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HPE 3PAR StoreServ Alternatives and Competitors

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AM
CTO at Dataposit Ltd
Real User
Has many new added features and it can control ingress and egress

Pros and Cons

  • "NetApp has really added a lot of features over the years to improve the product and performance. They can do things now like control ingress. They can control egress."
  • "There may actually be so many features that the end-user gets lost in the volume."

What is our primary use case?

We are moving to using a lot of NFS (Network File System). I normally work with VMware on the private cloud and then I use NetApp on NFS protocol with 10G connectivity.  

Mainly I use it in two ways. I use a lot of hybrid flash storage. Hybrid meaning that you have a little bit of SSD (Solid State Drive) and then at the back, you can use either SATA (Serial ATA [Advanced Technology Attachment]) or SAS (Serial Attached SCSI [Small Computer System Interface]) disk. So I use the hybrid with SAS and SSD, or I just use all SAS.  

What is most valuable?

One of the things I like the most about NetApps is that it is very easy to connect to the cloud and it is cloud-ready. I also really love the fact that they have stuck to their storage operating system for as long as I've been working with them. I started with them using ONTAP 7 and I think we are now on ONTAP 9. The company has not been bought and sold so the product has been stable under management. They have had a vision and a strategy and they have stuck to it. That is very good for me because once I got certified on the product I didn't lose the certification. I just had to recertify once when they made the move from 7-mode to cluster ONTAP. It has just been smooth sailing for me from there.  

Once you understand the NetApp protocol, you can configure it for a small box or you can configure it for the largest box imaginable. The protocol or the method has remained the same and is really backward compatible and that is one of the beauties of NetApps.  

What needs improvement?

I think where NetApp may have missed the boat and created challenges for themselves is that the product is probably one of the most complicated boxes to configure now. Other vendors, by comparison, have really made the effort to simplify configuration. NetApp has not because they want to keep it as a truly unified storage solution. It keeps building out and getting bigger and more complex because of the fact that it is unified. There are many facets of the product that you actually won't even use because so many options are available. Some features still require that you use the command line for configuration and management. You really need to know what you are doing to configure it properly. Things can go awfully wrong if you jump in there without knowing what you are doing. You really need to be certified or you need to take on a consultant to manage the system for you to have a successful deployment.  

There is a level of complexity in configuring this product that people seem to have forgotten in this modern cloud age. Everybody wants everything to be easy, like using Gmail. That is not what NetApp is like and not how it has evolved over time. It could certainly stand to become a little bit more user-friendly and easier to deploy. As it is now, I don't know if most people would like trying to configure it. Because I'm a reseller with a lot of experience, it is good for me. As a user, I know it very well and can customize it to my needs. As someone reselling and consulting for a complex product, other people have to depend on me for my services and this works in my favor as well. There are situations in which customers have tried to deploy the solution themselves without training or a consultant and those customers have a disaster because they just are not ready for the level of complexity.  

NetApp has tried to make the product more user-friendly already by enhancing the GUI, but what ends up happening is that many times there is a disconnect between what you can do in the GUI and what is actually possible using the command line. Eventually, you have to fall back to the command line to make the best use of a feature. They have tried to make shortcuts such as trying to create wizards to simplify the setup and configuration, but these never quite seem work for one reason or another.  

What I'm trying to say is: you can't have your cake and eat it too. If you have a solution that is sophisticated and able to grow with you into the future while retaining backward compatibility, there is going to be complexity. So if you take up NetApp as a solution, you need to be ready for that complexity and be able to embrace it to really make use of the product.  

As someone who could rightly be considered an expert in the solution, even I can't keep up with the number of features that they have right now. They have so much stuff in there that it is like they have got too many features. Certainly, they do not have too few. Someone coming to the product for the first time could get lost in the options.

As far as what I would like added, this is almost impossible to answer. This is already such a feature-rich storage solution already. It is full features — more than anyone knows. So the challenge for the end-user is how to keep up with what is already there and know how to use something if it is valuable to them. For me, I'm happy with the features that it has and I know what works for me. 

Maybe along the lines of features, what they need is a little bit more research into what users need and a little bit more marketing to make sure that those features will be well-understood and well-used. I think that is one of their biggest challenges. They do not really need to add more features. They need to get end-users to use the features that are already there and to only add things that provide high utility. It would be a good goal to present any new feature in an easy-to-use way.  

So they need to work on making users understand what features are meant to do and how to use them. Once users understand the purpose of a feature, they can provide training programs that make sure users are able to successfully implement the feature. Many times they will come out with some new feature and sometimes it may not be well prepared. The wizards sometimes don't quite work. Sometimes a feature disappears because they just take it out. When you come to understand that NetApp is a company of engineers and computer scientists, the soft side of the marketing and the training is not really their focus. The capability and capacity are the focus and things can get complex in trying to use any of the wonderful features that they have.  

Just as an example, I had one instance with a client where they were using a wizard for setting up something called ONTAP Select. It turned out that the NetApp team hadn't tested the networking vigorously. When the client ran the wizard the test used temporary IPs. When the client ran a test before deployment, there was an IP conflict and the test failed. The client thought had tested correctly and they thought that they had found a problem. Because the test failed, obviously they thought they should not go ahead and deploy. But the reality of the situation was that if you just go ahead and deploy the feature to production, it works. It took me two weeks to convince this client what the issue was and to go ahead with the deployment.  

But this is an example of where NetApp was trying to help with a wizard. They hadn't quite thought it all the way through and completed the development. I don't want to criticize NetApp because I'm a huge NetApp fan. The way of the world now is that the end-users are doing the testing, not the manufacturer. Because manufacturers are trying to be very aggressive and bring out a feature-rich product and beat their competition, they create some challenges for the end-users. They try to do too much in too little time in order to go out to market first. They skimp on testing and this is when mistakes happen, things do not get fully developed, and problems occur.  

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using NetApp Private Storage since 2011, so I've been using it for almost nine years.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This product is stable. But one thing you have to monitor is congestion in the storage. You have to be a bit careful when it gets to be close to capacity. When it is at capacity — which happens a lot to us, unfortunately — the results can be catastrophic. It actually would not be so bad — and might actually be better — if the system would just shut down. But sometimes when it gets full, you can get into a bad situation with data loss or corruption if you are not careful.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of the product is brilliant. You can scale it vertically and you can scale it horizontally. In terms of storage software, NetApp scalability is the best out there by far.  

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is wonderful when you get through to the right people. In our part of the world, the company is regretfully not physically present. Everything for support in our case is online or it goes through email and Webex. By comparison, some other product vendors actually have a physical presence here, which is nicer for the end-users. NetApp does not have a presence in this country.  

Even though the actual technical support you receive is very good, I have noticed a decrease in the quality of the support services. Technical support which used to be brilliant before is less so now. But of course — and I think this is really something happening with every vendor — they just do not perform quite as they used to in the past because they are trying to cut costs. Every vendor is really trying to scale back on exposure with technical support to stay competitive in other ways.  

It is a little discouraging that you really need to fight a bit to get technical support going on an issue. You really need to convince the first level of support that you have an actual issue that requires the assistance of an engineer. The guy you talk to at first will not be a technician who is going to help you. He is screening the issues before pushing it on to the next level of support.  

Many times I find myself working with older products at client sites. Working in my part of the world, people don't have money to invest much in upgrades. As a result, all some of them have is an ancient box and an ancient version of NetApp.  

There is support that they can get that will cost them. If they pay for the support — and most of these companies cannot afford to pay for it — that support is sometimes still difficult to get because of the newer screening practices.  

What I do like about support is that the process is simple and clear. You send in an email to request help with an issue and then you go through the rigamarole where the first level of support where they try to prove that it is not a real issue. The first level is completely useless for the consumer. When you get through that to the second level of support, then the process moves fast and you get a resolution. 

I'd say I'd give NetApp tech support a B-plus in my more recent experience with them.  

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

There are a number of products that I am familiar with that are in the same family of products as NetApp. I've used DMT (Database Management Tool). I've used Dell EMC Unity and I have experience with several EMC products. I'm using more than one solution concurrently because I'm a reseller, so I have to have knowledge of a range of products to meet clients' needs.  

I have customers who use Unity. I have customers with EMC storage. It is the VNX* series that includes VNXe. I've also had some customers using the basic HP solutions in the P2000 series. I've also had the opportunity to work with HPE 3PAR. So I've used all of those to some extent and they are the basic line I use to supply to my customers. I have not switched from any of them and continue to work with them based on client needs and what exists already on client sites.  

How was the initial setup?

This product is probably one of the most complex to set up on the market. There are so many options and possibilities and ways to go about deployment that the variations are essentially infinite.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for those who are considering using NetApps Private Storage is to get yourself trained on the solution. It is worth it because the architecture does not change very often and certification and skills will be valid for a long time. I would say they should get a reseller — of course, they have to pay that person to do the implementation — and then after about six months, take training to enhance their knowledge of the product. When you complete the training you will be good for a long time after that.  

The NetApp company is stable. They are not going to sell out or be bought. They have created the product in such a way that somehow it is available for less now than the original cost and it is ten years later. That alone is amazing.  

The biggest lesson I have learned from using NetApp Private Storage is that the most important thing is to properly evaluate the requirements for the setup. For example, you want to make sure you have 70% free space if you want to use data searches. Do not push the recommended maximums, especially when it comes to capacity. Another thing I would say is you should make sure you get the maximum performance from your storage space and drives. NetApp has a good storage operating system. The performance is fast. Taking advantage of compression, software acceleration, and flash are just some of the tricks for making the solution go faster and perform better. But you should be careful, again, not to go far above the performance maximums at any time. Of course, you have to size correctly or else you could find yourself in big trouble.  

NetApp has really added a lot of features over the years to improve the product and performance. They can do things now like control ingress. They can control egress. These were things that you never imagined or you never thought were going to be possible before but they can do it now. I think what happens is that sometimes there are so many new features on NetApp that it becomes a challenge in terms of knowing how to use them correctly.  

I think that is where the training comes in as an important factor. The user communities are also very important because they help you to stay on top of things. Participating there and watching trends in the discussion will help keep you informed. The storage operating system is the same as before, but other users' experience with a new add-in can help you understand how to use it and how you can configure it. There are so many new features that appear that sometimes you don't have any idea they are even there and discussion boards can help you understand what is trending and why.  

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate this product as a nine out of ten.  

Really, I sell only NetApp because I know it and its really good and very predictable.  

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:
SM
Principal Consultant at a consultancy with 1-10 employees
Real User
Top 5
Easy to deploy, performs well, and the cost-per-capacity is good

Pros and Cons

  • "One of the most valuable features is the ease of deployment."
  • "On the hardware side, you should have the ability to expand capacity to larger numbers."

What is our primary use case?

This product is used for all of the backend, core storage infrastructure. We migrated from spinning-disk, so it has the same type of workloads. It is 80% virtual machines, and then file services, and database workloads.

What is most valuable?

One of the most valuable features is the ease of deployment.

Integration with the compute capacity is good, as this is just the storage component.

Orchestration and management are good.

The performance and capacity-based costs are also good.

Another advantage is that HPE sells everything. This includes all of the capabilities of the hardware, like replication, snapshot, and other specific features. They are all included from the get-go, as opposed to everything being separate and in another budget. When you buy it, you can do whatever you have to be able to do with it out of the box.

What needs improvement?

On the software side, in terms of integration, everything gets aligned with the software-defined data center concept, which means that everything needs to be done programmatically. There is room for improvement in this regard.

On the hardware side, you should have the ability to expand capacity to larger numbers.

I would like to have the ability to do direct file services. This is a block-based solution, so if you need to do file services with it, you need to put servers around it.

From the controller side, if we could have NAS capabilities then that would be great.

For how long have I used the solution?

Between Primara and it's predecessor, 3PAR, I have used this product for about five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This is a rock-solid product.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is the product that is running the data centers for the shop, so everybody in the organization will be affected one way or another by what is there. Currently, we have 6,000 people.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is very well organized. There is a feature called Home, where the hardware calls to their NOC and reports and alerts or events. Then they have a pretty standard protocol to call back. They're quite insistent; they'll send you emails and if you don't acknowledge then they start calling.

The mechanics of the support is very well put in place. 

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

We use the HPE 3PAR in addition to Primera.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

Professional Services installation is embedded in the cost. The setup can be done by the customer but it's a pretty sophisticated solution, so we use the vendor Professional Services. It was not a third-party on top of the cost. Rather, it was included in the options that we chose.

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

The price to capacity ratio is good.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We had a selection process with all the major vendors, and we ended up with this solution in part because of stability. One of the primary reasons we selected it is because we can buy storage and compute from the same vendor and everything gets optimized. Obviously, everything is designed to work with one another.

What other advice do I have?

I will definitely recommend this product. I'd say that anybody looking to implement it should do their cost analysis very carefully. There's a multitude of solutions, but some of them are more software-oriented. The math can become fuzzy, but once they figure out the financial aspect of it, I think from a purely technical perspective, I highly recommend it.

In terms of quality for block storage, it is one of the best on the planet, if not the best, in my view. If they had block storage, NAS, and iSCSI out of the box then I could rate it as perfect.

I would rate this solution a nine 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.
Abdullah Mahmood
Network and System Administrator at TWD Technologies Ltd.
Real User
Top 5
User-friendly with good documentation and the capability to scale

Pros and Cons

  • "We've found the solution to be very stable so far."
  • "The design is a little old-fashioned and could be updated. The rack is very primitive and designed in an older style."

What is our primary use case?

The solution is primarily a file infrastructure. It contains all the virtual machines for our company.

What is most valuable?

The solution is still new to us and needs to be explored more.

The documentation is excellent so far. 

The solution uses all flash. The connection to the server is a fiber connection. It's very fast. 

The possibility of expanding is very good. It offers very good flexibility.

The price point is pretty decent. 

The product is user-friendly. The setup process is easy.

We've found the solution to be very stable so far.

What needs improvement?

We need to spend more time with the solution in order to detect any shortcomings. So far, we haven't really seen any.

The design is a little old-fashioned and could be updated. The rack is very primitive and designed in an older style. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've only been using the solution for two months. It hasn't been that long just yet. It could be maybe less than that, as we just recently installed it and we decided to go for it about three months back. About one and a half months ago the implementation was completed and we started using it.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the solution is very good. We haven't detected any bugs or glitches. it doesn't crash or freeze. It's reliable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution has the potential to scale quite well. If a company needs to expand it, it can.

However, it is a hardware, and you do need to take scaling into account early on. We can grow with the hardware we have and put on new drives, et cetera.

We have approximately 200 employees, and anyone that's connected to the network, those files are stored on this particular solution. Therefore, even if they aren't aware they are using the product, they, in fact, are.

How are customer service and technical support?

Personally, I haven't directly dealt with technical support. That said, apparently, it looks like it is quite good. The support is proactive. My system is already connected to IBM tech centers. They can highlight predictive failures, for example. My assumption is that they are quite good, although I can't yet peak from personal experience.

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

We previously used Dell EqualLogic. We switched, as we had used it for close to six years and it needed to be replaced. Initially, we thought to replace it with another Dell EqualLogic product, however, after comparing different brands, we landed on this.  

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is definitely not complex. It's not difficult. They make it straightforward and user-friendly. A company should have no problems implementing it.

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

The price is quite good. We find it to be rather reasonable overall. When you compare it to other brands especially, the price is quite good.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did look at other solutions, including and updated Dell EqualLogic and HPE.

What other advice do I have?

We are just a customer and an end-user.

We are using the latest version of the solution at this point.

I'd recommend the solution. Everything is fiber from start to finish. I don't need to use a fiber switch. It's an expensive component. However, IBM says I don't need it and I can do I direct line from my own source. It's a supported solution. It's very good.

I'd rate the solution at an eight out of ten so far.

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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Suat Ozturk
Linux System Administrator at IThinka
Real User
Top 10
Quite robust with excellent stability but can be difficult for users without IBM experience

Pros and Cons

  • "The stability is excellent."
  • "I find the solution isn't so easy to understand. A user must be quite knowledgeable in the product. It isn't like HPE 3PAR, which you can use quite easily without too much storage experience."

What is most valuable?

The solution is quite robust and complex. You can do a lot of things with it.

The stability is excellent.

What needs improvement?

I find the solution isn't so easy to understand. A user must be quite knowledgeable in the product. It isn't like HPE 3PAR, which you can use quite easily without too much storage experience. In that solution, you can just simply follow instructions. 

They need to add instructions inside the storage the way 3PAR has them. If they can add this usability on the storage web console, it will be very easy to follow.

For how long have I used the solution?

While I've worked with IBM quite a bit, I'm not really using it so much now. I am helping a client with it. I'm much more comfortable with HPE products.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've never had stability issues with the solution. There aren't bugs or glitches. It's stable and reliable. It doesn't crash.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

On the customer's side, as far as I remember, there were about three disk shells and one controller shelf. I didn't experience any kind of add-on for their storage in that case. As far as I know, however, If he or she would want to go and add some disk shelf on the storage, it's not easy.

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

I have some experience with HPE 3PAR and Storwize 7000. Both have similar usability and nearly the same storage capacity. They are really easy if you just follow the instructions. This is not the case with the DS 5000 series from IBM.

I've also worked with the SC series of Dell Compellent. It's also really good for any kind of usage. It's so easy to add anything on the shelf due to the fact that you have many of the instructions on the screen to follow. When you follow these instructions, you can easily add or remove a disk shelf.

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

With the Turkish currency, it's hard to nail down the exact pricing. It fluctuates and the costs are based on the US dollar. Right now, it's fluctuating so much, you can't really do a comparison using the Turkish lira. That said, I would estimate that the cost is a bit lower compared to other models. 

What other advice do I have?

Currently, we don't sell IBM products, although I've worked with IBM via clients.

The customer is still working with the storage. I have experienced full replacements with it. The customer had a problem with it and they had to replace the controller.

I prefer HPE 3PAR for managing. 3PAR has many specifications on the storage web console. You can do anything and analyze everything from there. With IBM you must know the system quite well. You must have some experience in order to use it effectively.

On a scale from one to ten, I'd rate this solution at a seven. If they improved the usability by adding instructions into the console, I'd probably rate them a nine.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PR
Senior Systems Engineer at Indra
Real User
Top 20
Easy to use solution but lacks federation and segmentation of data

Pros and Cons

  • "Rapid deployment, easy integration management and cloning of areas."
  • "Their problems are on the software and the controlling of the storage where they lack segmentation and federation."

What is our primary use case?

I normally work with customers. I'm a senior consultant so I'm responsible for giving information to customers and I make assessments for them about what technology is the best for them to use.

What is most valuable?

In terms of which features I've found most valuable, this includes rapid deployment, easy integration management and cloning of areas - their cloning tools.

Also, the deployment is very quick and very simple.

What needs improvement?

There is a lot of room for improvement. What I don't like is that they do not create barriers in the areas. The data management is based on the software and they do not use segmentation on the storage. That is the main problem - there is no segmentation. You cannot segment the data on the database. You put the data there but you don't know where the data goes on each disk. The information will be there but there is no segmentation. There needs to be improvement in data segmentation.

In future releases, I'd like to see federation and segmentation. Those are the big problems with NetApp at the moment. Compared to HP, Dell and HPE 3PAR, they cannot do the federation which is very important. We have to do remote replication and work with two or more storage sites in different locations. If I have a site and I have a second or third site - they require working federation and NetApp cannot do this right now.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using NetApp Series All-Flash for about four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Until now we have not had issues on the four databases, the four storage units we are using.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of scalability, it's okay. 

But they do have one problem with scalability - they cannot do federation of storage.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not contacted support directly. The customer has specific teams for that.

But I work directly with the support on tests for crash recovery. More than a year ago we made these tests before the customer bought the solution. But at the moment, I know that the support in Portugal is very limited because they don't have people working in the office. I think they only have one person working in the Portugal office.

How was the initial setup?

As I mentioned, the deployment is very quick and very simple to use.

I have customers with four storage sites, and we have all the virtual environments and the production cloning for disaster recovery tests on NetApp.

What other advice do I have?

On a scale of 1 - 10, I'd give NetApp EF-Series All Flash a 5. It's a low rating because as I mentioned, they have to improve their software. NetApp is an array that is made on the software. Their problems are on the software and the controlling of the storage where they lack segmentation and federation. Fragmentation, in particular, is a problem that could be improved for big customers since big data is so important for them.

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
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