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JoshBishop
Manager at Pramerica
Real User
Top 20
Reliable, fast, easy to manage and enables us to scale up and create servers a lot faster

Pros and Cons

  • "AFF has improved my organization because we now have better performance. We can scale up and we can create servers a lot faster now. With the storage that we had, it used to take a lot longer, but now we can provide the business what they need a lot faster."
  • "In terms of what needs improvement, I would like to see more consistency with the UI. It seems to change every few versions. The menus can be in a completely different place."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for this solution is for production storage.

We don't use ONTAP for artificial intelligence or machine learning applications.

We're not replicating to the cloud yet. We're replicating from on-prem to on-prem, but replicating to the cloud is probably our next step in our data center evolution.

How has it helped my organization?

ONTAP has improved my organization because we now have better performance. We can scale up and we can create servers a lot faster now. With the storage that we had, it used to take a lot longer, but now we can provide the business what they need a lot faster.

It simplifies IT operations by unifying data services across SAN and NAS environments. We use our own type of SAN and NAS for CIFS and also for virtual servers. It's pretty basic. I didn't realize how simple it was to create storage and manage storage until I started using NetApp ONTAP. We use it daily.

Response time has improved. IOPS reading between reading and the storage and getting it to the end-users is a hundred times faster than what it used to be. When we migrated from 7-Mode to cluster mode and went to an all-flash system, the speed and performance were amazing. The business commented on that which was good for us. 

Datacenter costs have definitely been reduced with the compression that we get with all-flash. We're getting 20 to one so it's definitely a huge saving.

It has enabled us to stop worrying about storage as a limiting factor. We can thin provision data now and we can over-provision compared to the actual physical hardware that we have. We have a lot of flexibility compared to what we had before. 

What is most valuable?

The data protection and data management are very user-friendly. We use a software-based, disk-encryption and it comes with ONTAP and it's just very easy to implement and very easy to manage. In fact, you don't even have to manage it once it's working. 

What needs improvement?

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

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have never had a single fault in the 10 years we've been using it. Nothing bad happens, it's an unbelievable system. Really reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

If we want to expand,  the option is there for us to do that. It's not a requirement at the minute, but I know that we want to do it. It should be really easy to do, just add another cluster and then just configure it. We know it's available to us. We know how easy it is to configure, so that's a great option that we have there if we need it.

How are customer service and technical support?

We don't go through NetApp directly. We go through a vendor. They've been great. Obviously they're certified, they know what they're doing. They have had to escalate sometimes to NetApp themselves if they didn't know the answer. We've never had a problem that we couldn't resolve.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. We use a metric cluster in NetApp, so getting that set up initially is very complex. Once it's working, it's very simple to manage. But a reseller helped us install that. I don't think it could be any more straightforward. It's a necessary complexity.

What about the implementation team?

We used a reseller for the implementation. We're in an ongoing relationship with them. They support us 24/7 if we need. It's going really well. We never had any problems, so it's nothing to really complain about really. I've been working with them for about five years, but the company's been working with them for about 10 years.

What was our ROI?

We have not seen ROI.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated solutions like Dell EMC and HP. I think from the reputation that NetApp has, that was definitely the choice for us.

What other advice do I have?

The advice I would give to anybody considering this solution is that it's expensive but it's worth it. It's worth it because of its reliability. When you're working on infrastructure reliability and uptime are the most important things. You have to provide a service to the business and make sure it's up all the time. So if you can have a system that does that, and I know that other products have their own problems, I know that I have got friends that use HP or use Dell and they have problems. Maybe it's because of the way they've configured it. With NetApp, we've never had any issue, never had an outage. If you're looking at reliability, you're going to pay a little bit extra, but that depends on your reseller. NetApp is definitely the way to go.

I would rate it a ten out of ten because I've got no reason not to. It doesn't break. It's reliable. It's fast. It's easy to manage. It's scalable and we've never had any problems that we can't fix. The worst thing we can ever have is really the disc fails and then within three hours, we get a brand new one. We just plug and play where we go with no outage, no downtime, and that's probably the main thing for us is having 100% uptime and we've never not had 100% uptime.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises

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

Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
DM
IT Director at a legal firm
Real User
Good speed, inline deduplication, and compression and has improved the performance of our virtual machines

Pros and Cons

  • "The speed, inline deduplication, and compression are really nice. It's also just easy to manage. We use Snapshot and SnapMirror offsite, which give us some good recovery options."
  • "I really don't have anything to ask for in this regard, because we're not really pushing the envelope on any of our use cases. NetApp is really staying out ahead of all of our needs. I believe that there were firmware issues. I think it was just a mismatch of things that were going on. It could have possibly been something in the deployment process that wasn't done exactly right."

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution for back end storage of vSphere virtual machines over NFS.

How has it helped my organization?

This product was brought in when I started with the company, so that's hard for me to answer how it has improved my organization. I would say that it's improved the performance of our virtual machines because we weren't using Flash before this. We were only using Flash Cache. Stepping from Flash Cache with SAS drives up to an all-flash system really had a notable difference.

Thin provisioning enables us to add new applications without having to purchase additional storage. Virtually anything that we need to get started with is going to be smaller at the beginning than what the sales guys that sell our services tell us. We're about to bring in five terabytes of data. Due to the nature of our business operations that could happen over a series of months or even a year. We get that data from our clients. Thin provisioning allows us to use only the storage we need when we need it.

The solution allows the movement of large amounts of data from one data center to another, without interrupting the business. We're only doing that right now for disaster recovery purposes. With that said, it would be much more difficult to move our data at a file-level than at the block level with SnapMirror. We needed a dedicated connection to the DR location regardless, but it's probably saved our IT operations some bandwidth there.

I'm inclined to say the solution reduced our data center costs, but I don't have good modeling on that. The solution was brought in right when I started, so in regards to any cost modeling, I wasn't part of that conversation.

The solution freed us from worrying about storage as a limiting factor. In our line of business, we deal with some highly duplicative data. It has to do with what our customers send us to store and process through on their behalf. Redundant storage due to business workflows doesn't penalize us on the storage side when we get to block-level deduplication and compression. It can make a really big difference there. In some cases, some of the data we host for clients gets the same type of compression you would see in a VDI type environment. It's been really advantageous to us there.

What is most valuable?

The speed, inline deduplication, and compression are really nice. It's also just easy to manage. We use Snapshot and SnapMirror offsite, which give us some good recovery options.

The solution's data protection and management are as simple as you can hope for. On the data protection side, we have a gigabit connection to our disaster recovery center and we replicate snapshots with SnapMirror hourly. This gives us a really good way to roll things back if we need to but have everything offsite at the same time.

What needs improvement?

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

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's reliable. I don't have to lose sleep over something being wrong with the system. The few incidents we've had here and there have been resolved quickly, either by our channel partner or by NetApp support.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

As for scalability, we've added shelves in with very little effort. We're probably not what NetApp wants to see, but we've been purchasing some large six-terabyte SATA drives to expand out colder storage and just get those racked and plugged in. It's very easy to take it up and scale. We are looking very slowly at moving towards the cloud and the NetApp approach to cloud storage is way ahead of what we need, which is very reassuring.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support team is always easy to deal with. Fortunately I haven't had to deal with them much, but when the need arises they're good to work with.

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

That decision to got with AFF was made before me. They switched from a NetApp FAS system, which is spinning disc storage. We came over to that from a Hitachi BlueArc system that was very old. The FAS system was doing well, but when it came time to add more storage, it was obvious that the choice for flash was the way to go, specifically for virtual machines and applications. It would have been chosen for virtual machine storage and application delivery.

How was the initial setup?

I would say the initial setup was straightforward. When the stuff ships out, it comes with diagrams of how everything needs to be wired. The online resources are great to read through and the ONTAP system is consistent across platforms. Deploying AFF is less complicated than deploying older solutions.

What about the implementation team?

We do a lot of work with our partner, which is informative. They know the products well and do a great job working with us to meet our schedules and technical needs.

What other advice do I have?

I'd definitely encourage people to do a proof of concept and get trial gear in there because it's going to shine. It's something that when you actually get in there and use it, it just clicks.

I would rate this solution as a ten out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Learn what your peers think about NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS). Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: October 2021.
542,823 professionals have used our research since 2012.
LR
Senior Data Center Architect at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Efficient, easy to use, reduces latency and has improved application response time

Pros and Cons

  • "The ease of use, the SnapMirror capabilities, the cloning, and the efficiencies are all good features."
  • "There are little things that need improvement. For example, if you are setting up a SnapMirror through the GUI, you are forced to change the destination name of the volume, and we like to keep the volume names the same."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case of this solution is for our production storage array.

How has it helped my organization?

We have not used this solution for artificial intelligence or machine learning applications as of yet. This product has reduced our total latency from a spinning disc going into flash discs. We rarely see any latency and if we do it is not the discs, it's the network. The overall latency right now is about two milliseconds or less.

AFF hasn't enabled us to relocate resources, or employees that we were previously using for storage operations.

It has improved application response time. With latency, we had applications that had thirty to forty milliseconds latency, now they have dropped to approximately one to three, a maximum of five milliseconds. It's a huge improvement.

We use both technologies and we have simplified it. We are trying to shift away from the SAN because it is not as easy to failover to an opposite data center.

We are trying to switch over to have everything one hundred percent NFS. Once the switch to NFS is complete our cutover time will be one hour versus six.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the FlexClone and SnapMirror. The ease of use, the SnapMirror capabilities, the cloning, and the efficiencies are all good features.

The simplicity of this solution around data protection and data management is extremely easy.

With Data protection there is nothing easier than setting up SnapMirror and getting it across and protecting our data. Currently, we have a five minute RPO, so every five minutes we're snapping across the other side without any issues.

This solution simplifies IT operations by unifying data services across SAN and NAS environments.

What needs improvement?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is stable, it's the best. I can't complain.

We move large amounts of data from one data center to another every day without any interruptions. In terms of IT operations, it has cut our ticket count down significantly, approximately a seventy percent reduction in tickets submitted to us.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is scalable, it's phenomenal.

This solution's thin provisioning has allowed us to add new applications without having to purchase additional storage. The thin provisioning has helped us with deduplication, maintaining compaction, and efficiency levels. Without the provisioning, we wouldn't be able to take advantage of all of the great features.

We are running approximately a petabyte of storage physically, and logically approximately ten petabytes.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is one of the best.

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

Previously we had not used another solution. We have been using NetApp for years, we went from refresh approximately two years ago, then sixty to forty to the A300 All-Flash.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward.

We filled out a spreadsheet ahead of time that contained everything necessary to get us going. When it came time for the deployment we went with the information on the spreadsheet and deployed it successfully.

What about the implementation team?

We used an integrator to help us with this solution, we used Sigma Solutions, and our experience was excellent. We worked hand in hand with them.

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

It's expensive. It's in the hundreds of thousands.

It's beneficial, but at times, I feel compared to other vendors, we are paying a premium for the licensing that other vendors include.

You're locked in with NetApp, and you already have everything setup.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We have not evaluated other solutions, it's not worth it.

What other advice do I have?

We are not at the point where we are allowed to automatically tier data to the cloud, but we are looking forward to it.

I can't see that this solution needs any other features other than what it already has. Everything that I need is already there, except for the cloud and it's there but we haven't taken advantage of it yet.

I would advise that you compare everything and put money aside, really take a look at the features and how they will or can benefit you.

It's a total win for your firm.

I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
VK
Storage Architect and Engineer at United Airlines
Real User
Top 20
Snapshots make it easier to revert to stable configurations and our downtime has been reduced

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable features are the ease of administration and configuration, as well as the speed of deployment."
  • "On the fiber channel side, there is a limit of sixteen terabytes on each line, and we would like to see this raised because we are having to use some other products."

What is our primary use case?

We use NetApp AFF to host all of our on-premises applications and data.

How has it helped my organization?

We use NetApp for artificial intelligence and machine learning applications, and we find the latency to be pretty decent.

Data protection and management is one of the best features of NetApp. We like the SnapVault, SnapShot, and SnapMirror, and we use those features extensively.

Our IT operations have been simplified by unifying data services. We have fiber channel, block data, NFS, and CIFS, and we can deploy multi-tenancy boxes from each one. Sometimes, we have all of the different data types in one box. You can add more clusters or more nodes to your cluster. It is easy for us to modularly grow if the need arises.

NetApp has allowed us to leverage our data in new ways, including our test scenarios. A lot of the time it is really hard to test production data because we do not have multiple copies of the same thing that we can use for testing. The solution is flexible enough to allow us to create multiple copies, then try out seven or eight scenarios, then pick which one will be the best going forward. We can do that all within minutes.

We have utilized thin provisioning so that we haven't had to purchase additional storage for our applications. The snapshot technology, unlike other ones, doesn't take up extra space when you're making multiple copies. This means that we don't need extra storage for our temporary tests. Once we are finished we delete the extra copies.

We have used this solution for moving large amounts of data between data centers. We are currently migrating data from a cloud in Atlanta to a cloud in Chicago, and we are using the SnapMirror technology extensively for this.

Using the all-flash solution improves our application response time, and it also has a smaller footprint. You can also tier it, depending on the needs of the application.

NetApp AFF has definitely reduced our data center costs. We have been increasing our storage but not increasing our footprint. I would estimate the savings to be thirty percent.

We have not tested tiering cold data to the cloud, but we are currently working on finding appropriate use cases.

Overall, this solution has really reduced our downtime and has made our lives a lot easier.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the ease of administration and configuration, as well as the speed of deployment.

Using snapshots at each stage of the configuration for applications means that administration is easier because you don't have to worry about messing it up. It makes things a lot smoother.

What needs improvement?

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

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using NetApp since 1998.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This is a stable solution. The dependability and reliability of the product have improved significantly over time, and there is redundancy built into the boxes. We don't worry about stability anymore.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scaling this solution is easy. You can start small with one HA pair and add them as you go. You can make new clusters and add new nodes to clusters. 

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support for NetApp is decent. I mean, it's improving. I understand that it is hard to get people up to date with all of the new technologies but NetApp has done a pretty good job.

Using the online documentation, we are able to find answers most of the time. If not, we can find an expert who will come online and help us to get through. The combination of technical support, Professional Services, and online documentation has really helped.

Service is one of NetApp's strengths.

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

We were using a bunch of other products prior to using this solution, and we are still using some that have been deployed because of the sixteen terabyte limit on each line of the fiber channel.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is not complex at all. It has been made easier compared to other vendors.

What about the implementation team?

We're a big corporation and we have the expertise in-house. Once in a while, we use Professional Services to get through some situations. Our experience with them has been very positive and we have a very good relationship with them.

What was our ROI?

It is very hard to measure ROI, but we know that it is very good compared to other products. 

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

The price to performance ratio with NetApp is unmatched by any other vendor right now.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We have products from HPE, Dell, and NetApp in our environment right now. They each have their share, and each one is equally working.

What other advice do I have?

I am a long-time user and I love this product. Over the years we have asked for improvements and they are doing a great job. I will be happy to see them continue to make improvements, overall.

My advice to anybody researching this type of solution is to look at NetApp. If they don't then they are missing out on great technology and a feature-rich product.

I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
AlirezaDanestehpoor
Senior Storage Engineer at Hyundai autoever
Real User
Top 20
The footproot of the arrays is significantly smaller while the application response time has approved

Pros and Cons

  • "One of the main features that differentiate AFF from the FAS products, or some other technologies used, is the footprint of these arrays are significantly smaller than the traditional ones. Also, the performance that you get to these new arrays is really significant. You can see a huge difference there. By switching to it, we can achieve more storage performance and efficiency as well as in the long run lower down some of the TCOs due to reducing the footprint."
  • "I think adding more features to make it more cloud enabled will help us with cloud tiering and simplify the whole cloud operations when it's integrating with our on-prem AFF products. That is one area where we would like to see more improvements from NetApp."

What is our primary use case?

We have been using the FAS series product, and AFF is pretty similar to the FAS products, as it still runs the ONTAP operating system. They are using AFF because that comes with all-flash disks, which gives us better performance with a smaller footprint. We use that mainly to start our block and NAS data.

How has it helped my organization?

One of the best things about the AFF products is its integration with NetApp StorageGRID, which can give you the ability of tiering to the cloud or StorageGRID. Whether it is on-prem or off-prem, tiering is the industry trend right now. One of the ways that these products help us is by using the new ONTAP version as well. They identify the cold data sitting on our main storage arrays, consuming the very expensive media and moving that to the cheaper storage tiers, whether it's on-prem, StorageGRID, off-prem on a public cloud, or a private cloud. With this integration as part of the Data Fabric, we have been able to lower some costs of storing data on-prem.

What is most valuable?

One of the main features that differentiate AFF from the FAS products, or some other technologies used, is the footprint of these arrays are significantly smaller than the traditional ones. Also, the performance that you get to these new arrays is really significant. You can see a huge difference there. By switching to it, we can achieve more storage performance and efficiency as well as in the long run lower down some of the TCOs due to reducing the footprint.

The one thing about NetApp products is they've been using the same operating system among all of their products, e.g., FAS or AFF. That feature makes it easier to manage and operate those environments because you don't really need to learn the whole new things or train all your engineers on new technology. Overall, it helps with the operations. It's not that complicated. It's easy to manage and operate.

What needs improvement?

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

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using NetApp products for a while.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

NetApp has been stable. It is one of the vendors who we trust to put our production workload on it for numerous reasons. The AFF can survive disk failure. Although, the flash disks have longer life spans, everything is redundant. We haven't experienced any significant issue with these arrays. I would call it is it's six nines. There are even more arrays when it comes to availability and stability.

How are customer service and technical support?

Every time you contact the vendor for the technical issues that you have been dealing with, the level of support you get or the time it takes for you to get your issue resolved really matters and depends on the issue itself (how complicated it is). Sometimes, the support may send some requests to the technical team to gather logs and send them back to support. How many of these logs you have to collect or if you have to engage another vendor's support come into effect when you are trying to find out how fast an issue can be resolved. In general, when you open a case with NetApp support, usually if it's a P1 or P2 case, usually they are very fast when it gets to the point that we need to escalate to the next level of support. So far, we have had a good experience with NetApp. For most cases, they were able to help us resolve the issue as fast as possible.

What was our ROI?

It has improved the application response because the array using the SSD disks are also an NVMe compatible array. We are also using the NVMe host (HBAs) because our fabric is also NVMe compatible with some of the hosts running some mission critical applications with that, AFF, and the back-end storage. We have seen good improvement in the performance of our applications.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We've been using some other vendors products as well.

I cannot disclose the name of the vendors that we are using to compete with NetApp. In the industry today, you can't really tell if there is a bad product or good product. It comes down to your requirements. As a customer, first you have to define your requirements. Then, you need to know what you need, what is your goal, how are you going to achieve it, and what your challenges are. We identified those and have compared some solutions. 

NetApp was our vendor of choice who could help us to fulfill our requirements, especially for some of the challenges that we were facing. NetApp has been able to help us with that.

What other advice do I have?

I would never give a 10 because there is always room for improvement for any technology. From zero to 10, I would give about an eight to nine to the AFF products because we have been very happy with them so far.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
DavidGarcia
Systems Engineer at Nordstrom, Inc.
Real User
Top 20
A high-performance, stable solution for our production database backups

Pros and Cons

  • "NetApp AFF is very good at cleaning up your storage."
  • "The stability is good but there is room for improvement with other options."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use for NetApp AFF is backup for our production. It's more for our database for all of our retail for Nordstrom. We've got to keep it running every day, so we've got to make sure that we have all the databases backed up for three years, or more.

How has it helped my organization?

We use NetApp AFF for artificial intelligence and machine learning applications, and there is no latency that I can see. It has been pretty solid.

This solution is pretty simple when it comes to data protection and data management.

After we implemented NetApp, we noticed that the deduplication and the latency changed a lot. Rather than buy more disk space, we now compress a lot of stuff and we have more storage. Overall, we have more storage and less latency, which saves us money. I would say that we save between half a million and three-quarters of a million dollars, yearly.

We use our data in the same way. This solution benefited us in that it was hard to convince our upper management to buy more disk, so this helped out.

The thin provisioning helped a lot, and it was probably the biggest key. We noticed that we were short in certain areas and we needed to add more room for VDI. With thin provisioning, we weren't using as much, and with not much latency on it.

Being able to move large amounts of data from one data center to another has helped us. We have a data center in one office and another one that is about a hundred miles away. We share a lot of data between these two sites. There is almost no latency, so it works out perfectly. When we have an incident, such as a power outage at one site, we automatically have a backup on the other end. Also when one side is down, we're still available, although we're limited to certain things on one side. Overall, the backup is pretty good.

We are currently discussing the possible relocation of resources.

I would estimate that our application response time has improved by twenty to thirty percent. For example, our photo studio application is faster.

At this time, we are examining out data center costs and considering a different data center.

Using NetApp has helped alleviate worry about storage being a limiting factor. Had I been asked this a year ago, it would have been a different story.  The additional storage means that things are easier and running more smoothly, and we don't have to worry about it breaking down.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features for us are controlling the snapshots, the ease of reverting back, and scheduling.

NetApp AFF is very good at cleaning up your storage.

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is good, although there is always room for improvement.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We are working on scaling this solution right now. It is a big part of what we want to do, including moving to the cloud.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support for this solution is good, and I've never had a problem. They are straight to the point and give you a lot of detail on what to expect or what you might run into. Whether you call or get support online, it is pretty good.

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

We started looking into NetApp AFF because our previous solution was outdated, and we were having storage problems. They were older FAS storage, also by NetApp.

We were interested in getting something a little better, including improvements in the storage and the latency.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. It's always been very easy with how everything works, and their support has been pretty solid too.

What about the implementation team?

We worked with partners for implementation and deployment. Our experience with them was pretty good.

What was our ROI?

Having our VDI work better is important to us because our work-from-home employees can work a lot better, which helps save money.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We only evaluated NetApp, and we are slowly looking at VMware, VDI, and the cloud.

We went with this solution primarily because of the stability. I also see reducing a lot of storage and cleaning up a lot of stuff. It is pretty good at this.

What other advice do I have?

We are looking into a cloud version in the future.

My advice for anybody who is researching this type of solution is to consider several things. If they are trying to save money, think that they'll have to buy more disk, or want to clean up what they have, I think that they should go ahead with NetApp AFF. It makes a big difference, especially if you see the thirty percent improvement that we have seen. It's a pretty big jump.

This solution is very good, but nobody is perfect.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
JG
Vice President Data Protection Strategy at a computer software company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Reseller
Top 20
Stable, flexible, and offers good local technical support

Pros and Cons

  • "Other manufacturers claim simplicity. In fact, frankly, they do have an advantage in that regard, however, they don't have the functionality. If you were to compare one of those products to NetApp, head to head from a feature perspective, NetApp would wind up in the top 10."
  • "From my perspective, everything works well. They've already announced that they have some features in their next release that make the existing investment more usable, by adding software features to your existing legacy hardware investment."

What is our primary use case?

The solution is primarily used for data protection and disaster recovery, business continuity, and cybersecurity.

What is most valuable?

We like the fact that we also use it and therefore can tell our clients about it from an actual user perspective, not just a sales perspective. 

No one has a price-to-earnings ratio that NetApp has, everyone's is inflated. NetApp's is below market, NetApp pays a two and a half percent dividend, NetApp stock has doubled in the past 12 months. NetApp's largest customer is probably the federal government, which uses more than 50% of NetApp, from my understanding, if you subtract cloud, although I'm not privy to understand how much cloud the federal government uses that is actually NetApp under the covers.

The fact of the matter is, if you need the top-selling, performing, file serving appliance to deliver your files to your end-users, NetApp pretty much invented the technology. While no one really can take credit for serving files, NetApp has been doing it for more than 25 years. They do it better than anyone. They have utilities around that. They can do three things that their competition can do with multiple different solutions. I'm sure there are some obscure things that they do in vertical markets that their competition does better, however, I'm not going to comment on radiology or genetics or things of that. They do a lot of things, yet, not like a Swiss army knife. They do a lot of things and are the best of breed of products put together.

Other manufacturers claim simplicity. In fact, frankly, they do have an advantage in that regard, however, they don't have the functionality. If you were to compare one of those products to NetApp, head to head from a feature perspective, NetApp would wind up in the top 10.

What needs improvement?

I'm not an engineer, so to a certain extent, it ain't broke, don't fix it. From my perspective, everything works well. 

They've already announced that they have some features in their next release that make the existing investment more usable, by adding software features to your existing legacy hardware investment. Features like the ability to add the S3 protocol, which is the storage protocol used by Amazon Azure and Google onto a NetApp filer for on-prem or co-located products.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for a while. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been good. There are no bugs or glitches, really. It doesn't crash or freeze. There are a few things here or there that are minor, however, everyone deals with something no matter the platform. 

How are customer service and technical support?

To a certain extent, we offer the client basic tech support, meaning if a disc drive has failed we can send someone to replace it. NetApp has a very large tech support organization for their premium customers, where they will support third-party products like Rubrik, like VMware, like Combo - all kinds of third-party products that touch NetApp. 

Not every storage or NetApp deployment is open the box, put the NetApp in the rack, turn the on/off switch on, and click the wizard. It's got to interface in a hospital environment, has to interface with the medical imaging department, so in that regard, no product is easier or more difficult than NetApp other than how the storage device interfaces with what it's storing.

All tech support isn't great if they didn't do a good job setting up and all tech support is great if they did a great job for you, and I've had positive and negative experiences with every manufacturer's tech support. I would rate NetApp as one of the best. It's usually in-country. I have customers that are in South America, that are in the United States, that are in the UK, that are in Asia. I don't stay up nights worrying about their tech support.

The partner community, such as myself and my engineering team, usually get involved if there is a tech support issue that is not a manufacturing defect or a bug as we can't control that. We can only control the environment that we helped architect.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup can be both straightforward and complex. It's like buying a big toolbox filled with a million different tools, and wrenches and spanners and screwdrivers, and things of that type. You could use that toolbox to install a doorknob or could you use it to build a house.

If you wish to use every tool in your big toolbox, it's a complex environment that requires sometimes more than one skill set.

What other advice do I have?

I'm a reseller and my company also uses it.

I just provide them the equipment when they need it, so I don't run it. I don't have the responsibility for the operation of it, only my own clientele.

I'd rate the solution at a ten out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer:
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AlanHaskic
Systems Management Engineer at Linklaters
Real User
Top 20
We reduced our data center footprint by implementing this solution

Pros and Cons

  • "We have had issues before on our infrastructure where 20 to 30 percent of the people would come to us pointing the finger at the storage technology or storage back-end. That is now virtually zero."
  • "Using System Manager for green management or command line interface, we have a single point for managing the cluster. It is much easier to manage. It is very seamless. The product is robust and solid."
  • "We have been seeing some challenges around the application layer implementation. We are having some teething problems now with the cooperation between the application layer and backups to things, like SnapCenter. This may be a question of product maturity."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case for AFF is for use in our production environment. Within our production environment, we have a number of different data stores that AFF serves. We use a number of protocols from NFS to CIFS, as well from the file system protocols, and in the block level we use iSCSI.

We are a fully on-prem business as far as data positioning data sets. 

We don't have real-time applications that we run in-house, being a law firm. The most important thing is the availability of our environments and applications that we serve to our client base. We don't have real-time applications that we could be measured in real tangible form that would make a huge difference for us. Nevertheless, the way it goes: the faster, the better; the more powerful, the better; and the more resources you can get from it, the better.

How has it helped my organization?

We have had issues before on our infrastructure where 20 to 30 percent of the people would come to us pointing the finger at the storage technology or storage back-end. That is now virtually zero.

We have one program that has been running for about a year. It is called Nakhoda, and it is an AI application (written in-house) based on AI technology. As far as latency, it is not visible nor noticeable because these machines throw hundred of thousands to millions of files per second.

For DR, we use the SnapMirror technology that ONTAP provides us on based on these platforms. Then, for the local backups, we use snapshots mainly. We are currently implementing SnapCenter for Exchange and VWware to utilize the backup features that the solution provides us.

What is most valuable?

AFF gives us a number of really valuable features. It ranges from a full flash to all-flash product. So, the speed and resources that we get from AFFs is just unparalleled in storage environments. Also, we utilize all the OCR features that AFF gives and has built into its ONTAP environment, like dedupe, snapshotting, data compression, and the number of the other things. 

Using System Manager for green management or command line interface, we have a single point for managing the cluster. It is much easier to manage. It is very seamless. The product is robust and solid.

What needs improvement?

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

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We were early adopters of the cDOT environment five or six years ago. In the early stages of deployment (five or six years ago), we saw some challenges around cDOT. However in the last two to four years, the product has matured incredibly. Ever since the introduction of ONTAP 9.X, we haven't seen any issues in terms of availability and performance.

We are upgrading to ONTAP, which will give us a data encryption level at an aggregate layer of the ONTAP environment. We are looking forward to that.

We are using SnapMirror and not seeing any issues. Let us hope it stays like that.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support has always been really helpful. 

In recent times, the first line of support has moved and is now concentrated in Bulgaria. If they are new to working with your customers, we have seen some slight challenges in terms of speed when transferring higher priority cases to higher levels of NetApp's support structure. Hopefully, this will be resolved soon.

Once I reach the second or third line of support engineering, the support has always been good.

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

Before moving to NetApp, we were with their major competitor.

How was the initial setup?

In simple terms, you just rack the hardware, you load your codes, and it's ready for configuration. That is pretty straightforward.

What was our ROI?

We benefited from implementing all-flash by reducing our data center footprint. We took it from 30 racks to just over five. This is one of the biggest savings for us.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

NetApp is the largest storage vendor in the market, purely based on storage technologies. I hope it stays that way.

What other advice do I have?

We have been really happy with the product. It is a robust, strong, solid platform.

I would rate the product a nine and a half (out of a 10). The product is robust, solid, easy to manage, and provides a number of features with speed of operations. The resources are okay, but they are not unlimited. They are at a very high level.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

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