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Pure Storage or NetApp for VDI?

ManagerIT306285 - PeerSpot reviewer
Manager, IT Automation and Technical Services at a energy/utilities company with 10,001+ employees

With the new AFF from NetApp, would you still chose Pure Storage for consistent VDI experience?

PeerSpot user
2929 Answers

Sami Ventriglia - PeerSpot reviewer

I'd say it depends on what the rest of the environment looks like and what expertise you have in-house. If you have NetApp already for your server or NAS needs, AFF is "relatively" simple add-on. If you don't have NetApp it might be a bit difficult to learn just for VDI. If you are looking at keeping VDI 100% separate, I'd be curious how many concurrent users you want to be able to support in the next 4yrs. Plus I'd need to know more about the user load, are these engineers using complex apps or are they general office workers? For example: fewer than 500 users and 80% of them are office workers, you might not even need all flash. Tech's to consider: NetApp, Pure, XtremIO, Tintri, maybe even Nutanix or Nimble depending on number of users. Nutanix I've heard good things about re: VDI scale out (lots of users) and Nimble for up to 500 users (Nimble is iSCSI or FC only though).

it_user107568 - PeerSpot reviewer

Anil - I don't disagree with your perspective but if someone posts content questioning viability of HP Storage or FUD, I will respond. People are influenced by opinions and given the nature of Martin's comment, I think it was appropriate for me to respond.

it_user107568 - PeerSpot reviewer

Martin - Yes, I still work at HP and don't expect that to change. The announcement of layoffs as I understood it (I don't speak for HP in this case because I don't know details) is related to Enterprise Services. It's never good news when people lose their jobs but I'm very confident that Meg is doing the right things to get that business in order. And if you want to see the details of what was discussed yesterday, they are here:

My perspective is far from myopic but entirely realistic. And I've talked about it publicly recently on the Cube, a very frank discussion. As I recount in this video, I could have left HP with a very nice retirement package (at least two years of salary) and a job offer from EMC but stayed at HP. Not a myopic decision at all.

Specific to HP Storage, things are great. HP 3PAR is the number 1 midrange FC SAN and HP 3PAR is the number 2 all-flash. Here's a blog that talks about the IDC Quarterly Tracker where the data comes from and my perspective of innovation with 3PAR.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise isn't going anywhere any time soon. Is there work to do to keep the "street" happy? Yes. There's work to do to keep our storage customers happy. The good news is we're doing both. So I'm far from myopic and anyone that personally knows me (which you don't) knows my integrity and realism.

My bias as an HP employee is clear - I see from your LinkedIn profile that you work for FreeIT Data and you partner with several storage companies and HP isn't one. I think people need to understand your bias.

it_user107568 - PeerSpot reviewer

Joe - so much of what you said is inaccurate. My colleague John already corrected you on your 3PAR misinformation/FUD.

Your information about how analyst track midrange SAN arrays is also incorrect. Vendors like HP have to separate spindles sold inside a server from what is sold as an external array. And in fact, IDC clearly states the different categories of revenue and HP HAS passed EMC as the #1 midrange SAN array both on units and revenue.

Everyone, me included, has biases but yours have you making some false/misleading comments. Happy to take any of it offline with you.

it_user107568 - PeerSpot reviewer

Disclaimer: I work for HP Storage

Martin - I'm not sure what HP free fall you are referring to. The latest IDC Q2 WW Storage System Tracker report shows that HP is the ONLY vendor amongst EMC, Dell, NetApp and IBM that has gained market share. Additionally, HP Storage is the only one of the bunch that has held or gained market share in all of the last seven quarters. HP 3PAR is now the number one midrange SAN in the industry and as my colleague John point out is now the fastest growing all-flash in the industry just taking the number 2 post.

I've worked in HP Storage for 25 years and at HP for 33 years - things have never been better.

For those that want to see user reviews of HP 3PAR all-flash here on IT Central Station, here's a link:

it_user10938 - PeerSpot reviewer

I have a tremendous amount of respect for NetApp and a substantial investment in NetApp for NAS. I think NetApp's hard earned legacy as the NAS system to beat is being eroded by their struggle to gain traction in the AFA market as evidenced by the on-again/off-again FlashRay project. Further exacerbating the NetApp mixed message is the sudden touting of the All-Flash FAS. In my opinion, the two systems cannot be compared as one is a retrofitted traditional array while the other is purpose built from the ground-up to operate on SSD.

If your strategic direction is to leapfrog hybrid arrays that combine spinning with solid state and move into AFA's, I think you would find the Pure option the better route as it's crayola simple to operate and extremely reliable. Worth considering as well are the operational benefits that are often drowned out in the 'my array is 2ms faster than your array' marketing noise. Simplicity is incorporated in the DNA of the system. For example, our CTO installed the first Pure system in 15 minutes and techs with no experience with traditional arrays can easily provision and manage capacity. Other examples of Pure's simplicity are the built-in replication, HTML5 GUI, free controller upgrades every 3 years as long as your maintenance is current...three lines on the invoice...when was the last time we saw that? :) Pure seems to have considered the customer in reinventing enterprise capable shared storage and it's refreshing.

We have six of the Pure systems and have been running them since 2013. Code updates, disk shelf expansion, disk swaps, all with zero downtime since day one. We didn't buy the system specifically for VDI however, we do run a 300 seat VDI deployment on Pure and the latency is consistently sub ms while the data reduction rate drops the Pure AFA cost per TB into the Tier2 SAN territory. VDI recompose of 30-40 sessions at a time as associates log off is the only time I've seen the array hit above a 2ms in response time. (Business application owners preferred we recompose on log-off in order to have a fresh VDI ready at all times). VDI is typically the proverbial low hanging fruit for AFA's given the high propensity for redundant bytes on disk and the predominately high read I/O of VDI.

As for the FUD around things Pure doesn't tell you about referenced by another poster, I haven't a clue. We've run the arrays up to 106% during a self inflicted capacity drain and the array continued to operate, yanked SAS and power cables, swapped drives, everything you could possibly imagine happening in a datacenter. We've compared the system to a competing v4 XtremIO system and while the first version of XtremIO was an embarrassment for EMC, v4 of XtremIO is evidence that EMC is serious about AFA's being the future and has invested heavily in the platform in trying to catch up with Pure.

From what I've been exposed to, I think EMC views Pure as the one to beat with marketing efforts that single out Pure and an opex/capex rate that likely wouldn't have seen the light of day if not for Pure. A bit further off topic but another company/product to watch in the modular approach to centralized storage is SolidFire. Very interesting and compelling architecture, particularly if you've not made the jump into traditional FC SAN.

Definitely a consumers market on the storage front, we'll take it!
All the best.

it_user102303 - PeerSpot reviewer

I would not select either one, my choice is HP 3PAR

it_user188628 - PeerSpot reviewer

Well take this for what it's worth as I work for HP but if you're considering Hybrid or All Flash you should definitely take a look at HP 3PAR. Number 1 in the Midrange and Number 2 in All Flash and also the fastest growing All Flash solution in the market, it also Includes inline dedupe as well all the other 3PAR Thin technologies. There are plenty of Customer reviews for 3PAR and others listed on this site to get you started:-

it_user283185 - PeerSpot reviewer

Netapp efficiencies have all these terms and conditions you can find it on their website. Stay away from netapp I've worked with it for years and it's expensive and storage is still a problem and inline compression is crap lucky to get a 2x reduction and then have to wait for post process dedupe to run to get any decent reduction you need inline dedupe which gives you the best storage usage right away and you get that with xtremeIO

it_user283185 - PeerSpot reviewer

I would not buy either solution. pure Storage has limitations they don't tell you about and netapp is average as its all WAFL and you lose a lot of usable space. If you want guaranteed performace and future proofing get EMC xtremeIO. More cost effective than the others and can be intergrater with other EMC solutions. Plus their dedupe is fantastic.

it_user250251 - PeerSpot reviewer

Tintri is one of the best options for any virtualized environment and almost any workload. Doesn't have to just be VDI. I replaced a FAS 8040 with Tintri and couldn't be happier. Although if I was simply answering your question about the two storage products, I would say NetApp, but only because they own SolidFire which is what I would get IF Tintri wasn't an option.

ManagerIT306285 - PeerSpot reviewer
Real User

So far experience has been positive. We are hosting about 450 VMs on 5TB raw device. Replication and snapshots work flawlessly. Data takes about 600GB (very impressive, considering each VM is about 80G). Snapshots are taking about 900GB.....we are about 51% disk allocated, with 49% to grow. Planning to put production load on the Pure box within the next 2 weeks.

it_user245385 - PeerSpot reviewer

@manageri306285 - Thanks for sharing the info in regards to your lab tests with Pure Storage. Atleast it provides some understanding of how they are performing in real world situation. Did you test other feature set like Replication (Sync and Async) plus perform a cost comparison between Pure and NetApp that you can shed some light on ?

it_user245385 - PeerSpot reviewer

Guys, do we really need to have an argument here which honestly doesn't reflect well on all involved? Many people don't post openly on forums because they aren't interested in unnecessary chatter. Vendors start arguing amongst themselves and/or with end users instead of allowing a free flow of thoughts and ideas.

Let's respect the conversation and share qualitative information in regards to the question on hand. We are all mature enough to decide what is best for us.

My two cents.

it_user274947 - PeerSpot reviewer

*This comment is about HP/3Par specifically, not directly about Pure or Netapp.

Calvin - Are you still working for HP? I heard another round of layoffs on deck that will impact up to 30,000 employees... Hopefully you are not one of them. This announcement of layoffs doesn't really support your comment that 'things have never been better' at HP. For the record, I'm not knocking 3Par as a technology, what I am saying is that any CFO, CIO or CTO has to look very hard at what the future of HP will look like in 5 years and if they are willing to roll the dice by purchasing a product from a company that has made some questionable business decisions over the last 5 years. To be fair, this same concern is relevant for Pure storage since it is still in infancy compared to HP.
Your support for the company that you have devoted 33 years to is commendable... but, playing devil's advocate, one could argue that your tenure leaves your perspective myopic if not irrelevant.
Below is a link to what financial analysts are saying about HP... don't take it from me, I'm no expert on corporate finance so I lean on expert resources to help me research technology in the market. With both Gross profit and Gross renvenue down over the last 5 years, along with HP's business restructuring, some would speculate that HP is going to start selling off business units similar to what IBM has done over the last decade or so... to create a leaner, more focused strategy of increasing revenue in higher margin products like Professional Services. That would leave me skeptical about continuing to invest in a platform that may be sold off before the product is fully depreciated on my P&L.

Seeking alpha commentary:

Market watch - revenue since 2010:

it_user245385 - PeerSpot reviewer

To answer your question directly since you chose to enquire about only two vendors - I would go say that PureStorage would be ahead of NetApp. One major benefit PureStorage has is that its built from ground up with no linkages to old software. Second aspect is that as a new player they are focussed on R&D. NetApp on the other hand in my personal opinion has taken their status for granted and didn't really come out with a flagship product in the AFA area until now due to their lack of vision. I have also seen a demo of PureStorage arrays and the technology seems to be great - though I would not buy everything their marketing team says about the product.

To keep the discussion unbiased - alternatives like EMC XtremeIO, Tegile, Nimble, and Nutanix are ones you shouldatleast review as well (if you haven't done so already). Industry and independent benchmark testing is available for all providers who have run specific tests for VDI.

One thing I would highlight is that your design matters for top performance and I am sure cost would be a concern too. So look at something that offers flash but de-dupe at the same time.

it_user274947 - PeerSpot reviewer

I'm late to the party but since I was invited I will share my opinion...

Even assuming a clean install with no prior experience working with either technology, the question posed creates an apples and oranges discussion in my opinion.

Netapp being a legacy architecture with it's ONTAP (WAFL) operating system and supporting software ecosystem was never designed to maximize use of SSDs. This creates a 'retrofit' scenario where Netapp and others are playing catch up to the disruptive emerging products in the market now. From a cost perspective, Netapp is not typically the most cost effective or most efficient product on the market... certainly one of the main concerns that most of my Netapp clients share.

Pure, on the other hand, is purpose built to maximize utilization of SSDs. If you are looking for a great box with well documented dedupe and compression rates for VDI, as well as an ability to manage very demanding workloads without breaking a sweat, then Pure would be my recommendation just based on the criteria of the question. From a cost perspective, Pure is up there with Netapp if you ask me... but they do a pretty good job of justifying the cost because of the ease of use and reliability of the technology.

But... if given the latitude to make recommendations beyond Pure and Netapp, as many posters took the liberty of doing, then we would need to dig deeper to learn more about the network, hypervisor, existing storage platform, staff expertise with VDI, budget, etc...

From that conversation we could make some additional recommendations but HP 3PAR would not be one of them. HP has been in a free fall for the last several years, suffering from an identity crisis at the highest level. I think recommending HP storage would be irresponsible until the dust settles from all the write-offs and poor business decisions they have made over the last several years. EMC is the 800 pound Gorilla in the room and doesn't need any help throwing their weight around. I have never been a fan of EMC's bully tactics or their programmed fork-lift upgrades every 3 years. There are numerous products on the market that will destroy ExtremeIO in a bake off while concurrently removing the need to deal with EMC. Bonus!!

it_user186084 - PeerSpot reviewer

I’ve had the opportunity over the years to run both Pure Storage (FA320, FA420, and early versions of the new /M series) and NetApp (FAS31xx, FAS80xx) in my environments. For a VDI environment or an environment in general that needs consistent performance and the dataset works with data reduction technologies (compression, deduplication, pattern removal) I really have a hard time not recommending the Pure Storage arrays. The NetApp AFF’s (80xx) can produce some decent performance numbers and can scale out to support some pretty big environments but can suffer from complexity to setup, manage, and upgrade. Really any AFA should greatly help your VDI deployment, they are all extremely fast and offer pretty good features however I have found that some provide a better overall package. 3.5 years ago I brought Pure Storage in-house to help with Database and VDI performance and since expanded to every workload except image & media storage that doesn’t reduce well. Below is my experiences with Pure Storage, hopefully it helps a bit.

Fantastic data reduction, it operates inline at a 512Byte granularity for data reduction vs 4K, 8K, or even higher for other vendors, there is a ton of similar or identical data in a VDI environment. Out of my workloads I haven’t seen any other storage vendor match (I have had a lot of storage arrays in my lab for testing over the years) the data reduction that Pure Storage can deliver.

Consistent performance, Flash storage will be faster than disk regardless of the vendor, Pure delivered an advantage to me in that all the data reduction features are always-on and inline with further data reduction post-process behind the scenes and even up to 100% full the array continues to perform consistently at or above the numbers that Pure quotes.

Simple to install, operate, and upgrade with full non-disruptive everything. I installed my first (and second FA420) array (FA320) in under an hour and had storage provisioned to my hosts and testing workloads within another 30 minutes. I could train my staff on how to use the array in ~20-30 minutes. Upgrades both to software and entirely new hardware (upgraded FA-320 to FA-420 during production hours with no downtime) occurred with no downtime or impact to my environment. Capacity upgrades took minutes to complete (just plug the shelf in and you have new storage). No more planning for weeks around a simple code upgrade, capacity expansion, or worse a head upgrade it all takes very little time and Pure won’t be charging professional services to do any of it.

They upgrade the controllers every 3 years as long as you pay maintenance (they call this Evergreen Storage). This one is huge, being able to get the newest controllers every 3 years just for paying maintenance for years 4-6 (that won’t go up, and in my case actually went down a bit). That means that since new models have faster processors, memory, etc. it provides a big performance boost every 3 years with only an Opex cost. I have never liked every 3-4 years going out and starting the evaluation process all over again for an array because my vendor (EMC, then NetApp) wanted to push new hardware when there wasn’t much benefit to the upgrade on my end.

Finally fantastic support, there are only a handful of companies out there that I don’t dread having to call their customer support, Pure Storage happens to be one of them. They were always responsive to questions about something weird I was seeing on the array or proactive at reaching out if they saw something that could end up impacting the environment and owning the issue end-to-end.

it_user186294 - PeerSpot reviewer

I can't speak to this with any experience with NetApp. I know that they have been trying to catch up to the other all flash deployments for sometime. I have experience with Pure, experience with Nimble and with XtremIO. Regarding performance they are all really pretty similar. They all for the most part do what they say they will do. We currently have our VDI deployment on XIO, but solely because our reseller at the time found out we were looking at a Pure POC and they gave us a half X-brick of XIO for free. The performance is good, but with more than 300 workstations on it it is getting barely 4:1 reduction. There are a lot of questions still around the XIO and its future, but supposedly its glaring issues are fixed in version 4. Also when you look at the Pro column in gartner for the last 2 years the best pro was the sales force for EMC.

Pure I can't speak to the business side, only the fact that when it was deployed, it was crazy fast and incredibly efficient for space reduction. More so than any array I have worked on prior or since.

Nimble has some great options as well with all flash shelves and the flash pinning that is available now in 2.3 The price and performance makes the Nimble one you can't ignore unless you just don't care about looking outside the big names.

Good luck, because there are a lot of ways to go and be successful with a VDI deployment. My focus was flexibility of the array. How much are we getting and how many different workloads can I put on my array and still have it perform. Nimble was the choice for our primary array, and the VDI is on XIO b/c it was free, at least for the first year...

ManagerIT306285 - PeerSpot reviewer
Real User

I think there is an interesting theme here about the Pure Storage. Joe mentioned that "pure Storage has limitations they don't tell you about". I think the folks here would like to know more about this limitation. I understand the growing pains of small startup, also their cost is not the cheapest, but what are the bigger limitations?

On NetApp, my biggest problem with NetApp is that they don't seem to stress R&D for flash. They are retrofitting their old WAFL by skipping some layers to move to Flash, but I understand that flash storage needs to have a fresh approach to delivering the right IO. Our experience with Pure in the lab, supporting about 400+ Windows server was excellent. We built them all from template and saw the dedup/compression being in 80:1...Now that they are in production, we are seeing about 38:1...very impressive. I doubt other vendors can match it, especially when it comes to Oracle. They claim 3:1 compression on Oracle as well, although I have not seen it in production yet.

it_user208149 - PeerSpot reviewer

Ι would recommend Pure Storage. Currently from my perspective NetApp doesn't seem to have a consistent strategy for All Flash requirements. They promote two (2) different offerings. First one relying on the FAS 8000 Family of products (FAS 8020-FAS8080-EX) which relies on DataONTAP OS. 2nd offering relies on EF Series of products which rely on Engenio/LSI acquisition from NetApp and has different Operating system called SANtricity. Why have two (2) different offerings and not one ? From Purestorage perspective there is a lot of good customer testimonials around their well implemented inline dedupe and compression. So speaking about VDI environment those two (2) features of PureStorage will provide tangible benefits to the customer.

it_user188628 - PeerSpot reviewer

@Joe Hiscox I'm sorry but this is complete FUD. For a start HP always, always quote usable numbers. Secondly HP passed Pure in the All Flash market when Pure's real revenue numbers were revealed as part of their IPO filing, not really got your finger on the pulse there.

If you want to check the numbers speak to IDC and no their market analysis is not paid for in any way and always keep in mind that Gartner's magic quadrant is backward looking and far more about the company than the technology, for the technology you need Gartner's critical capabilities report,

As for championing XtremIO people in glass houses really shouldn't throw stones, I'd suggest anyone considering XtremIO should really do some independent research (blogs) as there have been quite a few hiccups with that particular platform since launch.

it_user283185 - PeerSpot reviewer

In HyperConverged look Maxta or DataStor. Both are proven and best of breed technologies. Atlantis is ok but uses a lt more resource due to multiple controller vms being needed, one per volume per esxi host.

it_user283185 - PeerSpot reviewer

Oh god not HP. 3PAR capacity is worse than netapp. Ho always sells based on raw storage not usable. To get usable you need to calculate around 45% of the raw can be used. Expensive and really not a good choice. EMC is number 1 and Gartner confirms this. I don't know where HP gets is supposed figures from but they are very low
Market share wise vs EMC and PURE even netapp.

The simple recommendation I would
Make is so your research. lol at the Gartner reports (ignore IDC as vendors pay for those and IDC will say what the vendor wants). Look at performance of the systems. Online demos for ease of use and compare features. Overall you will find why EMC is number 1 in mid market storage and Flash based on units sold and not on disk drives which is the HP matrix used.

FYI I dont work for EMC bit have been selling and servicing storage for over 20 years and know the industry and product sets very well. EMC always comes out on top

it_user299826 - PeerSpot reviewer

Disclaimer: I work for Tintri
I agree with Sami. If you have NetApp in the house then its a fairly simple add-on. Having said that, you don't necessarily need all-flash systems for VDI. One of the big reasons to go with all-flash is the ability for Flash to simultaneously handle burst IO (boot, logon storms etc.) and deliver consistent VDI experience to steady state users. There are storage technologies available that allow you to do this without requiring all-flash (like Tintri - Tintri does have an all-flash solution for extreme cases like trading etc.) and with deep analytics for troubleshooting and auto-tuning.

it_user286074 - PeerSpot reviewer

Agreed about staying away from NetApp. Everyone knows that NetApp's WAFL layout has its limitations especially if you actually intend on using all of the capacity you purchase. Hyper converged systems is where you want to look. For VDI specifically, I'd recommend Atlantis Computing's USX. In-memory and in-line deduplication. In VDI environments you can see up to 90% dedupe. Definitely a fan of that!

Sami Ventriglia - PeerSpot reviewer

Good to know about Nutanix, thanks. Re: Maxta, looks the same as Springpath, both very new and overall a new concept (SD-hyperconvergence?), could be great but definitely need a POC to prove out, would you agree? VNX overhead isn't much better than FAS, RAIDDP is a spitting image of RAID6 which many vendors recommend anyways to protect from double disk failure (EMC, Dell, HP...). Plus NetApp snapshots are slightly more efficient by nature (EMC: copy-on-write, NetApp: allocate-on-write). XtremIO is very solid, but VNX is still two operating systems at heart, slight differences in storage management when going between SAN and NAS. Plus as far as DR/BC, EMC will recommend other platforms like Recoverpoint, avamar, datadomain depending on requirements. But, it looks like manageri306285 has 1000+ employees at his company, so its very possible everything is in place except for VDI storage. And an energy company nonetheless, I'd gamble they've standardized on NetApp; hence, the AFF vs Pure post. (one existing vendor and one outsider). A primarily EMC customer would be asking XtremIO vs Pure.

it_user255951 - PeerSpot reviewer

I would choose the AFF from NetApp. There is currently a promotion running with the same conditions as Pure. All possible licenses are included with an AFF, concerning the "lose a lot of usable space": that's old news. Current efficiency technologies like advanced disk partitioning, inline compression, zero block elimination, ... greatly improved efficiency.

it_user283185 - PeerSpot reviewer

Personally I have worked with and sold Nutanix and wouldn't recommend it. It's expensive and doesn't have full dedupe functionality meaning more storage needed for each vdi deployed. Maxta is a better hyperconverged solution. More cost effective and runs on any vendors hardware. Tintri and nimble are good. Netapp is to misleading and you lose way to much storage with raiddp and wafl so I recommend staying away from it. Emc also has vnx with fastcache which is awesome in VDI environments.

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