Dell Unity XT vs NetApp AFF comparison

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Comparison Buyer's Guide
Executive Summary
Updated on Jan 2, 2023

We performed a comparison between Dell Unity XT and NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS) based on our users’ reviews in five categories. After reading all of the collected data, you can find our conclusion below.

  • Ease of Deployment: Dell Unity XT users report the initial deployment to be straightforward. Some users of NetApp AFF consider deployment to be easy while a few reviewers say it is mildly complex.
  • Features: Users of both products are happy with their stability and scalability.

    Dell EMC Unity XT users are happy with its integration abilities and simplicity. One user notes seeing a performance drop for large deduplications and a few others mention that the solution could improve its capacity and speed.

    NetApp AFF users say the solution has robust features and unique functionality and that its speed is impressive. Some users mention, however, that the GUI could be better and that it could offer more disk sizes like competitors do.
  • Pricing: Dell EMC Unity XT users share mixed reviews on the solution’s pricing. NetApp AFF users say the solution is pricey but worth it.
  • Service and Support: Users of both solutions are satisfied with the support and services they receive.
  • ROI: Users of both solutions report a positive ROI.

Comparison Results: The main difference between the two products is speed. Dell EMC Unity XT users say the speed of the solution should be improved, while NetApp AFF users find the solution’s speed to be impressive.

To learn more, read our detailed Dell Unity XT vs. NetApp AFF Report (Updated: January 2024).
757,198 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Q&A Highlights
Question: What is the Biggest Difference Between Dell EMC Unity and NetApp AFF?
Answer: Well, Is one thing NetApp Storage has vs other brand is the mix of protocol CIFS with NFS booth working together in the same volume that features is difficult to find in other Storage but the flexibility that gives is a lot. Other is speed with SSDs because the latency is minimal and very helpful for higer concurrency in my case we have many concurrent connections and the metrics are very impressed with the behavior of NetApp AFF 300.
Featured Review
Quotes From Members
We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use.
Here are some excerpts of what they said:
"The deduplication in the array combined with its snap technologies allows the product to be remotely/manually controlled or scheduled.""It worked flawlessly.""At this point, I don't know anything that they could provide in a better way.""NVMe data storage platform that's easy to set up and easy to use. It's stable, with a lower response time, and quick technical support.""This solution has improved our organization in the way that we used to see latency but now with this solution we don't. It also has good performance. Latencies have come down for our performance in the SQL databases. We can put a lot more in a lot less in terms of space savings. We also save data center space have good deduplication.""The predictive performance analytics is a very good feature, as our system is performing better than before.""The solution has probably reduced my power use substantially.""The solution is very reliable."

More Pure Storage FlashArray Pros →

"The valuable features of Unity include that it's flexible, has a friendly user-interface, and provides good performance.""The most valuable aspects of this solution are its stability, performance, and ease of updating.""I like the integration into VirtualCenter. I used to have to add LUNs manually, then scan them in and format them. It does that all for you, all in one, immediate deployment of LUNs.""We put the Unity on one of the file servers and the backup performance improved quite a lot.""The performance combined with the gig-per-dollar value is a combination that is superior to other storage options.""Because I always need to trouble shooting for IOPS & database (DB) performance issues. I can quickly focus on what is part of the issue. I can decrease downtime and can plan next year's extended capacity budget.""It's a much smaller footprint than our older storage arrays, which take up some six tiles, a lot of space in the data center. The Unity's are a lot smaller, and they're a lot faster.""It has the same operating system for both file and block, and it actually simplifies everything. And it's much smaller compared to VNX."

More Dell Unity XT Pros →

"The performance is outstanding when it's all Flash. That's the biggest bang for the buck that we get.""The business copy solution has become faster using SnapMirror.""MetroCluster provides business continuity and is a critical part of our contingency setup.""The most valuable features are deduplication and compression, so we get more out of our storage. The replication is also important.""The most valuable features for AFF are the speed, durability, back up, the time, the workloads that we are using currently are much faster than what they used to be. We're getting a lot of different things out of All Flash.""The most valuable features of AFF are its speed and the responsive support from NetApp.""Its consistent stability is one of the things that I like, and the performance is also very good.""We found AFF systems very competitive in terms of performance, storage efficiency, feature richness, and scalability."

More NetApp AFF Pros →

"It would be nice if Pure had something in its portfolio that provided higher deduplication and compression for backups.""Pricing could be better in comparison to other solutions.""We understand that they're thinking about it, but one of the things that would be nice is if they added some basic file-level capabilities to the platform. The idea is that they would run a basic NFS or CIF share from the controllers. FlashBlade is the powerhouse for File and Object storage, but if you don't need all that power, a lightweight file function would make FlashArrays more versatile.""Historical analytics would be useful. At the moment, they don't have any type of application built for historical analytics.""I would like to see them lower the costs.""In some cases, we get into very in-depth conversations around movement of specific data and, what's more, chunk sizes. The documentation lacked any description or information on that.""The initial setup of the product is complex.""Currently, the solution fails to support file screening."

More Pure Storage FlashArray Cons →

"We are running VMware, and with the VNXe it was possible to restore. We're using Veeam for VMware backups and with the predecessor, it was possible to mount a backup or restore a backup from a storage snapshot. With the Unity 300, this is not possible.""I would like the UI to look better.""The price of Dell Unity XT could improve.""In future releases, I would like to see automatic upgrades from one to the next, when this system is coming out and the next one is coming in; more akin to what Pure Storage is doing. That would be really helpful.""I rate the scalability of Dell Unity XT a nine out of ten.""The user interface could be improved. The Dell Compellent user interface is fantastic, but the Unity user interface is, in comparison, pretty lousy. It's functional, and I can do what I need, but the Dell Compellent user interface is so much more intuitive and user-friendly.""We went to the PowerMax because of the needs that we have for the business. We're doing true enterprise-level storage. So we went from Unity to PowerMax to give us that tier that we were looking for.""Since Dell took over EMC, the support has been very bad. Before, the support was fine. Now, the support is slow or they don't react."

More Dell Unity XT Cons →

"This is an expensive solution that could be cheaper.""In terms of what needs improvement, I would like to see more consistency with the UI. It seems to change every few versions. The menus can be in a completely different place.""We should be able to manage NetApp AFF as per the desired usage and needs.""To be more competitive in the industry, they can develop deduplication, compression, and smarter features in the same array instead of all-flash.""We'd like to see improvement in the time to retrieve from the Cloud, whether it's on-prem to cloud and whether it's public or private cloud.""We currently use some thin provisioning for our planning system, but we will probably move away from thin provisioning because our Solaris planning system actually has some issues with the thin provisioning and way Solaris handles it, since Solaris uses a ZFS file system. The ZFS file system doesn't like the thin provisioning changing things and it brings systems down, which is bad.""In terms of improvement, the support could be a little better.""It would be very useful if we could do the NFS to CIFS file transfer, but it is not supported at this time."

More NetApp AFF Cons →

Pricing and Cost Advice
  • "We feel that the pricing is fair and the licensing process was easy for both."
  • "There is always room for negotiation."
  • "The price was slightly higher than others, but competitive, if you consider all the other features that you get from it."
  • "It is a more expensive solution, but it is worth it. You are getting what you paid for."
  • "For pricing, you have to take into account their performance on deduplication and compression in a $/GB comparison."
  • "We have seen a reduction in total cost of ownership (TCO)."
  • "It is a cheaper solution."
  • "Pure Storage is all-flash, so this sometimes tends to make it a bit more expensive in the beginning."
  • More Pure Storage FlashArray Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "The price is good for commercial grade storage arrays."
  • "This unit is one of the cheapest storage all-flash arrays in the market and it does well for what it is intended. It can be combined for both file and block storage."
  • "Licensing is easy since all the software is included."
  • "This product is cheaper than the EMC VNX solution. It is good for small businesses."
  • "It is shipped with all licensed, included for this product range, no need to buy additional licenses"
  • "The only improvement would be a lower cost per unit/disks, however on the whole we are very pleased with this product."
  • "For costing, you have to have a budget in mind because SANs can be fairly expensive and EMC offers a wide range of products."
  • "The pricing was quite okay compared to others. We probably got it cheaper because we were the first ones out of the gate, but I would say that it's good value for the money."
  • More Dell Unity XT Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "It's expensive but we think over time all the prices are going to go down."
  • "Once we did get into the NetApp ecosystem, we realized that the cost effectiveness was greater than we originally thought."
  • "Obviously depending on the price point, NetApp is obviously a little more expensive than your generic Dell SAN solution or whatever."
  • "Other vendors may come in at a cheaper price point, but you will pay in the end with management costs and downtime."
  • "The entry point for potential customers, who are looking at coming onboard for flash systems, it may be a bit expensive. It would be good if the price comes down."
  • "It is pretty expensive compared to other solutions. I would give it a seven or eight out of 10 in price (where 10 is expensive) compared to similar solutions."
  • "NetApp is getting too expensive."
  • "ATTO bridges add to the total cost of the system."
  • More NetApp AFF Pricing and Cost Advice →

    Use our free recommendation engine to learn which All-Flash Storage solutions are best for your needs.
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    Answers from the Community
    Asiri Dissanayake
    ValereFEUGWANG - PeerSpot reviewerValereFEUGWANG
    Real User

    I saw that you have doubts about what you chose. I have a lot of experience with the constructor, honestly I can recommend Dell EMC Unity XT All-flash which can guarantee you a ratio of 3:1 signed by Dell and you have to deploy all types of workload from block to file. You can also rely on the native cash and fast cache functionality for increasing application performance

    Payman Maher - PeerSpot reviewerPayman Maher
    Real User

    This question is very dependent on your requirements. Both are among the best in the field. Of course, the intended cost is decisively based on the Gartner magic quadrant storage 2020 Net app company and Dell EMC are leaders. But we can say NetApp is First in Queue.

    One of the superiority NetApp working on NVMeOF

    Huseyin Yildirim - PeerSpot reviewerHuseyin Yildirim
    Real User

    The answer depends on your needs and budget. If you want high performance (who doesn't) or let's say the latency matters more than IOPS for your needs, Netapp AFF is the right choice. You can approach the max. Performance by equipping Unity with SSDs but maybe this costs more. I would recommend Netapp AFF all the time if your budget is ok.

    Frank R - PeerSpot reviewerFrank R
    Real User

    They’re both great solutions and I’ve used both.

    EMC is being VERY aggressive on pricing which may be the undoing of NetApp.

    Differences are in the user interface mostly, they both do what they are designed to do in different ways.

    I say, compare apples to apples on models and get them fighting on price.

    You win.

    CornelCristea - PeerSpot reviewerCornelCristea
    Real User

    First of all the decision should be taken looking at similar products in terms of capacity and performance.
    I will show a few aspects helping the decision, comparing Unity Xt480f and AFF220 (both chosen by distributor to be in the price range for capacity):

    1. Comparing 2 systems with the same capacity and performance: pricing is the first to look at:

    1a. Cost per GB, war capacity and usable capacity (+Unity)

    1b. Cost of adding capacity (+Unity)

    1c. Cost of licensing per GB / per added capacity (+Unity all included)

    1d. Cost of maintenance after initial contract (+Unity same for all life )

    2. Comparison of CPU/MEM, we choose Unity XT because of better CPU cores/frequency and memory per controller

    3. Percentage of space lost in various configurations. Our goal was to use Dynamic disk pools, available on Unity. Easier upgrades/downgrades.

    4. If virtual volumes are considered, Unity has a VASA provider included in the controller, Netapp is using external VM.

    5. Product lifecycle

    6. Inline compression / deduplication, performance,

    From the above 1=80%, 2=5%, 3=10%, 4+5=5%

    We went to Unity XT480 where on the same budget we got 20% more usable flash capacity, while enough slots remain for future upgrades.

    Mohamed Y Ahmed - PeerSpot reviewerMohamed Y Ahmed
    Real User

    My experience was with DELL EMC Unity Hybrid Storage and it was amazing cost-wise. Are you sure you need an All-flash solution?

    Maro Gav - PeerSpot reviewerMaro Gav

    EMC definitely.

    Questions from the Community
    Top Answer:Both are great platforms, but if you are considering all flash solutions, I would recommend you to consider Pure… more »
    Top Answer:We consume less physical storage because of the solution’s deduplication and compression.
    Top Answer:We have customers who use a three-year or five-year license. We also have customers who use Evergreen.
    Top Answer:I saw that you have doubts about what you chose. I have a lot of experience with the constructor, honestly I can… more »
    Top Answer:They’re both great solutions and I’ve used both EMC is being VERY aggressive on pricing which may be the undoing of… more »
    Top Answer:First of all the decision should be taken looking at similar products in terms of capacity and performance I will show… more »
    Top Answer:Well, Is one thing NetApp Storage has vs other brand is the mix of protocol CIFS with NFS booth working together in the… more »
    Top Answer:This question is very dependent on your requirements. Both are among the best in the field. Of course, the intended cost… more »
    Top Answer:The answer depends on your needs and budget. If you want high performance (who doesn't) or let's say the latency matters… more »
    Also Known As
    EMC Unity, Dell EMC Unity
    NetApp All Flash FAS, NetApp AFF, NetApp Flash FAS
    Learn More
    Pure Storage
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    Dell Technologies
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    Pure Storage FlashArray is the world’s first enterprise-class storage array that runs exclusively on the nonvolatile memory express (NVMe) protocol for memory access and storage. It represents a totally state-of-the-art type of storage technology. It offers users shared accelerated storage that delivers cutting-edge features in the realms of performance, simplicity, and consolidation. Pure Storage is fresh and modern today and will be for the next decade. Without forklift upgrades or planned downtime, Pure Storage takes the work out of storage ownership and delivers unprecedented customer satisfaction.

    Pure Storage FlashArray is built with simplicity and reliability in mind. The solution can be implemented and optimized in hours, as opposed to other similar solutions that can take days. It has no moving parts, which removes areas where it could potentially be vulnerable to suffering errors. It is highly stable and gives users the ability to manage system shutdowns in a way that  prevents data loss.

    Benefits of Pure Storage FlashArray

    Some of the benefits of using Pure Storage FlashArray include:

    • A much higher level of speed than similar pieces of technology. Pure Storage FlashArray maximizes the speed at which data can be transferred while at the same time minimizing system latencies that might slow the transfer down. Additionally, it offers users quick memory read and data access speeds.

    • A higher bang for your buck in terms of the storage capabilities you get for the money you pay. They are smaller in size than more standard storage technologies, but they offer flash memory, which enables users to store larger amounts of data than the current standard.

    Reviews from Real Users

    Pure Storage FlashArray is a highly effective piece of storage technology which stands out among its competitors for a number of reasons. Two major ones are its overall robustness and the value that it offers by way of its reliability and ease of use. It provides users with many valuable features that allow them to maximize what they can do with this solution. Pure Storage FlashArray’s reliability and ease of use make it a highly valuable solution. 

    PeerSpot user Prabakaran K., a technical consultant at Injazat Data Systems, notes the robustness of this solution when he writes, "FlashArray has many valuable features. It's very user-friendly and it has high availability, so there is comparatively less downtime. During maintenance, there is no shutdown procedure, so you can directly power off the Array and manage the shutdown process without any data loss, which is a unique feature. Managing replication and data migration is also very easy."

    PeerSpot user Jason D., a cloud solutions architect at a tech services company, notes three features that make this solution valuable when he writes, "We've had different types of storage, and three things of this solution are valuable. The first one is its outstanding performance. The second one is its stability. In the about three years that we've had it, we've had component failures, but we never had a service interruption or any data loss. The third one, which is really critical, is that it is super easy to use in terms of provisioning, storage, and managing the arrays. I'm able to maintain a multi-site environment with a couple of dozen arrays with a single mid-level storage admin."

    Dell EMC Unity XT is one of the best all-flash storage arrays on the market today. Dell EMC Unity XT arrays are designed for performance, optimized for efficiency, and built for a multi-cloud world. In addition, they support digital transformation, enabling businesses to reach the full potential of their data capital quickly and easily. Dell EMC Unity’s All-Flash and Hybrid Flash storage platforms provide the performance, efficiency, enterprise-class software, and virtualization integrations required for running a wide range of virtualized applications.

    Dell EMC Unity XT Features

    Dell EMC Unity XT has many valuable key features, including:

    • Unified storage flexibility: With Dell EMC Unity XT you can consolidate separate storage platforms into a single Unity XT unified storage system via a simple and intuitive (HTML5) management GUI that also connects you to CloudIQ.

    • All-inclusive data protection: Dell EMC Unity XT offers a reliable way to protect application data with all-inclusive data protection services, including snapshots, data-at-rest drive encryption, replication, thin clones, and dynamic pools.

    • Software-defined solutions: Dell EMC Unity XT provides software-defined storage and HA for on-prem and in the cloud solutions.

    • Multi-cloud alignment: With Dell EMC Unity XT you have the ability to build and manage an effective data-first multi-cloud strategy. It allows you to consolidate public and private cloud resources that align with your business goals.

    • Metro node: This feature enables automated business continuity with zero RPO and RTO. It also provides greater flexibility through multi-platform support and replication to any array and has zero performance impact on the storage array.

    • Scalable file system: Dell EMC Unity XT is built with a robust 256TBu file system. The UFS64 file system includes up to 256 independent VMDK clones, 16 thin clones, space efficient snapshots with a simple space reclaim and low IO impact, file system shrink that can reclaim free blocks, simplified Quotas for User, and much more.

    • DevOps integrations: Dell EMC Unity XT supports the Container Storage Interface (CSI) plugin to run Kubernetes workloads.

    Dell EMC Unity XT Benefits

    Some of the benefits of using Dell EMC Unity XT include:

    • High-speed data access
    • Low latency
    • Dual-active controller architecture
    • Multi-cloud
    • Intuitive user interface
    • Cost efficient
    • Solid performance

    Reviews from Real Users

    Below are some reviews and helpful feedback written by Dell EMC Unity XT users.

    A Systems Engineering Manager at a manufacturing company says, "It is definitely one of the most robust, solid, well-performing products that I have dealt with. It is set it and forget it, which is pretty amazing." He also mentions, “We can do both block and file storage on one unit without purchasing a separate device.”

    Peter S., Senior Technical Specialist at a healthcare company, states, “The most valuable feature is reliability. At the end of the day, it just runs. This solution is easy to work with and easy to maintain.”

    PeerSpot user Melvin T., Senior Systems Engineer at Prosperity Bank, explains that the solution is “easy to use and we can add LUNs or space without interruption to end-users. We're able to access it from just about anywhere, as long as we have access to a browser. That feature is really neat because sometimes we will go to a different data center or a different site, and if we need to access it to see a LUN or to see any type of storage, we can do that. That's one of the big takeaways with Unity."

    The NetApp A-Series and C-Series are AFF storage arrays that deliver high performance, scalability, and simplified data management for a wide range of workloads. They are designed for organizations that need to improve the performance and agility of their applications, while also reducing costs and complexity.

    NetApp A-Series and C-Series feature a scale-out architecture that can be scaled to meet the needs of your growing business. They also support a wide range of built-in data protection and data security features, including snapshots, replication, disaster recovery, and autonomous ransomware protection.

    AFF A-Series all-flash systems deliver industry-leading performance, density, scalability, security, and network connectivity.

    AFF C-Series systems are suited for large-capacity deployment as an affordable way to modernize your data center to all flash and also connect to the cloud.

    NetApp AFF Benefits

    • Speed up your critical applications with lightning-fast end-to-end NVMe enterprise all-flash arrays.
    • Increase Performance: AFF A-Series systems deliver industry-leading performance proven by SPC-1 and SPEC SFS industry benchmarks, making them ideal for demanding, highly transactional applications such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MongoDB databases, VDI, and server virtualization.
    • Save up to 95% of rack space and up to 85% of power and cooling cost over hybrid flash storage.
    • Reduce cost with guaranteed storage efficiency.
    • Realize even greater savings by tiering cold data to the cloud easily.
    • Simplify Operations on premises or in the cloud: Eliminate fragmented and redundant toolsets and combine visibility and manageability of storage instances with data services in a unified control plane across the hybrid cloud.

    NetApp AFF Features

    • Expand capacity with nondisruptive scaling in a cluster without silos or data migration.
    • Manage data with the ultimate flexibility of unified support across different storage media and protocols, on premises or in the cloud.
    • Scale performance with technology innovations of NVMe/FC and NVMe/TCP connectivity.
    • Safeguard your data with best-in-class data security, ransomware protection, multifactor admin access, secure multitenant shared storage, and in-flight and at-rest encryption.
    • Simplify backup and recovery with built-in application-consistent data protection.
    • Achieve business continuity and fast disaster recovery with zero data loss and zero downtime.
    • Scale out to 24 nodes, 367PB of effective capacity, and 4 million IOPS non-disruptively.

    Reviews from Real Users

    NetApp AFF stands out among its competitors for a number of reasons. Two major ones are its high performance and simplicity. PeerSpot users take note of the advantages of these features in their reviews:

    PeerSpot user and Storage Administrator, Daniel Rúnar Friðþjófsson, comments “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.

    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.”

    Additionally, Mohan Reddy, Sr. Technology Architect at a Pharma/Biotech company comments on how “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.”

    Sample Customers
    Nielsen, Lamar Advertising, LinkedIn, Betfair, UT-Dallas
    Draper, Rio Grande Pacific, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre
    DreamWorks Animation, FICO, Yahoo! Japan
    Top Industries
    Financial Services Firm19%
    Healthcare Company12%
    Manufacturing Company10%
    Computer Software Company8%
    Educational Organization32%
    Computer Software Company12%
    Financial Services Firm8%
    Manufacturing Company8%
    Financial Services Firm18%
    Healthcare Company13%
    Manufacturing Company11%
    Computer Software Company6%
    Educational Organization64%
    Computer Software Company6%
    Manufacturing Company4%
    Healthcare Company15%
    Financial Services Firm11%
    Computer Software Company11%
    Energy/Utilities Company8%
    Educational Organization60%
    Computer Software Company8%
    Manufacturing Company6%
    Financial Services Firm3%
    Company Size
    Small Business27%
    Midsize Enterprise16%
    Large Enterprise57%
    Small Business17%
    Midsize Enterprise41%
    Large Enterprise42%
    Small Business30%
    Midsize Enterprise24%
    Large Enterprise46%
    Small Business10%
    Midsize Enterprise69%
    Large Enterprise21%
    Small Business12%
    Midsize Enterprise14%
    Large Enterprise73%
    Small Business9%
    Midsize Enterprise65%
    Large Enterprise25%
    Buyer's Guide
    Dell Unity XT vs. NetApp AFF
    January 2024
    Find out what your peers are saying about Dell Unity XT vs. NetApp AFF and other solutions. Updated: January 2024.
    757,198 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    Dell Unity XT is ranked 4th in All-Flash Storage with 29 reviews while NetApp AFF is ranked 2nd in All-Flash Storage with 43 reviews. Dell Unity XT is rated 8.4, while NetApp AFF is rated 9.0. The top reviewer of Dell Unity XT writes "Price / Quality ratio is good and since OE 5.03 code the array family reached a rather good maturity level". On the other hand, the top reviewer of NetApp AFF writes "It has simplified our operational model by making routine processes easier and less prone to error". Dell Unity XT is most compared with Dell PowerStore, HPE Nimble Storage, IBM FlashSystem, HPE 3PAR StoreServ and Dell PowerMax NVMe, whereas NetApp AFF is most compared with Dell PowerStore, Lenovo ThinkSystem DM Series, VMware vSAN, VAST Data and IBM FlashSystem. See our Dell Unity XT vs. NetApp AFF report.

    See our list of best All-Flash Storage vendors.

    We monitor all All-Flash Storage reviews to prevent fraudulent reviews and keep review quality high. We do not post reviews by company employees or direct competitors. We validate each review for authenticity via cross-reference with LinkedIn, and personal follow-up with the reviewer when necessary.