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Vince Vitro
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.
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Arnaud Salmon
Presales Engineer at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Consultant
Top 5
Good functionality, excellent performance, and integrates well with other solutions
Pros and Cons
  • "I would say in terms of architecture and in terms of functionality, the product is quite good."
  • "You don't have business continuity with SolidFire. I think it could be a nice feature to have in the future."

What is our primary use case?

The solution is primarily for a hyper-converged solution, and the hyper-converged solution with NetApp HCI is to address the most common workloads, generic workloads, also workloads around VDI. It's primarily for everything around performance, around software like the CAD suite, and around scientific completion.

What is most valuable?

The performance with the QoS is its most valuable aspect.

The integration with VMware is excellent. There are different plugins to manage the SolidFire storage from the vCenter level. That I really appreciate. 

SolidFire even as a standalone storage platform is excellent. 

I would say in terms of architecture and in terms of functionality, the product is quite good. 

It's block access storage, however, for block access storage we have the guarantee of performance. 

We have the duplication and we have the encryption with this solution. We have almost all the standards needed for storage with SolidFire. In terms of protection, with the level of protection we can set between the SolidFire nodes, it's very good.

What needs improvement?

The only thing I would see as a drawback of SolidFire, is that it's a storage that we can address only with the iSCSI protocol and no other protocol such as FC, or things like that, unfortunately. It's probably the only point that I can see that is not positive compared to other storage solutions. 

It would be ideal if the solution could be more open with access protocols. 

Sometimes we have to be careful when we need to add some storage. I'd say some tips and some best practices with respect to that would help. 

You don't have business continuity with SolidFire. I think it could be a nice feature to have in the future.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been working with this solution at my current company for one year, however, in my previous position I worked with SolidFire solution for two years. I'd say I have around three years of experience with the product.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I've never had any issues with SolidFire's stability, except once. We had a problem with a node, a problem with a motherboard. In fact, with the protection level, we changed the motherboard without any disruption in production and in storage services. If we can change like that from one motherboard of another, and change an entire SolidFire node without disruption, it's okay and I'd consider that quite a stable product. It was even done without performance issues as I recall. From this point of view, it's really a really nice, reliable solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is quite good. I don't have a number in mind, however, I know that when SolidFire is part of the HCI product from NetApp, we can scale up to at least 40 SolidFire nodes. That is quite good for a full SSD solution. On that side, it's really enough to address the most common storage needs.

How are customer service and technical support?

The only time I had an issue was with a motherboard. In fact, with the SolidFire technology, NetApp was able to acquire Active IQ. Active IQ is the software layer that is pushing all information on the health of the SolidFire platform. 

Therefore, the support is really quite proactive, in fact. Each time there was something to do, a component to change, or an upgrade to do on the platform, it was followed by emails from the NetApp support, who would remind me of necessary changes. Even with Active IQ, we've had advice on what we could do on the system to get better performance or better organization about the data that resides on the SolidFire platform. 

It's got really great proactive support, and we're quite satisfied with them.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is not complex. It's pretty straightforward. There was some information we needed to get before installation, such as IP addresses, due to the fact that we were with an iSCSI storage and we needed some IP addresses for each node that composing the SolidFire storage solution. That said, when we have all that in an array, when we have all the information ready to go, the installation process is really easy, quite fast, and well-integrated when we want to provide this kind of storage to VMware.

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

Within HCI, the whole solution is considered to be quite extensive. As just a storage solution, however, SolidFire is at the same level of pricing as a full SSD solution like ASF. It really depends on what the customer's needs are. That said, it's quite well positioned in terms of price.

What other advice do I have?

We're a distributor.

SolidFire is on its own standard storage platform, and, as it's embedded with HCI from NetApp, adds to the storage for the hyper-converged solution.

There are a lot of use cases for SolidFire within HCI. It can address most of the workloads we have on the customer side. It's really something. We can build solutions that really fit the customer and we can size the compute as needed. 

For the VMware server, we use ESX, and we can also add into the compute nodes some CPU cards for all that is graphic or scientific calculations. On the storage side, we can build the storage we need with the SolidFire nodes. We can really address on one side, the computer needs, and on the other side, the storage needs. In fact, that's the value of HCI by NetApp. What is nice with SolidFire is that the QoS is embedded, and for each volume you create, you put the QoS on it. And you're sure to grantee the service level agreement for the customer, depending on the workloads he needs.

Overall, I would rate the solution at an eight out of ten. It doesn't quite have the same amount of options and features as Pure Storage. Yet, it's pretty impressive.

The only recommendation I have to others is on the network side. You need to really get all the information required before you try to deploy this solution. That's all. It's a little work to do beforehand, however, it's really important to address everything before implementing SolidFire.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: partner
Ahmed Zaki
Infrastructure Architect Supervisor; Solution Delivery Supervisor at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Simple licensing, good performance, and easy to use and administer
Pros and Cons
  • "Most of the features for the reduction in data compression are useful. It is also very easy to use and administer. Its performance is also good."
  • "They can include Amazon file system S3 protocol in the upcoming releases. It is a cloud file system. IBM FlashSystem doesn't have this feature in the box for high-end or mid-range. We have got requests for this from customers because we need to use S3 for EDI application storage. At the beginning of every year, IBM releases firmware. When I find any bugs in the firmware during the year, I am unable to find any information from IBM regarding the bug. I need to open a ticket, and the IBM engineering team makes a patch only for me. This patch is not public. By creating a customized patch for a client, they don't really solve the issue for everyone. If multiple users have the same bug, IBM should upload the patch on the official website so that we can download it. IBM FlashSystem has a monitoring tool in the box, but it is not advanced. I need a more advanced tool for more advanced equations and monitoring. All top three storage vendors, that is, EMC, IBM, and Pure Storage, don't have a powerful monitoring tool. To monitor our box to show the statistics for I/Os and latency, I need to pay for extra software. The built-in monitoring storage is not mature enough to handle all requests and generate all reports that I need. They can include the functionality to stretch a cluster natively without using any additional boxes. In addition, there are some features that EMC has integrated with the box. These features are not available in IBM FlashSystem."

What is most valuable?

Most of the features for the reduction in data compression are useful. 

It is also very easy to use and administer. Its performance is also good.

What needs improvement?

They can include Amazon file system S3 protocol in the upcoming releases. It is a cloud file system. IBM FlashSystem doesn't have this feature in the box for high-end or mid-range. We have got requests for this from customers because we need to use S3 for EDI application storage. 

At the beginning of every year, IBM releases firmware. When I find any bugs in the firmware during the year, I am unable to find any information from IBM regarding the bug. I need to open a ticket, and the IBM engineering team makes a patch only for me. This patch is not public. By creating a customized patch for a client, they don't really solve the issue for everyone. If multiple users have the same bug, IBM should upload the patch on the official website so that we can download it.

IBM FlashSystem has a monitoring tool in the box, but it is not advanced. I need a more advanced tool for more advanced equations and monitoring. All top three storage vendors, that is, EMC, IBM, and Pure Storage, don't have a powerful monitoring tool. To monitor our box to show the statistics for I/Os and latency, I need to pay for extra software. The built-in monitoring storage is not mature enough to handle all requests and generate all reports that I need.

They can include the functionality to stretch a cluster natively without using any additional boxes. In addition, there are some features that EMC has integrated with the box. These features are not available in IBM FlashSystem.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scalable. All projects in my company use the IBM FlashSystem. I am working on high-end storage, not mid-range. I can scale out or scale up. IBM has introduced FlashSystem 9200 to the market in which I can scale SAS disk, NVMe disk, and SSCM disk. I have three options on one box, which are not available with EMC or Pure Storage.

You can also scale out storage in EMC. In Pure Storage, there are issues in scaling. Pure Storage has different boxes like X70, X90, X50, and if I need to scale or upgrade the box, I need to change our controllers. Every Pure Storage box has limited capacity, whereas, for IBM storage, the capacity of the box is not limited.

How are customer service and technical support?

The response of technical support is good.

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

I have used NetApp storage and EMC storage. NetApp storage is very poor and bad. EMC is a good competitor of IBM in the market now, and in terms of the number of customers, EMC is number one. User Interface is the main big difference between IBM and EMC. IBM FlashSystem is very easy and friendly comparatively. EMC is very complicated. 

EMC is also closed, whereas IBM FlashSystem is very open. It provides a lot of communication over the internet for administrating and implementing the storage. I am working on a customer project that has EMC storage, and the customer daily complains regarding EMC Unity or XtremIO.

IBM is integrated with the different operating systems by a native operating system multipath. EMC works with PowerPath multipath. Until recently, EMC didn't have these features in the box, and you had to pay for a multipath license. In new technology and operating system versions of EMC, a separate multipath license is not required.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very easy.

What about the implementation team?

I implemented it. I have experience of ten years in implementing IBM storage. It is very easy to implement. 

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

The integration is already included in the license cost of IBM FlashSystem. The integration is very easy. You get the IBM storage core with all software, firmware, and upgrades. EMC provides the features in the box, but they are not free for customers. There is a licensing cost for features.

We have yearly licensing, but IBM has also provided a new option where you pay as you go. They provide a big box, and I pay, for example, for 10 terabytes. If I exceed 10 terabytes, IBM will charge for the new storage after 10 terabytes. It is a good opportunity in the market for using the storage as a cloud and paying as you go. 

What other advice do I have?

I work only on high-end storage. Before recommending a solution, I need to know about the workload, that is, application workload, backup workload, and database workload. IBM provides a free workload script that can be applied to any environment, such as Windows, Unix, or Linux. I need to see the I/O performance, and after which, I can provide the best solution for a customer from Pure Storage, EMC, or IBM. 

I would rate IBM FlashSystem a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
Regional Sales Manager at New horizon
Real User
Highly expandable, plenty of features, and good support
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable features are the five chips architecture and the purpose-built NVMe hard disk drive. Additionally, the IOPS feature is good."
  • "The data compression and deduplication ratio of Huawei OceanStor Dorado is not as good as other solutions, such as EMC and Pure Storage. It is important when looking at capacity effectiveness."

What is our primary use case?

Huawei OceanStor Dorado is used for system backups.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the five chips architecture and the purpose-built NVMe hard disk drive. Additionally, the IOPS feature is good.

What needs improvement?

The data compression and deduplication ratio of Huawei OceanStor Dorado is not as good as other solutions, such as EMC and Pure Storage. It is important when looking at capacity effectiveness.

The solution should be properly sized because if it is not there could be flexibility issues. The system should be sized properly and once it is delivered to the customer, they should ensure everything was done correctly.

When the US and China political issues come into play they have issues in qualifying the US applications with their new storage models. Many issues can arise. For example, customers might want to use Oracle hardware with their Huawei hardware to solve some of their use cases but the companies will not coordinate with each other. The political situation makes Huawei OceanStor Dorado not integrate well.

In an upcoming release, it would be a benefit to have better algorithms on data reduction, data compression, and data deduplication.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Huawei OceanStor Dorado for approximately two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Huawei claims if you choose their enterprise controller, such as the 8000, when you have a cluster of eight controllers, up to seven controllers can be down, and you can still be in operation. However, with their feature Metro Cluster that can be achieved by having 70 kilometers across two-site, you can have seven, nine.

The solution is stable enough as long as you do not do mistakes during implementation.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Huawei OceanStor Dorado has amazing scalability. As long as the specifications are correct in relation to the datasheets, there are no other storages that can provide a high level of scalability for scale-up and scale-out. 

It has the capacity of adding up to 16 or even 32 controllers. Both the EMC and IBM cannot add expansion boxes with their controllers but Huawei OceanStor Dorado has it in their architecture. You can have hard drives without adding the controllers.

How are customer service and support?

The technical support is good. They have has shifted the support to their Dubai region. They now have proper infrastructure. They're Egypt's support and all the support agents are good in communication. Previously Huawei was having communication issues. The engineers were in China and they were having issues, but they have become much more professionals and they are ready to do RCA without any additional cost.

IBM does root cause analysis and I have seen Huawei support do root cause analysis which is a plus point.

How was the initial setup?

In our implementation there are complications. I am not a technician but I have heard it requires eight hard drives to set up. For example, if customers are looking for NAS and SAN and want to have a small cluster of hard disk drives to enable both of these features. You can't do it because you need eight hard disk drives for a separate pool. For NAS, you will again need eight hard disk drives. You will need a total of 16 hard drives to make it a NAS and SAN storage system functional.

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

Huawei has very good pricing. They have some promotions that can be taken advantage of at certain times of the year, such as the end of December. They are providing aggressive pricing. In the Pakistan market, they are ready to beat any vendor in Pakistan because they want to grab the market.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have evaluated products from many vendors, such as IBM, HPE, EMC, and Pure Storage.

What other advice do I have?

I'm not sure exactly what features, attract customers, but Huawei is very popular in Pakistan. Huawei is taking share away from EMC and IBM and their hard disk drive, the NVMe, is not just a hard drive, but they have engineered it for the solution.

Some customers who don't like Huawei, say they're not coming up with Intel processors but only coming out with Kunpeng. This is not a negative point but some competition tries to create negativity for Huawei products.

All these storage solutions are only commodity hardware. Everybody is focusing on the cost per terabyte. A CTO should look at the capacity, cost per terabyte, SLA offered, and type of IT equipment offered. The performance key milestones, such as IOPS, the bandwidth of the storage, and which product is providing minimal latency. If these are the milestones a CTO wants to achieve. I think Huawei is one of the best products that can achieve all of these aspects other than pricing. I would recommend organizations to consider Huawei OceanStor Dorado.

I rate Huawei OceanStor Dorado a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Senior Storage Specialist, Digital Systems at Shaw Communications
Real User
Top 20
Beneficial management software, straightforward installation, and good support
Pros and Cons
  • "The management software that runs in the cloud is called InfoSight and it is very good. It is similar to machine learning software that monitors your hardware."
  • "I would like to have more administrative rights, for example, root-level administrative rights to the underlying OS of the storage array. We want more access to the kind of underlying infrastructure of the storage array rather than relying on support. However, most companies are looking to have more managed solutions which is the opposite direction of what I want."

What is our primary use case?

We use HPE Nimble Storage for VMware VMDK object workloads.

How has it helped my organization?

The first installation we did was at a mine in South America, Chile, in a place called Ike where the elevation was very high that spinning disks were failing, the meantime for failure was low. The main reason we put our first all-flash array was that it was solid-state which has no moving parts. This solution allowed our organization to operate in that location.

What is most valuable?

The management software that runs in the cloud is called InfoSight and it is very good. It is similar to machine learning software that monitors your hardware.

What needs improvement?

I would like to have more administrative rights, for example, root-level administrative rights to the underlying OS of the storage array. We want more access to the kind of underlying infrastructure of the storage array rather than relying on support. However, most companies are looking to have more managed solutions which is the opposite direction of what I want. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using HPE Nimble Storage for four years.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have approximately 5,000 virtual machines servers and over 100 storage arrays and they are placed all over our organization. We are using this solution extensively in our organization.

How are customer service and support?

The technical support has been good in our experience. I have worked with the support quite a lot and I have not had any issues with their support.

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

We have used NetApp previously and our management preferred to use HPE Nimble Storage.

How was the initial setup?

The installation is straightforward. The whole implementation took use approximately one day.

What about the implementation team?

We did the implementation using an in-house team. The solution does not require a lot of maintenance. I have not updated the software in a year and when it is updated it is all done online with no downtime.

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

There is a one-time price for hardware, and with the software support, everything is included, such as software upgrades. The licensing of the solution is included in the cost of the hardware and the support is an extra cost. We have purchased support on an annual basis, but you can purchase support up front for up to seven years. We usually buy five years and near the time of the expiry, we sometimes extend it. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have evaluated Pure Storage and they are very similar to HPE Nimble Storage but are a lot more expensive. For ease of setup and cost perspective, HPE Nimble Storage is the better choice.

What other advice do I have?

We are transitioning a lot of our hardware to Azure and we partnered with Microsoft on their cloud services. For our on-premise setup, we are doing a switch from traditional storage arrays to more of a VMware Cloud Foundation type of structure where we are using VMware vSAN instead of storage arrays.

I rate HPE Nimble Storage an eight out of ten.

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.
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