Dell PowerMax NVMe OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Dell PowerMax NVMe is the #2 ranked solution in best NVMe All-Flash Arrays and #6 ranked solution in best All-Flash Storage Arrays. PeerSpot users give Dell PowerMax NVMe an average rating of 8.8 out of 10. Dell PowerMax NVMe is most commonly compared to Dell PowerStore: Dell PowerMax NVMe vs Dell PowerStore. Dell PowerMax NVMe is popular among the large enterprise segment, accounting for 62% of users researching this solution on PeerSpot. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 22% of all views.
Dell PowerMax NVMe Buyer's Guide

Download the Dell PowerMax NVMe Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: November 2022

What is Dell PowerMax NVMe?

Dell EMC PowerMax is the world’s fastest storage array. With end-to-end non-volatile memory express (NVMe), real-time machine learning, seamless cloud mobility, and up to 350GB per second bandwidth, PowerMax features high-speed smarts to power your most critical workloads. PowerMax is true modern scale-up and scale-out storageת designed for mission-critical applications of today and tomorrow – including databases and transaction processing applications as well as real-time analytics workloads that demand uncompromising uptime and extremely low latency.

PowerMax consists of two models, PowerMax 2000 and 8000. The PowerMax 8000 delivers industry-leading performance density with up to 7.5 million IOPS5 per rack and 187,000 IOPS6 per U (rack unit). PowerMax supports mixed open systems, mainframe, IBM i, block, and file environments. The PowerMax 2000 is the entry point into mission-critical storage, high availability, and delivering robust data services in a safe, secure compact package.

PowerMax systems incorporate the most current and robust end-to-end NVMe technology with industry-standard NVMe flash drives, NVMe storage class memory drives, and FC-NVMe host connectivity via NVMe over Fabrics. PowerMax SCM, powered by dual-port Intel® Optane™ technology, offers rapid-fire fast performance and secure low latency ideal for electronic trading, real-time analytics, high-performance databases, and big data workloads.

Features of Dell EMC PowerMax NVMe

Robust architecture with amazing performance combines demanding mixed workloads.

  • Built-in machine learning automates data placement for maximum performance with no additional management cost.
  • Very secure end-to-end dynamic encryption safeguards digital assets with 3.5:1 data reduction, guaranteed by Dell Technologies.
  • Seamless cloud mobility pushes data from PowerMax to AWS, Azure, Dell EMC ECS, and PowerScale for long-term retention on lower-cost object storage.

Benefits of Dell EMC PowerMax NVMe

Powerful Architecture

  • Designed for speed – robust multi-controller scale-up, scale-out architecture with built-in end-to-end NVMe.
  • Performance optimized – up to 350GB/s sustained bandwidth2, under 100µs read latency3.
  • Efficiency without compromise – global inline data reduction with guaranteed 3.5:1 average DRR4.

Simple Operations

  • Intuitive storage management – provision storage in less than 30 seconds.
  • Workload consolidation – outstanding consolidation of block, file, mainframe, IBM i storage on a single array.
  • DevOps automation and containers – workflow automation and streamlined IT processes (vRA, vRO, CSI, CSM, Kubernetes).
  • Non-disruptive data migration – initiate data migrations from older arrays to PowerMax in three simple steps.

Trusted Innovation

  • Mission-critical availability – proven six nines availability and the best replication for business continuance, disaster recovery (BC/DR).
  • Deep VMware integration – mission-critical availability and the most efficient scalability for VMware Virtual Volumes deployments (64,000 vVols).
  • Flexible consumption – several options, predictability, and investment protection with pay-per-use solutions and Future-Proof guarantees.

PowerMax sets the standard for data storage today. It is uniquely, intuitively designed with a multi-controller, active/active scale-out architecture, an industry-standard, end-to-end NVMe. Inline, global dedupe and compression add outstanding efficiency to your data center, even while scaling. Additionally, PowerMax offers you the best in remote replication, proven six nines of availability, and end-to-end efficient encryption so that your data is always secure and your resources are fully optimized.

Reviews from Real Users

Ahmed K., a senior storage systems engineer at a pharma/biotech company, says Dell EMC PowerMax NVMe has “secure, fast performance, and good reporting capabilities.”

Nikolay M. a lead system administrator at Central Hospital of Civil Aviation shares that with PowerMax, “we have not yet hit the ceiling in its efficiency, performance, and scalability… Now, with PowerMax, everything runs smoothly.”

“We don't have to manage much at all. It really is like a set it and forget it solution. My storage engineers love the system. It is a lot less work than our previous systems… We are saving dozens of hours per month for our storage team, and that is a real cost in our business," adds Paul C., a Senior Solution Architect at Rackspace.

Dell PowerMax NVMe was previously known as Dell EMC PowerMax, PowerMax.

Dell PowerMax NVMe Customers

Rackspace, Open Line

Dell PowerMax NVMe Video

Dell PowerMax NVMe Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Dell PowerMax NVMe pricing:
  • "The labor savings and support have been significant. If we're talking 100 hours of labor every three months, that is 100 hours of a database engineer costs. There are performance latency numbers as well as costs associated with recovering data that gets lost, and this system doesn't lose data. You can look at numbers that go around the cost of downtime, if data is not available. This system doesn't go down. Everyone's ROI is going to be unique, but the dependability and performance of the system combined with its ease of operation will definitely save businesses of all sizes money."
  • "Its price is competitive, but they need to have a different price for West Africa. They can do better with the price point to allow us to scale even more. We wanted to migrate our entire storage infrastructure to PowerMax, which would require us to buy more capacity, and from the price point, it didn't attract us."
  • "One area for improvement, one that everybody always comes to, is price... it's still quite expensive to purchase these big arrays... For us, the pricing doesn't make Dell EMC uncompetitive."
  • "It is high-end storage and it is a bit expensive, but it is doing what it is meant for: running business-critical applications or latency-sensitive applications..."
  • "Negotiate hard and consider the commercial advantages/benefits to Dell EMC for onboarding your product."
  • "In terms of price-performance, it beat out other competitors when we were taking a look and comparing it to the market. That was one of the biggest driving points for us."
  • Dell PowerMax NVMe Reviews

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    Paul Croteau - PeerSpot reviewer
    Senior Solution Architect at Rackspace
    Real User
    Top 20
    CloudIQ ensures that all our arrays are properly communicating so we can see performance and storage capacities
    Pros and Cons
    • "There is no management overhead involved in optimizing performance. It does it so well on its own. We don't have to manage much at all. It really is like a set it and forget it solution. My storage engineers love the system. It is a lot less work than our previous systems, which weren't bad by any means. There is not nearly as much management as before. So, we are saving dozens of hours per month for our storage team, and that is a real cost in our business."
    • "Support of the product can be slow and an administrative challenge: planning, scheduling, and overseeing data center access for a Dell EMC rep. One improvement could be to enable a self-maintenance option. The requirements that we go through to get Dell EMC onsite to replace failed drives, power supplies, and other small redundant parts can be unnecessarily complex. If simplified, they could send us the parts, then we could replace them much faster, more easily, and truly within the SLA parameters."

    What is our primary use case?

    We are a very large customer of Dell EMC. We have several different deployments or installations. The biggest use case is probably a multi-tenant or shared environment where we provide many petabytes of storage for multiple customers who utilize that same infrastructure. We are a managed services provider in the cloud sector so we have to deliver high performance storage for thousands of customers who have to be up all the time.

    There are a lot of different use cases, in general: Having large quantities of storage available that is always available, because of this uptime is important as is performance. As a service provider, we deliver storage on demand for our customers. This is important because we can adjust storage needs on a per customer basis. Whether it be increases or decreases in storage, this platform allows us to do that very easily.

    We are using the latest release.

    How has it helped my organization?

    As a service provider, we have to deliver the best possible service that is backed by SLAs. The NVMe performance is fantastic for our customers and the features of the PowerMax are fantastic. We have seen improvements in performance, which means less customer support tickets. The ease of management frees up resources for our storage teams so they can focus on other problems with other platforms, etc. This is such a self-sufficient beast of a platform that it has really freed up a lot of time so they can focus on other stuff besides storage.

    There is no management overhead involved in optimizing performance. It does it so well on its own. We don't have to manage much at all. It really is like a set it and forget it solution. My storage engineers love the system. It is a lot less work than our previous systems, which weren't bad by any means. There is not nearly as much management as before. So, we are saving dozens of hours per month for our storage team, and that is a real cost in our business.

    There are different ways to look at security and availability. We take advantage of array level encryption, but that is a behind-the-scenes thing. We tend to focus on the availability part, because high uptime and performance are important to us. In regards to data security and availability, the data is secure if it is encrypted. The availability means that it is always up.  We have very good opinions of the security features in both single-tenant and multi-tenant deployed to the security. 

    There is also the security concept regarding access to data. What we are seeing is that the PowerMax is so consistently dependable that it gives us a very solid comfort level in terms of level of trust. There is data security and protection, keeping your data from the bad guys. On the other hand, there is security knowing that your data is always available. PowerMax provides both of those.

    What is most valuable?

    We use the solution's CloudIQ features for what we call fleet management. We manage hundreds of devices. We use this to make sure that all our arrays are properly communicating so we can see performance, storage capacities, etc. We can also generate reports on usage and performance. Our customers with dedicated solutions rely on CloudIQ for reports, but we also have a lot of homegrown internal tools which give us the same features so we don't use it as much as our customers, but we use it occasionally.

    CloudIQ is definitely helpful for our customers who use it, but our teams are using internal tools that we've trusted for years. CloudIQ is very helpful for helping to manage storage for customers who need the tools but don't have their own.

    In regards to efficiency and performance, we don't have escalations to the vendor at all because it works so well. These devices are a beast. Historically, before the PowerMax came out, we would sometimes experience storage performance bottlenecks because there were a lot of customers in the shared or multi-tenant environment. So, we have a lot of customers requesting a lot of data. We do things at an enterprise-level at scale. Therefore, we would see performance bottlenecks. The efficiency of the system has now just proven that it works phenomenally. It can allocate resources to different storage tiers, like a Gold, Silver, or Bronze tier. If Gold is busy, it can go and request resources from the Silver or Bronze layer as we have defined them. We no longer see performance issues because the system just runs really well and handles a lot of scaling in both directions. 

    There is an underlying QoS-type functionality behind-the-scenes where we are providing storage with an SLA based on tiers (Gold, Silver, or Bronze tiers). For example, if the Gold tier does not hit its minimum required performance, the system will kick into a lesser quality of service. It will reach out to the other storage tiers and consume more bandwidth, if needed. However, in our experience, the system works so well that we don't actually have to use that feature. On the very rare occasions that we need to, we just go click a button in the background. The system works so well that we don't actually have to use the QoS capabilities.

    It works great. We don't ever have to escalate to the vendor. PowerMax is really a game changer for us. Historically, we would have bottlenecks on older, spinning disk gear, but this NVMe technology is really solid. Now, it works phenomenally. Therefore, storage is not a problem for us. The performance that we are experiencing changes the customer's conversation from talking about I/O to response times or latency. We used to have to worry about disk and how quickly could your data go in and out. Now, things are so dang fast that we just want to know how quickly we can connect to it, so the latency is pretty cool. We don't have any issues with performance efficiency at all.

    What needs improvement?

    The improvements made to the product line over the generations has made PowerMax a gem. Nothing being perfect, the improvements that come to mind would not be specific to the physical product, but instead on the support and management side.

    Support of the product can be slow and an administrative challenge: planning, scheduling, and overseeing data center access for a Dell EMC rep. One improvement could be to enable a self-maintenance option. The requirements that we go through to get Dell EMC onsite to replace failed drives, power supplies, and other small redundant parts can be unnecessarily complex. If simplified, they could send us the parts, then we could replace them much faster, more easily, and truly within the SLA parameters.

    We have had performance/availability issues in the past with the management server/application, Unisphere. Upgrades to the platform could also be difficult and even fail. However, the most recent version released last month had been the first in a long time that was successful. Therefore, we are hopeful those past software issues have been addressed.

    Buyer's Guide
    Dell PowerMax NVMe
    November 2022
    Learn what your peers think about Dell PowerMax NVMe. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2022.
    654,658 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We have been using the solution since it rolled out, along with the previous hardware iterations prior to NVMe.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    PowerMax is an absolute must have - 100%. At Rackspace, we have had PowerMax since its initial launch. Prior to PowerMax, we had the VMAX3. We also had VMAX2s. We even started with the original VMAX (VMAX1). All told, we have been working with the entire Dell EMC product line for 10 to 11 years now. In that time, we have literally had just six minutes of downtime over 11 years. 

    There was one single outage across that entire 10- to 11-year window. While no one likes outages, the nice thing about this one was that when it was down, there was zero data loss and zero data corruption. This single six minute outage was caused because of a legitimate bug in the system. The system kind of invoked a safety mechanism to protect data, but itself glitched. It immediately recovered, restored, booted back up, and picked up right where it left off. This happened in the middle of the day. Very few customers even noticed. This has been it for more than 10 years of service across hundreds of devices supporting double-digit quantities of petabytes of storage, which is pretty impressive. Based on our experience, Dell EMC could very easily offer a 100% uptime guarantee on an annual basis. It is that good of a system.

    Based on the feedback from our engineers, the system could not be more stable than it is. It is incredibly stable and very dependable. This is Dell EMC’s flagship product line. It has been a very stable product for many years and easily achieves the five nines of uptime that they guarantee. Outside of the normal hardware failure here and there, we have only encountered a couple bugs that had effects on attached hosts which were very rapidly resolved by Dell EMC’s engineering teams with software or firmware patches. The only significant (downtime) event we have ever encountered was on a previous generation unit, where Dell EMC’s engineering team responded and resolved the issue very swiftly by identifying the bug and immediately writing a patch to prevent future occurrences.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The system scales as far as you want to take it.

    In a large shared infrastructure environment where we are regularly adding storage or taking storage down as our customers need change, this is hundreds of hours of time every quarter. Now, with this new technology, it is faster and more efficient. It gets the work done quickly, which is less time that my storage engineers have to worry about working. This applies for adding new storage as well as expanding an existing storage for our customers. Now, the customer says, "I need 1,000 GB." We say, "PowerMax, give me a 1,000 GB." Then, it is done. If the customer says, "Wait, I need 2,000." We can scale that up without any of the busy work on the back-end that we had to do with previous systems. The PowerMax system is getting our storage team out of the business of having to manage these micro-interactions while letting the team focus on storage maintenance and management. 

    We have dozens of storage engineers on our team and thousands of customers who use the solution as part of our service. Because we are a service company, we deliver the best technology home for applications and data. Our customers are eCommerce (banks, medical, and retailers). We service businesses of all sizes and every vertical who are using the storage service that we deliver for them. We have a very competent, modest-sized team managing tens of petabytes for thousands of customers very easily.

    We hope to increase usage in the future. When we get more customers, they buy more storage.

    How are customer service and support?

    Our support teams work with the actual Dell EMC support team. We are not engaging Dell EMC tech support a whole lot, unless we are escalating a serious bug issue.

    We regularly meet with the Dell EMC product teams. They are getting our feedback constantly. They are asking us questions or being proactive on things that we have noticed, whether it's feature requests or bugs that we find. We have a clear communication path with Dell EMC.

    Our storage team is very familiar with the trend analysis tool system, monitoring management tools, etc. In fact, our storage team regularly meets with the CloudIQ developer team every quarter or two to go over feature sets and give them feedback on our use cases. The CloudIQ team actually relies on Rackspace to provide them some input on the product, and as far as fleet management goes, to see what we have done. We have done some beta testing for them and had some sneak peaks on new features. We have a really tight relationship with Dell EMC, which we have had for a couple of decades now. So, we are definitely influencing the CloudIQ feature set and helping the team out the best we can.

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

    Here is a nice use case in regards to storage provisioning. In other words, how do we deploy storage for customers? At Rackspace, we are providing a large shared infrastructure environment where we are adding storage or taking it down constantly for customers. We are seeing savings of hundreds of hours of time per a given fiscal quarter (three months). Before NVMe and these versions came out, we had to do a lot of storage work manually to make changes for our customers. We would deal with a storage volume and the subcomponents below that storage volume. So, we create slivers of a volume, then we package those together to make a single volume and present that to the customer's hosts.

    By provisioning within the PowerMax systems, we no longer have to go and create individual pieces, and say, "I need all the things needed for 1,000 GB LUN." Now, they can just go there, and say, "I need  1,000 GB. Give it to me." There is no provisioning subwork or extra work needed. It is just there. If I say I'm done with it, I can turn it off. If I want to go from 1,000 to 500. It just happens. A lot of the former busy work that was required for everyday storage support in that location goes away. It literally saves us hundreds of hours per quarter.

    How was the initial setup?

    Our team knows Dell EMC really well. I don't think they had any issues with the initial setup.

    Follow the manufacturer's instructions once you get it deployed. In many ways, it is a set it and forget it technology.

    What about the implementation team?

    We work hand in hand with Dell EMC. The implementation strategy is just providing the best possible quality of storage equipment with the features that our customers need. The features that they need constantly change so we need the ability to adapt. Our implementation strategy is to work with a platform that is dependable and flexible, and we have been successful with Dell EMC.

    What was our ROI?

    You can save provisioning time and focus on mission-critical issues as well as problem solving. It is really helpful for businesses of all sizes.

    The labor savings and support have been significant. If we're talking 100 hours of labor every three months, that is 100 hours of a database engineer costs. There are performance latency numbers as well as costs associated with recovering data that gets lost, and this system doesn't lose data. You can look at numbers that go around the cost of downtime, if data is not available. This system doesn't go down. Everyone's ROI is going to be unique, but the dependability and performance of the system combined with its ease of operation will definitely save businesses of all sizes money.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We have been with Dell EMC since the beginning of business. We adopted them from a server perspective, then we adopted their storage lines. 

    What other advice do I have?

    The solution keeps getting better. When you go with trusted vendors and time tested technology, things are going to go well for you.

    I would rate this solution as 10 out of 10.

    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
    PeerSpot user
    Oluwatosin Obatoyinbo - PeerSpot reviewer
    Enterprise Architect at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
    Real User
    Top 10
    Allows us to define different service levels for storage groups to prioritize our workload at the infrastructure level, and provides remarkable value in terms of compression and deduplication
    Pros and Cons
    • "We find the service level option to provision storage very valuable. The ability to define different service levels for storage groups helps us in prioritizing our workload at the infrastructure level."
    • "They can make the GUI better, especially for the ones that come out of the box. We did encounter a bit of difficulty in setting up the storage. We had to deploy Solutions Enabler on a Linux machine to be able to fully interact with the storage. They need to upgrade the web interface for the management of the storage that comes out of the box. The management interface for NFS is also a bit old and not very intuitive."

    What is our primary use case?

    We currently use it to power our Oracle databases, especially for our core banking solution. We also use it for storage. We provisioned the storage from PowerMax for various VMs that we created for the applications in that environment.

    How has it helped my organization?

    We use the NVMe SCM storage tier feature, and that's how we're able to do the service level capability (SLA). We have storage class memory as a part of our deployment, and we have about 10% of our storage sizing allocated to storage class memory. With that, we are able to create different service levels for the disk groups or loans provisioned from this storage.

    It most definitely helps in improving storage-related performance in our environment. The way our core banking solution works is that we have what we call ODS blocks. So, for leveraging that SLA, we were able to implement some kind of priority for those ODS blocks. Oracle had said that this is something for which their Exadata has a special way of doing, but based on my own assessment, we are able to achieve relatively similar levels of performance by using PowerMax.

    Before we deployed this solution, we used to struggle with processing about 100,000 transactions in 10 minutes. We are now able to process about 350,000 or more transactions. These are conservative figures. We did hit much more than that, but conservatively, we are able to see about 300% performance improvement as compared to the SSD storage that we had previously from IBM. We have metrics to show that. The performance is different, and it is better than what we were used to.

    We are in our ideal environment in which the storage double acts as our UAT and our test environment. So, we've seen remarkable deduplication in that environment because we are able to expand the footprint much more than what we are able to do in production. The production environment is a bit more controlled, but in our DR UAT environment, we are able to stretch those capabilities. The metrics that we see and the number of environments that we're able to create is quite remarkable.

    It provides NVMe scale-out capabilities, which is pretty awesome. We currently have a plan to scale up. We started off with about 100TB. Based on the performance that we've seen, we're consolidating more workloads on the storage. We need to scale up a bit, and we find it very valuable to be able to do that. The ability to scale out and scale up marginally depending on what you want is quite valuable to us.

    What is most valuable?

    We find the service level option to provision storage very valuable. The ability to define different service levels for storage groups helps us in prioritizing our workload at the infrastructure level.

    We also find the compression technology of PowerMax very valuable. In some instances, depending on the kind of data that we have, we can attest to compression ratios of about 9:1, which is very valuable.

    The NFS feature is also quite useful for us in our environment. We're able to deploy the NFS capabilities to resolve some of the use cases that we identify.

    Its efficiency and performance have been remarkable. It could be because we've not been able to break the limits of what we have. The PowerMax 2000 that we have can do about a million IOPS or so if my memory serves me well. Our use case at the moment isn't stretching as much as that. So, for us, performance has been remarkable in terms of meeting expectations. It has been much better as compared to what we used to have. We see responses to application requests, especially database request queries, in microseconds, as advertised, and even that in some ways gave us a bit of a challenge because the applications couldn't cope with the speed of the response of the storage. So, it was new learning for the providers of the application. The performance has been remarkable. We've seen data within microseconds as advertised. In terms of the IOPS, we've not been able to fully exact the limits, but so far, so good. We are pretty comfortable with that. As we grow organically, we will see more performance and we will be able to drive, but in terms of compression and deduplication, we have received remarkable value.

    In the last one year, we haven't had any issues with the availability of the platform, the storage, and the extension of our data. The encryption or data address feature is also there. Even though we've not fully utilized that, it's comforting to know that capability is available for us to explore. We've not had any storage level outage in terms of the data not being accessible within the agreed service. So far, so good.

    What needs improvement?

    They can make the GUI better, especially for the ones that come out of the box. We did encounter a bit of difficulty in setting up the storage. We had to deploy Solutions Enabler on a Linux machine to be able to fully interact with the storage. They need to upgrade the web interface for the management of the storage that comes out of the box. The management interface for NFS is also a bit old and not very intuitive.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We deployed PowerMax for our core banking solution in October last year.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It is pretty stable. We've not had any incidents around this storage in the last one year. I can't recall any major incidents. The storage supports our core banking solution, which is always in use. We have 24/7 banking services, and the solution has been pretty stable.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We are able to scale. There are plans to procure more capacity so that we can consolidate other workloads to this storage.

    How are customer service and support?

    It was top-notch, and it still is top-notch. They're quite responsive. They have a team of knowledgeable people, and they were quite supportive all through the implementation. They still keep in touch to see how we're faring. I would rate them a nine out of 10.

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

    We were using SSD storage from IBM. We moved because of multiple things. One reason was the cost. Another reason was the SCM offering advertised by Dell, which was coupled with the AppSync feature of this storage that allowed us to create clones of our databases for UAT, development, and test purposes. So, the features that we desired in the environment were:

    • Cost and performance
    • The ability to have database clones without necessarily increasing the footprint of the storage required.
    • The ability to create service levels for the storage or for disk groups created from the storage. It was critical for us because of the consolidated environments in which we wanted to use the storage.

    How was the initial setup?

    With professional services from them, it was straightforward. The only issue was that some of the management and out-of-the-box capabilities needed a bit of work to make it as easy as possible for system admins to provision clones from the storage. Aside from that, the setup was pretty easy and straightforward.

    We did the most part in about two weeks or less. Some of the delays must have been from our end because of a few requirements. We had the production site and the DR site, and it took about two weeks. After the arrival of the infrastructure, we did the entire project in about six weeks. The setup of the storage took about two weeks.

    For its maintenance, we have a team of three system administrators who also act as storage admins.

    What was our ROI?

    I believe we have seen an ROI. It took us about eight months to see a return on investment. The way I gauge it is that the ROI started coming in when the storage gave us what our previous capability couldn't in terms of:

    • The ability to do more transactions
    • The ability to see the effects of things like compression and duplication
    • The ability to create and extensively use the storage to create multiple environments as desired

    All of these pretty much started coming in when our data footprint increased and our transaction volume also increased.

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

    Its price is competitive, but they need to have a different price for West Africa. 

    They can do better with the price point to allow us to scale even more. We wanted to migrate our entire storage infrastructure to PowerMax, which would require us to buy more capacity, and from the price point, it didn't attract us.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We reviewed a few other solutions. NetApp was one of them. What made us go with Dell was a combination of the offering that we saw and the price point at which that was being offered to us by Dell. So, the combination of the offering in terms of the storage features and the fact that Dell offered us competitive pricing at that point were the main reasons.

    At the time we were choosing this product, they and a few others were the only ones boasting of having a true NVMe experience. At that point, they had also introduced the SCM into the mix that lowered the platinum latency to about less than 0.04 milliseconds. Those were the things that really attracted us to this storage solution.

    What other advice do I have?

    I would advise others to go for it. It is highly recommended for storage for enterprise-level and mission-critical IT workloads. It has fully met the expectations based on what is available in the market and from its competitors. They can do better with the price point to allow us to scale even more, but in general, the solution meets our expectations because one of our goals was to achieve a fine balance between the performance and the cost, and it seems we've been able to get that with PowerMax.

    It has not enabled us to consolidate open systems, mainframe, IBM i, block and file, or virtualized data with cloud-connected storage because we've not had use cases for these. Our use case has mainly been traditional in terms of:

    • Having data or raw disk groups allocated to all core databases.
    • Using the disk for virtualizing VMs for creating virtual machines. We are allocating storage to a physical host that we virtualize with VMware to be able to create a virtual context. 

    In terms of the built-in QoS capabilities for providing workload congestion protection, I would give it a 4.5 out of a five. The 0.5 point is because sometimes we see, even from the dashboard, that the defined SLAs are violated. It is only for brief moments, and it could be because of any reason, but for the most part, the QoS service works. 

    We have not used its CloudIQ features. That was one of the things that actually attracted us to it, but we didn't get to deploy it. If we review the notes again and find that we aren't exhausting what's at our disposal, we'll take it up again. Because of remote work and the sheer fact that the platform has been pretty stable without any issues, the administrators are comfortable with what they can get periodically, so they're not really bothered with checking on the mobile or checking the storage so often.

    We deployed SRDF but didn't utilize it fully. We use it for some of the use cases that have better tolerance for any latency issues. We also did the setup for MetroDR but didn't utilize it fully. It is because there is a bit of doubt around the infrastructure that we have in our country. So, MetroDR has not affected our storage and network bandwidth requirements because it has not been aggressively used.

    I would rate Dell EMC PowerMax NVMe a nine out of 10.

    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.
    PeerSpot user
    Buyer's Guide
    Dell PowerMax NVMe
    November 2022
    Learn what your peers think about Dell PowerMax NVMe. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2022.
    654,658 professionals have used our research since 2012.
    Storage Team Manager at a government with 10,001+ employees
    Real User
    Allows us to do backups while users access data, without impact on performance
    Pros and Cons
    • "The performance is very good. Our predominant workloads are all less than 5 milliseconds and it's most common to have a sub-1-millisecond response time for our applications. In terms of efficiency, we've turned on compression and we're able to get as high as two-to-one compression on our workloads, on average."

      What is our primary use case?

      We are the centralized IT department for a state government and we service every agency in the state. That includes anything from the state police down to DNR, parks, unemployment, and DHHS. There is a wide variety of use cases, but the big hitters on it are Oracle and SQL databases.

      It's on-prem. It's in two different data centers that are 60 miles apart and we're doing a synchronous replication between the data centers.

      How has it helped my organization?

      There are so many ways it has helped. It provides efficiencies through compression and it provides high availability through its solid-state drives. We literally turn it on and it does its thing.

      When it comes to storage provisioning, a lot of it has been automated. This was true even prior to PowerMax, back with the VMAX. The days of provisioning the mapping and masking, and doing all those things manually, are over. A lot of that is automated through their tools. Overall, that automation is saving us about four hours a week.

      What is most valuable?

      What is most valuable to us is the fact that it has multiple engines, and each of those engines works in conjunction in a grid environment. That's important to us because we have so many different use cases. One example might be that a state trooper pulls someone over at 2 o'clock on Sunday morning and wants to go into the LEIN system, which is the law enforcement information network. He wants to see who this person is that he has pulled over and gather as much information as he can on that person. We can't predict when he's going to pull someone over, nor can we predict when backups are actually going to be taken against the volume that he's going to for that information. The PowerMax allows us to do backups of that volume at the same time that he is looking up the data he needs, and there's no impact on performance at all.

      The performance is very good. Our predominant workloads are all less than 5 milliseconds and it's most common to have a sub-1-millisecond response time for our applications. In terms of efficiency, we've turned on compression and we're able to get as high as two-to-one compression on our workloads, on average. Some workloads can't compress and some can compress better, but on average, we're a little bit more than two-to-one.

      The solution’s built-in QoS capabilities for providing workload congestion protection work pretty well because we actually don't even turn on the service level options. We leave it to the default settings and allow it to decide the performance. We don't enforce the Platinum, Gold, or Silver QoS levels. We just let the array handle it all, and it does so.

      We also use VPLEX Metro, which is a separate service offering from Dell EMC. It does SRDF-like things, but it's really SRDF on steroids. Of course it copies data from one data center to the other, but with the VPLEX, not only does it copy it synchronously, but it also has coherent caching between both data centers. That means we are literally in an Active-Active mode. For instance, we can dynamically move a VMware host that is in one data center to another data center, and we're not just doing vMotion with the host. The data is already in there at the other data center as well. It's all seamless. We don't have to stop SRDF and remount it on another drive. It's already there.

      For how long have I used the solution?

      We have been using Dell EMC PowerMax NVMe ever since it was brought to market, so it's been about three or four years.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It's rock-solid with 100 hundred percent uptime. We've never had a disruption on our PowerMax platform. It's high availability. And we can make changes, such as upgrading the code, while it's running. There's no such thing as going offline to do a service or maintenance procedure. It's all done online and the customers are working away at the same time.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      The scalability is great. VPLEX is something like a federation for all our PowerMaxs. We will put a PowerMax in, give it all to VPLEX to manage, and we're good to go.

      We typically see a 10 to 20 percent growth rate, year to year. To keep up with that, in a multi-petabyte environment, 10 percent is quite a lot. We buy two a year, and that's a conservative estimate.

      The fact that PowerMax provides NVMe scale-out capabilities is important from the standpoint of its internal workings, but the customer data doesn't really go on the NVMe technology. At this point, we don't have any use cases for NVMe performance for any of our applications. But that will change in the future. Everything is going to go to in-memory. Compute and storage: everything's going to be on a chip.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      Their technical support is really good. We are using one of their monitoring tools and it phones home to the "mothership" in Massachusetts. That means they get real-time alerts or performance indicators. If a drive has exceeded a threshold five times in the last week, they will actually come out and preemptively replace that drive before it fails.

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

      We were a VMAX customer, so when they changed their service offering from VMAX to PowerMax, that's when we started adopting it. In a sense, PowerMax is the first of its kind for us. But we have been a long-time customer. We started with their DMX almost 20 years ago.

      How was the initial setup?

      For us, it's straightforward to set up. We've been doing this for a long time, so it's really easy for us to set up a new array in a data center. We had one that hit the dock about two weeks ago and it's already up and running and provisioning to customers. 

      NetApp will say, "Well, that's two weeks. We can come in and do it in one day." But we explain, "No, you can't because there are internal processes that we have to go through." Every piece of equipment we get, even the PowerMax, goes through its paces. We don't just turn it on and hope for the best. We check and double-check all our configuration settings. But overall, PowerMax is easy to set up. They configure it at the factory, deliver it, put it in the data center, and then we hook it to our Fibre Channel fabric and Ethernet fabrics and we're good to go. Competitors will say, "Well, it's so much easier to migrate from one array to another on our platform, versus the Dell EMCs." That's not necessarily true. We have to look at what they are actually measuring and whether we are comparing apples to apples.

      With VPLEX, we can do migrations on-the-fly, live. It's no longer a six-month to one-year effort to get off of one array and move to another. We just bring the other array in, present it to VPLEX, and VPLEX takes it from there.

      For a new deployment of one PowerMax, we need one FTE. On a day-to-day basis, to manage all of our PowerMaxs, we need three FTEs. But that is across two different data centers with a total of 10 PowerMax/VMAX units. It's a pretty big installation. Across our organization we have 55,000 employees. Since our HR is on this solution, and that's how people get paid, it's like we have 55,000 people using it, in a sense. Most access is through an application, but in another sense, it's used by pretty much everybody in the state.

      What was our ROI?

      On a typical purchase, the ROI is four years. That's when we get our money back. We charge for our service and we have a rate per GB. Our business model is set up to only recover our costs because we're government. We can't make a profit on it.

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

      One area for improvement, one that everybody always comes to, is price. Although we get a good discount through Dell EMC, it's still quite expensive to purchase these big arrays. I buy in volumes of petabytes at a time. It's not unusual for me to have a $6 million spend. While that is petabytes of data, it always raises eyebrows when you spend that kind of money. But what I ask those raised eyebrows is, "Okay, fine. Which of the agencies in the state do you not want to give more storage to? Everybody's using it."

      Many competitive vendors will come to us and say, "We have a study where we went into a company and we were able to reduce their costs by 600 percent." Of course, these are salespeople and they're speaking to two levels above me, and they buy into that and say, "Yeah, let's have them come in and talk to us." They come in and talk to us and when we get to the stage where we say, "Here's a typical configuration. Give us a quote for that type of configuration." When we compare it to the cost that we're getting from Dell EMC after the discount, it's plus or minus 5 percent. There really isn't that big of a delta compared to our pricing. This is a high-end device. For us, the pricing doesn't make Dell EMC uncompetitive.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      NetApp and Pure Storage are the biggest ones we looked at for block storage. 

      For other storage, like file, print, and object , there are a dozen others that are always trying to differentiate themselves on price. They want to do a proof of concept and we do those with them. But what I'll tell them up front is, "I know your products are great. They're going to work great in our lab. You don't really have to send me a piece of equipment for me to test it. I know it's going to work. You guys wouldn't be in business if they didn't work. So let's get down to the cost of it." And when we get to the cost of it, it's just not compelling enough to make a switch.

      But as far as features go, I don't find there is a huge difference.

      What other advice do I have?

      The biggest lesson I've learned using PowerMax is to trust it. For example, with the QoS, don't try and overthink this. It's engineered to take on diverse and disparate workloads. Put it in, watch it for a little bit, and if you don't absolutely need to turn on all the QoS, don't. Let it do its thing.

      Don't be shocked by the price per GB. Look at your cost of transactions or IOPS. The days of looking at storage as so much per GB are over. It's how much workload you can pass through that storage device.

      Overall, PowerMax is ideal for storage for enterprise-level, mission-critical IT workloads. That is really its strength, as is its ability to handle disparate workloads. I wouldn't use anything else for these high-end, critical workloads.

      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.
      PeerSpot user
      Abdul-Salam - PeerSpot reviewer
      Sr. Manager - System Analyst (Datacenter Infrastructure) at Sohar International
      Real User
      Top 5
      Built-in SRDF helps reduce our bandwidth requirements, through compression and dedupe capabilities
      Pros and Cons
      • "The compression and deduplication are always on. We get more than 4:1 capacity savings using them. The efficiency benefits from compression and deduplication are through a specialized hardware module within the storage itself, and that means there is no overhead to the compression and dedupe."
      • "Although they call it unified storage where you have SAN and NAS, with a NAS implementation on top of a SAN, the NAS implementation is a little complicated and clumsy. As SAN, as block storage, it is very powerful... If they could provide a very good NAS implementation, it would be better, so that customers don't have to look for other simple solutions for NAS."

      What is our primary use case?

      We are using the PowerMax for our core banking solution, ERP, and our payment systems, as well as middleware, ATM, and the most critical banking systems.

      How has it helped my organization?

      The main improvement for us is that we have seen up to 12x performance improvements after moving from earlier, mid-range Dell EMC storage to PowerMax. Some of our reports, which were long-running, are now completed in a few minutes. Something that would take two hours is completed in 15 minutes and that has improved productivity. 

      We also used to get timeouts from our storage, but now, after migrating to the PowerMax, there are no timeouts because the latencies are in microseconds, compared to the milliseconds of our old solution.

      Our bandwidth requirements have been reduced because of the compression and the dedupe that we are getting with the built-in SRDF. It is bandwidth-optimized. And the best part is the reverse replication. Suppose you activate your DR. When you have to come back to the main array, only the changes are synced. That is unlike many other products. Here, only the changed tracks need to be updated, making the reverse replication very fast.

      Also, by enabling the compression and deduplication, we get a very good level of compression and dedupe, of 4:1, which means if you have 40 terabytes, you only need to buy 10 terabytes. There are cost savings there. And by default, thin provisioning is in place, which also gives you at least a 40 percent reduction. And because of the bandwidth optimization, the link required for the DR replication is also reduced, meaning you are saving on the bandwidth costs. We have easily saved 50 percent.

      Overall, you are getting very high-performing and reliable storage.

      What is most valuable?

      The most important feature is the performance, because we have four directors, all of them Active-Active. (PowerMax directors support multiple functions including front-end I/O modules).

      It is highly available because it has multiple controllers. All of them are unlike some of the traditional storage arrays, where you assign certain LUNs to certain controllers. Here, everything is Active-Active. You don't assign a particular disk or LUN to a particular controller. All the controllers are servicing all of the LUNs. So from an availability point of view, we don't even know if a particular controller or director has failed. And all the spare part replacement, including controllers, can be done online while systems are working. We don't need to do it during off-peak hours. We can do so during normal working hours because the performance you get from the service, due to the other controllers, is enough to take care of any failed components.

      There is also a Call Home facility configured, so the system can send out alerts to the Dell EMC support team. They can dispatch spare parts based on these alerts, so it is a fully integrated system.

      Another valuable feature is the DR replication technology, which is based on the Dell EMC SRDF solution. It provides a very good level of near-real-time replication. It supports synchronous as well as asynchronous. When it comes to activating the DR, it is very easy.

      Then there are the compression and deduplication which are always on. We get more than 4:1 capacity savings using them. The efficiency benefits from compression and deduplication are through a specialized hardware module within the storage itself, and that means there is no overhead to the compression and dedupe.

      In addition, the solution supports IBM Power Systems, Solaris, VMware—almost everything is supported. That's important to us because we are using multiple hardware flavors including IBM Power Systems, SPARC machines, and HPE Onyx. All of these are different classes of machines, and we have different operating systems. We have Linux and Windows on physical and we have it running on VMware. Oracle virtualization is also supported. It supports a wide combination of specialized technologies and hardware.

      And the built-in QoS capabilities enable you to drill down to any particular QoS levels and define the type of performance you'll have: diamond, platinum, or gold. The result is that different performance levels can be set for individual disks. Using the QoS functionality, we can vary the performance or prioritize it based on the criticality of the performance needs.

      Another nice feature is the CloudIQ app. You can even monitor things using the app on your mobile. Every five minutes, the performance statistics and the system diagnosis data are sent to the cloud and you can access them sitting anywhere. You get these statistics at your fingertips.

      What needs improvement?

      Although they call it unified storage where you have SAN and NAS, with a NAS implementation on top of a SAN, the NAS implementation is a little complicated and clumsy. As SAN, as block storage, it is very powerful. However, even though NAS is provided as a feature, I don't think many customers will be using a PowerMax as a NAS because NAS is normally meant for file servers or some kind of archival storage. If they could provide a very good NAS implementation, it would be better, so that customers don't have to look for other simple solutions for NAS.

      For how long have I used the solution?

      I have been using Dell EMC PowerMax NVMe for one and a half years.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      We don't have any issues with the stability. It is rock-solid.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      It is scalable. We recently did an upgrade. You can keep on adding disks within a shelf or even attach additional shelves.

      Also, the NVMe scale-out capabilities are very important. Although we are using SSD, all-flash drives, the backend is NVMe. It is quite fast. The IOPS requirements will never reach the max. It is also future-looking storage because it supports storage class memory (SCM). That is where you can utilize the full benefits of the storage solution. Currently, we are not using SCM because it is quite expensive. At the moment, we don't need it, but the storage backend is already NVMe and the controllers are connected using InfiniBand for very high bandwidth.

      It's also very easy to add or expand disks in very few steps. Everything can be done online, even the firmware updates, meaning that you don't need any downtime. It's all seamless.

      How are customer service and support?

      Dell EMC's technical support is excellent. The backend support is very strong, just like the implementation team. They have a dedicated team for PowerMax, like they used to have for VMAX or Symmetrix.

      How would you rate customer service and support?

      Positive

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

      We were using a Dell EMC mid-range storage solution before. 

      How was the initial setup?

      It is a complex system, but the engineers and architects behind the implementation are well-versed. They're very technically competent. They're on top of the prerequisites, and there are a lot of those. For a first-timer customer the setup will be difficult, but they will help you. The implementation team is very strong. They're very clear on what needs to be done and how to do it. For us, it was a very clean implementation. We didn't have any hiccups.

      It is not a one-day job. It is not a very easy installation. It requires the experts. But Dell EMC makes sure that you get a certified, real expert to do the implementation. It doesn't get done through a partner. Dell EMC themselves send their engineers for the installation.

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

      It is high-end storage and it is a bit expensive, but it is doing what it is meant for: running business-critical applications or latency-sensitive applications like ATM payments, and those kinds of core banking systems.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      There may be customers who don't utilize all the compression features of competing products, thinking they may slow the system down. I know certain customers who have bought competing products, but they keep the compression and deduplication disabled by default, or even the encryption, because they create additional overhead. That means that with those solutions, you need to have more capacity than what you need with PowerMax. The guarantee with PowerMax is that there is no compromise on performance, even if you enable compression, deduplication, and encryption.

      What other advice do I have?

      This particular model of storage is considered Tier 0 storage for the most mission-critical applications, the applications that require a very high level of reliability and low latency. It's also for the types of applications that require real-time replication across different sites. The solution is suitable for mission-critical applications and not for archiving, because it is not cheap.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      PeerSpot user
      Vince Vitro - PeerSpot reviewer
      Sr Solutions Architect at a healthcare company with 1,001-5,000 employees
      Real User
      Top 20
      The replication has been pretty solid, but the compression and deduplication are disappointing
      Pros and Cons
      • "They're basically tanks. You could take a baseball bat to the thing, and it's still going to keep running and doing what it's supposed to do. We've had a couple of part failures, and you can pretty much replace any part on that thing at any time during the day in the middle of production without worrying about anything happening."
      • "I think management is where PowerMax is weakest. We're still managing it like we managed EMC arrays in the early 2000s. There's a slicker, fancier GUI that does more things, but at the end of the day, you still have to dig into the command line and issue a lot of the same commands that we still were using almost 20 years ago."

      What is our primary use case?

      We have two PowerMax arrays. One is at our primary data center. The other is in the secondary data center, and they replicate back and forth to each other. We use them to store a lot of databases and files, but we don't have as much on them as we used to because our CIO is outsourcing a lot. We have taken a lot out of the data center recently, so there isn't as much on them as we intended when we bought them but I think it's mostly databases, file shares, and some one-off applications. It's all virtualized on VMware as well.

      How has it helped my organization?

      PowerMax improved our storage performance and allowed us to consolidate our old storage into one platform. It's faster than the older EMC equipment we replaced. We had a few different storage arrays, and a couple of them were approaching the end of maintenance, and one was a year away from the end of its maintenance. So it was time to either spend a ton of money on renewing maintenance or replace them. At the same time, PowerMax has made storage provisioning more difficult because it's not as intuitive as other arrays, but it's still a good solution for our mission-critical workloads.

      We're using SRDF, but it hasn't affected our storage network bandwidth requirements. We haven't had any issues, so we haven't had to increase the size of any of our connections. Inside the data, there certainly wouldn't be any issues. The only problem would be replicating to the other site, and we haven't had any issues. We have a reasonably large pipe between the sites.

      What is most valuable?

      They're basically tanks. You could take a baseball bat to it, and it's still going to keep running and doing what it's supposed to do. We've had a couple of part failures, and you can pretty much replace any part on that thing at any time during the day in the middle of production without worrying about anything happening. Nobody notices. We even had to replace a memory card, so we had to take out a controller. There were two, so no one even realized what was going on. 

      The availability is excellent. You can do anything to it, and it still runs. The uptime is a great feature, and the replication has been pretty solid. That's another important feature for us.

      What needs improvement?

      The dedupe and compression features have been the biggest disappointment. It's not as efficient as we were expecting or had hoped. It's not terrible, but not as good as we were led to believe it was going to be. They need to improve their reduplication algorithm or the compression algorithms. It comes with a guarantee that you'll get 3-to-1 dedupe and compression, meaning that if you have 3 terabytes of data, it should only take 1 terabyte of space because we reduce its size. We're only getting 2-to-1. It's not a big deal because we have more storage than we'll need, but it's disappointing.

      There's also a qualifier in that I'm told that if we filled the array up more, some deeper algorithms would kick in and help that reduction number go up a little. Also, if you have deeper algorithms that you're going to use, only if I put more data on it, is that going to slow things down? Why not just use them now? That also left a lot to be desired. I attempted to use that and was having some performance issues, and the fix was, "Don't use that." So it was a little lacking.

      I think management is where PowerMax is weakest. We're still managing it like we managed EMC arrays in the early 2000s. There's a slicker, fancier GUI that does more, but at the end of the day, you still have to dig into the command line and issue a lot of the same commands that we still were using almost 20 years ago. So the ease of use factor is low. One of the reasons I wanted Pure Storage was because I felt like I could teach a coworker how to fill in for me if I ever went on vacation for a couple of weeks. If anything bad happens and I'm out of the office, they're going to have to bother me. This is not intuitive. There are a lot of CLI commands that you still have to use. It's just not as user-friendly as it should be.

      For how long have I used the solution?

      We got PowerMax just short of three years ago.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The performance has been good. I wouldn't say great, but it's good. It's more than what we need.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      PowerMax's scalability is good. We have the lower model, so it doesn't scale as much as the larger model. You know that going in, so you buy the model you need. We realized we would probably never have to expand it when we bought it.

      How are customer service and support?

      I'd rate Dell EMC support eight out of 10. It's pretty good. They actively monitor the array, and it dials home to let them know if there's anything they should look at. Sometimes, when I come in the next morning and check the logs, I'll notice that somebody from support had connected in and looked at something. Then, I can look on the support website and try to figure out what they were doing, which could be an easier process, but it's good that they keep an eye on the arrays. If a part fails, the arrays generally dial home to notify them that it needs to be replaced, and they contact me to arrange it. 

      How would you rate customer service and support?

      Positive

      How was the initial setup?

      Setting up PowerMax is definitely complex. The initial configuration of the array itself is pretty simple, but once you start trying to connect hosts and set up replication, then it becomes a lot more work than it probably should be. It took a couple of days for the initial setup, but after that, there has been some ongoing work as we put more and more on there. 

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      We looked at three other vendors, including NetApp, but we were looking for block storage. I've always felt NetApp is great for file storage, but I look elsewhere if I want block storage. And while their presentations were impressive, there wasn't a compelling reason to choose them. They weren't any cheaper. There wasn't anything that stood out about them that made us want to take a closer look.

      We also looked at Kaminario, but we had questions about whether they'd still be around in five years to provide support. There were many positives I liked about it, and the price was low. It was like an off-brand version of a Pure array in a lot of ways. Just by playing with it, you could tell it was a year or two behind what Pure Storage was selling.

      We also looked at Pure Storage, and I thought Pure Storage had the best mix of cost and ease of use for an organization our size. I felt like it was probably the best choice, but the corporate leadership overruled my recommendation based on the "No one ever gets fired for buying IBM" theory. My CIO was feeling like, "He's a software developer, so he's not very hardware or vendor savvy." He didn't know much about Pure Storage and felt more comfortable sticking with EMC.

      What other advice do I have?

      I'd give PowerMax seven out of 10. There are also a few things PowerMax does that nobody else offers. For example, some of our other vendors don't have its replication or mainframe connectivity features. If you need that, you have to have a PowerMax or some kind of Dell solution. If you're planning on implementing it, you definitely need someone who knows PowerMax or a VMAX to take care of it for you. You can't just buy one and think that you're going to give it to someone who's never done it before. You need somebody with some experience on staff. 

      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.
      PeerSpot user
      Haseeb Sheikh - PeerSpot reviewer
      Manager Private Cloud Solutions at ufone
      Real User
      Top 5Leaderboard
      Simplified storage provisioning for us, enabling us to assign any volumes in two to three minutes
      Pros and Cons
      • "The SRDF site-to-site replication for the volumes is the most important feature for us. That enables us to do site recovery and replication for our VMware infrastructure."
      • "There is also room for improvement in the PowerMax architecture and hardware itself. They should design the PowerMax on the basis of PCIe 4.0. I would like to see the possibility of an NVMe drive that operates on PCIe 4.0 and not PCIe 3.0."

      What is our primary use case?

      Our primary use case for PowerMax is hosting our VMware environment with VMware SRM hosted on and connected to both. The PowerMax does the SRDF replication for VMware SRM, and some of the workload on it is for the physical environment that consists of Unix, AIX, and Sun Solaris. In addition to that, we have physical Windows and Linux servers as well. We have 1,200-plus virtual machines hosted on PowerMax.

      We have two PowerMax 8000s, each deployed at a different site. The capacity of the PowerMax at the primary site is 500 terabytes, and approximately 200 terabytes at the DR site.

      How has it helped my organization?

      We are coming from the VMAX environment where the storage provisioning was a bit complex. We had to create volumes manually from the command line. But with the introduction of the PowerMax, it's a piece of cake for us. We can assign whatever volumes we want in two to three minutes. Storage provisioning has become very simple for us and is a real improvement.

      What is most valuable?

      The SRDF site-to-site replication for the volumes is the most important feature for us. That enables us to do site recovery and replication for our VMware infrastructure.

      Along with that, the NVMe response time is very good. We used to have a VMAX 20K but we have just upgraded, and moved two or three generations ahead to PowerMax, and the response time is great. Because we are coming from a hybrid storage scenario, the performance of NVMe is a huge upgrade for us. The 0.4 millisecond response time means our application works great and we are seeing huge performance improvements in our VMware and physical environments.

      Regarding data security, EMC has introduced CloudIQ solution with the PowerMax environment, and that enables live monitoring of the telemetry and security data array of the PowerMax. CloudIQ also has a feature called Cybersecurity. That monitors for security vulnerabilities or security events that are occurring on the array itself. That feature is very helpful. We have been able to do some vulnerability assessment tests on the array, which have helped us to resolve issues regarding data security and security vulnerabilities. We are not using the encryption feature of the PowerMax, because we didn't order the PowerMax configuration for it.

      CloudIQ helps the environment and lets us manage the respective connected environments. A good feature in CloudIQ is the health score of each connected infrastructure. It gives you timely alerts and informs you when a health issue is occurring on the arrays and needs to be fixed. Those reports and health notices are also sent to Dell EMC support, which proactively monitors all the infrastructure and they will open service requests themselves.

      In terms of efficiency, the compression we are currently receiving is 4.2x, which is very good efficiency. We are storing 435 terabytes of data in just 90 TB. In addition to what I mentioned about the NVMe performance, which is very good, we were achieving 150k IOPS on the VMAX, but on the PowerMax the same workload is hitting 300k-plus IOPS. That is sufficient for the workload and means the application is performing as required, according to the SLAs as defined on the PowerMax.

      When it comes to workload congestion protection, we have not faced any congestion yet in our environment. We have some spikes on Friday evenings, but they are being handled by PowerMax dutifully. It can beautifully handle up to 400k IOPS, even though it is only designed for 300k IOPS. That is another illustration of its good performance.

      What needs improvement?

      The CloudIQ features still need to be improved because CloudIQdoes not support PowerProtect DD capacity, although it is working well overall.

      Their mobile app also still needs improvement. 

      In addition, the web GUI is good and shows all the related reports, but I would like to see more granularity in the reports, and reporting on CloudIQ should be done in the web GUI interface.

      There is also room for improvement in the PowerMax architecture and hardware itself. They should design the PowerMax on the basis of PCIe 4.0. I would like to see the possibility of an NVMe drive that operates on PCIe 4.0 and not PCIe 3.0. The design could be very much better if they did some R&D and introduced a version based on PCIe 4.0.

      For how long have I used the solution?

      I manage the IT infrastructure of a telco company in Pakistan. I look after the servers and storage infrastructure and I've been with the company for the last eight years. Recently, we have deployed PowerMax, PowerProtect DD and PowerScale Isilon, with the help of Dell EMC and their partners.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      In terms of availability, Dell EMC claims PowerMax will give you six nines. We have not faced a single issue in the last six months with PowerMax. The storage has been very stable for us and it's performing well. It's giving us the right amount of uptime and availability.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      The NVMe scale-out capabilities were a factor we had in mind when we were evaluating the PowerMax against competitors, including IBM and Huawei. The scale-out capabilities are very important. We have 4 TB of cache with four directors right now, and we can add capacity in the future. If that capacity is met and we need to add more engines for our workload, we can do that very easily.

      We are not currently using the NVMe SCM storage tier feature, but that is in the pipeline. If there is a high-demand workload in the future, we will consider the SCM storage.

      How are customer service and support?

      Dell EMC's support for PowerMax has worked great for us. If we have to open a severity-one, we call their support line. Other than that, the support portal works great. If we have to open a severity-two, or they open a service request with the proper severity, the infrastructure and storage support are very good. They will escalate an issue to the next level when required, as well.

      There is some margin for improvement in that they should develop an application for support where you could see support tickets and escalate them if you want.

      How would you rate customer service and support?

      Positive

      How was the initial setup?

      I was involved from the initial design to the product evaluation from different vendors, and I was involved in the whole migration project through to its conclusion.

      Dell EMC dedicated project managers and members of its professional services team to handle all of our migration from VMAX to the PowerMax without any hassle. And all of our data was successfully migrated within 1.5 months. It was a very good experience for us. There was no downtime and it was a totally non-disruptive migration for VMware, AIX, Windows, and Linux. Only some of the Solaris environment experienced a disruption because we had to reboot the servers. The rest of the migration was non-disruptive and the deployment was very good for us.

      For maintenance and admin of the solution, two people report to me. They manage the PowerMax series along with me as the team lead. On the user side, there are different stakeholders. We provision storage to them and then they map the storage to various OSs for VMware, Linux, Solaris, AIX, and Windows. That team is a bit larger and has separate departments, with approximately 25 to 30 people.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      We evaluated PowerMax against IBM FlashSystem 9200R and against the Huawei Dorado V6. At that time, Huawei did not have the VMware certification due to US policies and enforcement, but Dorado now has VMware certification. That's why we rated the PowerMax highest.

      What other advice do I have?

      The solution is very stable and performs well. If you are doing research, look at the architecture of all the available vendors. Evaluate every storage solution with respect to architecture, the NVMe version they are using, and the hardware which they are using.

      Out of 10, I would give PowerMax a nine. It has worked very well for us.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      PeerSpot user
      VP Global Markets, Global Head of Storage at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
      Real User
      Top 10
      Highly resilient with excellent performance and deduplication plus compression capabilities
      Pros and Cons
      • "The solution's snapshot capabilities and replication are very good features. Snapshots are allowing us to quickly build analytical models directly from production data. This gives us amazing insights into market trends and allows us to build more effective trading algorithms. Replication offers us unparalleled levels of resilience."
      • "It's a relatively new product, but for the next release I would like to see higher bandwidth on the front-end adapters. This would allow even greater scalability for critical workloads and consolidation for non-critical workloads. The hosts may not require that level of I/O performance today. However, it allows us to scale physical non-cloud environments without large investment."

      What is our primary use case?

      We are primarily using the solution to drive components of an e-trading (electronic trading) platform.

      How has it helped my organization?

      The solution has reduced our time-to-market with a single management interface, and it is a very efficient platform. Provides great improvements in operational resilience, aligning us with our direct competitors in global markets. We are ahead in some areas as a result of the deployment of this platform.

      What is most valuable?

      Uptime and availability are first and foremost. The deduplication and compression capabilities are also excellent, allowing us to be very efficient with the physical hardware that we need to deploy on-prem in order to fulfill our requirements. It has given us excellent value for money without compromising performance.

      The solution's snapshot capabilities and replication are very good features. Snapshots are allowing us to quickly build analytical models directly from production data. This gives us amazing insights into market trends and allows us to build more effective trading algorithms. Replication offers us unparalleled levels of resilience.

      The management overall is excellent. Dell EMC continues to build on very solid foundations, which have been evolving for over two decades. 

      The REST APIs are great.

      The solution exposes excellent automation opportunities.

      We have found the performance to be very good so far.

      What needs improvement?

      It's a relatively new product, but for the next release I would like to see higher bandwidth on the front-end adapters. This would allow even greater scalability for critical workloads and consolidation for non-critical workloads. The hosts may not require that level of I/O performance today. However, it allows us to scale physical non-cloud environments without large investment. 

      For how long have I used the solution?

      We are about eight months into our deployment. It's still a rather new solution for us, although we have had some time to get to know it.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      With six nines, we have reduced our maximum annual downtime to around 32 seconds (previously around 48 minutes). From a stability point of view, I have absolutely no issues or complaints there at all.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      It's an e-trading platform. Therefore, there are no end users involved. It's about half a petabyte in size.

      In terms of scalability potential, it is first class. With the level of performance it gives you and the response time that we get from the arrays, the scalability is groundbreaking.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      I was very impressed with the support overall. They understand customer service. They have never made me wait for anything. Things do go bump. Challenges and unpredictable circumstances do arise. I rate the Dell EMC team based on their prompt and decisive action during these circumstances.

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

      We did previously use a different solution.

      We switched to take advantage of certain feature sets. Our previous competitor, whilst they did offer deduplication and compression to some degree, could not match the availability nor performance and didn't have the same guaranteed efficiency ratios. They also couldn't perform inline compression without significant performance penalties. This would have to happen at rest and offline. Therefore, we'd need to write the data first, then compress it. The PowerMax solution enabled us to do that inline, without a read or write penalty. Basically, there was no performance impact, and we still saw all the benefits from a reduced physical footprint, such as, cost savings, reduced power requirements, and fewer components to fail (number of drives required being 66 percent lower).

      How was the initial setup?

      The deployment process is a standard procedure for deploying SAN, and that's with any vendor. I'd say that the process wasn't any different from deploying another solution. We've got our architecture and our blueprints. We worked with a solutions architect and that design drives the configuration, and then we go ahead and deploy that configuration.

      Deployment took around three months. Some of this was due to internal processes, timing, and pandemic conditions. Over December, we were hampered with end-of-year change control freezes in place so some of the activity couldn't get done. All in all, I'd say we probably could have been done in about six to eight weeks.

      I had three people working on this internally (not counting the non storage resources) as we deployed to two geographies in different time zones. 

      Maintenance is just ongoing service and that'd be the same as any technological asset. It has a mean time before failure. We monitor it on a daily basis. Alerts are actioned with the vendor. However, the platform does have five-nines of availability  and multiple layers of redundancy.

      What about the implementation team?

      We did not use an integrator, consultant, or implementor during deployment. We worked with a solutions architect to build the configuration. We then worked with our project office to coordinate and complete that deployment.

      What was our ROI?

      Six months in, we have ROI. Some key metrics are: 

      • Increased uptime and availability, 
      • Reduced man-hours for support and provisioning (approximately 30 percent reduction in overall management hours required).

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

      Pricing will very much depend on an organization's terms and conditions with the vendor. Therefore, I couldn't really give any concrete pricing to quote. I'd just advise CTO/Technology leaders to negotiate hard and consider the commercial advantages/benefits to Dell EMC for onboarding their product. 

      Be very thorough about your criteria (functional and non-functional requirements) and what you're looking to achieve. Test, test, test! Do the due diligence and test comparable solutions head-to-head. In our use case, PowerMax was the best solution. However, that doesn't necessarily mean it would be the best solution for every scenario. You really do have to do the work, the engineering and architecture, then test the products head-to-head to see if this solution really does solve your business requirement.

      The licensing again depends on the agreements they've got in place with your organization. For example, we know we've got a large and global agreement with Dell, and therefore, our pricing and discounting structure might be different from a small to medium business or another enterprise.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      We did look at other options. We tested it head-to-head with two other vendors in a lab with identical conditions. We basically looked at the top five storage vendors on the market and shortlisted three.

      The cons were the fact that it was really an internal process. Qualifying a new platform, through engineering and getting that through governance and architecture is a detailed and time consuming process. Those were the cons. In terms of pros, the technological features available, including the compression ratios, were excellent. The performance itself, the out-and-out, the horsepower of the platform, is where PowerMax did significantly outperform the other solutions we put it up against. However, most importantly, it was that uptime and availability which pushed it ahead. The inline deduplication and compression capabilities also significantly outperformed its competitors.

      What other advice do I have?

      We are customers of Dell EMC.

      We are using the PowerMax 2000.

      My advice to other organizations considering the solution is to fully understand your use case, and test it. Make sure your functional and non-functional requirements are complete, understood, and documented with input and agreement from your internal stakeholders

      Definitely support your teams with education and training, even internal workshops. This will help make any transitioning smooth - a great tech solution can evaporate very quickly if your teams are not onboard and up to speed on day one.

      You need to have a good people strategy and processes before you start running away with the technology!

      Overall, I would rate the solution as an eight out of 10.

      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.
      PeerSpot user
      Jeff Dao - PeerSpot reviewer
      Infrastructure Lead at Umbra Ltd.
      Real User
      Top 10
      With the SCM memory, it has been set it and forget it
      Pros and Cons
      • "PowerMax NVMe has made it a lot easier to understand how much we are able to provision. It has made it a lot faster to provision new things. 90% of my time for provisioning has been reduced. Also, it has made it very easy to understand and see everything behind it versus the older heritage, where Dell EMC was very convoluted and hard to get working. Things that used to take an hour, probably now take five to 10 minutes."
      • "Firmware updates are a bit painful because you have to involve their support, as opposed to having the ability to do it yourself."

      What is our primary use case?

      We currently use PowerMax NVMe for our file server and all our VMs. It is a SAN, so all of our storage or data sits on it. It is just a great storage appliance.

      How has it helped my organization?

      With the SCM memory, it has been set it and forget it. It is being used as a cache drive. There is very little configuration for us to do. We just know that it is working.

      PowerMax NVMe's QoS capabilities give us a lot of visibility into taking a look at what could be a potential performance issue. However, because it is so fast, we haven't really noticed any slowdowns from the date of deployment even until today.

      It is a very good storage appliance for enterprise-level, mission-critical IT workloads because of its high redundancy, parity drives. It gives us the ability to not worry about our data. Or, if something were to go wrong, e.g., a drive pops, then we have our mission-critical warranty. We get a drive the same day, then get it swapped by the next business day at the latest.

      PowerMax NVMe has made it a lot easier to understand how much we are able to provision. It has made it a lot faster to provision new things. 90% of my time for provisioning has been reduced. Also, it has made it very easy to understand and see everything behind it versus the older heritage, where Dell EMC was very convoluted and hard to get working. Things that used to take an hour, probably now take five to 10 minutes.

      What is most valuable?

      • The cost of the entire solution
      • Their dedupe rates
      • Ease of use
      • Simplicity

      Data availability is very high. Data security is also very good. There are a lot of encryption methods available.

      We use the solution’s NVMe SCM storage tier feature. There is almost no overhead or management time involved. It was kind of set it and forget it.

      What needs improvement?

      The visibility within the storage resource tools or understanding the utilization of the SCM memory have been pain points. We know they are being used, but it is hard to actually see them within the actual GUI.

      Firmware updates are a bit painful because you have to involve their support, as opposed to having the ability to do it yourself. This is probably for the best because you don't want something to go sideways while being the only person working on this and not having external support for it.

      For how long have I used the solution?

      We have been using the physical appliance for 2.5 years.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It is a very robust, stable machine. We have had no worries whatsoever.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      At this time, scalability is not applicable. I understand it is very easy to scale up. You just add on the drive shelf, then connect it in. That is really it. Now, you have all these drives available to you.

      It is being used every single minute of every single day. The IOPs, the throughput data, is about 525 megabytes per second. So, it is actively being used at all times of day.

      As time goes on, the usage of it will increase. That is just the nature of it being our primary storage array.

      How are customer service and support?

      The technical support was very good. There have been no real issues. Any questions we have had, they were able to answer and assist with. There have been no problems whatsoever.

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

      Because it is NVMe, it is extremely fast. It is a lot faster than our old SAN. It is hard to compare it to others in the market, only because we have never owned other products within the same generation. We switched to PowerMax NVMe because of aging hardware.

      Prior, we were using a regular 7200 RPM disk. As a result, it was extremely slow. The upgrade to NVMe has been much appreciated by the company. Things that used to take four to five hours are now taking 15 minutes, if that.

      How was the initial setup?

      It was a pretty complex process in the beginning: migrating data, verifying everything is good to go, standing up our volumes, and things of that nature. Once everything got going, it was a lot easier to understand and manage.

      Deployment took about two weeks’ time, not including transfer times. With transfer times, it was closer to a month.

      We set up our PowerMax, attached the source to VMware, and then migrated all of our VMs off of our old storage array into the new one. Once we verified everything was good, we turned off the old storage array and went from there.

      What about the implementation team?

      We did it through Dell EMC ProDeploy, which is their professional services for this type of work. Our experience with them was very good. There were a couple of hiccups here and there, but it was more related to what was shipped to us, opposed to an actual hiccup with the implementation process.

      What was our ROI?

      We have seen an ROI based on time saved by being able to use a faster storage array versus our really slow, old one.

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

      In terms of price-performance, it beat out other competitors when we were taking a look and comparing it to the market. That was one of the biggest driving points for us.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      We did look at HPE Nimble Storage as well as Pure Storage. Pure Storage was probably the biggest competitor. At the time, we just wanted something that was a little bit more tried and true versus a new player in the storage array game.

      Pure Storage did offer a couple of very niche tools related to SAP. PowerMax NVMe just came in very aggressively with their pricing, and that ultimately won them the business. 

      What other advice do I have?

      PowerMax NVMe is very energy intensive, in terms of electricity. You need to spec that out properly. Just because it can fit in the rack doesn't mean it will work by sitting in the rack. You will probably need additional power, specifically just for PowerMax NVMe.

      It isn't important at this very specific moment that the solution provides NVMe scale out capabilities. However, it will be once we decide to add more drives into this and expand our storage.

      I would rate this solution as a nine (out of 10). There are definitely areas of improvement, but everything comes down to time and cost.

      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.
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      Buyer's Guide
      Download our free Dell PowerMax NVMe Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.
      Updated: November 2022
      Buyer's Guide
      Download our free Dell PowerMax NVMe Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.