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All-Flash Storage Arrays
November 2022
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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.
Buyer's Guide
All-Flash Storage Arrays
November 2022
Get our free report covering , and other competitors of Kaminario K2 [EOL]. Updated: November 2022.
655,994 professionals have used our research since 2012.