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SB
Director at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
MSP
Versatile, easy to manage, saves us on storage space, and has reduced data center costs

Pros and Cons

  • "The most important features are the IOPS and the ease of the ONTAP manageability."
  • "The certification classes are good, but they don't cover enough of the material, and the exams only test on what is covered in class."

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution for in-house data.

How has it helped my organization?

The simplicity around data protection and data management is good with the snapshots and then being able to lock them up. We can conserve the data for our space and then set the layers that we set with the administration. It's very feasible.

Our data staff is smaller than it was because it's easier to manage in one portal. We have moved several employees into different departments.

The IT operations have been simplified through the unification of data services because we have just one window where we can manage it all.

With regard to application response time, I can say that the speed increase is substantially noticeable, but I do not have any numbers. It is probably twice as fast as it was.

I know that the data center costs have been reduced because we have fewer people managing the data, but I do not know by how much.

This solution has lessened our concern about storage as a limiting factor. It comes down to the easy manageability, the deduplication, and the compaction. Our volumes aren't growing as fast as they were.

What is most valuable?

The most important features are the IOPS and the ease of the ONTAP manageability.

The deduplicate process is performed in the cache before it goes to storage, which means that we don't use as much storage.

The versatility of NetApp is what makes it really nice.

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The NetApp AFF is very stable and we haven't had any issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

From what I can't tell, this solution is very scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

The NetApp technical support is very good. They have the website and they have the forums where you can get questions answered. You can get a lot of things answered without even talking to anybody.

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

Prior to NetApp AFF, we were using an HPE Storage solution. It was a little more difficult to swap out the drives on the XP series. You have to shut down the drive and then wait for a prompt to remove it. It's a long process and if somebody pulls it out hot and puts another one in then you're going to have to do a complete rebuild. It is not as robust or stable when you are swapping parts.

How was the initial setup?

NetApp is very easy to set up.

All of the solutions by different vendors have setup wizards but with NetApp, it walks you through the steps and it is easy. It has NAS, CIFS, NFS, and block, all at once. Building the lines and going through is done step-by-step. With other vendors like EMC, you have to get a separate filer. There are a lot more questions that have to be asked on the front end.

NetApp also talks seamlessly with VMware, and most people are on VMware.  

What about the implementation team?

We performed the implementation.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Our shortlist of vendors included EMC, NetApp, and HPE, because we have relationships with all of them. Ultimately, NetApp gives us more versatility.

What other advice do I have?

This is my favorite storage platform.

I would rate this solution a nine 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.
PY
Storage Administrator at a energy/utilities company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Easy to use, good performance, and we like the all-in-one package license

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature is the ease of management."
  • "Technical support could use some improvement."

What is our primary use case?

We use NetApp AFF to support our VMware environment.

How has it helped my organization?

We have been happy with the performance and it has not given us any issues.

I like the simplicity of data protection and data management. We use snapshots for our FAS recovery, and we use SnapVault for our backups.

NetApp definitely simplifies our IT operations by unifying services. We only use this solution on-premises, but with NAS, we don't need Microsoft Windows to create a share. It's all on our NetApp platform. I like it because we do not have to switch.

I wouldn't say that we have reallocated resources that were previously dedicated to storage operations, although it does give us time to do other things.

We have used NetApp to move large amounts of data between data centers. It has made it easier for us, and RPOs are shorter because of it.

With respect to the response time for applications, I can definitely say that it has improved, although we have not done any benchmarking. I perceive the improvement through monitoring the applications.

This solution is pretty expensive, so I'm not sure whether it has reduced our data center costs.

NetApp has helped eliminate storage as a limiting factor in our business. My customers are happier because they have no issues with performance or accessing their data.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the ease of management. You just set it and you don't have to worry about it.

What needs improvement?

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

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

Technical support could use some improvement.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is very good, although we do have some NAS outages during maintenance.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Overall, I like the scalability. It can do NAS, CIFS, and fiber channel all in one box and it's easy to manage.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would say that the technical support is hit or miss. Sometimes you get somebody good, but other times, you have to just escalate a couple of times to get the right person.

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

Our previous solution was spinning disk, and our application demands more in terms of storage and performance. NetApp AFF just seemed like the natural route because we didn't want to get left behind.

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

One of the reasons we like this solution is that all of the features are included with the one license. For example, we can use NFS, CIFS, SnapMirror, SnapRestore, etc. It's all included in the package and we don't have to pick and choose.

We purchased the license for a five-year term.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated other options, including solutions by EMC, before choosing NetApp. The reason for our choice is that we already had NetApp in our environment, and the price-point is also a little better than the competing products.

What other advice do I have?

My advice to anybody who is researching this type of solution is to test and compare all of the products. Overall, I think that AFF is a solid store system and it's very easy to use.

I would rate this solution a nine 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.
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MB
Specialist Senior at a consultancy with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 20
Stable, almost immeasurable speed, and good technical support

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature is speed."
  • "The price of NVMe storage is very expensive."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use for this solution is NFS and fiber channel mounts for VMware and Solaris.

How has it helped my organization?

Prior to deploying this product, we were having such severe latency issues that certain applications and certain services were becoming unavailable at times. Moving to the AFF completely obliterated all those issues that we were having.

With regard to the overall latency, NetApp AFF is almost immeasurably fast.

Data protection and data management features are simple to use with the web management interface.

We do not have any data on the cloud, but this solution definitely helps to simplify IT operations by unifying data that we have on-premises. We are using a mixture of mounting NFS, CIFS, and then using fiber channel, so data is available to multiple platforms with multiple connectivity paradigms.

The thin provisioning has allowed us to add new applications without having to purchase additional storage. The best example is our recent deployment of an entire server upgrade from Windows 2008 to Windows 2016. Had we not been using thin provisioning then we never would have had enough disk space to actually complete it without upgrading the hardware.

We're a pretty small team, so we have never had dedicated storage resources.

NetApp AFF has reduced our application response time. In some cases, our applications have gone from almost unusable to instantaneous response times.

Storage is always a limiting factor, simply because it's not unlimited. However, this solution has enabled us to present the option of less expensively adding more storage for very specific application uses, which we did not have before.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is speed.

What needs improvement?

The price of NVMe storage is very expensive.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We haven't had a problem with stability since it has gone online.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't needed to scale yet, but I can imagine that it would be seamless.

How are customer service and technical support?

The NetApp technical support is outstanding.

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

Our previous NetApp system was a SAS and SATA spinning disk solution that was reaching end-of-life, and we were overrunning it. We were ready for an upgrade and we stuck with NetApp because of the easy of cross-upgrading, as well as the performance.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was fairly straightforward, in that we were doing this migration from an old NetApp to a new one. However, because of the problems with latency they were having on that, it got a little bit complicated because we had to shuffle things around a lot.

The technical support helped us out well with these issues, and on the grand scheme of things, it was a very straightforward migration.

What about the implementation team?

We used a company called StorageHawk, and our experience was phenomenal.

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

Comparing this solution to others it may seem expensive, but the price to performance for NetApp is greater. You get a lot more for the money.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We considered solutions by EMC, but they were very quickly ruled out.

What other advice do I have?

I have experience with a previous version of NetApp from quite some time ago, and everything about the current version has improved.

NetApp AFF performs well, we haven't had any issues with it, and I suspect that it is going to be pretty easy to upgrade. It would be nice if the NVMe storage was less expensive, even though it's worth it.

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.
CJ
Sr Storage Engineer at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Good DR with SnapMirror and our application responsiveness has improved

Pros and Cons

  • "I think that the DR applications are the most valuable, including Snapshots and SnapMirror."
  • "We have had trouble with restoring applications, and if there is more support for application-aware backups then that would be great."

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use NetApp AFF for file storage and VMware.

How has it helped my organization?

Coming from a financial background, we are very dependent on performance. Using an all-flash solution, we have a performance guarantee that our applications are going to run fine, no matter how many IOPS we do.

We use NetApp for both SAN and NAS, and this solution has simplified our operations. Specifically, we use it for SAN on VMware, and all of our NFS storage is on NAS. They are unified in that it is the same physical box for both.

This solution has not helped us to leverage data in new ways.

Thin provisioning has allowed us to add new applications without having to purchase additional storage. This is one of the reasons that we purchased NetApp AFF. We almost always run it at seventy percent utilized, and we only purchase new physical storage when we reach the eighty or eighty-five percent mark.

I find that we do have better application response time, although it is not something that I can benchmark.

As a storage team, we are not worried about storage as a limiting factor. When other teams point out that storage might be an issue, we tell them that we've got the right tools to say that it is not.

What is most valuable?

I think that the DR applications are the most valuable, including Snapshots and SnapMirror. They are one of the market leaders in this regard. It is a very solid platform that has been in the market for a while.

What needs improvement?

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

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have rarely had an issue where there was an outage. Whenever we have an issue, we can rely on NetApp support.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We are running in cluster mode, which is known for its scalability. I would say that it is good.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support has been all right, but it takes a while to get a hold of the right person because you've got to go through the level one, level two support. But, after a while, you get the support that you need.

We do have experts within the company, so we only go to NetApp's support when we have a very serious issue that we need to work on.

Overall, it has been all right.

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

We have used NetApp for a very long time. Our reason for implementing AFF was that we wanted to go for an all-flash solution. We didn't want to keep using hard disks, but we still wanted to continue using SnapMirror and Snapshots. This was the way to do it.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is straightforward, at least for me. I've deployed NetApp before in my previous jobs, and it was easy with my experience. That said, it is not very complex.

What about the implementation team?

We used Professional Services from one of NetApp's partners, Diversus, to assist with our deployment. Our experience with them as been good. They are one of the top NetApp partners in Sydney, Australia. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not evaluate other options.

What other advice do I have?

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.
BT
Director of Infrastructure Engineering at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 20
Helps us consolidate, save money, and increase access to millions of files at once

Pros and Cons

  • "We do a lot of financial modeling. We have a large compute cluster that generates a lot of files. It is important for us to get a quick response back for any type of multimillion file accesses across the cluster at one time. So, it's a lot quicker to do that. We found that solid-state performs so much better than than spinning drives, even over multiple clusters."
  • "I would like there to be a way to break out the 40 gig ports on them. We have a lot of 10 gigs in our environment. It is a big challenge breaking out the 40 gig coming out of the filer. It would be nice to have good old 10 gig ports again, or a card that has just 10 gig ports on it."

What is our primary use case?

We did it for consolidation of eight file repairs. We needed the speed to make sure that it worked when we consolidated.

How has it helped my organization?

We do a lot of financial modeling. We have a large compute cluster that generates a lot of files. It is important for us to get a quick response back for any type of multimillion file accesses across the cluster at one time. So, it's a lot quicker to do that. We found that solid-state performs so much better than than spinning drives, even over multiple clusters. it works.

It is helping us consolidate, save money, and increasing access to millions of files at once.

It is very important in our environment for all the cluster nodes. We have 4,500 CPUs that are going through and accessing all the files, typically from the same volume. So, it is important for it to get served quickly so it doesn't introduce any delay in our processing time. 

What is most valuable?

Solid-state drives are the most valuable feature. It has the speed now to do workloads. We're not bound by I/O from the drives. Also, we are just starting to hit the sweet point of the capacity of the solid-state drives versus spinning disk.

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability has been really good. It's been solid. We had a couple of problems when we first set it up because we set it up incorrectly. But we learned, we change the settings and things are working a lot better now.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't had to scale it yet. We literally reduced 18 racks worth of equipment into two and still have room in those two racks to do additional shelves, expanding into that footprint. So, it's expandable and dense, which is great.

How was the initial setup?

The process was easy to consolidate into one AFF HA pair. It was simply doing volume copies and across SnapMirrors in the environment. It just migrated right over. It wasn't a problem at all.

What was our ROI?

It is reducing our data center costs. We consolidated eight HA pairs into one AFF HA pair.

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

We would like it to be free.

What other advice do I have?

For our workload, it's, it's doing what we need it to do.

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

We do not use the solution for artificial intelligence or machine-learning applications right now.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
CH
System Programmer at a energy/utilities company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
A flexible and reliable solution with good support, but the deployment needs to be easier

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable features are the flexibility and level of technical support."
  • "This solution should be made easier to deploy."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for NetApp AFF is unstructured data. We set up it up for high availability and minimum downtime.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution simplifies our IT operations by unifying data services across SAN and NAS environments. We are using it on the fiber channel side, as well as the iSCSI side, for both CIFS and NFS, so it across the entire infrastructure.

We have used NetApp AFF to large move amounts of data. We just recently did a migration using SnapMirror and SVM DR. We did have some scheduled downtime, but there was no unplanned disruption in service.

Even with this solution implemented, I still have to manage the storage side and the availability of it, so we still have to worry about it being a limiting factor.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the flexibility and level of technical support.

This is a very reliable solution in terms of keeping the system online.

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is good. This is a very reliable solution.

It can be set up as a cluster, HA, and when one node goes down the others hold the data, so the customer barely notices that there is a failover.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I would rate the scalability an eight or nine out of ten.

We can grow this solution very easily, just by adding storage. All we need to do is buy a shelf and expand the storage side of it.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would rate the customer support an eight out of ten. They are really good in terms of responding to the customer.

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

We have a large amount of unstructured data, so we felt that AFF was the right solution for us.

How was the initial setup?

In terms of complexity, the initial setup is somewhere in the middle. It is not straightforward where you can run it out of the box. You have to set it up and configure the network. 

What about the implementation team?

We had a jumpstart, but I can handle the installation on my own.

What was our ROI?

We have not seen ROI so far.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did consider using other vendors, but NetApp AFF was the best in terms of reliability.

What other advice do I have?

In order to automatically tier cold data to the cloud, you would have to use third-party software.

I would rate this solution a seven 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.
PH
Technical Lead at USAF
Real User
Has helped us to stop worrying about storage as a limiting factor

Pros and Cons

  • "The overall latency in our environment is very low because it's All Flash and we've got 10 Giga dedicated to the storage network"
  • "It has not reduced our data center costs. NetApp charges a pretty penny for their stuff."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case of this solution is for SAN block storage. 

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

How has it helped my organization?

It has improved the way my organization functions because it has enabled us to host a very fast, multi-tenant private cloud solution.

AFF has improved application response time by a lot. 

This solution has helped us to stop worrying about storage as a limiting factor. We know we've got enough storage left and it's easy to manage, so we can tell how much real storage we do have left.

What is most valuable?

We use SapMirror a lot but the speed of the AFF is also very valuable. 

The overall latency in our environment is very low because it's All Flash and we've got 10 Giga dedicated to the storage network

AFF's simplicity around data protection and data management is pretty good. With the NetApp volume encryption, we're getting data at rest encryption right now. It was very easy to turn on and very easy to manage with the onboard key manager.

It has enabled us to add new applications, without having to purchase additional storage. We've over-provisioned our storage quite a bit, simply because we know we've got time before people will grow into it.

What needs improvement?

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

The next release desperately needs NFS4, extended attributes.

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's rock solid. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is expensive. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is very good. We use them quite a bit and we have had good experiences with them.

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

We've been with NetApp since I came on the project and because I had NetApp experience before I brought it with me.

How was the initial setup?

I've set up a NetApp network previously. The setup was pretty straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We used an integrator and we had a very good experience with them.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We've looked at EMC and Microsoft storage spaces. Neither one of them really compares.

My advice to someone considering this solution is that if you can afford it and you will be using it a lot, go for it. 

What other advice do I have?

I would rate it an eight out of ten. To make it a perfect ten it would need to be cheaper. 

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.
BS
IT Manager at a wholesaler/distributor with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 20
Extremely stable and can scale but the pricing is not the best

Pros and Cons

  • "Technical support has been okay."
  • "During the initial setup, you need to know what you are doing."

What is our primary use case?

I primarily use the solution for asically all my main data for all my ESXi hosts.

What is most valuable?

The product suffices and works.

The product is scalable.

The stability has been very good over the years. 

Technical support has been okay.

What needs improvement?

This particular solution is coming up at its end of life.

During the initial setup, you need to know what you are doing. There's a learning curve. There are simpler options available. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using the solution for seven years, although I am in the process of switching off of it right now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability and performance over the years have been good. In the seven years I've had it, it has totally crashed twice on me. The stability is pretty damn good. You have to admit that.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is okay. You can scale it if you need to. 

Currently, we have 70 users on it. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Their tech support is okay.  When I have issues like what I had, I usually just reach right out to my sales rep and they direct me in the right direction.

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

I just switched over to Pure, so my flash storage is more than adequate now.

However, previous to this solution, we did not use a different product.

How was the initial setup?

In terms of the initial setup, you need to know what you're doing with it. That's another reason why I'm going over to Pure. It's much simpler.

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

I'm not impressed with their pricing.

What other advice do I have?

I'm just a customer and an end-user.

I've got kind of a unique situation happening right now. I've got a NetApp DS2250 that's starting to fail - or started to fail about four months ago. I ordered the Pure Storage, and I got it in, cutting all the in-between stuff out. I was waiting for some 10 Gig switches to come in from Cisco, however, with a chip shortage, everything has been delayed. I'm still not getting those in until September. Pure Storage is not actually up and running. I'm limping along with my NetApp right now.

My advice to those considering the solution is to know what you are doing before you get started. 

I'd rate the solution at a seven out of ten. I don't like the pricing and you do need to know what you are doing to use the product effectively, however, the stability is excellent. 

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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