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NetApp HCI OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

NetApp HCI is #7 ranked solution in HCI Software. IT Central Station users give NetApp HCI an average rating of 8 out of 10. NetApp HCI is most commonly compared to VMware vSAN: NetApp HCI vs VMware vSAN.NetApp HCI is popular among Large Enterprise, accounting for 81% of users researching this solution on IT Central Station. The top industry researching this solution is Computer Software Company, accounting for 27% of all views.
What is NetApp HCI?

NetApp HCI is the only true enterprise-scale hyper converged cloud infrastructure. NetApp HCI comes in a 2 RU chassis with 4 node expansion slots.

NetApp HCI Buyer's Guide

Download the NetApp HCI Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: October 2021

NetApp HCI Customers

American Showa, Children's Mercy, Coca-Cola, Consultel Cloud, Evangelische Landeskirche in Wurttemberg, Imperva, Surface Mount Technology

NetApp HCI Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about NetApp HCI pricing:
  • "This solution reduced our maintenance costs. We were going to have to pay one to two million dollars to put in compute nodes. We are avoiding those costs."
  • "Its price is aligned with the market. In addition to the standard licensing fees, there is an integrator cost."

NetApp HCI Reviews

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Steve Lamesey
Vice President at Hardwood International Corp
Real User
Top 20
A strong and efficient product that can scale storage and compute independently

Pros and Cons

  • "This is a strong product and it works very well, and the processes around it continue to grow and mature."
  • "I would like to see the implementation process improved."

What is our primary use case?

We do not run NetApp HCI ourselves. This is a solution that we implement for our customers. The version that we provide is normally the latest, although a customer will sometimes request an earlier version.

Depending on how the solution is architectured to the customer, the deployment model can be on-premises, in a public cloud, or private-cloud based. Our team goes in and delivers against that architecture. When it is a public cloud deployment, Microsoft Azure is our preference.

For the customers that we talk to, their primary use case is normally to build their own version of the cloud with a quality of service where they can move workloads to the HCI solution while taking advantage of the Cloud and doing it in a more cost-effective way. The administration costs are lower and it is a simpler solution to run.

How has it helped my organization?

NetApp HCI's ability to scale on demand is a differentiator in the marketplace. The ability to scale storage and compute together or separately is one of the differentiators for the customers.

This solution can scale compute and storage independently, whereas in competing solutions if I need more compute, I have to bring more storage along with it. This means that I have idle storage. Conversely, if I need more storage then I have to bring more compute along with it. With NetApp, I get to look at each of those separately and then plan separately. It allows me to utilize my internal resources better because I'm not spending money on things that I don't need. It also allows me to tailor that solution and that platform more to my business needs versus working with a platform that does great things but I'm having to bring things in at a scale that I don't need.

The simplicity of the Element software, once it is deployed, is one of the things that draws people to it. The ease of management and the ability to provision toward the quality of service so that I can set parameters where I need them and walk away are big draws because it makes things easier for the customer.

I would say that using NetApp HCI has improved application performance, but not just where you would see it. I am not speaking about the IO of the applications, but rather in the teams that support applications within our organization. They're more effective and more efficient. They have a better solution and they're not having to spend time trying to keep it running. They set it up and then go on to work on other things, which makes their organization more productive.

In terms of storage performance, capacity utilization is probably the biggest impact. I've got what I need and I can get more of what I need, and then I can set it to perform as I need without having to necessarily manage it the same way. I would have a traditional storage management team or administrator. It's rolled up in the singular product. It's more of a one-button way of doing things. There's a lot of magic that goes on underneath, but the applications get what they need because I'm able to guarantee it through quality and service.

As far as maintenance costs go, I would think NetApp absolutely reduces them because you're able to migrate multiple things to a singular platform. You don't have as many footprints of support. Maintenance is a big cost from an operational standpoint for the customers and having a single platform where you can merge workflows and then have them all with a quality of service means there's no way that it can't save people money.

On the topic of TCO, I can't speak to it for any specific customer, but in today's environment with the cost structure and cost pressure on IT, if this solution didn't improve TCO then it wouldn't sell. You're looking at a product that's disruptive in the sense that it can change the way you deploy headcount within your organization. It changes the way you deploy applications within your organization. That's all measured by executives from a TCO standpoint. If it's having success and people are being drawn to it, and people who have platforms are growing them, then it is probably having a positive effect on the organization.

What is most valuable?

This is a strong product and it works very well, and the processes around it continue to grow and mature.

The user interface continues to improve.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see the implementation process improved. It's like the product is almost ahead of the ability for everybody to make sure that it's packaged right to go into a marketplace for a user.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

My impressions of the stability so far are really good. The customers that we install for, seem to really like it. They've taken to it very quickly, have become very dependent on it, and are scaling out their environment.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is very good. This is a very common-sense approach to a platform that didn't exist in the marketplace. NetApp has been able to make it work where you can scale storage and compute independently of each other, and right now they continually push the upper limit of the number of nodes, but the system seems to be sized against most workloads that we see, adequately. So, they're ahead of the curve, and as they continue to push that forward and more people come to the platform, it should continue to be very successful. 

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is very good. They have some great expertise that is geographically dispersed around the United States. For the rank and file, if you create a support ticket then it's a little clumpy because not everybody is up to speed. But, as you get to the resources who truly understand it, it's very good. As the platform gains broader acceptance, you expect that to migrate down through the organization a little bit.

How was the initial setup?

Conceptually, the initial setup is pretty straightforward. The practice of it is rather complex because it involves so many different teams from the customer. You've got different networking teams, security teams, and operations teams, and all of those have to be orchestrated on the front end before successful implementation. Assuming that those pieces are in place, it goes pretty well.

What about the implementation team?

We install NetApp HCI for our clients, and there are some changes that I would like to see. The biggest thing is that I think the paradigm could be changed. There's always a lot of focus on getting a date with a customer of when we can do an installation. There's a workbook that comes with it, which is essentially a listing of all the IPs, the addressing information, and the naming schemes for the systems. You have to have those before the net deployment engine, which basically launches the system, will launch successfully.

We have found ourselves getting onsite at the push of either a customer or a sales team, and then those things aren't in place. It makes the deployment very, very difficult and then kind of frustrating for the customer because now it's a scramble to get those pieces put together. If we did those things first and said, okay, make sure all these IPs are filled out and the networks are hot, which means all the ports are turned on, then let's talk about a date, I think it would be a much better customer experience. We found ourselves having to do a part of the installation and go back to finish it later, so it's just not as clean as it should be.

What other advice do I have?

Speaking as a partner who sells the product, our standpoint is that data is ubiquitous. It's everywhere now. Everybody from our kids to our grandparents is creating data and consuming data. NetApp is the one company that has an ability to, from the creation or the acquisition of data, make it usable and available to you wherever you are, regardless of the platform given of ONTAP capabilities. They had these endpoint platforms, which is HCI, which is E series, which is FAS, which is storage created, that allows very robust systems to manage certain types of data. Then, you can use ONTAP with the cloud to make it accessible within your organization. So, the barriers that separated data are going away and NetApp is, from our point of view, ahead of many other people in the marketplace making that happen.

NetApp has a very good message and I think that it can be enabled to push an organization forward.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
Ketan-Patel
Pre-sales Solution Architect at SHI international corp
Real User
Top 20
Separates control of storage from compute and enables the ability to individually choose the minimum and maximum burst on IOPS

Pros and Cons

  • "It is a unique product with simplified setup and independent control over storage and compute."
  • "It is easy to install now, but could potentially be even simpler."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use for the product is doing demo presentations of it for customers. We show them the function of the appliance, the features, how easy it is to operate, and things like that. That is what our main purpose for it is as resellers.

How has it helped my organization?

The product has improved our organization by making it very easy to explain the product to a customer to show what kind of environment that they can use this appliance in. 

What is most valuable?

One of the most valuable features of the solution is that they have taken something like 400 steps and compiled it into like 30 steps to install it. That level of simplification is one of the best things I've ever seen in any appliance in the market.

Normally when you build an appliance, you have to go through an extended installation process. But once you collect all the IP's that you need to for this appliance, the NetApp engine does all the rest of the work for you. So instead of leaving it on the operator to do all the work, the appliance does it. That is one of the features that I have seen in any appliance that really simplifies a lot of the work you would otherwise have to do for setup.

What needs improvement?

An improvement I would like to see is if they could make it even more simple to set up. They were able to figure out a way to get 400 steps down to about 30 steps. Trying to reduce that down more would be an even greater benefit. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Once the product is up and running with the build configured correctly, the product will run itself. It is highly stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scalable. You could add more nodes. You have to start out with the minimum number of storage nodes. But then you could scale up as much as you want on just storage or just compute.

How was the initial setup?

The set up is pretty straightforward. If it does have any sort of learning curve the only thing is you have to be sure to get all the pre-checks done. I would say that has too many IPS (Intrusion Prevention System).

So that is a pre-check you have to do now and hope that they address in the future to somehow downsize that into a limited number of IPS. Right now it is like 16 to 24 IPS, which is a lot for one appliance.

What was our ROI?

The solution has reduced TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) for some customers — or really most. Because there is a hyper-converged infrastructure, you do not need to have that three-tier architecture with separate storage, separate compute, and separate network. It definitely has reduced costs. I would say at least by 50 percent in most cases.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

The products that clients are usually evaluating are other hyper-convergent tools because NetApp HCI is a hyper-converged infrastructure. There are other parts of the market like Nutanics, VxRail, and Cisco (HyperFlex). When we help clients do a comparison of other products, NetApp wins because of the leading features. For example, they are the only product on the market that has independent compute and storage capability. No other the product has that.

What other advice do I have?

Because our organization functions as resellers, we use the product features in demonstrations. We do not actually apply them to our own business. For example,
the solution's ability to scale on-demand and affect provisioning in an organization is something we demonstrate to those who are interested in the product. We do not use it personally. We explain that feature in our presentation and the customers want to see it. When they do they are wowed and want the capability. 

This solution's ability to scale compute and storage independently affects capacity, performance, and operational planning in our customers' organizations. The best thing about the product is this is the only appliance in the market that separates control of storage from compute. There is nobody in another OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) on the market that can do that currently. It is absolutely unique because you can individually choose the minimum and maximum burst on IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second). Nobody lets you do that independently like this appliance does.

The solution also has the capacity to reduce your hypervisor footprint. We do not actually have that many customers that use hypervisor because most everybody is in the VM world right now. It is a plugin in vCenter and it a very usable, very friendly tool as a plugin.

Being that NetApp HCI is a hyper-converged infrastructure a company with a data center will not have to have separate storage, special computers, and a special network for different purposes. This product does all of that in one central appliance. Which is why HCI is very popular.

The solution increases application performance. Because it works well with VM products and lets you independently choose how much of the resources each VM could use as far as IOPS. There is no noisy neighbor — no one appliance or application gets to hog the VM bandwidth and resources. So this one you can separate those roles out and silo it to make it a lot easier.

The solution affects the storage performance for organizations as well. We only work with it in a demo presentation environment and we do not have production data so the demos are just a sample of workloads. But no customers that we have come across have any issues and the pain points with storage performance.

Results show more efficient use of compute resources. Again, being the only appliance in a market that lets you independently choose compute and storage, you scale as you want. If you want more compute you can add more compute nodes. You want more storage, you add more. It simplifies a lot of things.

On a scale of one to ten where ten is the best, I would rate the product as a nine. The reason I give it a nine instead of a ten is because of the need for pre-check work. While it is simpler than most products, there is still a lot of configuration that needs to be done. If they make that simple it improves the product. When you have to rebuild the product, you have to go through that whole process again. If they could somehow make that simpler by keeping that configuration file in a way that you do not need to do that, we could just use that configuration file again. It should automatically rebuild itself instead of you going through the whole process another time.

Advice that I would give to a colleague who is researching this is to use the product. Do a proof of concept and that will open up the customer's eyes to imagine the possibilities and see how this product of NetApp works. If I was in that position, I would push this product more to show a customer proof of concept, show it and the environment, and then they would tell the reseller to leave it there because they will want to buy it.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
Learn what your peers think about NetApp HCI. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: October 2021.
543,424 professionals have used our research since 2012.
EH
Senior SAN / Systems Engineer at a pharma/biotech company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 20
Ease of provisioning has allowed us to implement large installations in a very short time frame

Pros and Cons

  • "When you are doing lifecycles for your equipment, you can just swap out pieces of equipment. We used to do one big iron to another big iron, and that's a major migration hassle. Whereas, with this environment, you can go with small nodes, one at a time, and do a refresh."
  • "There have been some drive type of issues where we have to apply a new code level. Storage nodes kick certain drives until they act as though they have failed when really they haven't. You just have to reinsert them, then they go on about their happy way. It's sort of a bug."

What is our primary use case?

We are using it currently for all our "Tier 2 and Tier 3 storage" for all our business units.

On the storage nodes, we're using 11.0. On the VMware side we are currently @ 6.5 moving to 6.7 after our annual freeze period ending late January 2020.

How has it helped my organization?

From an infrastructure standpoint, we needed to have more cohesiveness between our teams. We set that out as a goal for our HCI team - realizing that's a concern and/or issue. We solved that, which helped us to deploy in a more efficient manner. Therefore, we can get the capacity for the customer in a more efficient manner in a much faster time frame than former methods.

We've done a lot of consolidation with far fewer storage side manipulations. Cluster-wise, I've been able to put more compute resources into one cluster versus maybe three or four in the older environment. It helps our organization from the standpoint of less administration.

The solution has resulted in a more efficient use of compute resources, because as far as our compute nodes go, we've diminished them by probably 35 percent. This solution reduced our maintenance costs. We were going to have to pay one to two million dollars to put in for storage and compute nodes. We are avoiding those costs.

What is most valuable?

When you are doing lifecycle management on your storage platforms, you can just swap out pieces of equipment - since it's a modular design from the ground up. We used to do one big iron to another big iron, and that's a major migration workload/resource effort.  Whereas, with this environment, you can go with small nodes, one at a time, and do a refresh.

What needs improvement?

There have been some drive type of issues where we have to apply a new code level. Storage nodes kick certain drives until they act as though they have failed when really they haven't. You just have to reinsert them, then they go on about their happy way. It is a bug fixed in 11.0 of the code for Element OS/Solidfire.

The option to pull in a config/text file to be used as input to the NDE process; rather than going through a lot of screens. The manual effort there is error-prone. This something NetApp engineering has been made aware of as a request and they say they're looking at that as a future enhancement.

As far as SolidFire, if you use the GUI, you can only create one line at a time or device at a time. That's ludicrous. I referenced earlier today to the NetApp feedback panel that this needs to be fixed. They said, "Yep. I understand that."

In terms of bandwidth and IOPS along with availability - we have not managed this environment long enough to put TIER1 environments under this umbrella; yet don't see why it couldn't handle the aforementioned especially if you create dedicated pods for those 'heavy hitters' (I'll just call it that.)  Thus, in time we'll look for more deployments upon the converged infrastructure of NetApp. 

For how long have I used the solution?

Almost one year now

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

So far, (nearly one year) the stability has been good. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We've grown both compute and storage and do it all online. There are no concerns around scaling. Only in the factor of how large do you scale before hitting limits within VMware and Element OS/Solidfire re: performance and bandwidth (# of channels for IO).

How are customer service and technical support?

We have used technical support a few times, but not a lot. 

I don't have any concerns at this time.

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

Some of our applications were on solid-state/flash disks, and some of them were on a mix (hybrid). This configuration is all-flash/solid-state. Nobody should have any complaints about performance so long as you have the proper host-side settings as optimal for your environment.

The solution reduced our TCO since a big piece of our former infrastructure was Cisco SAN Fabric Switches, and those are pretty pricey per port. We were using Fibre Channel, and now we're using iSCSI. Able to use lower-end Cisco switches and rid ourselves of the costly per port value of a Director-class switch. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is lengthy and complex. However, there are some ways that we have talked to some of the guys at NetApp about how they're going to try to make things better and more efficient. They have done some of that already.

A lot of the complexities have to do with when you're initially setting the equipment up, there are a lot of values that you have to plug into various screens. Then, you also have to do a reboot to pick whether it's going to be a storage node or compute node. The NDE process only needs to inspect 2 files to determine it's personality (compute or storage).  The NetApp engineers are looking to fix status too. You have to do a reboot after it pulls those 2 aforementioned values.  There you lose 45 minutes as part of a needing-2-b-refined build process.  

If you have a large install, that's a lengthy time frame for onsite CE/implementer to put it into the stage of the process.

What about the implementation team?

We used some of the professional services which were tied into some of the bundled packages. 

We also obtain our hardware resources through a third-party called WWT. They're a big partner of ours, and everything is great with those guys.

What was our ROI?

The solution has reduced our ESX node footprint by 35 percent.

From an all-flash standpoint (vs hybrid), performance has mostly likely increased anywhere from 10 to 20 percent.

We have seen two to three million dollars of OPEX savings by deploying this and getting rid of older equipment.

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

Setup costs in terms of resources (man-hours) is dramatically reduced via the NDE effort from NetApp; yet our organization still has to modify multiple parameters after the NDE is complete.  Thus, still takes some TLC to make the environment prod-ready. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated various converged and non-converged platforms before making the NetApp converged decision over other top players in the magic quadrant (IBM, Dell/EMC, Infinidat, Pure Storage).  What's missing from all products is the need for better tools to bring capacity, performance, and upgrade planning together for viewing in one pane of glass.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate the solution a nine out of 10.

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.
DL
Storage Engineer at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Enables our business to move faster but it doesn't have all the data points we need

Pros and Cons

  • "HCI definitely improved how flexible we scale, and our entrance into the cloud. The features are very rich, in terms of both avenues. It's helped us flexibly move and shift our workloads around, back and forth."
  • "The fact that it doesn't have all the data points we need and all the historical data that I would like. I find that a lot of the performance analysis is done through support, where they have something that we don't have. It would be nice just to have all that on-prem."

What is our primary use case?

We have 30 compute nodes and about 34 storage nodes that we're trying to consolidate down in a co-location area. We use it for all of our workloads outside of our main EMR system. It does everything from Oracle, SQL, all sorts of workloads, CIFS, and NFS.

How has it helped my organization?

HCI definitely improved how flexible we scale, and our entrance into the cloud. The features are very rich, in terms of both avenues. It's helped us flexibly move and shift our workloads around, back and forth.

Application performance has improved. 

It has helped reduce maintenance costs. Our old footprint was just huge in terms of the environment we need to run it, it was very bulky and old. It increased all costs. Even just operating the equipment, but the maintenance of it and how many people we need to take care of things has been reduced. The daily maintenance seems a lot more consolidated down to something easier. We had a team more of around 10 to 20 people doing everything. It's consolidated down to about seven or eight of us but it's a lot easier to manage.

HCI provides efficiencies and mobility similar to that of the public cloud. We chose it a lot because we're still trying to do the private into the public cloud, that whole hybrid cloud transformation. We're still in the initial phases of getting out of our private cloud and starting to work some more clothes into the public. That whole process is very experimental

The footprint itself and the amount of man-hours needed to run the whole thing has reduced our TCO. It's definitely lessened a lot. We started cutting costs. HCI helps do that on the operational side.

It definitely shortens the time for us to deploy in production. We have a lot more lead time to plan, execute, and do all that stuff. It makes our business move faster.

Our hypervisor footprint has been reduced for both storage and compute. We started out in a data center with almost 60 racks of storage and compute, and we consolidated down to almost five racks. It's a nice improvement.

The Element software has enabled us to consolidate workflows and breakdown silos. Application performance has also been improved. 

What is most valuable?

The ability to move the hardware around and the speed at which we're using all-flash are the most valuable aspects. All of our customers are very happy with the performance. We win on both sides of physically moving and the enhancements in the performance.

What needs improvement?

It doesn't have all the data points we need and all the historical data that I would like. I find that a lot of the performance analysis is done through support, where they have something that we don't have. It would be nice just to have all that on-prem. We haven't run into much else. It's pretty solid on the active IQ side and on the support side. I would like panes in everything.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We haven't had many issues with stability. We're still flexibly moving nodes left and right, so it's been stable to almost everything we need to do.

How are customer service and technical support?

I use support almost every week and so far, no problems. That's a big reason why we left whoever we left from before, was the customer support, and NetApp's been great in all aspects of that.

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

We were previously using IBM but it felt like they were lacking functionality moving into the cloud. It felt like they moved very old school. They like to do things very 1980s and it was time for us to move on.  We were definitely looking into a lot of automation cloud, other HCI platforms, but I think we sold on NetApp a lot because of their data fabric transformation, their hybrid cloud kind of story. That's exactly what we were looking for.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty straightforward but we also had professional services and everybody there to help us deploy it. It was a pretty big deployment, plus it was kind of complex for us to be shuffling between three data centers. They helped us out and it was pretty painless.

What about the implementation team?

We have a partnership with a vendor who helps us and we also work closely with NetApp. Our partner helped us. They have a lot of expertise, but it was kind of new to them. It was nice having a partner knowing who else has used this, where's this deployed, who we can talk to, some kind of the market in business use cases that we are able to use them.

What was our ROI?

Our accounting people are happy. We're starting to dig into some of our budgets, so I think on most ends we have seen ROI.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also evaluated Nutanix. We checked out Cisco HyperFlex. We took a good, in-depth look at a couple of other companies but I think we just ended up sticking with NetApp. We had a small NetApp footprint. Just FAS stuff and we decided to go all-in and go with HCI and the AFF line.

In general, they've always treated us well. They've always been great. I like working with anybody at NetApp. In general, we have a good relationship with both our partners and with NetApp.

What other advice do I have?

Dig into your workload and know your workload of what you're putting on there. HCI has worked great so far for just about everything but we did separate our performance-heavy, performance-sensitive EMR workload off to an AFF. We had to fix certain compliances with the application and HCI wasn't certified for it, so we couldn't run that on that platform.

I'd give it about a seven out of ten. It's not bad but we're still in our infancy, so we'll see. So far it's been pretty good. 

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Massimiliano Bartolozzi
Chief Information Officer at Lucart
Real User
Top 20
Crashes continuously, complex to deploy, and bad after-sales support

Pros and Cons

  • "The ability to size the available space in a way that matches our company's needs is most valuable. For instance, you can decide if you want 80/20, 70/30, or 60/40 space. Redundancy depends on your needs without changing the appliance. You just add space and decide the percentage of space that you need free and the percentage of space that you need for backup. It is all automatic, and you don't have to do anything. You just add space, and the system automatically configures itself with the chosen option."
  • "Its stability is very bad. It has been crashing continuously. In one year, we got three crashes, which is unbelievable for an appliance that is guaranteed for 10 years without any crash."

What is our primary use case?

In 2020, our site-based AS/400 infrastructure was going to the end of its life cycle. So, we started a market investigation for an appliance that could host our new SQL server environment. We also selected a private cloud data center inside the Telecom Italia facility in Rome. After the hardware selection, NetApp won the challenge, and we decided to fill the data center room with the NetApp H-series appliance. We went live with the new data center on March 6, 2021.

How has it helped my organization?

It has increased the availability of our systems from 12 hours for 6 days to 18 hours for 7 days. Because the NetApp system is faster than the ones we had before, so we need less time for backup and maintenance. We also have more time for applications availability. We are now saving almost 30% time.

It has helped to reduce or eliminate storage performance issues. There is a 30% increase in the performance.

In terms of the use of compute resources, it has increased our efficiency by 30%. 

What is most valuable?

The ability to size the available space in a way that matches our company's needs is most valuable. For instance, you can decide if you want 80/20, 70/30, or 60/40 space. Redundancy depends on your needs without changing the appliance. You just add space and decide the percentage of space that you need free and the percentage of space that you need for backup. It is all automatic, and you don't have to do anything. You just add space, and the system automatically configures itself with the chosen option.

What needs improvement?

Their after-sales support, SLA, and third-parties availability should be improved. NetApp's support is very difficult to engage. We have an SLA of onsite support within 24 hours. but they don't respect the SLA.

Its stability is very bad. It has been crashing continuously. In one year, we got three crashes, which is unbelievable for an appliance that is guaranteed for 10 years without any crash.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for one and a half years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Its stability is very bad. We had problems with the stability of the appliance from the beginning. It has been crashing very often. I would rate it a zero out of ten in terms of stability. We have been very dissatisfied with its stability during its implementation and since it has been live.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Its scalability is very good. When we discovered that there was not enough available space, NetApp was able to install additional hardware. We can auto-configure it to get more space. So, we can easily and quickly scale if we need.

We are using it extensively. It is being used in the main data center for our group. Currently, 800 people from all departments use this solution. We do have plans to increase its usage.

How are customer service and technical support?

We got three crashes in one year. NetApp's support is very difficult to engage. We have an SLA of onsite support within 24 hours. They did not respect any SLA. They came after three days, and they did not have the spare part. They had to find the spare part. 

I also suspect that they gave me a reconditioned one and not a new one, but it is only my impression. I don't know whom to call in order to complain. Their support is not at all good.

How was the initial setup?

Its initial setup was complex. First of all, we had problems with the stability of the appliance from the beginning, and it was crashing very often. Second, NetApp's calculation of the available space after the installation was also wrong, so we had to add another hardware, which NetApp provided for free. That was absolutely fantastic, but it delayed our implementation process by three months. Overall, the deployment took six months.

There was not really an implementation strategy. We were not changing or migrating anything. We were setting up a new data center from scratch. We're building it from nothing.

What about the implementation team?

We use a company from Sienna, Italy called Argon. The experience with them has been very good. They've been with us for years now, so they are a solid partner. Every time I call them, they are ready to answer. We had a good experience with them. They also provide post-sales support to us.

What was our ROI?

Without the crashes, I would have seen a return of investment because of the additional 30% availability. Considering the time that I have lost because of the crashes, our return on investment is now negative.

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

Its price is aligned with the market. In addition to the standard licensing fees, there is an integrator cost.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated HP, IBM, and Dell. We chose NetApp because our partner and the system integrator company strongly recommended to go for NetApp. Because we trust this company and this company was responsible for setting up the entire data center, we decided to follow their advice.

Overall, all of these solutions were very advanced. Technically, I would put NetApp and Dell at the same level of innovation. IBM and HP are more established technologies, but they are not as innovative.

In terms of cost, HP and NetApp were the ones that could make a bigger effort to reduce the cost. IBM and Dell were a little bit more expensive. 

What other advice do I have?

My advice to those who want to implement this solution is to not go for this solution because it is not stable. I don't really know how we could have avoided this because you don't really get to know before buying a solution that it is not stable. The only lesson that I have learned is that rather than going for an advanced technology that is not yet properly tested, it is better to go for established technology, even if it is a little bit older.

I would rate this solution a three out of 10. Its instability destroys everything good that has been done during the implementation.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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PC
Senior Infrastructure Analyst at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
Real User
Top 20
Increased application performance but we have experienced motherboard failure

Pros and Cons

  • "It is easy to administrate the solution, and the company handles its technical support well."
  • "The product needs better support for installing the operating system on the machine."

What is our primary use case?

We use a catalog that can deploy virtual machines. It helps a lot because the users open fewer cases to provision the VM.

How has it helped my organization?

NetApp HCI has improved our organization by allowing us to put more time into investing in new ideas and spending less time in the administration of the solution.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature for us is the easy way you can administrate the solution.

What needs improvement?

In the next release of this solution, I would like to see better support for installing the operating system on the machine. If they increase the size of that it will be great. The issue happens when you upload an ISO. That there is a limitation when you need to upload software that it needs to have less than two gigs or four gigs, and some of the OSs are more than that. So it would be great if they tried to increase that limitation size for 10 gigs.

Probably the quality of the hardware should be improved. I'm not sure what exactly to point out because we don't know why we had several motherboard failures. But I think that was a hardware quality issue.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Because of the repeated failure of the motherboard that we experienced, we have doubts about the stability of the solution, but I'm sure that in the near future it will be a great, reliable solution for us.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution's ability to scale on-demand affects provisioning in our organization. It is automated provisioning. In the old days, they would need to send an email and request the machine and it would be done manually. But using those catalogs, we can provision automatically.

The solution's ability to scale compute and storage independently does not affect capacity performance and upgrade planning in our organization because of what we do.

In all, the scalability of the solution seems better than Nutanix.

How are customer service and technical support?

I like the way that the company handles its technical support. When a node fails, an engineer connects to it easily from a remote session and he fixes it. The way they support the product seems to be to do something better than to do it too fast. We like the way they treat our issues.

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

As a reseller, I do prefer FAS (Fabric Attached Storage) to AFF (All-Flash FAS) because you can choose the types of disks and you are not tied to SSD (Solid State Drive). I also like the way it scales. So, if I could choose, I would pick FAS instead of HCI because I believe that FAS is moving towards the HCI (Hyper-Convergence Infrastructure). NetApp is saying it is like a hybrid-cloud infrastructure. We have a Service-Level Manager and other features. You can do the same catalog and support of upgrades. I think it is more seamless to scale the way we have it configured.

How was the initial setup?

The installation was totally straightforward. We didn't need to study a lot in order to deploy. It was really easy and fast to deploy. If it was not as fast to deploy 12 nodes it would have been much more of a chore for sure.

What about the implementation team?

I am a partner in resellers so we are the guys who do the deployments.

What was our ROI?

i'm not aware of ROI because I'm post-sales.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We are resellers and we do have some competitors, but I would not pick them in Brazil. We need to compete with Huawei sometimes, and on the HCI line, we compete with Nutanix also. I prefer NetApp because I trust the lineup.

What other advice do I have?

Several things have happened during the time we have had the product:

  • It reduced our hypervisor footprint because of the ISO support.
  • It has enabled us to consolidate workloads and break down silos.
  • The solution has increased application performance.
  • This solution resulted in more efficient use of compute resources.
  • The ability to automate the provision of the machines makes it faster and it's easier for the user to request.
  • It has increased the requests and the quality of the delivery.
  • The solution helped reduce maintenance costs.
  • Deletions cloud data services (on-premises) used with the catalog is like a cloud provider, but it is not a cloud solution at all.

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate this product as a seven, because of the motherboard failures. If we didn't have the issue on the ISO and then on the motherboard because the customer started to reduce the tourist on the solution. But now it's stable and it does not fail anymore. Every day he is happier with it.

Advice that I would have for people considering this as a solution is to give it a shot with HCI. It is a good product to try that works like a cloud-like service provider. It isn't perfect. For example, we had an HCI with 12 nodes and there was one node that had failed motherboards like four times and we replaced them. In general, it is easier to administrate. We are the reseller, we are not the user that bought the product. After that was resolved the client opened fewer cases with us. So the operational cost for us, as the reseller, is cheaper because they are not always open cases with doubts that it will be easy to manage.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
JB
Infrastructure Engineer at a tech vendor with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Straightforward to use and the interface is good, but the cabling needs to be improved

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature of this solution is the SolidFire interface."
  • "If you want to have a really dense data center then it's hard to have a big chunk of cabling going through everything."

What is our primary use case?

Initially, our primary use case for this solution was testing. We had a large deployment of Nutanix and we got NetApp HCI to test along with it. Then, we were going to use it for the office to get off of some of the older equipment for VMware.

NetApp HCI hasn't been used in production or for office applications yet.

We upgraded the solution and then took it down about three months ago. It was in our data center and we moved it because we wanted to put it into an office with newer equipment. Unfortunately, the networking couldn't handle what we were plugging into it, so we ended up taking down the office. Now, we've been waiting to get newer switches so that we can do it.

How has it helped my organization?

The ability of this solution to scale on-demand is great. It is easy to do. If you need another compute and another storage node, they're really easy to put into play and add into the original cluster that you have.

It is nice to have separate compute and separate storage for each node, but in some ways that it sort of a downfall, too, because in a true HCI environment the storage and compute would be together in a single node. I can see the benefits of having them separate in that you are able to take one down and not affect the other. But, I think that if you really want to go dense, then you'd want to have the true HCI, which has them together in one.

In the testing that we did, we found that application performance was a lot faster than having traditional storage like a NetApp FAS or AFF, and some Dell or HP nodes for vSphere. It was faster having that all combined on one chassis.

I think that NetApp HCI has efficiencies and mobility similar to that of a public cloud. We're strict on what we can and cannot go to the cloud for, and it is hard for us to use the public cloud with any product.

I would not say that we realized more efficient use of compute resources.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of this solution is the SolidFire interface. The graphing is very nice, and it gives you insight into the VMs.

It is pretty straightforward to use.

What needs improvement?

The physical cabling was a problem for us, which is why we ended up going with Nutanix. Nutanix used two cables per node, whereas the HCI needs several to each the compute and storage. I'm not sure of the exact number, but it was a lot more than Nutanix and the amount of cabling would have been really hard to manage. I know that they have now changed it and bought it down to two cables, and this is what we're trying to get up and running now. As long as it works, this is a good option. If you want to have a really dense data center then it's hard to have a big chunk of cabling going through everything.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We did have some stability issues. However, we got it pretty early on. We did have a bunch of purple screens, but after we updated it, I believe those went away and it was a lot more stable. We have not had it up for a few months now, but it did get more stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scaling this solution is pretty easily done. It's a new chassis or a new node that you plug in and add to the system. There is no downtime.

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

We had acquired a company that was bringing over a lot of VMs and storage, and we did not have much space in our data center, so we had to go dense. NetApp HCI was one of the options that we look at for going as dense as we possibly could.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution was pretty straightforward, although it was more complex than some of the other products out there. For example, Nutanix has a more straightforward setup where you just have one webpage to go to, add the rest of your nodes, set it up and you're done. With NetApp HCI, it was a little bit more difficult, but pretty straightforward if you read the documentation.

What about the implementation team?

We had a consultant come to our site to assist us with trying to get hooked up and running when we were moving into the office. They were helpful.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have been using Nutanix as well. I find that they both have their pros and cons, and we like the interface of NetApp better than that of Nutanix. Nutanix is easier and more straightforward to set up.

What other advice do I have?

We went with a different solution and having run that for a while, I would say that there is a lot more than they could do to make it more streamlined.

My advice to anybody who is researching this type of solution is that if you want to go dense, then this is a good product. We ended up going with a competitive product, that I think is a little better, but NetApp has been around for a long time, they're a great company, and it's a great product. They just have to get past the issues with cabling.

I would rate this solution a six 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.
SH
Storage Engineer at HS UCI
Real User
All-in-one solution that is very self-contained but it has increased our hypervisor footprint

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable aspects are that it's an all-in-one solution and it's very self-contained."
  • "I would like for them to fall a little closer to like the VMware release model. The new features and new solutions tend to come from the VMware side. I would like for NetApp to follow along closely with VMware's release schedule."

What is our primary use case?

We're mostly testing it out right now. We have some internal tools we're testing it on. We're testing it for production readiness in our facility. We have a couple of test VMs on it and we're using it for some data collection on our ONTAP systems. It's been testing for around a month. 

How has it helped my organization?

It has not particularly increased application performance but it's not a very demanding app either.

HCI has provided us with efficiencies and mobilities similar to that of the public cloud. It gives us some flexibility for the future if we do decide to go into the public cloud. We are actually considering Microsoft Azure for a lot of stuff going forward. It's kind of like an injection point into the cloud as well.

Maintenance costs have been reduced by around 20%. 

What is most valuable?

The most valuable aspects are that it's an all-in-one solution and it's very self-contained.

HCI's ability to scale, compute, and store independently is nice because we can expand either the storage or the compute. There are different ways to expand different pieces and not do it all-in-one. With some of the competitors, you buy compute and you have to buy storage, so that is an important differentiator for NetApp.

What needs improvement?

HCI has increased our hypervisor footprint. It's another system we have to manage. 

The elemental software has not enabled us to consolidate workflows or break down silos. It's still on test dev, it's not in the main production stuff, so we haven't really gone to that phase of it.

I would like for them to fall a little closer to like the VMware release model. The new features and new solutions tend to come from the VMware side. I would like for NetApp to follow along closely with VMware's release schedule.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's worked very well for us for what we're using it for, so I have no complaints about stability. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We're in the process of adding a couple of nodes now, we haven't completed that yet.

How are customer service and technical support?

We haven't contacted technical support yet but we plan to soon because we need to upgrade. 

How was the initial setup?

The setup was a bit challenging because it's a fairly new product and I think some of the stuff is not quite well baked yet. We had a lot of trouble connecting it up to our network and we had to go through a bunch of different setups. I think that some of the solutions are not quite ready for prime time. It's better now but about nine months ago we had a lot of trouble getting the network configs right on the Cisco side and on the HCI side.

There was a lack of NetApp community knowledge about exactly how to make it work, and then we actually had to change it with about five revisions of our networking setup before we finally got it right.

It's probably much better now. We were on the leading edge of the product. They've upgraded to the newer versions and the documentation is a little stronger and the community knowledge of it is a little stronger as well. 

What about the implementation team?

We went through NetApp for the deployment. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We have not evaluated other solutions but a lot of our sister companies have done Nutanix and some of the other products that are out there. I've heard it's a little more baked, a little easier to use, but it's also not as flexible as you grow. You have to grow in different stacks.

What other advice do I have?

It is a good solution, I'm fairly happy with it. It's passed all of our tests, we're not really having any real challenges. 

I'm on the storage team and then we also have a VMware team and we have a network team, so there's a lot of other people that have to get involved, and I don't know how on board everyone is to one solution for everyone. All of us being in the same sandbox versus having our own sandboxes.

I would rate it a six out of ten but we're an early adopter so it's probably better now.

It works great now, I don't want to say that it's a bad product, it's just that we were early adopters of the product and there were some bumps in the road.

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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