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Pure FlashArray X NVMe Alternatives and Competitors

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Read reviews of Pure FlashArray X NVMe alternatives and competitors

CM
Storage Team Manager at a government with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Allows us to do backups while users access data, without impact on performance

Pros and Cons

  • "The performance is very good. Our predominant workloads are all less than 5 milliseconds and it's most common to have a sub-1-millisecond response time for our applications. In terms of efficiency, we've turned on compression and we're able to get as high as two-to-one compression on our workloads, on average."

    What is our primary use case?

    We are the centralized IT department for a state government and we service every agency in the state. That includes anything from the state police down to DNR, parks, unemployment, and DHHS. There is a wide variety of use cases, but the big hitters on it are Oracle and SQL databases.

    It's on-prem. It's in two different data centers that are 60 miles apart and we're doing a synchronous replication between the data centers.

    How has it helped my organization?

    There are so many ways it has helped. It provides efficiencies through compression and it provides high availability through its solid-state drives. We literally turn it on and it does its thing.

    When it comes to storage provisioning, a lot of it has been automated. This was true even prior to PowerMax, back with the VMAX. The days of provisioning the mapping and masking, and doing all those things manually, are over. A lot of that is automated through their tools. Overall, that automation is saving us about four hours a week.

    What is most valuable?

    What is most valuable to us is the fact that it has multiple engines, and each of those engines works in conjunction in a grid environment. That's important to us because we have so many different use cases. One example might be that a state trooper pulls someone over at 2 o'clock on Sunday morning and wants to go into the LEIN system, which is the law enforcement information network. He wants to see who this person is that he has pulled over and gather as much information as he can on that person. We can't predict when he's going to pull someone over, nor can we predict when backups are actually going to be taken against the volume that he's going to for that information. The PowerMax allows us to do backups of that volume at the same time that he is looking up the data he needs, and there's no impact on performance at all.

    The performance is very good. Our predominant workloads are all less than 5 milliseconds and it's most common to have a sub-1-millisecond response time for our applications. In terms of efficiency, we've turned on compression and we're able to get as high as two-to-one compression on our workloads, on average. Some workloads can't compress and some can compress better, but on average, we're a little bit more than two-to-one.

    The solution’s built-in QoS capabilities for providing workload congestion protection work pretty well because we actually don't even turn on the service level options. We leave it to the default settings and allow it to decide the performance. We don't enforce the Platinum, Gold, or Silver QoS levels. We just let the array handle it all, and it does so.

    We also use VPLEX Metro, which is a separate service offering from Dell EMC. It does SRDF-like things, but it's really SRDF on steroids. Of course it copies data from one data center to the other, but with the VPLEX, not only does it copy it synchronously, but it also has coherent caching between both data centers. That means we are literally in an Active-Active mode. For instance, we can dynamically move a VMware host that is in one data center to another data center, and we're not just doing vMotion with the host. The data is already in there at the other data center as well. It's all seamless. We don't have to stop SRDF and remount it on another drive. It's already there.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We have been using Dell EMC PowerMax NVMe ever since it was brought to market, so it's been about three or four years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's rock-solid with 100 hundred percent uptime. We've never had a disruption on our PowerMax platform. It's high availability. And we can make changes, such as upgrading the code, while it's running. There's no such thing as going offline to do a service or maintenance procedure. It's all done online and the customers are working away at the same time.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The scalability is great. VPLEX is something like a federation for all our PowerMaxs. We will put a PowerMax in, give it all to VPLEX to manage, and we're good to go.

    We typically see a 10 to 20 percent growth rate, year to year. To keep up with that, in a multi-petabyte environment, 10 percent is quite a lot. We buy two a year, and that's a conservative estimate.

    The fact that PowerMax provides NVMe scale-out capabilities is important from the standpoint of its internal workings, but the customer data doesn't really go on the NVMe technology. At this point, we don't have any use cases for NVMe performance for any of our applications. But that will change in the future. Everything is going to go to in-memory. Compute and storage: everything's going to be on a chip.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Their technical support is really good. We are using one of their monitoring tools and it phones home to the "mothership" in Massachusetts. That means they get real-time alerts or performance indicators. If a drive has exceeded a threshold five times in the last week, they will actually come out and preemptively replace that drive before it fails.

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

    We were a VMAX customer, so when they changed their service offering from VMAX to PowerMax, that's when we started adopting it. In a sense, PowerMax is the first of its kind for us. But we have been a long-time customer. We started with their DMX almost 20 years ago.

    How was the initial setup?

    For us, it's straightforward to set up. We've been doing this for a long time, so it's really easy for us to set up a new array in a data center. We had one that hit the dock about two weeks ago and it's already up and running and provisioning to customers. 

    NetApp will say, "Well, that's two weeks. We can come in and do it in one day." But we explain, "No, you can't because there are internal processes that we have to go through." Every piece of equipment we get, even the PowerMax, goes through its paces. We don't just turn it on and hope for the best. We check and double-check all our configuration settings. But overall, PowerMax is easy to set up. They configure it at the factory, deliver it, put it in the data center, and then we hook it to our Fibre Channel fabric and Ethernet fabrics and we're good to go. Competitors will say, "Well, it's so much easier to migrate from one array to another on our platform, versus the Dell EMCs." That's not necessarily true. We have to look at what they are actually measuring and whether we are comparing apples to apples.

    With VPLEX, we can do migrations on-the-fly, live. It's no longer a six-month to one-year effort to get off of one array and move to another. We just bring the other array in, present it to VPLEX, and VPLEX takes it from there.

    For a new deployment of one PowerMax, we need one FTE. On a day-to-day basis, to manage all of our PowerMaxs, we need three FTEs. But that is across two different data centers with a total of 10 PowerMax/VMAX units. It's a pretty big installation. Across our organization we have 55,000 employees. Since our HR is on this solution, and that's how people get paid, it's like we have 55,000 people using it, in a sense. Most access is through an application, but in another sense, it's used by pretty much everybody in the state.

    What was our ROI?

    On a typical purchase, the ROI is four years. That's when we get our money back. We charge for our service and we have a rate per GB. Our business model is set up to only recover our costs because we're government. We can't make a profit on it.

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

    One area for improvement, one that everybody always comes to, is price. Although we get a good discount through Dell EMC, it's still quite expensive to purchase these big arrays. I buy in volumes of petabytes at a time. It's not unusual for me to have a $6 million spend. While that is petabytes of data, it always raises eyebrows when you spend that kind of money. But what I ask those raised eyebrows is, "Okay, fine. Which of the agencies in the state do you not want to give more storage to? Everybody's using it."

    Many competitive vendors will come to us and say, "We have a study where we went into a company and we were able to reduce their costs by 600 percent." Of course, these are salespeople and they're speaking to two levels above me, and they buy into that and say, "Yeah, let's have them come in and talk to us." They come in and talk to us and when we get to the stage where we say, "Here's a typical configuration. Give us a quote for that type of configuration." When we compare it to the cost that we're getting from Dell EMC after the discount, it's plus or minus 5 percent. There really isn't that big of a delta compared to our pricing. This is a high-end device. For us, the pricing doesn't make Dell EMC uncompetitive.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    NetApp and Pure Storage are the biggest ones we looked at for block storage. 

    For other storage, like file, print, and object , there are a dozen others that are always trying to differentiate themselves on price. They want to do a proof of concept and we do those with them. But what I'll tell them up front is, "I know your products are great. They're going to work great in our lab. You don't really have to send me a piece of equipment for me to test it. I know it's going to work. You guys wouldn't be in business if they didn't work. So let's get down to the cost of it." And when we get to the cost of it, it's just not compelling enough to make a switch.

    But as far as features go, I don't find there is a huge difference.

    What other advice do I have?

    The biggest lesson I've learned using PowerMax is to trust it. For example, with the QoS, don't try and overthink this. It's engineered to take on diverse and disparate workloads. Put it in, watch it for a little bit, and if you don't absolutely need to turn on all the QoS, don't. Let it do its thing.

    Don't be shocked by the price per GB. Look at your cost of transactions or IOPS. The days of looking at storage as so much per GB are over. It's how much workload you can pass through that storage device.

    Overall, PowerMax is ideal for storage for enterprise-level, mission-critical IT workloads. That is really its strength, as is its ability to handle disparate workloads. I wouldn't use anything else for these high-end, critical workloads.

    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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    BC
    Chief Information Officer at a computer software company with 5,001-10,000 employees
    Real User
    VMware integration was a big factor for us, and we have benefited from the advanced dedupe, compression, and replication

    Pros and Cons

    • "The administration tools take advantage of machine learning and make recommendations to the admins, and that makes the administration easier."

      What is our primary use case?

      We do a lot of cloning of databases for either troubleshooting or to stage and prepare implementation. We are a SaaS provider in the real estate industry and we're either using the PowerStore to help expedite things in our development environment, or we're using it to help troubleshoot any problems that we have.

      We have north of 13 petabytes of storage in our environment.

      How has it helped my organization?

      PowerStore has enabled us to add additional storage to that we hadn't planned on, which allows us to defer the purchase of some additional storage.

      We've really improved the amount of storage that we're able to effectively utilize because of its better deduping. It has about a 50 percent better dedupe rate, with its intelligence, than we had been previously getting. Overall, we've benefited from the dedupe, compression, and replication, the advanced technology, of this frame. It's all better than what we had in the previous generation of XtremIO appliances, and above what we were getting in the Dell EMC Unitys.

      What is most valuable?

      My guys have told me that the administration tools take advantage of machine learning and make recommendations to the admins, and that makes the administration easier.

      For how long have I used the solution?

      We've been using Dell EMC PowerStore for about six months.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      We've had no issues with the machines since turning them on.

      The machine supports "six nines" of availability. Anything they could do to push it closer to "seven nines" of availability would be extremely beneficial.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      It scales both horizontally and vertically.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      The support has been phenomenal.

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

      We replaced an older, high-performance storage device that was very expensive. With PowerStore, we were able to achieve the IOPS, and we were also able to get a data compression rate significantly above what we had expected. We were able to retire that older, very expensive piece of storage by bringing in the PowerStore. It's been faster and cheaper than we had expected, per terabyte.

      Another reason that we were after this machine was PowerStore's VMware integration. We're a very large VMware customer. Some 98 percent  of our workload runs on VMware.

      How was the initial setup?

      The setup was very straightforward. We bought it with the setup from Dell EMC support. We bought it, they shipped it, and a Dell EMC engineer coordinated with my storage engineer. We set it up and then did the data migration. On these particular frames, we needed very little help. It all went very seamlessly.

      We had a couple of data center engineers involved, as well as a couple of storage admins, and a storage architect.

      Our storage administrators took very limited training to get up to speed on the machines.

      What about the implementation team?

      Dell EMC was involved and the experience was very good. They showed up when they were supposed to, all the pre-work was done. They did the post-work, and there were no concerns from our team.

      What was our ROI?

      We exceeded the business case of the device that we had. We were able to add more workloads to the environment than the business case allowed, and we are still migrating more. So our cost per IOP and our cost per gigabyte have been substantially lower than our business case.

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

      We did a very competitive analysis on the pricing and compared it against the tradeoffs of the other storage products that we had previously bought, and we found PowerStore to be favorable on a cost-per-compute basis.

      There's still a cap on the upgrade path, where you can consume all the engines within the frame before you have to go to another frame. I would like more flexibility to increase the number of engines on the frames. Normally, we exceed the IOPS on the frames before we can ever exhaust the storage, so anything they can do to help us avoid stranded storage capacity, capacity that we couldn't get to, would be beneficial.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      We've looked at several other solution environments, including Pure, HPE, as well as Violin and a couple of the other vendors that rate high in industry reviews. For us, with our large dependence on VMware, if we can get a cost-competitive solution from Dell EMC, with their ability to support VMware, we end up with a whole lot less finger-pointing in the mix.

      You can add compute or capacity independently, meaning it has greater capabilities than the Unitys that we had been targeting for our non-SaaS environment, and it has performed admirably.

      What other advice do I have?

      Clearly test out the workloads and don't necessarily be afraid because it's a new device. Work with Dell EMC to get a great contractual solution that will protect you with the new technology. This new technology does perform. It's a great performance machine.

      Although it's a relatively new platform, I was fairly confident in Dell EMC technology's support for the environment and in the performance that we had had with other machines. I felt there was very little risk in the migration to this solution, and we were really excited about the improved capabilities.

      In terms of PowerStore's built-in VMware hypervisor, we really haven't used it at the edge, although I can see its capabilities there. As a SaaS provider, we generally provide in the center. For the targeted workload that we have, it's performing substantially better than we had expected within our business case.

      We're very happy with the machine. It has multiple CPUs per storage frame, which is better than the predecessor machine, and there is a RAM increase as well. We got what was advertised and even a little bit better than what was advertised.

      We've been very excited by the capabilities of the appliance, to the point that the person who runs the infrastructure for me is now looking for a proposal to consolidate all of our non-VMAX work on PowerStores. The performance and the administration of the machine have been great and we're looking at how we can get additional returns on this targeted workload.

      Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

      On-premises
      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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      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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