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NetApp EF-Series All Flash Arrays Competitors and Alternatives

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Read reviews of NetApp EF-Series All Flash Arrays competitors and alternatives

JL
IT Administrator at a construction company with 201-500 employees
Real User
There have been multiple problems with stability, yet the performance makes our system faster

Pros and Cons

  • "For access from virtual machines, iSCSI, and NFS, it is very good. It helps increase performance."
  • "The upgrades themselves are running fine, but after the upgrade is when we have a problem. With the update to 1.4, we had a head crash. They told us, 'This is a known issue. Please upgrade to 2.' We upgraded to 2 and, one week later they told us, 'Yeah, there are some issues in 2.0.0. You can lose data. Please upgrade to 2.0.1.' Overall, they need to make the system stable."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for machines from VMware vCenter which we keep separate from the PowerStore. It is only the storage. They are connected with iSCSI and NFS. We have no virtual machines directly on the PowerStore.

How has it helped my organization?

We are very impressed by the power of the system. We have gained performance for all our virtual machines and our system is running very fast.

Another benefit, for us, is the dedupe rate.

What is most valuable?

For access from virtual machines, iSCSI, and NFS, it is very good. It helps increase performance.

Also, the live dedupe application is very good.

What needs improvement?

In the first weeks, we had some problems with the dedupe. According to the warranty, we should have had a dedupe rate of at least two and we had not reached this value. We got an additional hard disk to match the planned capacity of the system and this helped a lot. We got to a dedupe rate of 1.9, and this was very good.

What we are missing is the monitoring. We cannot implement the health check of the system in our monitoring system. We have to open the PowerStore GUI every day.

Also, we have tried to install a separate virtual machine to integrate PowerStore to vCenter. VMware then provides a virtual machine with Photon OS. We have done this integration two times and it has run for some weeks. Then it stops working and I don't know why. We have not used it again. It has nice features and has saved a lot of time and creates a good integration, but it needs to be more stable.

Overall, they need to make the system stable. Again and again, we have problems with upgrades. The upgrades themselves are running fine, but after the upgrade is when we have a problem. With the update to 1.4, we had a head crash. They told us, "This is a known issue. Please upgrade to 2." We upgraded to 2 and, one week later they told us, "Yeah, there are some issues in 2.0.0. You can lose data. Please upgrade to 2.0.1." Overall, they need to make the system stable.

I try to avoid updates for such important, central systems. They require downtime for the whole company, as this is our only storage. It's not good to do so many upgrades. I have used other storage systems and, with them, it was never necessary to do so many upgrades in one year. Last year, I did four upgrades for the PowerStore but I have never done four upgrades over the lifetime of other storage systems. They have run four, five, or six years, sometimes more. I have never patched so often as I have with PowerStore.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using Dell EMC PowerStore since December of last year, so almost a year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The problem is the stability. We have a single system and on three occasions we have had unplanned head reboots because of a software failure. The positive side is that there was no impact as a result because there are two heads. It's not good to reboot a head, and we have submitted tickets about it, but the performance and the failover have been good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We only have a single machine and we are currently using half of the hard disk slots. We have asked for an upgrade for the rest of the hard disks but, from my point of view, it costs too much. We have 12 to 15 hard disks inside and if we try to upgrade only the hard disks, it costs the same as the complete system. This is something I don't understand. It makes no sense. Buying 16 hard disks with storage costs about €40,000 and buying only 16 hard disks costs the same.

How are customer service and support?

Dell EMC's first-level technical support is very fast and they communicate well. Sometimes they explain things so I can understand why something is working the way it is. But currently, we have a ticket at the second level and for two weeks I have had no answer. 

The issue is that each day we get a message from the storage, every three hours, telling us the network connectivity is lost. I don't know if this is true or not, and whether it is a failure. That is the ticket at level two but I have had no information about its status.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Neutral

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

I have used NetApp as well as HPE in the past. In this company, they replaced NetApp with PowerStore because the NetApp system was slow. The dedupe needed much improvement. If they stopped the dedupe, then the system power would go down. And the backup procedure took a lot of time. With PowerStore we have reduced the time for the backup by half or more.

In terms of the decision process to go with PowerStore, I was not working here at the time. After I started the company said, "Okay, in two weeks we are getting new storage. Please integrate it into our infrastructure." I know they needed a more powerful storage system and they wanted an upgrade option for the system.

How was the initial setup?

The integration of PowerStore into our existing environment was very straightforward. We had an external partner that helped us, but we had prepared the system in a test environment. We took that system and put it into the production system in about eight hours and the system was running. We then started to migrate the machines. It was a good implementation process and very fast.

We have two administrators of the solution. They are working with the system full-time handling requests to change hard disks or volumes, and they create new volumes. Across the company we have about 300 users using virtual machines and virtual desktops that are stored on the PowerStore.

What other advice do I have?

The performance of PowerStore is good, but I don't feel the software is completely ready. We have upgraded the system and have had failures on the system. I have never seen as many head crashes on other systems as we have had on the PowerStore in the last year. The system is fast but not stable enough.

I would not buy the system again. You should wait some years until the software is ready and doesn't have a new software release every two months.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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Whitney Gray
Storage Architect at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Automated architecture that proactively optimizes your database

Pros and Cons

  • "They have a feature called Live Migrate; it's been very, very useful."
  • "There's always room for improvement in the operating code."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for multiple databases. We use it for Oracle and for SQL. We also use it for file systems — Oracle, SQL, file system storage. Most of our use cases involve Oracle, SQL, VMware, and large file systems.

I am a storage architect. have a state administrator that works with me as well.

Internally, within our company, there are a few dozen employees using this solution. Externally, we literally have millions of people that hit that storage system every day.

As far as our database administrators, they're always looking at the storage performance. Some of them actually have read-only log-ins to the storage array itself. They can log in and look at directly what the storage performance is for their database.

Currently, we are not using this solution extensively because it's becoming a sunset solution. There's no option to increase usage. It's like saying you want to buy a '65 Mustang — no, you can't get one brand new, they don't make those anymore. There's no expansion being done because the product's no longer available. 

How has it helped my organization?

It's allowed us to have one hundred percent uptime over the last five years — maybe more. One hundred percent uptime on our storage as far as quantitative numbers go.

What is most valuable?

They have a feature called Live Migrate; it's been very, very useful. It allows us to move storage from one SC series array to another, with no downtime. That's a very useful feature. The other useful features are, of course, high availability architecture that's built into it. That's very useful.

What needs improvement?

There's always room for improvement in the operating code; minor improvements here and there. We haven't had any real requests for them lately. I can't really think of anything.

Support for Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVME). Most of the newer storage systems support it, but this one doesn't because of its age. Support for that was something we had looked at, but they said, "No, we're not offering that with this. It's going to be in the next product, not in this product because the architecture is just too old." 

I'd look for that — support for NVME. That's really the only supportable or new feature that I'd really be looking for.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Dell EMC SC Series for roughly 12 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Dell EMC SC Series is very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's very scalable. That's one of the things we like about it — it's highly scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is very good.

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

We were using EMC Clariion.

How was the initial setup?

It's gotten better over the years. Initially, back in '08, it was very complex. Nowadays, it's a lot more simple and easier to deploy depending on which model you purchase, too. Some models are easier to deploy than others. I would say, for the most part, it's pretty simple.

What about the implementation team?

Deployment took roughly two to three days, using professional service from Dell. We purchased the help of a consultant to assist us with deployment. It was a good experience overall.

Only one person is needed for deployment. Two people are needed to provide maintenance.

What was our ROI?

Performance would be a good return on investment indicator — the performance of the array. High availability features are a good indicator of the ROI. Those are probably the top two, the performance and availability.

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

The support we pay annually. Support typically depends on the array. It can range anywhere from $7,000 to a couple of hundred thousand dollars. It just depends on the specific one you're talking about and how big it is. It's based on size. The larger the array, the larger the maintenance cost. It's hard to really give you a range because the range is so wide. I don't even know if it'd be useful because you're talking anywhere from $5,000 to $250,000, depending on which specific array you're talking about. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Kaminario as a storage vendor. We also looked at NetApp as well.

The reason why we didn't go with them was due to the price and the features that they had at the time. The feature set that the SC series had was better than the others.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be to look at the succeeding product, the replacement product that replaces it.

On a scale from one to ten, I would give Dell EMC SC Series a rating of nine.

Just looking back at it over time, the initial setup was a little more difficult back in the 2008, 2009 timeframe. If that wasn't so difficult back then, I would give them a ten. As I said, that did get better. They got much better over time, but that's why I said 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.
RahulRukhaiyar
Technical Consultant at Fidelity International
Consultant
Useful data protection group, effective compression, and stable

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature of Dell EMC XtremIO is the data protection (DP) group, it is one of the most advanced features in these types of arrays. The dedupe and compression that this array provides both do a superb job."
  • "In the next release, the solution could have better integration and if we can host assets on the cloud, such as NetApp has the NetApp volumes, which we can host on the cloud directly called NetApp CVO (cloud volume ONTAP). Dell EMC should come up with something purely on the cloud rather than manage services."

What is our primary use case?

We use Dell EMC XtremIO for block data and VDA profiles.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of Dell EMC XtremIO is the data protection (DP) group, it is one of the most advanced features in these types of arrays. The dedupe and compression that this array provides both do a superb job.

What needs improvement?

The replication of Dell EMC XtremIO could improve. In the newer versions they have improved, however, the replication can be improved further where we can include concurrent or cascaded methodologies.

In the next release, the solution could have better integration and if we can host assets on the cloud, such as NetApp has the NetApp volumes, which we can host on the cloud directly called NetApp CVO (cloud volume ONTAP). Dell EMC should come up with something purely on the cloud rather than manage services.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Dell EMC XtremIO for approximately seven years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is stable and has good performance, it guarantees millions of files. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Dell EMC XtremIO is scalable and it is easy to do. However, we cannot have more than four bricks.

We have approximately 10 people in the storage team who use the solution and 5,000 use the services in my organization. 

The solution is used on a daily basis. The media profiles are launched for each user and it communicates to the Dell EMC XtremIO daily.

How are customer service and support?

We contact technical support whenever there's a hardware failure. If there is a software glitch, such as the one we had where the connectivity status used to flicker. It had to show eight parts, but it flickered and showed five, six, seven, and eight, all the parts. The flickering in the database, which resides within the XtremIO management server actively tweaked a bit and we had a support engineering case open for it with the Dell support. However, it didn't materialize, this is something that should be fixed in the next update.

Overall I would rate the support Dell EMC XtremIO a nine out of ten. We don't reach out to them. Nine only because the hardware could be more durable. All the SSD's could use a single-level cell rather than a multi-cell.

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

I previously used SolidFire and NetApp. There is a third solution I have used called Violin Memory which is not used much, but it's a very good contender. 

The advantages of Dell EMC XtremIO are the market share Dell has and dependability.

All the other solutions are going more towards iSCSI connectivity while Dell is moving away from iSCSI and towards XtremIO's that offer both iSCSI and FC. There is not much development for iSCSI, this is a limiting factor.

How was the initial setup?

The installation was straightforward. If you have everything in place in the network, it would only take two days maximum.

What about the implementation team?

The implementation can be done by the customer, it is done by racking and stacking them.

The solution has a redundant component, there are only disc replacements or battery backups replacement required.

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

The price of the solution should be reduced. The price matches the price of a VMAX service but it does not have the capability of a VMAX service. However, the prices of Dell EMC XtremIO can be reduceable.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend this solution to others, it will make their life easier.

I rate Dell EMC XtremIO an eight 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
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TG
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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AK
Enterprise Solutions Architect at a tech services company with 1-10 employees
Real User
Top 10
Good compression and performance, easy to expand, and the support is good

Pros and Cons

  • "Our customers have given very positive feedback about InfoSign, which is the management software for this solution."
  • "This solution would be expensive for small business and it could be priced more competitively for that market."

What is our primary use case?

We are a solution provider and all-flash storage is one of the products that we sell to our customers. Primera is one of the ones that we recommend for data centers.

What is most valuable?

Our customers have given very positive feedback about InfoSign, which is the management software for this solution.

Primera has good performance and the compression is also good.

It integrates well with other software including Docker and Kubernetes.

It is easy to expand.

What needs improvement?

This solution would be expensive for small business and it could be priced more competitively for that market.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been working with Primera for six months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This is a stable solution and none of our customers have reported a problem with it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scaling the capacity is easy with Primera. This is for medium-sized businesses, as the larger businesses usually choose Nimble, and in smaller businesses, they use cloud-based solutions to save on operating expenses.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support from HPE for this solution is really good.

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

I work with a variety of vendors for all-flash storage solutions including Nimble, Primera, NetApp, Pure Storage Evergreen, E8 storage, and Huawei. A lot of the products from different vendors have the same features. This suitability of one vendor over another depends on their budget, as well as their plans for growing the business in the future.

Pure Storage Evergreen has the number-one compression and deduplication capability.

When a customer wants good performance for their database, we suggest Primera, Pure Storage, and perhaps Huawei. At this time, we also discuss other features with the customer so that they understand them.

NetApp is another vendor that is a popular choice in our market for medium and large businesses. Similarly, our customers have had good experience with Dell Storage. When it comes to Big Data and a lot of capacity, Dell is the solution that we recommend. Huawei has good solutions and they are more competitively priced than others, and the performance is not bad.

How was the initial setup?

I have not set up this solution personally but with the feedback that I have heard from the engineers, I know that it is very easy.

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

The price of this solution is good for medium-sized and large businesses.

What other advice do I have?

Overall, Primera is a good product and if it is suitable for the requirements then it is one that I recommend.

I would rate this solution 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
Get our free report covering NetApp, Lenovo, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and other competitors of NetApp EF-Series All Flash Arrays. Updated: November 2021.
552,695 professionals have used our research since 2012.