NetApp AFF A-Series All Flash Arrays Reviews

13 Ratings
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Score 7.9 out of 101

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Paul Lemmons profile photo
Score 10 out of 10
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We currently own 2 AFF systems. One in the primary data center and one in an off site location. Both are used for a broad range of applications:

Cache Database (Epic EMR and Sunquest Lab)
Oracle Database (Multiple applications)
SQL Server (Hundreds of databases)
AIX Boot from SAN
VMWare guests (Over 1,000 VMs)
NFS Storage

All production systems are snap-mirrored between the two AFF systems for redundancy and recoverability.
  • It is fast. We have multiple large and vastly different types of workloads and our response time is always sub-milisecond
  • NetApp has done a phenomenal job with developing Ontap. It continues to improve in large leaps on a short development cycle
  • The snapshot technology at the heart of Ontap is incredibly powerful and versatile. It is at the heart of most of their most useful technologies.
  • Non-disruptive moves of volumes between nodes, aggregates and even different media types makes management vert simple
  • Volume level data encryption. We have this enabled for all volumes and have seen zero performance impact.
  • The GUI of Ontap is in constant flux. Every time there is an upgrade it appears to be completely redesigned. Some stability in its design would be nice
  • As new or improved technologies addressing compression, compaction and deduplication occur within upgrades it would be nice if preexisting data could benefit from it by background processes looking for opportunities to apply savings to data in place.
  • It is not simple to see when data from the AFF is being access inefficiently through the cluster interconnect. Because data moves sometimes access to the data remains with the nodes that originally owned them. I would like to be able to easily identify these instances so that I can take corrective action.
We us our AFF to support all applications that have a response time imperative or are IO intensive such as databases, email, VMware VMs and applications that have users at a keyboard needing a responsive interaction. It is also where we put all data that must be encrypted at rest such as HIPAA data.

It is of no value to data that is generally archived, little used or has low IO requirements. These would include scanned images, videos, IP Camera storage and most CIFS and NFS file based storage. For these types of applications SATA is still a better choice.
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Score 8 out of 10
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NetApp All Flash FAS is currently being used to host our production data across all departments. It hosts our CIFS shares which are mapped as network drives for all the end users. It also hosts our entire VDI environment. It helped us tremendously by giving us the flexibility to use NFS, ISCSI and CIFS protocols as we use them all.
  • Supports CIFS, NFS, ISCSI and FC protocols. Not all flash products out in the market today support all protocols and this makes it harder for small - mid scale organizations who cannot afford multiple million dollar storage platforms.
  • Handles workloads really well. We have VDI, SQL DB, Production workloads running on it all at the same time and the array doesn't choke on latency or IOPS.
  • CDOT has come a long way and with the newer versions of CDOT, the data reduction and compression makes way for a lot more usable storage than what you pay for in RAW.
  • As always, Netapp upgrades are really painful. I wish there was an easy way of upgrading Netapp.
  • GUI is hard to use and CLI is even worse. GUI is confusing and you click all over the place before you get over the learning curve. CLI has changed from the 7-mode days and is very confusing to use. I have had scenarios where the support themselves use documentation to put in the proper commands.
  • Like any array, Netapp's CDOT has it's own bugs in the software. We learnt the hard way when one of our nodes went down and a bug prevented take over of SCSI services which resulted in an APD situation on all our ESXI hosts. Was a nightmare rebooting all the VM's and ESXI's to relieve them of the APD's. People don't pay millions towards a storage platform to go through nightmares.
It is very well suited for any organization who is trying to host network drives as it supports CIFS protocol and is very good at it. We looked into multiple products including SMB with other flash storage platforms and still went back to Netapp because it does CIFS really well. Any organization who is trying to host VDI on flash will benefit from the use of NetApp All Flash FAS as we did. Our users immediately noticed a difference in performance of their VDI bootup times and overall experience. From the admin's point of view, they noticed server reboot times to be a few seconds. Overall, this array provides a lot of IOPS, does data compression and reduction really well and is worth the investment.
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NetApp AFF A-Series All Flash Arrays Scorecard Summary

Feature Scorecard Summary

Flash Array Performance (1)
10
Data Compression (1)
9
Non-Intrusive Upgrades (1)
10
Simplicity (1)
9

About NetApp AFF A-Series All Flash Arrays

NetApp AFF A-Series All Flash Arrays are the company's flagship flash storage solutions.

NetApp AFF A-Series All Flash Arrays Technical Details

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