SLA which provides support if something goes wrong

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

We previously used standard Azure storage. We switched to ANF as it provides to quick and flexible solution for our AKS workload.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward because it was integrated into the ecosystem of Azure. It follows the same principles of a native Azure Storage, meeting or exceeding what the underlying Azure services provide. It doesn't change anything in the flow.

What about the implementation team?

We build the product on top of NetApp and other services in Azure, then we sell that product to a customer. The customer is unaware of the underlying technology.

What was our ROI?

Overall, utilization went down to a real usage level with NetApp. That was part of the optimization. Cost probably were high on average, but because the services are more expensive than what we had in the past, everything was leveled.

I think we are breakeven if we look at the solutions from a storage perspective. We are on the same page where we started in terms of costs. 

NetApp is part of the puzzle, so it is part of the transformation. It's part of the change that we introduced in the offering. For the service that has been running on NetApp for the past year (since mid-April), we managed to lower that overall service cost by a factor of nine. E.g., it costs $100 per month, now it's $10 to 15 per month. 10 to 15. 

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

NetApp is a premium offering, so it's not a cheap product, but it is well-priced. It combines a couple of properties which customers like us are willing to pay. Could it be cheaper? Yes, but if you combine fully supported, fully managed, easily provisioned, scalable, and quick all in one product, it's a good selling point. You can ask a lot of money for all these. If you have a use case like we do, it's a perfect match. It's like the Porsche of storage solutions in the cloud. It is totally worth the cost.

We have a Cloud Service Provider (CSP) contract with Microsoft.

We are a reseller. Our offering is a all-inclusive one, so it's paid per user per month with a subscription. We have packaging starting from 10 users, then going up to unlimited. We have customers of many different sizes spanning from a small offices of 10 users up to enterprise customers with thousands of users. So, I couldn't tell. It is incorporated, so we don't charge our customers extra for using NetApp.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There is a native support in Microsoft Azure Files. They have block storage along with different kinds of storage. Those are either slow to mount,slow to start using, or slow to use. Prior to Azure NetApp Files, all the solutions that we tried didn't deliver all three things we wanted at the same time. Either:

  • It would start, quickly provision, but be slow to use and not scale.
  • It would scaling well, provision quickly, but be slow to use.

It was always combination of things like that. Azure NetApp Files has a unique ability to behave like a traditional file share. This means it is always present, but it's extremely quick, so throughput is quite good. 

Because we are talking about managing customer data, if we have a data loss, while there are some open source solutions out in the wild, who would support those? 

We tried an open source contender which is a fairly new offering in the open source world. It's called Rook.io, and it's a controller for Kubernetes and the underlying technology is SaaS. It's a relatively mature open source Linux technology for storage. Rook does the implementation, yet hides the a bit of the complexity of it. At the end of the day, there is no support for it and it does not solve all the problems that NetApp does. We had a couple of hiccups with it early on in the development. While the product has moved and progressed, we haven't revisited it since there was no support for it. Therefore, it was not an option for us. 

The dynamic sizing feature saves us a lot of manual work. We know open source solutions like Lustre file system where you need to go into system and reconfigure it. You can do it via API, but it's really manual work that you say, "Okay, I need more," then you wait until it resizes. With NetApp, it's immediate. I don't know how those guys do it. It is really magic.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend having a look at NetApp.

We tried it and were ecstatic about it, so we found our solution. When we tried Azure NetApp Files, it was like, "Wow." So, we went for it.

It has literally given me peace of mind. I invested a lot of brain energy last year prior to finding NetApp and identifying the right solution for us. Since then, I've forgot about this topic. I literally don't care about it anymore, as it has been working well and was the perfect fit. I didn't even look around.

I would rate the solution as a nine (out of 10).

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
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. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
Christian Gruetzner
Service Architecture at All for One Group AG
Real User
Top 5
You can increase performance online without taking the old instance down

Pros and Cons

  • "You can change it non-disruptively. You can increase the size and decrease the size online, which is a huge benefit compared to Azure disks. It just works seamlessly. You don't need to stop the instances."
  • "Reserved Instances for Azure NetApp Files would improve more use cases, making them more valuable in Azure as the cost would be reduced."

What is our primary use case?

We are using it for virtualized SAP systems in Azure, running our SAP systems in Azure.

How has it helped my organization?

It does extremely fast backup and restore processes. For our customers, it has the benefit that we don't influence their running of SAP systems while taking backups, so we can do backups more often. They also benefit off very fast resources, if they need something. In the end, it is an end customer benefit, not directly for us, as we are a service provider.

One benefit that we are evaluating right now, that is unique in Azure, is its multi-protocol access to a file share. This means that we can access it via NFS from our SAP systems and via SMB and CIFS from our customers. So, the customer can access the share via SMB and the SAP system can operate via NFS on the same share. So, we have a shared data place where the customer and our SAP systems can access and can share data in-between. That is unique in Azure NetApp Files and not available with any other Azure services.

What is most valuable?

You can change it non-disruptively. You can increase the size and decrease the size online, which is a huge benefit compared to Azure disks. It just works seamlessly. You don't need to stop the instances.

Fast snapshotting: You can back up and restore in seconds instead of hours.

The ease of use and optimization are very high as Azure ensures the complete service operation. It's a SaaS service, so you don't have to configure or manage anything on the hardware. That is a huge benefit for us compared to our own data centers. We migrate several systems or workloads to Azure right now. That extremely simplifies the use for us because we don't have to administrate the storage nodes.

What needs improvement?

Reserved Instances for Azure NetApp Files would improve more use cases, making them more valuable in Azure as the cost would be reduced. 

They should remove the whitelisting right now. You still have to whitelist customers, subscriptions, etc. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. We have had no issues using it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scale-up and scale-down capabilities of the solution provide flexibility in both capacity and performance. Everything is automized, so we have scripted a lot around this solution. Everything runs for us non-disruptively and unattended, so our operating teams don't have to do anything in this case. There is minimal maintenance on our side.

Scalability exists. We haven't had any scalability issues; we are far from the limits that exist. There is a minimum of four terabytes, which is sometimes challenging for small customer environments, e.g., if a customer wants just one system in the Azure NetApp Files services, then it is too expensive in that case. So, if you want to try it out for one system, it's not worth the effort nor cost in the end. That is where we bump back to Azure disks as well for our customers. However, as soon as you have three or more instances, it's cost is definitely worth everything. In this case, compared to Azure disks as well, because it's more cost efficient.

We have one person involved from solution design, who is also involved in costs and calculations. There is another person from our operations team, who is involved with new features. We have a regular call right now with NetApp and Microsoft about new or upcoming features, as we are in the private preview program. There are two people from Ops automizing stuff.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not used the technical support for this solution.

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

Previously, we were using all types of NetApp solutions on-premise. Therefore, our entire on-premise infrastructure runs on NetApp.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward if you are looking at it and using it on a simple basis. 

Because we are running a highly automized environment, our initial setup was a medium effort. It took us one to two weeks of effort to automize around the existing solution.

What about the implementation team?

We set up everything alone. We had a conversation with NetApp itself to get onboarded, but that was not for technical reasons. Technically, we did everything on our own. It is a well-documented REST API. Everything for us was fine and we didn't have any questions.

For deployment, I was the only person involved.

What was our ROI?

The huge benefit of Azure NetApp Files is that you can increase the performance online and don't have to take the old instance down. You can directly do this online, which is a huge performance increase from Azure NetApp Files. For example, we have customers who need more performance on the weekend or at the end of the month for their regular tasks. We just increase the performance on that weekend or at the end of the month, then decrease it afterwards, because the performance is not needed any longer. This saves a lot of money. The amount saved depends a lot on the customer use case. It can be from 10 to 50 percent in the end. 

The solution’s dynamic resizing has saved us a lot of time. We don't have to talk to the end customer to get downtime for their systems. This saves our operations teams a lot of time and effort. It is saving us a half an hour per system, and that is a lot.

It is not that you can just migrate everything over with less costs. You have to think about your setup in Azure. If you consider it carefully and have a look at your costs in the end, then it's worth it. You will save a lot on operational stuff. You also don't need to talk so often to the customer, which saves a lot of time for maintenance. 

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

It is expensive in small environments, which could be better. The reason is the four terabyte minimum. A one terabyte minimum would be better, but it is what it is right now. I think it's needed that a Reserved Instance will come so you can pay upfront or in a monthly bill. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We are using NetApp on-premise. In the end, we have the same performance in the cloud as on-premise. Therefore, there is no benefit or increase for us, at least compared to Azure disks, because we have other disks setup which are also running in Azure. It is relatively the same from a performance perspective.

We use Azure disk-based systems on single systems and small customer environments. It is more cost efficient in those scenarios with the drawback that the backup and restart takes longer.

What other advice do I have?

Simply try it out because it's worth the effort to have a look at it. It's a strong service that gets improved quickly with new features, like backup and replication to another site. Have a close look at this solution, which workloads you like to migrate, and the costs. Overall, it's worth the effort.

It is definitely worth having a look at your actual setup and Azure's setup to determine if something on your setup could be more cost-efficient. 

The speed is adjustable by size of Azure NetApp Files and the performance tool. So, it is working perfectly, if you choose the right performance tier.

We did a lot of research, development, and testing in 2019. Since starting 2020, we have around 80 terabytes, which is not much from our perspective. From our perspective (maybe not others), this is really low usage until now. However, we plan to migrate a lot of customers over to Azure. We also have some new programs where customers will be directly deployed in Azure. So, we plan to increase that within a year to around 200 to 300 terabytes, depending on how fast customers come and we can migrate them.

I would rate this solution as a nine out of 10. 

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. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
Find out what your peers are saying about NetApp, Turbonomic, an IBM company, CloudSphere and others in Cloud Migration. Updated: November 2021.
554,382 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Duncan Halsey
Storage / Virtualisation & Infrastructure Contractor at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Useful SnapMirror feature, good technical support , and reliable

Pros and Cons

  • "Since we have NetApp's internally, we use the SnapMirror predominantly for this process in the cloud which is beneficial."
  • "We were looking for a clustered solution that has over-complicated things because we had it in AWS, which is Amazon. There was a solution for clustered NetApp. That meant there would be two NetApps that were not clustered because there was no solution for a cluster. We would like there to be an HA cluster solution."

What is our primary use case?

We are using Azure NetApps Files for our houses.com solution.

What is most valuable?

Since we have NetApp's internally, we use the SnapMirror predominantly for this process in the cloud which is beneficial.

What needs improvement?

We were looking for a clustered solution that has over-complicated things because we had it in AWS, which is Amazon. There was a solution for clustered NetApp. That meant there would be two NetApps that were not clustered because there was no solution for a cluster. We would like there to be an HA cluster solution.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using version 9.9 of this solution for approximately one month.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is stable and reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not gone any further than what we are doing with the solution to see whether expansion comes in the future. We know NetApps reasonably well and scalability normally is not an issue. We are in the cloud, and I am not sure how this will translate scalability-wise.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is very good.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. 

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

We are currently on a pay-as-you-go model with the storage that we use.

What other advice do I have?

My advice to others is to make sure this solution is right for what they are going to use it for.

I rate Azure NetApp Files a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

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