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NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) is #2 ranked solution in best All-Flash Storage Arrays. PeerSpot users give NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) an average rating of 8 out of 10. NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) is most commonly compared to Pure Storage FlashArray: NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) vs Pure Storage FlashArray. NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) is popular among the large enterprise segment, accounting for 67% of users researching this solution on PeerSpot. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 27% of all views.
What is NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS)?

NetApp AFF8000 All Flash FAS systems combine all-flash performance with unified data management from flash to disk to cloud.  Leverage the Data Fabric to move data securely across your choice of clouds—enabled by Cloud ONTAP™ and NetApp Private Storage for Cloud. Plus, you get the industry’s most efficient and comprehensive integrated data protection suite, on premises or in the cloud.

NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) was previously known as NetApp All Flash FAS, NetApp AFF, NetApp Flash FAS.

NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Buyer's Guide

Download the NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: January 2022

NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Customers
Acibadem Healthcare Group, AmTrust Financial Services, Citrix Systems, DWD, Mantra Group
NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Video

NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Pricing Advice

What users are saying about NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) pricing:
  • "The licensing and pricing are fine. As a reseller for the product, we need to make the differentiation in the minds of the customer. They are not just buying some tool that does only one thing, e.g., showing a LAN for a customer. The pricing is fair for what it is."
  • "In addition to simplifying the management across a mix of solutions, AFF simplifies the cost. That was one of the main reasons we purchased AFF."
  • "NetApp AFF is an expensive product, although not compared to other vendors."
  • "The list price of AFF is too expensive... they need to be careful with the pricing of the new NVMe disks. They are way too expensive."
  • "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."
  • "The pricing is pretty reasonable for what we get. But if you have to buy any more disk space, it can be quite expensive."
  • NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) Reviews

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    Daniel Rúnar  Friðþjófsson
    Storage Administrator at Sensa ehf.
    Real User
    Top 20
    Provides us with quick options when restoring things for customers
    Pros and Cons
    • "It impacts customer retention because of its overall ease. When you are running a business, where time is a factor, that is the biggest selling point. Things happen really rapidly, when they happen, and being able to say, "Yeah, we can get this up and running in a day, if you want," or even less time in some cases. Sometimes, that can be what makes or breaks our case."
    • "I don't like the newest GUI. It needs more options. Some features have been removed. Oversight is not as good in the new GUI compared to the previous version. Though, it might be something that we just need to get used to."

    What is our primary use case?

    We use it as the backbone for all our VM and Hyper-V infrastructure. We also use it as file servers for external users, so we have a couple of users who are connected to it for file server purposes. We have everything connected to it, e.g., we have a repository from Rubrik down to AFF.

    We have our own customers for whom we have deployed the solution. For our hosting options, we use NetApp as well. Since we are selling hosted services and have customers connecting into our environment, the solution has definitely helped a lot from that standpoint.

    How has it helped my organization?

    When it comes to backups, it has given us quick options when restoring things for customers, using the ability to mirror Snapshots onto another cluster, having managed status, and using previous versions in Microsoft. It gives the customer the possibility to restore their items too. Backup size, in general, gets much smaller since it is based on mirroring a Snapshot rather than being repetitive.

    It impacts customer retention because of its overall ease. When you are running a business, where time is a factor, that is the biggest selling point. Things happen really rapidly, when they happen, and being able to say, "Yeah, we can get this up and running in a day, if you want," or even less time in some cases. Sometimes, that can be what makes or breaks our case.

    AFF has helped to simplify our infrastructure, while still getting very high performance for our business-critical applications. Having all these things working well on one solution is really good. We run this as the backbone for both Hyper-V and VMware as well as an archive location for Rubrik. So, it is great having one solution that can do it all.

    It does what it is supposed to do for SAP and Oracle. Because of the ease of it all, you have a highly tunable, high performance storage system that alleviates a lot of problems. With its ease of management, you can quickly get your work done and go onto the next thing on your list.

    We mostly use AFF to support when we mirror data onto a FAS solution to immediately spin-off a new environment, e.g., if something happened to the prior data.

    What is most valuable?

    NetApp Snapshots are one of its best features. 

    Its multi-tenant purpose: You can have one method for many customers with no interaction to one another. 

    The simplicity of making it work correctly is the most loved feature of it all.

    AFF definitely helps simplify data management with unified data services across NAS environments.

    The ONTAP system, when you know how it works, is really simple and intuitive. 

    What needs improvement?

    I don't like the newest GUI. It needs more options. Some features have been removed. Oversight is not as good in the new GUI compared to the previous version. Though, it might be something that we just need to get used to.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    As a company, we have been using AFF for around six to seven years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It is as stable as it can be. I would give the solution A+ for stability.

    Throughout my career, I have only once had to deal with an instability issue, but it has nothing to do with NetApp as a solution or system.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The scalability is great and super easy. We are able to just connect, go through the UI, and select to expand the cluster. It is super easy even if you want to scale it out by having a Mirror setup, not a cluster, or pairing them together. By being able to do this with just a couple of clicks of a mouse button, it is superb.

    We have thousands of customers, but there is not much to do for daily operations because it just runs. We have alerts setup in it, but we seldom have to do anything.

    How are customer service and support?

    The technical support has just been great. They have been fast and think out-of-the-box. They have helped us with issues that affect NetApp, but where NetApp is not the root cause of the problem.

    I would rate NetApp's technical support between nine and nine and a half (out of 10). I have worked with other companies, and in comparison, I would easily give these other tech supports a rating of four or below (out of 10).

    How would you rate customer service and support?

    Positive

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

    I have worked with IBM Storwize. In no way are these solutions similar. Most people who are buying and operating with AFF are buying a fully functional storage system. You are getting way more than just allowing someone a terabyte here or there, such as performance metrics, quotes, and service options. Because of this, I would not say that I have not worked with a competing product.

    How was the initial setup?

    One of the biggest impacts that this solution has had is on time to deployment. It takes a lot less time to set up a new infrastructure for a company. Our hosting setup went from being a couple of days to a couple of hours.

    The initial setup depends on the goggles that you have on. If you are an experienced technician, then it is relatively simple. However, for a customer who just bought it and wants to set it up themselves, then it might be a little bit hard to figure out.

    My implementation strategy is always that when we sell systems that we do the implementation ourselves. This is so the customer gets a fresh, good experience with a fully updated system rather than a controller that has older systems. We rely highly on the customer's satisfaction, e.g., they see the project for what it is instead of what it could be.

    On average, the deployment takes roughly one day, and that is running through everything. It takes one day to get it up and running, setting up the first SVMs, ensuring all the connectivity, etc. In most cases, the greatest hindrance in the entire setup is the network setup, which does not have anything to do with NetApp.

    What about the implementation team?

    We go through it with the customer. We first figure out why the customer wants it and what they will get out of it, rather than out of their previous existing system. From there, we set it up with the customer. We address all the issues that they have been working on so they see profit for the solution rather than it just being a storage system that might alleviate the problems that they have had.

    Normally, we only have two people who deploy it. Every time we are about to deploy, we always have someone for the NetApp setup and a network engineer working with us to set up the network. 

    What was our ROI?

    I need to spend very little time monitoring it, and that helps with employee costs. 

    It is easy to take Snapshots, making them easily available for our customers and staff to be able to restore. As there are costs associated with helping the customer, because it's included in a contract, this brings in return on the investment because you can have it as an extra fee within a contract, even if you don't have to help out that much with it.

    It really speeds up delivery time.

    AFF has helped to reduce support issues, such as performance tuning and troubleshooting. When you have access to more tools, like Cloud Insights and OCI, that is definitely a factor. You are able to get an overview with OnCommand Insight (OCI) when you have an infrastructure with many customers, e.g., in our case, we have somewhere around 1000 customers ranging from small to big businesses. It connects items together, which helps with troubleshooting latency and unexpected performance issues. You can get them fixed significantly faster than you can in many other cases. For example, if you are running into problems with solutions that are made for running a simple VM against a machine that has a way to store space running across many disks, then it can take way longer time to figure out performance issues than with NetApp, where you are getting way more oversight of who is doing what.

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

    The licensing and pricing are fine. As a reseller for the product, we need to make the differentiation in the minds of the customer. They are not just buying some tool that does only one thing, e.g., showing a LAN for a customer. The pricing is fair for what it is.

    If you need more options, then there will be more costs involved with the license, but that is not irregular.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    I have worked with Nutanix as well. I would recommend either solution for a client based on what fits them rather than trying to make a solution stretch across.

    What other advice do I have?

    Get yourself acquainted with the product and see what it can do. Many people may run into the issue of thinking that it can do way less than it can actually do.

    We do not use their cloud backup services at the moment, because there hasn't been a strong enough business case. I would not call it priority, but we are definitely highly aware of the cloud backup services if an opportunity or business case arrives.

    We don't work that much with SAN. Basically, we mostly use the solution for its NAS functionality. We do not have that many SAN cases. 

    Since our StorageGRID is really new, we haven't gotten the full effect of it yet. The native integration, where we can seamlessly move onto another media, is great. It is very intuitive and easy to work with.

    Biggest lesson learnt: Keep it simple.

    I would easily rate it as 10 out of 10, because it works like a charm. When you have a problem, it does exactly what it is supposed to do, with little to no effort.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: PeerSpot contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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    MohanReddy
    Sr. Technology Architect at a pharma/biotech company with 10,001+ employees
    Real User
    Top 20
    Its data management software has helped us run operations very quickly, saving us a lot of time
    Pros and Cons
    • "Regarding features, SnapMirror is one we depend on right now. It helps us provide snapshots to the customers on request. There are many scenarios in which we might take snapshots in various daily use cases. We trigger the snapshots, which gives us a sense of security because we know we have this technology in place if something happens."
    • "NetApp should offer more training so everyone can learn about the products. Other vendors have a lot of training options. It would be great if NetApp would highlight how to use the features more so that every admin or person can gain more knowledge about this technology."

    What is our primary use case?

    We are using AFF for a few clients. It's a specific type of data we use for these arrays, not like a block kind of thing or regular data. A few clients have particular requirements about where we put all the data. We are primarily using FAS, and we have around four or five AFF boxes. We don't deal with AFF regularly. 

    We're not currently using NetApp Cloud Backup, but we're planning on implementing it. I'm not sure because my architect is the one who manages the end-to-end services for NetApp. He makes all the decisions on the NetApp side whether we use AFF or FAS. AFF is a unified storage box, so we route certain data to AFF. 

    How has it helped my organization?

    AFF has simplified data management across SAN and NAS environments. As admins, we're always trying to reduce the complications on the technology end. We're looking at the product from a single perspective. It's more about how the team engages with it. If one person on a 10-person team isn't comfortable with the features, then that's where we have to improve our understanding and where the vendor can help us. With AFF, we haven't had this issue. The whole team is thrilled to work on the product.

    NetApp's ONTAP data management software has also made tasks simpler for us. There's no question about that. It has helped us run operations very quickly, saving us a lot of time. Before ONTAP, we used to spend a long time doing regular operations, but with the latest version of the tool, our day-to-day operations are much quicker and easier.

    If you asked me to rate AFF's effect on the flexibility of SAP and Oracle workloads, I would give it a seven out of 10. AFF is what we are using right now, but the team isn't fully utilizing it because our architect team is managing everything. We haven't had enough time to look into that. We were interested in that. It is easier to understand and manage. There isn't a need to dig into that. However, I'm on the backend side of things, and we are still looking for some relevant documents that can help us understand this aspect better.

    What is most valuable?

    AFF is user-friendly. A person who has no experience with NetApp can handle it comfortably. Regarding features, SnapMirror is one we depend on right now. It helps us provide snapshots to the customers on request. There are many scenarios in which we might take snapshots in various daily use cases. We trigger the snapshots, which gives us a sense of security because we know we have this technology in place if something happens.

    What needs improvement?

    NetApp should offer more training so everyone can learn about the products. Other vendors have a lot of training options. It would be great if NetApp would highlight how to use the features more so that every admin or person can gain more knowledge about this technology. 

    For example, my team is unaware of any product unless my architect tells us about it. Then the team starts digging. It would be helpful if they made all the documentation and training readily accessible to everyone on their portal.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We've been using NetApp since I joined the company six years back.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    Stability-wise, AFF is fantastic. We haven't seen many complications, and before there is a possible outage, NetApp reaches out to us and lets us know what's going on. 

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    NetApp products in general are highly scalable. For scalability, I would rate AFF nine out of 10.

    How are customer service and support?

    NetApp provides excellent support. We get valid and crucial advice from NetApp every time we interact with them weekly or monthly. I would rate their support nine out of 10 because I work with various products from multiple vendors. Compared to other vendors, I feel more comfortable reaching out to the NetApp team. 

    For example, I tried to reach the NetApp support team for one of the issues over the weekend. My call got disconnected due to a network glitch, and immediately I got an email in my inbox as well as a call back from NetApp on my given number. That's how NetApp reaches its customers.

    How would you rate customer service and support?

    Positive

    How was the initial setup?

    I do remote support, so I'm not working on the data center side. We have an on-site team that could better describe the installation and deployment. However, my impression is that deploying AFF is straightforward. 

    The architect is the main person working with the NetApp products, and he does a deep dive before touching any product. Our team has minimal exposure to NetApp because our work involves a mix of vendors. We have people working on the NetApp side but not regularly. The architect spends a lot of time on NetApp in his day-to-day activities, and he makes the changes. He takes and gives recommendations about which product to use, whereas we provide remote support from a different region altogether. The implementation, changes, configuration, and decision-making are all done from the headquarters.

    And once it is implemented, the remote team logs in and does the navigation part. We check the array and identify any problems. If we find anything, we immediately reach out to the architect. He's the one who engages with NetApp and relays information to the remote team. That's how we learn as an organization. We spend time on the products to gain knowledge and experience with vendors.

    What was our ROI?

    It's hard for me to speak to return on investment. We have a different team responsible for that. I support the technical side. A separate team procures new arrays. 

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

    In addition to simplifying the management across a mix of solutions, AFF simplifies the cost. That was one of the main reasons we purchased AFF.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We are using two other vendor products as well. One is from Dell EMC, and the other is HP. I say the best competitor would be EMC. We get the same level of support from EMC as NetApp. But it's hard to compare the two. Each vendor has its own way of providing the service. AFF doesn't work the same way the other vendor's product does. They both are unique and work based on their own design. However, the navigation makes a lot of difference for the end-users, like admins.

    It depends on if you prefer working with the CLI or the GUI. I'm more comfortable on the CLI in admin roles, but I like the GUI over the CLI if I compare the same thing with the other product. Each product meets the needs of the use case in its own way, but the navigation style is different. Depending on your preference, you might feel more comfortable with NetApp or other products.

    What other advice do I have?

    I'd rate NetApp AFF nine out of 10. To customers who are considering AFF, I would say they can go for it without hesitation. If it's a choice between AFF, FAS, or something else, customers can choose NetApp AFF without a second thought. We are happy with NetApp. Out of all the solutions we've looked at, AFF is the best fit for our business requirements so far.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    Public Cloud
    Disclosure: PeerSpot 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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    Learn what your peers think about NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS). Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: January 2022.
    564,143 professionals have used our research since 2012.
    Senior Consultant at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
    Consultant
    Top 20
    Straightforward to set up, good performance for database applications, and supports volume encryption
    Pros and Cons
    • "We recently started using the volume encryption feature, which is helpful because there are some federal projects that require data at rest to be encrypted."
    • "We would like to have a feature that automatically moves volumes between aggregates, based on the performance. We normally need to do this manually."

    What is our primary use case?

    The main purpose of the AFF is to work with applications that require high-intensity I/O operations. For example, we run some open-source DBs, as well as Oracle, that require high-intensity I/O. We also have a high-performance computing setup.

    We have two locations. In the first location, we have an AFF cluster. In the second location, we have an AFF cluster that works in combination with ASAs.

    Our environment is primarily made up of open-source applications. 

    How has it helped my organization?

    We are not using the NetApp cloud backup services. Instead, we have a storage solution on the back end and AFF on the front end. In this setup, we have high I/O with a low storage expenditure.

    Our company is mainly concerned with software development and we have VMs as part of our infrastructure. We have a large number of VMs and they require a large data capacity, although we don't know which ones require high-intensity input and output. The reason for this is that some scenarios demand a high level of I/O, whereas, with others, the demand is low. We have AFFs set up at the front end, and at the backend, we have ECD boxes, which are the storage grid.

    We treat the system as a fabric pool setup. When a high level of I/O is required, the data will be stored on NetApp AFF at the front end. We created a policy so that pooled data will move automatically to the lower-end capacity units, which are configured from the storage unit.

    NetApp helps to accelerate some of the demanding enterprise applications that we have, in particular, our database applications. 

    NetApp AFF has helped to simplify our infrastructure while still getting a very high performance. Prior to setting up AFFs, we had latency issues. Now, things are more balanced, including the volumes that are on SAS or SATA.

    Using NetApp AFF has helped to reduce support issues, including performance-tuning. About a year and a half ago, we were experiencing some performance issues. Lately, this has not been the case, although occasionally, we still have problems. We are exploring whether it is the server hardware or an issue with VMware and drivers.

    The ONTAP operating system has made things somewhat simpler, although we don't use it very much. I normally work on the CLI so for me, it is not a big difference. That said, as features are released with the latest versions, I review them to stay updated.

    We also use NetApp's StorageGRID and the combination of it with AFF has reduced our overall cost while increasing performance. We see benefits on both sides. 

    What is most valuable?

    The most valuable feature is its ability to handle high-intensity read and write operations. It works very well in terms of this.

    We recently started using the volume encryption feature, which is helpful because there are some federal projects that require data at rest to be encrypted.

    SnapMirror is another feature that we use, but we don't have MetroCluster set up. SnapMirror is used for replication across multiple geographical data centers. In these locations, we have products and we are exploring how to minimize the bandwidth while improving DR capabilities. With respect to the DR, we don't use the AFF in secondary nodes.

    What needs improvement?

    In some situations, we would like to have an additional storage shelf but do not want to use an SSD. Unfortunately, AFF won't work in conjunction with SATA. Having these together might give some benefit in terms of capacity.

    We would like to have a feature that automatically moves volumes between aggregates, based on the performance. We normally need to do this manually.

    In some cases, we would like to have the ability to expand our units to handle two additional target ports. As of now, we are using four or eight target ports, which come with the A300 model. There are situations where we need to extend this but we have limited slots available. 

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We have been using NetApp AFF for the past six years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The stability of this solution is fine.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The scalability is seamless. Without any downtime, we can upgrade and scale-up.

    As of now, we have a 40TB SSD front-end fabric pool capacity. At the back end, we have a two-petabyte storage grid. We are not experiencing any performance-related issues, although we have encountered a few time sync-related problems.

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

    I have also worked on an IBM DS8000 series and some similar products from EMC.

    IBM had released the 8700 with the AFF configuration. However, I was with another company at the time. The majority of my experience is with NetApp using the CLI, but with the IBM product, I was using the GUI. I prefer the CLI in both systems.

    With respect to the pros and cons between the vendors, it is difficult for me to judge. Each filesystem has benefits with respect to the vendor and the technology that they use.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup is straightforward. It is not a big, complex job.

    We are in the process of setting up and transitioning to a Hybrid cloud environment, but it takes some time. We are currently exploring it. We have thousands of servers in AWS and Google cloud, and we have an internal VMware cloud as well.

    What about the implementation team?

    The NetApp team helped us with the deployment and also helps with the patches.

    What was our ROI?

    We invested a lot of money in our NetApp AFF set up but we have a huge capacity. We balance it that way.

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

    NetApp AFF is an expensive product, although not compared to other vendors.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We chose the A300 model based on recommendations from existing users. There are lower-end versions, such as the A250 and A260, but we didn't explore them.

    What other advice do I have?

    Based on my experience, whether I would recommend this product depends on what the budget is. We have to determine whether we are achieving the right cost for the right product because the budget is the primary objective. Some cases may not require the capacity. Perhaps, for example, software-defined storage can manage it. To decide, we need to see what the application is, how much demand it needs, and what kind of performance it requires. All of these things need to be reviewed before we decide which products suit which situation.

    Overall, NetApp AFF is a good product.

    I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: PeerSpot contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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    AWS Solutions Architect at a pharma/biotech company with 10,001+ employees
    Real User
    Top 20
    Hosts primary workloads and helps to unify them
    Pros and Cons
    • "This solution helps accelerate demanding enterprise applications. VMware workloads, the database, and Oracle Solaris are hosted on AFF, which means that our primary priority workloads are on AFF and that the secondary ones are on FAS. That includes the SAN national cloud."
    • "For ONTAP, in general, the deduplication ratio and Snapshot limitation are areas that need improvement. There is a global limitation on the number of Snapshots or clones that can be spun off of a particular Snapshot. If those limitations are increased, it might be helpful."

    What is our primary use case?

    We host NSS as a part of a cluster. We use AFF to support data analytics, machine learning, cloud integration, and SAP workloads as well.

    How has it helped my organization?

    ONTAP data management software has simplified our operations. Earlier, we had ONTAP clustering. We had multiple name spaces, but with the cluster, we were able to build a single name space, and we were able to host NFS sets and iSCSI in a single cluster. In this way, it has unified our workloads.

    What is most valuable?

    I have found the following features of NetApp AFF most valuable: Snapshot, snap clone, deduplication, and compaction. 

    These features help with data protection. We host an exchange, so protecting our data and workloads is of prime importance.

    This solution helps accelerate demanding enterprise applications. VMware workloads, the database, and Oracle Solaris are hosted on AFF, which means that our primary priority workloads are on AFF and that the secondary ones are on FAS. That includes the SAN national cloud.

    Initiating Snapshot is not time consuming, and it is not tedious. That's the reason why FlexClone and FlexCache help us with our protection care strategy.

    What needs improvement?

    For ONTAP, in general, the deduplication ratio and Snapshot limitation are areas that need improvement. There is a global limitation on the number of Snapshots or clones that can be spun off of a particular Snapshot. If those limitations are increased, it might be helpful.

    With regard to Fibre Channel and iSCSI, the block protocol is still not up to the mark. NetApp has not been a leader in file and block services.

    SnapCenter is still not mature enough and has a grid at scale. It is still not up to the mark and is not delivering as promised when we initially invested in StorageGRID.

    In terms of Oracle workloads, NFS workloads specific to databases, Snapshots, data production strategies, and SnapMirror, significant room for improvement is needed from NetApp.

    Compatibility with multiple vendors has been a pain and continues to be so.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We have been using NetApp AFF for the last five years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    Initially, stability was a pain with ONTAP. Now it is much better. ONTAP crashes have reduced significantly to probably one or two in the last year.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The scalability of NetApp AFF is pretty straightforward. We can expand clusters and that's not a pain point. I'm happy with the scalability.

    How are customer service and support?

    With regard to technical support, NetApp defines the severity of a ticket. However, even when there is a P1 level ticket that should be turned around in half an hour, there were cases where we would not receive resources for two hours. Sometimes, even after two hours, we wouldn't get the right resource. This is still a pain point and is ongoing.

    NetApp's attitude toward support needs to improve quite significantly. If I were to rate NetApp's technical support on a scale from one to ten, I would give them a seven.

    How was the initial setup?

    As for the initial setup, we were on FAS initially, and the migration was not smooth because the 7-MTT tool was not that mature. After the initial hiccups, however, the experience has been okay, and we are pleased with this product.

    Building a cluster was not complicated, but ONTAP was not stable. I remember one upgrade that lasted for more than 24 hours. It took the same amount of time with FabricPool, and FlexCache still has loopholes. It is not efficient. There is still quite a lot of room for NetApp to strengthen its ONTAP core.

    We were migrating data from 7mode to Cdot, and it was a new build. Also, ONTAP testing was new, so we didn't have many benchmarks to work through. The migration and ONTAP testing were not smooth. We had quite a number of problems, and we were forced to do a lot of upgrades. The issues related to compatibility had to be escalated to the highest level of the NetApp engineering team and the product build team as well. We worked closely with them.

    As for deployment, we had some issues with switching at the cluster backbone when building a cluster. Other than that, it took us less than a month or so because we had professional services as well. We were able to build the solution in 90 days.

    What was our ROI?

    As a customer, the ROI is still not that great. I don't see a unique selling point for NetApp. The number of USPs has to go up for me to say that I can't live without NetApp. Right now, if our company wants to run our business with another vendor, we would happily do so.

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

    The upgrade costs were huge.

    What other advice do I have?


    We've gone through a rough patch on our journey with NetApp AFF, but now, it is more stable. For the most part, you won't have too many unforeseen experiences, and there is an 80 to 90% chance that you will get what NetApp promises.

    One of the workloads that you may need to worry about is symlink-based applications. For example, eRoom won't work well. Symlink-based applications won't deliver the workloads.

    We always have issues with a few Oracle workloads, even with the latest levels. You may need to be cautious regarding these areas and block, but other than these, you will get what NetApp promises. The deployment would also be straightforward.

    I come from an EMC background and tend to compare this solution to it. The one thing that I love about NetApp is their SMB. That is, their NAS protocol is their strength. Block is their weakness. There were days when we would say that we would only buy NetApp for file and that we would never buy it for block. Even now, I think that seems to be the case, even though they have improved to an extent.

    With regard to block storage, its compatibility to other applications, and the allied monitoring tools they supply, especially for block or file, NetApp is better than most. I have worked with EMC, HP, IBM. In terms of block, I would not want to invest in NetApp.

    Unless NetApp is very concerned that the migration tool is not working as promised, I recommend investing in NetApp and getting a third party tool that can help seamlessly migrate the data.

    If I were to rate NetApp AFF overall on a scale from one to ten, I would rate it at nine.

    Disclosure: PeerSpot 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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    Swann Adjemian
    Director of the Projects Department at ALPIX
    Real User
    Significantly increases performance for our customers, and simplifies storage management
    Pros and Cons
    • "The most valuable features are the performance and the storage efficiency, due to the compression and deduplication... The efficiency is very important because we can buy fewer disks for more data."
    • "Another issue is that for smaller customers, NetApp doesn't have enough disk sizes. You begin with a 980-gigabyte disk and the next size is 3.8 terabytes. There aren't any disk sizes in between. Competitors have more choices in disk sizes."

    What is our primary use case?

    It's used for SAN environments and a lot of VMware utilization.

    How has it helped my organization?

    For our customers, the main benefit is the performance they get with NetApp AFF. We have a lot of feedback from customers about how their applications work faster and that they are very happy with it.

    We deploy it a lot for VMware environments and, with VMware, we have nearly all the client's applications. We can have 500 or 1,000 virtual machines on the AFF. Sometimes they tell us that a compute application that, with earlier generations of storage solutions, took hours or days, takes much less time with AFF. For some customers, it takes three or four or five times less, with the new AFF.

    Using NetApp AFF has also helped to reduce support issues. It's very stable and we don't have a lot of issues with it. I can talk a lot about this aspect because sometimes we provide support for NetApp. We have certification for level-one and level-two NetApp support. We only escalate the L3 support to NetApp. It's a very good technology with very few bugs.

    In addition, the ONTAP data management software has simplified our clients' operations. NetApp is simple to manage. You can grow and reduce the capacity, and you can create a backup copy through replication with SnapMirror and SnapVault. There are a lot of features in NetApp and they are simple to implement.

    What is most valuable?

    The most valuable features are 

    • performance
    • storage efficiency, due to the compression and deduplication.

    We use StorageGrid in two ways. The first usage is stand-alone to provide S3 object storage. And the second use case is to use FabricPool, the NetApp technology that moves a snapshot from the AFF to AWS. It's a very good solution because AFF is SSD technology, meaning the storage is expensive. It's very helpful to have the ability to move cold data, like a snapshot, out of the SSD.

    What needs improvement?

    We have an S3 protocol with the AFF, but there are a lot of limitations. The new ONTAP version has S3, but we can only do a very small volume.

    Another issue is that for smaller customers, NetApp doesn't have enough disk sizes. You begin with a 980-gigabyte disk and the next size is 3.8 terabytes. There aren't any disk sizes in between. Competitors have more choices in disk sizes.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I have been using NetApp AFF since the beginning. I have worked with NetApp for more than 10 years.

    We are a distributor, so we install a lot of storage for many customers. I have worked with all the models, including the AFF C190 and C220, the FAS8020 and 8040, the AFF A300, the AFF 700, and the biggest was an AFF A900.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The stability is very nice. I've worked with NetApp for a long time and the stability has been excellent.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We can very easily add volume with new disks and we can add more compute with more controllers. And we can refresh and upgrade hardware very easily. We do that very often and customers are very happy with this aspect.

    How are customer service and support?

    NetApp support is very good if you have a very serious disaster, such as a service interruption. You can ask for help from L1, L2, or L3 and get someone connected with you. But when you have a less important issue, such as a bug or a feature not working as you want, but you don't have a service interruption, the support is very slow.

    How would you rate customer service and support?

    Positive

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial deployment of NetApp AFF is easy. We can deploy it in a very small amount of time. The NetApp is pre-configured so you just have to run the setup, with some workloads that are already ready. In a few hours you can have production running on it. And for customers, it's very easy to learn how to use it.

    The implementation strategy for each environment is always a little different, but the main architecture is very similar. We always do a workshop with the customer, at the start of a project, and we design it for their specific requirements, but overall, the architecture is always similar.

    We have a specific service for the maintenance of NetApp, and that team has six people, but they maintain all our NetApp installations, not only AFF.

    What was our ROI?

    Our clients see return on their investment in AFF, due to the stability and efficiency. The efficiency is very important because we can buy fewer disks for more data.

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

    The list price of AFF is too expensive. But we have a good connection with NetApp and we can get a very big rebate and that makes the price similar to the competitors' pricing. But I would tell NetApp that they need to be careful with the pricing of the new NVMe disks. They are way too expensive.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We use AFF a lot in MetroCluster architecture, with synchronous replication between two data centers. In this scenario NetApp has some very hard requirements, like a specific switch that is mandatory. Its competitors don't have all these requirements. So sometimes it's very difficult to win projects as a result.

    But on the positive side, NetApp is very performant, very stable, and easy to manage. And when it comes to support for both file services and block services, NetApp is definitely better. We tried some of the competitors' solutions and with them it's not so easy. The NAS protocol is very good in NetApp.

    What other advice do I have?

    Try it. It's a good solution. In a MetroCluster environment, I think it's the best solution on the market today, with flash technology. You can have flash and synchronous write between two data centers.

    A lot of customers use NetApp with NAS and SAN. It's not a key point, but it's a good feature.

    Disclosure: PeerSpot contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Distributor
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    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
    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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    Sr. System Engineer at a government with 10,001+ employees
    Real User
    Simplified our infrastructure, while still giving us high performance for business-critical applications
    Pros and Cons
    • "It also helps to accelerate databases in our environment. First of all, there is the reliability of things staying online and the small response time as well, from the MetroCluster, for all of the data that we're serving; and the applications are talking to the MetroCluster. It provides a very fast response time."
    • "There is room for improvement with the user interface. There are a few things that cannot be done in the GUI. We do a lot of things through the CLI, but that's grown out of a lack of ability to do them in the GUI. An example is QTrees. You can manage them within the GUI, but the GUI is missing a few options."

    What is our primary use case?

    We use it mostly for user file data. We are also providing data stores for our VMware platform.

    How has it helped my organization?

    It helps simplify data management with unified data services across SAN and NAS environments. It has also simplified our infrastructure, while still giving us high performance for business-critical applications, and that was mostly due to the arrival of cluster ONTAP. Things really got a lot easier with that.

    It also helps to accelerate databases in our environment. First of all, there is the reliability of things staying online and the small response time as well, from the MetroCluster, for all of the data that we're serving; and the applications are talking to the MetroCluster. It provides a very fast response time.

    What is most valuable?

    The typical snapshots are one of the benefits. Also, in addition to the NetApp MetroCluster, we also have two eight-node HA clusters. And the solution makes our work easier.

    NetApp AFF has also helped to reduce support issues such as performance tuning and troubleshooting, and that's true even though we are quite self-sufficient in our knowledge of our clusters and of NetApp in general.

    What needs improvement?

    There is room for improvement with the user interface. There are a few things that cannot be done in the GUI. We do a lot of things through the CLI, but that's grown out of a lack of ability to do them in the GUI. An example is QTrees. You can manage them within the GUI, but the GUI is missing a few options. Also, the graphical design of the GUI for that part doesn't fit the windows on your screen.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I have been using NetApp AFF for about eight years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The reliability is one of the most important elements. Since we went to cluster ONTAP, we have really found it to be reliable. Previously, we were running NetApp with a lot of 7-Mode systems. The transition to cluster ONTAP wasn't easy, but in the end, it's way more reliable. What we love about the MetroCluster is that we do not have to worry about data being on one site. The reliability is one of its best features.

    The only issue we had, once, was when we moved to another data center, but that was not NetApp's fault.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    Scalability of the solution is great, but expensive.

    How are customer service and support?

    We always get what we need from their technical support, but what I find annoying is that you always have to go through all the various levels of support. That has definitely improved, but you always have to go through the front end, explaining what your environment looks like and what the impact of the issue is. But that's the only complaint I have about the support.

    It would help if they had a customer profile and could look it up and. When I create a case, I try to put in as much information as I can, but it's not always read. I get a standard email back from NetApp that says, "What does your environment look like?" even when I have put all of the information in the case, upfront.

    How would you rate customer service and support?

    Positive

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

    We used two separate 7-Mode clusters and we snap-mirrored the data to the other side. We moved to NetApp AFF because of the speed and because solid-state disks were the new technology at the time.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup and deployment of NetApp AFF is pretty straightforward. A lot of terms that were used in 7-Mode became easier and were more clearly stated when we transitioned to cluster ONTAP.

    Our transition lasted a year or so. We had a lot of data to move. We used the 7-Mode transition tool. My entire team of six people was involved.

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

    The pricing is pretty reasonable for what we get. But if you have to buy any more disk space, it can be quite expensive. We had some internal discussions with people who wanted to store a lot of graphical data and we gave them the pricing for that and they were really horrified about the pricing of a single shelf.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We did not look at any other vendors.

    What other advice do I have?

    With the all-new cloud availability, it's really important to think about the necessity of having your data doubled up over two data centers. With the cloud becoming more pervasive, the entire government is thinking of dropping physical data centers and going to managed, private cloud. My advice would be to think through whether you really need the functionalities of a MetroCluster. I like them a lot, but cost-wise, the cloud could be a great option.

    Disclosure: PeerSpot 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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