We don't use NetApp AFF for machine learning or artificial intelligence applications.
With respect to latency, we basically don't have any. If it's there then nobody knows it and nobody can see it. I'm probably the only one that can recognize that it's there, and I barely catch it. This solution is all-flash, so the latency is almost nonexistent.
The DP protection level is great. You can have three disks failing and you would still get your data. I think it takes four to fail before you can't access data. The snapshot capability is there, which we use a lot, along with those other really wonderful tools that can be used. We depend very heavily on just the DP because it's so reliable. We have not had any data inaccessible because of any kind of drive failure, at all since we started. That was with our original FAS8040. This is a pretty robust and pretty reliable system, and we don't worry too much about the data that is on it. In fact, I don't worry about it at all because it just works.
Using this solution has helped us by making things go faster, but we have not really implemented some of the things that we want to do. For example, we're getting ready to use the VDI capability where we do virtualization of systems. We're still trying to get the infrastructure in place. We deal with different locations around the world and rather than shipping hard drives that are not installed into PCs, then re-installing them at the main site, we want to use VDI. With VDI, we turn on a dumb system that has no permanent storage. It goes in, they run the application and we can control it all from one location, there in our data center. So, that's what we're moving towards. The reason for the A300 is so that our latency is so low that we can do large-scale virtualization. We use VMware a tremendous amount.
NetApp helps us to unify data services across SAN and NAS environments, but I cannot give specifics because the details are confidential.
I have extensive experience with storage systems, and so far, NetApp AFF has not allowed me to leverage data in ways that I have not previously thought of.
Implementing NetApp has allowed us to add new applications without having to purchase additional storage. This is true, in particular, for one of our end customers who spent three years deciding on the necessity of purchasing an A300. Ultimately, the customer ran out of storage space and found that upgrading the existing FAS8040 would have cost three times more. Their current system has quadruple the space of the previous one.
With respect to moving large amounts of data, we are not allowed to move data outside of our data center. However, when we installed the new A300, the moving of data from our FAS8040 was seamless. We were able to move all of the data during the daytime and nobody knew that we were doing it. It ran in the background and nobody noticed.
We have not relocated resources that have been used for storage because I am the only full-time storage resource. I do have some people that are there to help back me up if I need some help or if I go on vacation, but I'm the only dedicated storage guy. Our systems architect, who handles the design for network, storage, and other systems, is also familiar with our storage. We also have a couple of recent hires who will be trained, but they will only be used if I need help or am not available.
Talking about the application response time, I know that it has increased since we started using this solution, but I don't think that the users have actually noticed it. They know that it is a little bit snappier, but I don't think they understand how much faster it really is. I noticed because I can look at the system manager or the unify manager to see the performance numbers. I can see where the number was higher before in places where there was a lot of disk IO. We had a mix of SATA, SAS, and flash, but now we have one hundred percent flash, so the performance graph is barely moving along the bottom. The users have not really noticed yet because they're not really putting a load on it. At least not yet. Give them a chance though. Once they figure it out, they'll use it. I would say that in another year, they'll figure it out.
NetApp AFF has reduced our data center costs, considering the increase in the amount of data space. Had we moved to the same capacity with our older FAS8040 then it would have cost us four and a half million dollars, and we would not have even had new controller heads. With the new A300, it cost under two million, so it was very cost-effective. That, in itself, saved us money. Plus, the fact that it is all solid-state with no spinning disks means that the amount of electricity is going to be less. There may also be savings in terms of cooling in the data center.
As far as worrying about the amount of space, that was the whole reason for buying the A300. Our FAS8040 was a very good unit that did not have a single failure in three years, but when it ran out of space it was time to upgrade.