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Real Users Discuss How NetApp AFF Improves Performance, TCO, and Tiering

Jesse Summan

The IT industry continues to progress with innovative use of all-flash storage. Already proven in their superior performance and infrastructure density compared with spinning disks, all-flash products are now differentiating further through various innovations. NetApp customers who are also members of IT Central Station validate this progress in their reviews of NetApp® AFF all-flash arrays. NetApp AFF is a leader in the IT Central Station all-flash storage category.

In this blog post, I relate some IT Central Station member real-world experiences with NetApp AFF and how it has enhanced performance and cut costs for their organizations. Unless otherwise noted, all the users who are quoted here work at companies with more than 10,000 employees.

Faster Application Response and Lower Latency

NetApp all-flash arrays help significantly accelerate application response. “Our application response time has absolutely improved,” said one senior network technical developer and support expert at a healthcare company. This expert also added, “In terms of latency, before when we were running Epic Cache, the latency on our [NetApp] FAS was ten to fifteen milliseconds. Now, running off of the AFFs, we have perhaps one or two milliseconds.”

Vinod K., a storage architect and engineer at a transportation company, agrees. Vinod noted that for his company, “Using the all-flash solution improves our application response time.”

A senior data storage manager at an energy and utilities company described how the organization overcame the limitations of traditional storage and greatly reduced latency with NetApp AFF. This manager stated, “Before we implemented AFF, Oracle was running on a traditional storage spindle and at a very low speed with high latency, and the database was not running very well. After we converted from the spinning disk to the all-flash array, it was at least four times faster to access the volume than before.” And for the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), the company couldn’t even run traditional spinning disks. According to the manager, this vast improvement “is what we bought the AFF for.”

Reduced Storage and Data Center Costs

NetApp all-flash storage also helps cut costs on multiple fronts, including power usage and footprint, and several customers have achieved similar benefits. For Vinod K., lower data center expenses are a huge benefit: “NetApp AFF has definitely reduced our data center costs. We have been increasing our storage but not increasing our footprint. I would estimate the savings to be thirty percent.”

A storage engineer at a software R&D company also noted the power and space savings that the organization has achieved with NetApp AFF. “Data center costs have decreased because of the smaller footprint and less power usage. In one system, we saw six racks go down to half a rack. It’s probably five to one in terms of actual data space.”

A data protection engineer at a manufacturing company concurs, especially about the elimination of silos and the value of higher density: “This solution reduced our costs by consolidating several types of disparate storage. The savings come mostly in power consumption and density.” This engineer further stated, “One of our big data center costs, which was clear when we built our recent data center, is that each space basically has a value tied to it. Going to a flash solution enabled us to have a lower power footprint, as well as higher density. This essentially means that we have more capacity in a smaller space.”

The same customer then expounded on the benefits in terms of actual data center costs and the savings from NetApp AFF. According to this engineer, “When it costs several hundred million dollars to build a data center, you have to think that each of those spots has a cost associated with them. This means that each server rack in there is worth that much at the end. When we look at those costs and everything else, it saved us money to go to AFF where we have that really high density.”

Last but not least, a director from a small tech services company achieved savings with NetApp AFF that were implicit in reduced administrative work. “Prior to NetApp AFF, we were using an HPE Storage solution. It was a little more difficult to swap out the drives on the XP series. You have to shut down the drive and then wait for a prompt to remove it. It’s a long process, and if somebody pulls it out hot and puts another one in, then you’re going to have to do a complete rebuild.”

Tiering to the Cloud

NetApp all-flash arrays also enable storage tiering capabilities. As storage requirements become more dynamic, you want to have options in matching the fastest storage with the most critical applications. But you also want to be able to move less critical data to less expensive alternatives. A senior data storage manager at an energy and utilities company is pleased that NetApp AFF systems help tier data to the most effective storage to meet both cost and access requirements. The manager stated that “AFF has enabled us to automatically tier cold data to the cloud.” And a system engineer at a tech services company with over 50 employees similarly noted that adding NetApp StorageGRID® object-based storage has reduced the company’s TCO. With StorageGRID as a tiering option, the company can leverage the “fastest NVMe SSD more, hot tiering to that, and cold tiering to StorageGRID.”

Why NetApp Storage Leads the Industry

NetApp AFF efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and tiering capabilities are just part of the reason that NetApp storage is leading the industry. In addition to IT Central Station members, Gartner recently recognized NetApp storage as a superior option. To learn more about why NetApp was named a Leader in the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Primary Storage, download the report.

Jesse Summan

Jesse is a Product Marketing Manager at NetApp, with a focus on marketing AFF and FAS systems across the installed base. His background includes strategy, content, and messaging to help communicate product value, and has collaborated on Protect 7-Mode and Oracle Refresh programs to name a few. Outside of work, he enjoys playing basketball, producing music, and cooking.

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