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SolidFire is #19 ranked solution in best All-Flash Storage Arrays. IT Central Station users give SolidFire an average rating of 8 out of 10. SolidFire is most commonly compared to NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS):SolidFire vs NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS). The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 28% of all views.
What is SolidFire?

SolidFire delivers all five core elements needed to deliver newfound storage agility to your next generation data center and beyond. With SolidFire you can deploy new applications and capabilities faster, provide more agile and scalable infrastructure, increase application performance and predictability, enable automation and end-user self-service and raise operational efficiency and reduce cost.

SolidFire Buyer's Guide

Download the SolidFire Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: November 2021

SolidFire Customers
California Public Utilities Commission, RFA, 1&1, Ultimate Software , Endicia, ezVerify, MercadoLibre, Sungard Availability Services, ServInt, Elastx, Hosted Network, Colt, Crucial, iWeb, Datapipe, Databarracks
SolidFire Video

Archived SolidFire Reviews (more than two years old)

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RT
Technical Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Reseller
Good resiliency and performs very well without any bugs

Pros and Cons

  • "If you buy the solution for its specific purpose it will work well."
  • "They could make the mNode more user-friendly. Now you need to configure and add nodes by CLI and it’s not really easy to manage. If they created a web interface to do the management of the mNode, that would be great!."

What is our primary use case?

I work as a technical consultant and our company are resellers. We sell hyper-converged solutions to our customers. We use mainly NetApp HCI and SolidFire. We use a variety of versions depending on the customer's requirements. Our main use of the product is for ESX environments and Hyper-V environments. 

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of the product is its resiliency. 

What needs improvement?

The product does what it's meant to do and I don't think there's any need for improvement at the moment. The same applies to additional features, which would make the product quite expensive and I don't think it requires that. If you add features, you might lose the things that the product is best at. It makes the most sense to let it be what it is. If you buy the solution for its specific purpose it will work well. Once you add additional features like Essex, you diminish the system and that would be a shame. 

They could make the mNode more user-friendly. Now you need to configure and add nodes by CLI and it’s not really easy to manage. If they created a web interface to do the management of the mNode, that would be great!.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using NetApp SolidFire ( /products/solidfire-reviews ) for about a year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The product is stable and performs very well without any bugs. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I believe the scalability of the product is very good. 

How are customer service and technical support?

I've had a very good experience with technical support. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is very simple, anyone can do it. 

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

I can't comment on the price of the product because I only deal with it on a technical level. 

What other advice do I have?

I would rate it 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: Reseller.
PatrickStienhuber
IT Infrastructure Consultant at a manufacturing company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Consultant
Scalability provides good benefits, but too expensive to use company-wide

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature of this solution is its scalability."
  • "This solution would be improved if it were made to be more compatible with other products."

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of this solution is its scalability. That is the biggest benefit of using this solution. 

What needs improvement?

The entry-level for this solution is so high that we had to use other solutions for some of our smaller office locations that are in different parts of the world. As a consequence, because we could not use it across our entire organization, we have changed to something else. I would like to see the entry-level changed so that you can do really small systems with SolidFire.

This solution would be improved if it were made to be more compatible with other products.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This is a stable solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is the biggest benefit of using this solution.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support for this solution can be good and bad. If you have a really big issue then it's bad because it takes quite a long time for the issue to be solved.

There are different levels of service. You can have a technician who is able to do the troubleshooting and is allowed to set up the commands.

If you just have questions with no due date, or you just have to fix a small package, the support is good. You always get the answers you need. However, in critical situations, we have had problems. For example, in the last three years, we spend three or four hours on the phone with support where nobody could escalate our tickets. 

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

We have had to stop using this solution because the price was too high for global implementation. We are now using NetApp MetroCluster. We were happy with the functionality and switched only because of the price.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is straightforward.

I would say that you can deploy this solution in an hour if you know how to do it.

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

The price of this solution is more expensive than others.

What other advice do I have?

The suitability of this solution depends on the use case, so anybody who is researching this solution should take care to consider their use cases first.

I cannot think of any additional features this solution needs, but there is a long list of improvements.

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Learn what your peers think about SolidFire. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
554,873 professionals have used our research since 2012.
SL
CEO and founder at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
Consultant
You can have more tenants and more application with less space and less dollar per gigabyte

Pros and Cons

  • "The quality of service for minimum iOS, to maximum iOS in a multi-terminal environment is very powerful. The SQL service feature is the best part of SolidFire."
  • "I think there is room for improvement needed with its storage capability. A bigger node is needed."

How has it helped my organization?

With this solution, you can actually do more with less. You can have more tenants and more application with less space and less dollar per gigabyte. By increasing the utilization up to four or five times someone can get more with less.

In Asia, a lot of people are still using the Fibre Channel and Fibre Channel is actually the best part of NetApp SolidFire. By providing the journey, we enable the customer to actually experience the new technology but without the need to make a lasting investment. We have to transition to the next generation because whatever SolidFire is offering it's not common hyperconverged work. It is actually for the centrifugal outlook but, it is not about the Fibre Channel. It's no longer required, The transition to next-generation infrastructure is where the Fibre Channel switch is required.

What is most valuable?

The quality of service for minimum iOS to maximum iOS in a multi-terminal environment is very powerful. The SQL service feature is the best part of SolidFire.

What needs improvement?

They took away the centrifugal outlook and it is not included anymore which is unfortunate. Additionally, I think there is room for improvement needed with its storage capability. A bigger node is needed.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

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

The quality of service is unique. There's no one who does it like NetApp. Additionally, we can allow customers to do more with less while using this solution.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: I am a reseller.
ITCS user
Associate Director, IT at a pharma/biotech company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Some of the valuable features are compression, deduplication, and thin provisioning.

What is our primary use case?

Primarily this is used as the backend iscsi SAN for our oracle 12c RAC implementation.... 2 x 2-node clusters, plus 3 add'l servers (dev/qa/stg).  We also use now for some limited-use VMs (vmware), and have implemented the VVOL configuration that SF makes available.  We debated using this for non-prod data for Oracle or not, but two things swayed our opinion.  1) We would not incur a huge disk-space penalty for having dev/qa/stg there as the de-dupe functions would come into play, and 2) we can guarantee IOPS so we know that regardless of what we do in dev/qa, it won't incur a perfornance penalty for production volumes.

How has it helped my organization?

The compression and de-dupe have been great in terms of space-savings, especially for our prod/stg/qa/dev DB instances (where you gain add'l savings for the de-duped data);  the QOS for IOPS helps us to ensure that no non-prod action can be deleterious to our production-stack data

What is most valuable?

  • Expandability (incrementally and non-disruptive
  • Compression/Deduplication/thin provisioning
  • Recovery from failure/data-protection
  • Guaranteed IOPS per volume
  • Simple browser web-admin (with extensive out API interface)

What needs improvement?

The level of monitoring could be better. They give you access to stats and it is very informative. But you really need to do your own internal availability monitoring. Perhaps they just assume you are. And part of the thing, perhaps an adjustment on my part is needed, is that because something like a drive failure is handled internally and data-blocks are re-duplicated automatically, a failure somehow becomes less urgent. That is not second nature to me.

Having said that, 1) support reaches out if there is an issue, and 2) the on-line reporting is pretty good and only getting better. 

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There were no issues with stability.  We've had 1 failed drive so far, and gone through 2 firmware upgrades - including reboots of invidual nodes, one at a time - and everything continues to "just work".  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

There were no issues with scalability.  Far from it - see previous comments

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

Customer service was good. I haven't needed much so far. We prefer to be our own source of knowledge and reach out to clarify or confirm something.

Technical Support:

Technical support is good and helpful. While you can schedule the node S/W upgrades and have them take care of, I had them walk me through it, as we were in pre-production at the time. Knowing/understanding more about the process gave me a better feeling.

I don't like black boxes, so anything I can understand or wrap my head around things provides comfort. The nodes are ubuntu and they leverage ubuntu/debian update mechanisms. These methods are well-known and understood, so no re-inventing the wheel was necessary here.

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

We have some older EMC boxes that were not sufficient to the task. We wanted an AF (all-flash array).

How was the initial setup?

The setup was quite simple. Even though we had help, it would not have been required.  To date, we've added 2 add'l nodes with no outside assistance. 

What about the implementation team?

We implemented in-house, although SF sent a technical staff members out to us. He allowed us to pick their brain and ask questions, which was very helpful.

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

I believe the initial buy-in/purchase is more expensive, because you are starting out with 4 (minimum) nodes. It then becomes cheaper and easier to expand and grow.

For example, compared to the more traditional dual-controllers+shelf, expanding to a new shelf was a pretty big investment and you needed to fully populate it with drives).

That uses the same controllers, so you have added capacity but not performance. Whereas, adding another node is a relatively simple operation. You don't even have to add all the drives right away. Licensing is via your support contract.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did an extensive evaluation of several products and vendors, looking at SF, Kaminario, Nimble, Pure Storage, EMC, and HPE.

Price was a factor, but it was not the only factor. We are not a huge shop, but are growing, so we wanted something that had a solid architecture for now and for later.

We wanted it to be as bulletproof as possible, and yet be able to change/grow with us. The more standard, dual-controller-with-1-shelf can survive with a controller failure, or 1+ drive failures, but what about a shelf failure? While this is unlikely, it is still a possibility.

With SF, a few minutes after a drive failure, the data (blocks) that were located on that drive are re-duplicated elsewhere. In a very short time (a few minutes), you are fully-protected again. And as long as you have sufficient spare capacity - you can lose an entire node with no data-loss and reportedly only a small performance hit (even software upgrades are non-disruptive, as they are done 1 node at a time).

That entire node's data is re-duplicated elsewhere on the remaining nodes. If you don't have a node's worth of spare capacity, that becomes more problematic, of course.

What this also means is, as you add nodes, for increases in both capacity and performance, a.k.a. the scale-out model, you also get faster recovery times in case an entire node fails.

Adding nodes is a simple as:

  1. Adding a node to the cluster
  2. Adding the drives.

Data is re-balanced across the new nodes automatically. Removing/Decommissioning a node is just as easy:

  1. Remove the drives from the cluster
  2. Allow data to be re-located
  3. Remove the node from the cluster

There is another unique option. Let's say I grow to 10 nodes, but the LOB application changes, and the role is no longer the same. I can break that into 2 x 5-node arrays and redeploy in different roles.

_______

update: since doing the initial review, we have added two additional nodes.  Very easy to do, the data re-balancing (distribution) is done automatically.

What other advice do I have?

I'm not sure why SF isn't more popular in the SMB space. To my mind, it offers a unique combination that isn't easily matched in the marketplace. Kaminario seems to be the closest. I haven't had it long enough to truly "know" the product, but will happily revisit this in 6-12 months.

-----------------

Since the intial rollout, we have implemented VVOLs on SF with our VMware 6 setup.  Once setup - the initial configuration and communication, plus the SPBM policies - it is quite easy to use, and allows the vmware admin to do it all without having to touch the SF webadmin URL - even setting IOPS per volumes is done there.  Very nice. 

------------------

Lastly... scaling up, either for perf. or capacity (more likely), is so much of a non-issue that it is hard to over-state:

- predictable cost: you are adding a node, you know how much they cost.  No "threshold" where you have to add add'l controllers, or a new shelf, nothing like that

- no (minimal) impact to add to a running system.  They _say_ that when data is re-balanced (across the new node(s)), you have a percentage perf. hit, but we have not noticed this (and we've added 2 add'l nodes so far).  

- in fact, adding OR removing nodes requires no downtime, literally a 'non-event'

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user527361
Senior Manager Of Infrastructure Services at a legal firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
We have a much smaller footprint in our datacenter, reduced overall operating expenses

Pros and Cons

  • "Overall performance of the solution."

    How has it helped my organization?

    Just moving away from traditional spinning disc to solid state storage is a step forward, and user applications obviously are performing much faster. We have a much smaller footprint within our datacenter, so we've able to reduce overall operating expenses within our datacenter; shrinking costs for our business. It's been a fantastic improvement all round.

    What is most valuable?

    • The resiliency of the platform
    • No down-time with the product itself
    • Overall performance of the solution
    • The dedupe

    All of the feature set has been fantastic.

    What needs improvement?

    Really, everything our business needs, the solution currently has. Some of the other things that we are really looking forward to are some of the CloudConnect abilities. 

    We only have one array today, so we want to add an additional arrays in a different datacenter so then we can actually do some of the Snapshot mirroring. That capability is already there, we just don't have an additional solution for it. Right now, for us, there is not much else that we really need. 

    I do like their automation, some of the things that they've actually built in with their PowerShell. A lot of that stuff will help us automate our day to day operations. They've been on track with everything that we're looking for and it's just a great solution.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    We've run it for a year and a half, we've done multiple code upgrades, there's been zero impact to the business when we do a code upgrade. During our testing we actually demoed unplugging an entire node from the solution just to see if there was any impact to the business, there was none. In a year and a half there has been zero down-time and it's been really a solid product.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    Scaleout, the ability to just add additional nodes without needing storage vMotion, moving anything on the virtual side around, has been really great to see. We actually just recently went through and added an additional node, we did that seamlessly; no impact to the business, no impact to our users. Our application set just continued to run. All of the LUNS just expand once the new node is added, you really can't ask for anything better.

    How is customer service and technical support?

    Honestly they have probably one of the best technical support staff we've worked with. One of the things that we did do during our PoC, is we actually made support calls at two in the afternoon, asked specific questions. We actually opened up support calls at 2am, just to see if we would actually get the same response which is exactly what we saw. It was good to see.

    How was the initial setup?

    Simple, easy, adding an additional node is easy, just a couple of cables, there's no complexity at all with the solution.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We looked at Texas Memory, we looked at Violin Memory, we looked at XtremIO. All those solutions just didn't compare with what we could do with SolidFire in terms of performance, support, product stability. SolidFire definitely just blew the competition away.

    What other advice do I have?

    I would definitely say have a look at SolidFire, just because of the scalability, the ability to add additional nodes, the resiliency of the product. There are definitely other solutions that may come in and say they can do everything that SolidFire does, but in our testing we were unable to find a solution that mirrored what SolidFire could do. I think it just makes a lot of sense to just continue down that path with Solid Fire.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    it_user750771
    Senior Storage Administrator at Ensono
    MSP
    Scalability, being able to increase and decrease quickly, enables us to serve our customers faster

    Pros and Cons

    • "The scalability and being able to implement it quickly."
    • "It's a very good Windows-type solution. But we do a lot of legacy systems and the like. So it's getting that incorporated into it that would help us."

    What is most valuable?

    The scalability and being able to implement it quickly.

    Because we're a service provider, we have customers that need to grow and need their data increased quickly, so it helps us with that. We're also incorporating SolidFire into being our cloud-providing mechanism, so it allows customers to get in and out of our cloud, as well as move into the main cloud.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Because of the scalability and being able to add and decrease quickly, it allows us to service our customers at a quick rate, versus how they normally would have done it.

    What needs improvement?

    I would like to see more of the fiber channel connect, legacy-type, Linux-type front-ends to it. That would really help in our environment.

    It's a very good Windows-type solution. But we do a lot of legacy systems and the like. So it's getting that incorporated into it that would help us.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    So far we haven't had any problems with it. I think it's a very good product so far.

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

    NetApp overall has been very good at helping us incorporate things quickly. The SolidFire was a quick, scalable solution. You can add nodes as quick as you need them. 

    Where we were before that was bringing in and setting up whole arrays and then trying to get the pieces we need. The scalability with that is a lot tougher because you're not scaling the nodes, you're scaling strictly storage, unless you bring in another whole set of clustered environment, which takes time. 

    How was the initial setup?

    We actually had a partner come in and set it all up for us and get us started with it. We didn't have to do it ourselves.

    It was quick. It's not very complex. It went in very quickly. Basically added it to the network and it was ready to go.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We've got quite a few different vendors on our floor today. Just about any vendor, you name them, is on our floor. For the applications, and what we were trying to move towards, the SolidFire seemed to fit every niche we were looking at, for the part we brought it in for. It was a very good product.

    I don't think we looked at much in the hybrid. SolidFire met all the criteria of what we were looking for, for that part of our infrastructure. 

    What other advice do I have?

    We purchased SolidFire, in some aspects, for customer facing application. We have started to bring SolidFire into our house to use for our own applications, versus just using it for our customers.

    The most important criteria when selecting a vendor to work with are, I would say, performance, ease of of using, how to incorporate it in to our datacenter. And that's one of the things with ONTAP - that it's able to be used on SolidFire -  we know ONTAP. It made it a lot easier than to have to bring in a different application, learn something new. So that also helped in our decision, it was the ease of bringing it in.

    I didn't give it a 10 out of 10 because, like I said, the things that we need it for, that we're still missing - some of the Linux and the Unix-type connections - that would really help it. 

    Given the ease, for the value of the product, it's a great thing to bring in and start going to the cloud with.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    JM
    Senior Storage Engineer at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
    Real User
    We don't need to set SLOs for applications, everything is tier-one; but needs better multi-tenancy segregation

    Pros and Cons

    • "Individual settings you can put on each individual volume, if you want to do that."
    • "A little better segregation of the multi-tenancy. Right now, it's just VLAN-specific, that's all you can do."

    What is most valuable?

    • Ease of use
    • Performance guarantees that you can set
    • Individual settings you can put on each individual volume, if you want to do that
    • Ability to scale up, scale down whenever you want
    • Scale-out ability, and the ease of adding a cluster - When you get a new node, if you farm out the datacenter tasks like we do, there is no technical ability required for them to plug it in and connect it and we can just add it.
    • Open RESTful APIs are great

    How has it helped my organization?

    It's provided us the ability to not be concerned with setting SLOs for whatever application we're using. Everything is pretty much tier-one.

    Our primary use case is virtualization, right now. We initially purchased it to be incorporated into our own internal cloud, OpenStack-based, KVM-based, so we use it for that. And, we've also branched into standard VMware as well. So we have both.

    Based on those use cases we get really good efficiencies. We do a lot of encryption. We initially didn't have any because we were using it for anything, any LUNS, Oracle, whatever, and we didn't get the efficiency. So we positioned the use case over to virtualization and we're getting good efficiencies that way; to make it more cost effective. That's one of disadvantages, the actual cost. We haven't gotten there yet, but...

    What needs improvement?

    A little better segregation of the multi-tenancy. Right now, it's just VLAN-specific, that's all you can do. There's no authentication domain separations, things like that. For example, the NetApp product has storage virtual machines, which has a lot better segregation, and a lot better multi-tenancy, a lot better role-based access. That's probably the biggest thing that I would say, so we could actually use it for different tenants.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    We've had some issues with hardware failures, and for them to resolve that it's actually meant replacing nodes. Otherwise, the stability is pretty good, all we've had is hardware failures. And they're built for a smaller scale, so before they were purchased by NetApp it was just, "replace the node, it's easier to replace." Any other field-replaceable unit, anything that breaks is, "replace the node," except the power supply or the disk.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We're impressed with its scalability.

    How is customer service and technical support?

    For the most part, it's been pretty good. We've had to use it a lot for what I explained earlier, the hardware failures. This was mostly before it was integrated into NetApp support. We haven't really used them recently, so I don't know how the assimilation into NetApp support has taken effect.

    What other advice do I have?

    We purchased SolidFire for customer facing applications, they're all internal, house-developed applications that we sell to customers, to financial services.

    When selecting a vendor to work with what's important to me are

    • support
    • viability - are they going to be around?

    Support is the big one. Is it just reactionary support, or proactive support? You need both of those.

    I gave it a seven out of 10 based on what I've already explained. In the past, they seemed like more like a small company - and they were. But what I explained before, the hardware replacement, just replace a node. That's a small company.

    Make sure that you have the performance requirement for it, because its price per gigabyte is a lot more than other solutions out there, if you don't need the performance requirements. You can get by on all-flash unless you have the need to guarantee performance on specific volumes.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    it_user750636
    Enterprise Architect at Ciena
    Vendor
    Horizontal scalability enables us to add a node, compute, and storage, and results in cost savings and better efficiencies

    Pros and Cons

    • "We can add a node, we add compute, we add storage, and we've had really good luck with that."
    • "We had some false positives, power supplies failing, and that's really been about it. We had a couple of glitches during some upgrade processes but nothing that was really concerning to us."

    What is most valuable?

    For us it's the horizontal scalability. We traditionally run our private clouds for our R&D engineering on AFF, which worked quite well. But we ran into IOP-driven scalability. So instead of adding more clusters and more HA pairs with all-flash disks in an AFF scenario, we were able to just scale with SolidFire. That is so much better because we can add a node, we add compute, we add storage, and we've had really good luck with that.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Our use case is all private cloud right now, running OpenStack. All internal, for our internal R&D and engineering.

    For us, moving into a private cloud area was a big step for R&D. So while we are just in our infancy right now, it has made a big difference in storage efficiency. Traditional workloads that we ran on AFF, we saw better deduplication ratios, and efficiency ratios on SolidFire than AFF for our workloads. It's a very IOP-driven environment, very IOP intensive, and the SolidFire handles that quite well using the QoS for IOP.

    What needs improvement?

    We're really in our infancy right now for what we use it for. We haven't really gotten into a lot of the advanced features and functionality of SolidFire because we get so many things out of the OpenStack overlay. For now it's doing what we wanted it to do.

    Anything we've had, were covered by Hotfix. We had some false positives, power supplies failing, and that's really been about it. We had a couple of glitches during some upgrade processes but nothing that was really concerning to us.

    Everything has been resolved.

    It happens with any product. It wasn't anything that stood out for us, to be a red light.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's been really good. We've had no issues, we've had non-disruptive upgrades, non-disruptive hotfixes, which is really great for the customer - the R&D customer. They don't like any disruption. Disruption is money to them. So we have been really satisfied.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    Great. For us, budget wise, just being able to say we know this workload is coming down the pipes for new design, a new ASIC chip, anything like that. We can predict what the cost is going to be versus having to buy disk at another solution. It's great for us.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Any small, minor issues that we've had have been resolved by support really quickly and support has been extremely good with SolidFire.

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

    We had initially purchased AFF for this solution and, while it met our needs, we thought that SolidFire might be a better fit based on how we wanted to configure OpenStack and what our workload was; and again, for the scalability in terms of IOPs and how we have to grow that for AFF versus SolidFire.

    Purely the scalability, being able to add a node, add compute, add storage, and being able to restrict IOPs for specific applications and workflows is a really a huge benefit for us.

    How was the initial setup?

    I was involved. We did a proof of concept, set it all up and then we ended up adding on to that. We turned our PoC into production and then we added more nodes, and more nodes. We've gone from a five-node initial proof of concept to, now, a 15-node cluster.

    The initial setup was easy. Very simple. We were up and running in less than an hour I think, which was really easy; after it was racked and stacked, etc. Very, very easy to get going.

    What was our ROI?

    I can't really speak about SolidFire's impact on operational cost compared to other storage platforms because all our other storage platforms are NetApp. The scalability for us, it is a cost-savings, so if we hit a certain number of IOPs within an AFF system we have to add another pair of controllers and we have to add more disk. There are also bottlenecks for AFF, for how many SSD shelves you can run for those specific clusters, whereas with the SolidFire side we are just able to add nodes on and get what we need. They're both great solutions that fit the use case a lot better.

    I'm not sure it's uniquely valuable to an enterprise-type company like us but I think it's unique in how it operates. That whole "add a node, add compute, add storage" has been done before but I think they really do it right with their all-flash technologies. Some of the other vendors don't do it with all-flash and run into bottlenecks for IOP and the like. I think SolidFire has really done a great job with that. They have done a really good job with storage efficiencies versus a lot of other vendors. A lot of the other vendors are add-ons for things like deduplication or compression/compaction. So I think SolidFire has done a great job with that.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    It's all been NetApp products. There's been AFF FAS and then we just thought we would look at SolidFire because we've had such great luck with AFF and FAS for many, many years. We've been a long standing NetApp customer and it just looked like a good solution for us to try, do the proof of concept, and it worked out well for us.

    We did not consider hybrid storage for this specific use case, but we do have hybrid storage from that NetApp in other parts of our infrastructure. We are also adding some other tiers of storage into this cloud solution, potentially storage grid and potentially some other FAS-type thing for protocol-based access.

    What other advice do I have?

    The most important criterion when selecting a vendor to work with, for me personally, is partnership. I think it's also important that the vendor has vision. I think it's important that they are willing to collaborate with customers and not just throw solutions at them. I think they should really want to understand your workflows, how they can benefit you and how they can make your life easier in terms of automation or efficiencies or performance. I want to find that they actually really care about what you are doing, as opposed to just throwing a solution out there.

    Do your due diligence. Do proofs of concept. Make sure that you try to break it with what you are trying to do, and make sure you engage the vendor. Tell them exactly and share exactly what you trying to do and let them help you build the correct solution. Especially with NetApp, they have such a huge portfolio. You might be thinking traditionally you have experience in AFF or FAS but SolidFire might be a good fit, or E-Series might be a good fit, or cloud ONTAP might be a good fit. So it's important to engage the vendor and find out what the best solution is for your use case.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    it_user750849
    San Administrator at a healthcare company with 1,001-5,000 employees
    Vendor
    Helps us deliver service levels to our users through automation, makes provisioning much easier

    Pros and Cons

    • "If we get complaints about any kind of performance metric issues, whether it's storage related or something on the virtual side, we use it to pinpoint what the actual issue is."
    • "For example, the ease of use with the reporting. Right now it's not impossible, but you have to know Sequel. It's a little time consuming to get those customized reports in there."

    What is most valuable?

    Getting predictability in our analytics for space trending, performance analytics. We use to correlate data with other tools that we have. If we get complaints about any kind of performance metric issues, whether it's storage related or something on the virtual side, we use it to pinpoint what the actual issue is. It has proved really useful for that.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Part of the reason we went this route was we did that storage design workshop with NetApp. So we went for QoS-driven design for our new array. It really helped us not only in delivering the service levels to our users, but also automating that. So it makes it a lot easier for provisioning. It also makes it a lot easier to guarantee performance for our end users.

    What needs improvement?

    Nothing I can think of that they don't know about right now. They're looking at making some of the custom widgets and reports a lot easier to deal with. They're heading down that direction already, so I don't think that's a big deal.

    For example, the ease of use with the reporting. Right now it's not impossible, but you have to know Sequel. It's a little time consuming to get those customized reports in there.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    About seven months now.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's great. At first there's a little bit of a learning curve, but once we got past that everything is rock solid.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    So far it's been great. We've have not had any issues. We've added some more data into it, it hasn't choked on it.

    How is customer service and technical support?

    We've used them twice. They were great.

    How was the initial setup?

    It was really easy. We had Professional Services delivery with it. We worked with the NetApp CI team to implement. That's about as straightforward as you can get.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    it_user750804
    Lead Engineer at a retailer with 10,001+ employees
    Vendor
    Has great APIs right out-of-the-box, but it is not fitting our pattern to go to NAS

    Pros and Cons

    • "SolidFire is one of the products that does have great APIs right out-of-the-box. It works great. The tools and the other stuff seem to work a little better right out-of-the-box than the ONTAP stuff does, C-Mode."
    • "They could do a file-based NAS: SolidFire NAS-based. It's probably not its niche, but that is our direction, not to use block, and it's block. Solid state block is what it is."

    What is most valuable?

    It is fast. By default, its APIs expose pretty much all of its configuration items. On the ONTAP systems, we use WFA to expose the APIs, where with SolidFire, everything is pretty much out-of-the-box, so the customers like it. The main uses are virtual machine environment. This is internal, on a private cloud. In India on most of their workstations are on virtual machines, and those all are hosted on SolidFire.

    SolidFire is one of the products that does have great APIs right out-of-the-box. It works great. The tools and the other stuff seem to work a little better right out-of-the-box than the ONTAP stuff does, C-Mode.

    How has it helped my organization?

    It's doing SAN, so that would be the major difference. We use NFS file storage much more than we use block storage. SolidFire is our only block storage offering right now. Honestly, we're kind of phasing block storage out, but it's filling that gap for applications that claim they need block storage and can't use file-based. That's kind of its role.

    It is just filling the gap of the block client, because maybe 10% of our clients have to use block storage and have a good technical reason. The other 90% we've gotten on a NAS.

    What needs improvement?

    They could do a file-based NAS: SolidFire NAS-based. It's probably not its niche, but that is our direction, not to use block, and it's block. Solid state block is what it is.

    If it was the same price as C-Mode and did file-based storage, because this is what our company is heading towards.

    What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

    It is pretty low-maintenance for upgrades and support issues. We haven't messed with it much. We have set it up, and we have the capacity so we haven't added a lot to it either. I have not had any issues with it.

    Setting up new clusters is pretty straightforward. ONTAP is great, and it is really easy to use and setup.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It is very stable. I forget we have it sometimes, because once we have it configured, it just up and runs. Plug and play, the GUI works and the APIs, customers can use them. Everything is kind of there, therefore, it is very low-maintenance.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We have not scaled it a lot, because there are some niche environments running including the virtual workstations. So, I don't know how well it scales.

    How is customer service and technical support?

    Customer Service:

    It is fine.

    Technical Support:

    That is a problem we have. When we call tech support, we have to open a tunnel to the SolidFire device, then tech support can get in and look at it. The tunnel keeps closing on them. So we'll open the tunnel, 10 minutes later I'll get a phone call. "Hey, the tunnel closed. Can you open it?"

    The only way to keep the tunnel, and I think it might be an issue with our proxy on our end, but something is closing the support tunnel. I don't know if it is a NetApp issue. We haven't been able to fix it on our end, so I don't know if they can give me any feedback on it, but it is a chronic issue. We have to babysit that tunnel, and I don't know why.

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

    We would probably use SolidFire more, except we're getting more bang for our buck with our purchases of ONTAP right now, and the deal we made with NetApp, so it's more of just a cost decision. Because we're going NAS, it doesn't really fit the pattern of where we're going, because everything is being presented via NFS, so it's just block storage. That would be the reason the footprint is not growing.

    However, as long as the price is right, it is a no-brainer on block.

    What other advice do I have?

    If they are using block storage, then it is very user-friendly. It's easy to use out-of-the-box. I was not a storage admin when I came to this team. I was a server guy, so it was all new to me, and SolidFire was the easiest thing for me to pick up. We had old 7-Mode systems. We had C-Mode. We had Isilon systems on EMC, and SolidFire was in a day, you knew how to do everything. It is just a real easy setup.

    We don't have a reason to not use solid states. I don't know why we'd use anything else at this point other than solid state.

    Most important criteria when selecting a vendor:

    For a storage vendor, it is price and stability are probably the main thing. We like vendor support, but we have a huge internal IT shop with a lot of engineers, so we don't need that much support and hand-holding. It's really the following:

    • Management
    • A cost decision, who gives us the best deal.
    • Stability.

    If there's stability, and we haven't had stability issues with NetApp, they are a better deal than EMC, so that's why we've been using them. We were an EMC shop until three or four years ago.

    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.
    NT
    Principle Engineer at a tech vendor with 5,001-10,000 employees
    Real User
    Enables us to accommodate extreme needs, like burst IOPS, and to solve the "noisy neighbor" problem

    Pros and Cons

    • "Being able to provide quality of service as promised."
    • "I would like to see integration with the cloud, number one. Being able to spin SolidFire in the cloud."

    What is most valuable?

    • Being able to provide multi-tenant applications
    • Being able to provide quality of service as promised
    • Being able to accommodate extreme needs, like burst IOPS
    • Finally, being able to solve the "noisy neighbor" problem

    How has it helped my organization?

    We were able to migrate some applications from spinning media to SolidFire, and we were having "noisy neighbor" problems before.

    What needs improvement?

    I would like to see integration with the cloud, number one. Being able to spin SolidFire in the cloud. The hybrid cloud vision means that you should be able to run your application anywhere, on-prem or off-prem, so any product should meet that.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's quite stable. We had some issues. Luckily, we had a "phone home" thing. But it's pretty stable. I think it was a disk failure early on, and it was catching the disk failure a little late. But then they had this upgrade and they fixed it. It was a one-time thing.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The product is horizontally scalable, which is very good, which is what you need these days.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    They're very knowledgeable. They provided us good documentation.

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

    Our biggest challenge was QoS - not getting guaranteed IOPS at the volume level.

    How was the initial setup?

    It was straightforward, because we were given a VM, and that was doing the installation, so it was straightforward.

    What other advice do I have?

    Our use case is to provide quality of service and guaranteed IOPS.

    Replication is okay, meaning they do two copies, they are routing two copies. We're not going more than that, because of the cost. I'm satisfied.

    The first and foremost criteria when selecting a vendor is that the vendor should have a unique niche. Number two, they should know what they're doing, meaning technical support. Whether it comes to technical support or e-sales. If they're not able to answer my questions on time, then it's a problem. The third is being able to integrate with my existing environment.

    To a colleague researching a similar solution, I would say look for a stable company and look for a company that has good backing. Look for a good price versus performance ratio.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    it_user750735
    Software Engineer at Target
    Vendor
    Brings scalability and performance and the API is not complicated; coding is quick

    Pros and Cons

    • "Templates are already predefined for it. If you're coding it up, it will take two days. You can pick up a template right there from the API, and it just works for you. Implementation done in 10 minutes."
    • "So feature-wise, I would say more reporting tools that could be merged into it."

    What is most valuable?

    If I go ahead and put it up with the OpenStack, the OpenStack stuff goes so smoothly with SolidFire, increasing the capabilities of the VMs to bring them up. I think it's just fantastic.

    Also, the scalability, as well as the performance, and then the way it goes with the API part of it. That is the amazing part. The API, it's not that complicated. You can choose an item, you can go ahead with PowerShell, anything; it's not that complicated to go ahead. Templates are already predefined for it. If you're coding it up, it will take two days. You can pick up a template right there from the API, and it just works for you. Implementation done in 10 minutes.

    How has it helped my organization?

    It will save a lot of implementation time, complexities; and then you don't have to go ahead with networking the OS separately. It's all one in the same place.

    What needs improvement?

    I think there are some reporting tools like Grafana.

    Kubernetes is already there, and VMware is already sorted out. I just came out of that particular session right here at NetApp Insight 2017 and that was amazing.

    So feature-wise, I would say more reporting tools that could be merged into it. I'm not sure if you've heard something called Data Protection Adviser, it's a reporting tool. The way you are monitoring your environment, I think it's important.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    I don't see any disk failures or support cases being logged. I would say, to be precise on the percentage, it's 15% better than what other people provide.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    Scalability, I've done a couple of times during the year and it's amazing. Petabytes, whatever you're bringing up, it's all good.

    How is customer service and technical support?

    I haven't used it directly, but I know how many cases have been raised, and it's quite on the low side.

    How was the initial setup?

    It was 85% straightforward. The other 15%, you need to understand certain aspects, you need to understand your environment. It's alright that you're bringing up NetApp, and then SolidFire, but then how exactly are you going to configure it in your setup? That's going to take a little bit of time. Otherwise, once it is there, it's all good.

    What was our ROI?

    I think one of the reasons we chose SolidFire is because it is definitely giving us good results on the costing part of it. It definitely has an impact on it. To be straightforward, it works for that.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    There were a couple of them: Hitachi, EMC. But I'm pretty much into NetApp's side of it.

    What other advice do I have?

    If you're bring up cloud in-house and you're still not aware of OpenStack Kubernetes, that's the way ahead. If you are putting up NetApp in the background, I think you're all sorted out. Your cloud is all prepared, so all done.

    The way I see it, there's the scalability and the complexity part of it. And then errors are huge, and when I say huge I mean they are costly. So the way I compare it with other products, maybe the other vendors, the cost is a major factor.

    And with that, there is complexity, work in silos, so right now it is coming to OpenStack and then beneath you have NetApp SolidFire, it's all simple. No more complexities.

    Most important criteria when selecting a vendor:

    • Implementation, it should be quite simple to understand.
    • It should be customizable; it should not be that the vendor is saying, "No, this is something that we are providing, it cannot be customized for your environment." That doesn't work for me. It should be as customizable as possible
    • Costing of course
    • The support that comes with that

    We are an enterprise level company. SolidFire is definitely uniquely valuable to a company of our size, because the way the market is going ahead, on the cloud. Large companies have got their old stuff kept in old datacenters wherein you have huge, costly storage boxes of course, and you want to bring that up. So SolidFire is something that is giving you a migration platform. I mean, it's a steady platform for you, the way you prefer it.

    I would say go ahead with this and then if they are good with the API part of it, configuration specifically with Python or OpenStack, just go for it.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    it_user750786
    System Admin at Niaid
    Real User
    Facilitates ease of administration and provides greater IOPS and speed

    Pros and Cons

    • "Greater IOPS, speed, it's all-flash. So seeing that everything is going to all-flash, all SSDs, SolidFire fits right in there with the emerging trend in IT."
    • "We have a large fiber channel infrastructure, and that's one area that we haven't seen implemented in SolidFire, its more iSCSI."

    What is most valuable?

    What I like about SolidFire is the ease of administration. It's a slight deviation from what we are used to before the ONTAP interface. SolidFire comes with its own interface and APIs, and that makes it much more intuitive and a little simpler to use when we're creating volumes, and managing it.

    It's very automated. One of the presentations we saw this morning here at NetApp Insight explained that if a workload is more demanding, it accommodates increasing workload, without us, as admins, having to go in and do the manual administration. So it seems to be intuitive as to what's taking place within the system and the workloads.

    Greater IOPS, speed, it's all-flash. So seeing that everything is going to all-flash, all SSDs, SolidFire fits right in there with the emerging trend in IT.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Less complaints from the database administrators as to why an application is so slow; we always get blamed, everything goes back onto storage. SolidFire takes that away from the equation. Now we have a fast system, so the admins have to go back and see where the bottleneck is.

    What needs improvement?

    I'd like to see a fiber channel being implemented in it. We have a large fiber channel infrastructure, and that's one area that we haven't seen implemented in SolidFire, its more iSCSI.

    It's not a deal breaker, its just something that we would like to see. And I believe they mentioned it will be implemented soon, so we're just waiting for that part to be added into it.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    We are still doing testing, but so far from what we've seen, it seems to be a very rock solid system. But like I said, we still doing testing as to how good and how fast it is.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We haven't done much scalability testing yet. We've only had it for a couple months, so we are still preparing our tests, a range of tests, to see how scalable and how suitable it is for our environment.

    So far I like what I see. I like how it's able to self-heal for advanced workloads, the ease of management, and all SSD. It's a great trend we're heading towards.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    I have not used technical support. We looked at the documentation. We had minimal input from our accountant team. We're a very experienced NetApp shop. So we more or less know how to manage storage systems. And again, SolidFire, it's very intuitive as to how you go about using it.

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

    We had a large implementation of spinning disks, hard drives, and they would fail often. We went to all-flash for our ONTAP systems and SolidFire began all SSDs which ensured that we would have fewer broken disks. We'll have longer up-time, running.

    How was the initial setup?

    I was involved in the hands-on setup of it. We racked it, we provisioned the IP addresses and we did the administration part of it.

    It's a little bit different from the ONTAP systems. This is more of a Linux-type setup. But it was intuitive, it wasn't that difficult.

    What was our ROI?

    I cannot speak for the cost. The cost is actually on a higher level than I am at. I'm actually the administrator, so I look at what and how the product works. The cost is for my manager. He takes care of the costs.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We looked at EMC, we looked at Pure Storage, and we also looked at DDN. And for what we needed to do, none of those vendors fit the bIll. None of those had been there to give us what we needed.

    We also considered hybrid storage. But SolidFire is a specialized product. For hybrid we can use a fast product line. But SolidFire, it's designed, as far as we see, for a specific use case and that's why we are targeting it for our workload.

    What other advice do I have?

    For SolidFire, we're looking into better IOPS for database workloads and for other VM use cases. We purchased it for customer-facing applications, mostly for database administration-type work.

    We are an enterprise level company, but we are federal. SolidFire is uniquely valuable for a company our size because our company scales, we're supporting thousands of users. And with SolidFire, we can handle the workload.

    For us the most important criteria when selecting a vendor are reputation, reliability, support. All these things we have gotten from NetApp.

    NetApp has been out for a long time, they know the storage business. And they've been very responsive to our needs when there are issues. Our contact team, they're right there to support us and make anything that we need right.

    Look at the reputation of a company, the innovation, how they are able to support their customer needs. And seeing that many of the companies are doing pretty much the same thing, which one stands out in the reviews. That's very important.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    it_user465198
    Storage Architect at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
    Consultant
    Simple to scale up, scale down; we don't have to spend so many front end cycles on designing the architecture

    Pros and Cons

    • "We can just buy them, scale them as we need on demand, and we don't have to spend so many front end cycles on designing the architecture."
    • "When you set up the nodes, we have to serial into each one of these nodes to configure the IP ranges. It's still very easy, but it's time consuming."

    What is most valuable?

    Simplicity is definitely up there. It's not my number one. Number one is scalability. Simple to scale, scale up, scale down. When you look at something like a VMAX, there's a ton of pre-planning that has to happen to buy them. And then, if you didn't plan well, you're going to have a messed up implementation. With the SolidFires, I don't have to think about those things. We can just buy them, scale them as we need on demand, and we don't have to spend so many front end cycles on designing the architecture.

    Also, green initiatives. Power, cooling, datacenter footprint. Ultimately, it's about cost, on that front. I think we can tie that one to some capex and opex. The front-end, I was just really talking about soft savings. We have a large company. We have an aging workforce and we can't just keep acquiring highly skilled employees as people retire.

    How has it helped my organization?

    It's the overall simplicity of the platform in that you can learn to operate one of these in half a day. You can stand them up in half a day. Whatever you need to purchase, it has a simple bill of materials. It's great.

    Also, agility, absolutely. It takes a typical IT company months, and especially large companies like ours, months and months and months, to acquire gear. We spend a long time to plan, design, and then eventually get our quotes, review these bills of materials, make sure we get everything that we need correct, and it's just a complicated process. It takes time.

    What needs improvement?

    When you set up the nodes, we have to serial into each one of these nodes to configure the IP ranges. It's still very easy, but it's time consuming. If I have a 40-node cluster, it just irritates me. I really wish that they would use IPv6 Autoconfiguration to discover the other nodes and let me just do it by configuring one node.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    I don't have a good answer. When we try to make these changes from VMAX, SolidFire, people say, "Well what's the risk-reward?" The risk is you either stay on a legacy architecture that's not going to be growing or developing. Like our VMAXs. Or you make a change. You go with the future. Go with something that you know is going to continue to develop and evolve. I think that's the key.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    I do wish we could get a little more scalability on it. I feel confident we could scale one to the size of a fully blown out VMAX. But it'd be great if I could scale out to the size of two or three blown out VMAXs, like we would have in our enterprise datacenters.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    I called technical support once, early on. So I don't know how that's changed with NetApp acquisition.

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

    We're replacing VMAX. All-purpose, general compute, block storage for the enterprise.

    The biggest challenge is for block storage. What we're talking about here is, really, support. They're spinning magnetic drive disks. Sometimes we deal with some performance issues and if we didn't do a lot - if we did not have all the right information to get requirements from our customers so that we can architect the appropriate size solution - then it'd blow up on our face.

    With a SolidFire I think that problem goes away. I just ask, "How much capacity do you need?" And I'm good.

    How was the initial setup?

    Cake. Easy. Too easy.

    What was our ROI?

    We expect that it'll take some time but we expect that it would reduce our operational cost, absolutely.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    EMC.

    We considered hybrid storage but they were eliminated because they're a legacy architecture, for most of them; with bolt-ons. And the other ones were dual control or architectures; we are not about scale up anymore. We want scale out.

    What other advice do I have?

    When it comes to selecting a vendor, first, we don't deal with small vendors typically. We don't generally want to buy something that's VC-backed. We probably would not have considered SolidFire pre NetApp acquisition. But after it was acquired by NetApp, then we said, "Okay look, this company's not going go away overnight." So that's one criterion, that's a big one.

    And the second is, am I going to get a commitment in the level of support that I get. When I buy this, are we going to be working together like we're partners, that we're in the same boat together?

    We're an enterprise level company and I think SolidFire is uniquely valuable to a company our size. Because the price to get in there, that initial footprint, it's somewhat high. I think for the small business, I think Pure is killing it over there. I talked to them, I think Pure has got a great product, an all-flash product. But its dual controller and they're not going to play in a space where we're going to have hundreds and hundreds of connected hosts, and I need all those front-end ports. It's just not going to work. That's why, while Pure was interesting, they washed out for us pretty early. They would work great, I think, for our small robos, our small sites.

    If a colleague at another company was researching a similar product I'd say make sure whatever you're looking at, you're not buying a legacy architecture with bolt-on flash drive. That's what we're trying to get away from, the pitfalls, because they're always tied to poor architecture decisions; things like cache-slot ratios to disk. We end up seeing that they have other problems. We definitely look at something that's designed ground up with flash in mind. And secondly, a company that's definitely going to be around.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    it_user750603
    Senior It Systems Engineer at Billion Automative
    Vendor
    Gives us performance, ease of use; we can recompose 350 desktops in a fraction of the time it used to take

    Pros and Cons

    • "The simplicity of it."
    • "We are looking for, potentially, on the Active IQ reporting side, to do reporting based on the datastore. Right now, I can report on the whole SolidFire, or I can report on just a certain datastore or a volume. I'd like to take all of my VDI infrastructure, which as an example would be multiple datastores."

    How has it helped my organization?

    We previously had another storage vendor, and we would recompose desktops of 350 VDI desktops or virtual desktops, and it would take us 10 to 12 hours. We then implemented the SolidFire on that same subset of users, the 350 desktops, and we could do it in an hour and a half. It's almost a ten-times savings as far as time for recomposing in our environment or infrastructure.

    What is most valuable?

    • The simplicity of it
    • Ease of use
    • The flash array
    • Performance
    • Reporting

    What needs improvement?

    We are looking for, potentially, on the Active IQ reporting side, to do reporting based on the datastore. Right now, I can report on the whole SolidFire, or I can report on just a certain datastore or a volume. I'd like to take all of my VDI infrastructure, which as an example would be multiple datastores, which I would select, and then do reporting on that for dedup, compression, IOPS - all the different metrics that we currently measure in the SolidFire. It'd be nice to be able to selectively pick what you want to monitor, as far as reporting.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    Very good. With the exception of a couple drives that reported bad, we've had zero issues from that thing in two and a half years.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    Scalability's easy. In the automotive industry, we don't know how fast we're going to go and when. It's really unpredictable. So, the scalability was a big feature for us when we were looking for a new storage vendor. We've already added to our cluster two separate times by adding nodes. We've already done that process twice in two and a half years.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Hit and miss, to be honest. I've had some bad experiences, I've had some good experiences. All-in-all it's been good, above average, but I have had some unfortunate experiences.

    On the negative side of it, I'm working on support, and I would get not enough detail or the support tech would say, "Check the manual." They'd send me the manual, and its a 680-page manual. We're all busy. I have a job too. I don't have time to read through 680 pages. Send me the three, four, five pages that I need that's effective to my problem.

    And ultimately just follow-up in another situation where we're working through a case. They tell me I'm fine. Then, a month later, they tell me I've got a problem on my SolidFire array, and all of a sudden. That was not told to me for the past 30 days, and it kind of caught me off guard from a communication standpoint. To me, the customer, I felt it could have definitely been improved.

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

    Number one was reliability. We had a competitor of SolidFire that was never up, we had multiple downed outages where our whole business was down, and we have 20 dealerships or rooftops. Being down is not acceptable. Obviously, reliability was a big thing, and then, obviously, the scale out and getting to a flash array for VDI was very important for us.

    In terms of solving those challenges, it's simple, it's straightforward, it literally just runs itself, and the scalability. When we need more space or storage array, we can just add to our cluster, which is huge, because we can't predict growth in our industry for automotive.

    How was the initial setup?

    Very straightforward, very easy. We put in a four-node cluster in under two hours, three hours. It was very simple.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We were down between SolidFire before it was acquired by NetApp, so this would be even pre-merger, and our other one was Pure Storage. We chose this solution because of the flexibility to scale out compared to the competitors, such as Pure; along with cost, at almost about a three-to-one cost difference.

    Operational costs, flexibility. The more nodes you add the more cost it is, but it's definitely significantly cheaper compared to other competitors that are on the market.

    We did not want to consider hybrid storage because we previously had hybrid storage, and we had problems with our VDI, our virtual infrastructure, to where we wanted to get flash array. All flash was a big deal for us to get to.

    What other advice do I have?

    Primary use case purchase for us was VDI or virtual desktop infrastructure, with the intention of VDI and our whole assortment of load, for the server infrastructure.

    Important criteria when selecting a vendor would be reputation, accountability. Support was big for us as well, knowing that support will be there, ten-year, long term. And just durability, and knowing it'll be there.

    Regarding advice for a colleague researching this type of solution, do your research, obviously. Check it out, give SolidFire a fair chance if that means you're demoing, bring it on for a bake off, definitely do so. It's worth your time and effort to look into SolidFire and what it has to offer.

    It comes down to reliability, and it just runs. It just literally runs itself, which is all I could ask for.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    it_user748332
    Enterprise Architect at a consultancy with self employed
    Consultant
    With the footprint being smaller, and performance being way up, we're able to increase IOPS

    Pros and Cons

    • "The square footage for doing development is at a premium when dealing with government networks. To be able to put a lot of IOPS in a lot of high-speed performing drives in a very small location which requires very little HVAC with very little power, it is very valuable to us."
    • "It would be good to provide administrative access at the root level to be able to do things with the system, if need be."

    How has it helped my organization?

    We went from huge NetApp arrays to essentially a half a rack with the same amount of space that was required as far as data drives. With the footprint being smaller, and performance being way up, we're able to increase IOPS, which will give us better capability to actually mimic the production network on a government network.

    What is most valuable?

    • Power
    • HVAC
    • Density of drives

    The square footage for doing development is at a premium when dealing with government networks. To be able to put a lot of IOPS in a lot of high-speed performing drives in a very small location which requires very little HVAC with very little power, it is very valuable to us.

    With our Solidfire, we're going to be doing things like DevOps for ease of use. We're going to be able to expand in a condensed environment with a lot of IOPS to create a very small footprint on an all-flash array using a web interface, which makes it easier for some of the lower technicians to use it.

    What needs improvement?

    I'm seeing what I want to see. They're expanding and doubling the I/O per every 2U on their new 19210, or something like that. I'm looking forward to getting in there and testing it out as well. I'm really liking the performance of the network.

    However, it would be good to provide administrative access at the root level to be able to do things with the system, if need be.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It seems pretty stable. At the beginning, they bring their engineer out. They actually set it up for you. That was a really good thing.

    However, when we wanted to change how we want to do it and basically start it over, do some hands on training with some of the architects who would be working on it, one of the issues was there wasn't an admin password at the BIOS level to restart it over. We actually had to contact NetApp to come back out, or we had to contact them and get a one-time password. This was painful.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    This thing uses a model like Lego blocks to be able to not only mix and match different models, but to be able to expand or scale out based on what the demand is currently. It gives me the opportunity to go from two to three nodes up to as many nodes as I need without having to put out an upfront cost that's way high. Especially when you're talking about development networks, this gives me the opportunity to provide the customer with a solution upfront which is high-performing. Then as the years go by, I can scale it out way further, especially if demand increases.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Tech support was fine. The fact that I had to contact tech support just to get administrative at the BIOS level was kind of painful. But other than that, yeah, lovely.

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

    Density is the key here. Getting high-performance drives in a small package was what we were looking for. We still continue using NetApp, just a newer system, and when we want old flash arrays.

    What other advice do I have?

    Definitely give it an opportunity; put in on a network, then put the different loads on the system and show how they do QoS across those loads to make sure you've got the guaranteed bandwidth.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    it_user527121
    Head Of Commercial Management Servers at a tech services company
    Consultant
    It delivers stable and efficient data storage.

    How has it helped my organization?

    We're currently working on the Element X operating system with SolidFire, because we're trying to break the combination of hardware and software. We're going for the Element X implementation, where you can use any hardware you like. That's also something where SolidFire's very supportive. Maybe we end up buying the SolidFire hardware anyway, but it's a nice option. You have no vendor-lock; you can purchase the software from SolidFire and use some appliance from other vendors.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I have been using it for about two years now. We launched our new product at the beginning of 2015 in Europe and deployed it in the US in the middle of 2015.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's absolutely a consistently stable solution. We have, currently, up-times of 100% and no data loss at all, not even the slightest. That's one of the major points why we went for flash array storage and not local SSD storage, which is, of course, faster, when you look at the IOPS, but the redundancy is just missing. SolidFire was delivering not only stability, but also a lot of efficiency with the data storage.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    Scalability is a very interesting point for us, especially with the new licensing model SolidFire now offers. We can just add new appliances without purchasing new software. That will be very relevant for us in the future, especially since we added new data centers all the time over the last year. We started with one data center in Europe, we added another one and another one, and now we're provisioning it in four data centers all around the globe.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Technical support is very good. We had some minor issues when we started the US data center, because we did not reach the performance level that we were promised and that we had in the European data centers. We figured out, it cannot be a hardware problem; it must be somewhere within our implementation. The SolidFire guys were very, very supportive and now, with over-provisioning, we reach levels that are far beyond the guaranteed levels.

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

    The product we have been building was brand new, so we didn't have any legacy we had to deal with.

    How was the initial setup?

    For us, it was very easy to do the initial setup because we built part of the building blocks just around the storage appliance. That made it very easy for us to grow with SolidFire in, basically, the storage.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We were really looking for the highest performance combined with very specific requirements regarding the platform. Of course, we looked at the NetApp portfolio, but they couldn't offer anything that matched our requirements in both ways. All of a sudden, our upper management came up with, "Look at these guys. they're doing great job.", and that's how we ended up with SolidFire.

    Of course, we evaluated some other vendors, as well, but the package that SolidFire delivered was simply the best. It was not only the performance or price. In fact, the price is quite high compared to other vendors, but what we really loved about SolidFire was the agility of the team. If you deal with really large vendors, like EMC, NetApp, or HPE, you do not have much leverage when it comes to, “We want that, we need that and please change the product this way.”

    SolidFire was very open, their support was great, and they fixed a lot of problems on our side with their solution.

    When my company selects a vendor, the reputation is not a key factor for us. That's why we looked at SolidFire in the first place. For us, it was very interesting to work with a small provider. We always try to get some leverage there; that we can influence the development. That's why we focus, in the evaluation also, on small vendors. Of course, we looked at different providers, like Pure Storage, Nimble and so on, but in the end, SolidFire delivered the perfect package for us.

    After NetApp acquired SolidFire, we were a little afraid that it wouldn't work out, because we all have seen acquisitions that went totally wrong. As soon as we got the word that they were acquired, we immediately started looking at other vendors. But, at the moment, we're still really happy with them and it seems that the combination really works out. What happens with NetApp is, now that we're looking at the rest of the NetApp portfolio, because the integration of SolidFire seems to work quite good, the other products get more interesting for us as well.

    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.
    it_user527100
    Lead Engineer at a tech services company with 5,001-10,000 employees
    Real User
    It can allocate a certain number of IOPS in your throughput to your LUNs.

    What is most valuable?

    The quality of service features are valuable. They are able to allocate a certain number of IOPS in your throughput to your LUNs. That's something that's a little bit more difficult using traditional methods.

    VDI is a perfect use case. If you have ones that need more performance than others, it's easier to allocate it on a prolonged basis for a VDI environment for your specific virtual desktop users.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Right now, we're still in the testing phase but I think it definitely helps in the sense where, with traditional SAN architectures, you have to architect what kind of disk you need and how many of those disks you need in your storage pool and things like that. With the SolidFire, it's really just a number and it’s really just a matter of typing in that number for that certain LUN or whatever it is that you want to allocate for your users.

    What needs improvement?

    I now know their best practices associated with allocating IOPS to your LUNs. I wish that was more apparent to me when actually configuring the system. That's really the only feedback so far.

    Also, in a competitor's solution, they have this ability to tell you what platform you should buy next to expand your environment based on your current needs and your predicted needs for the future. It tells you what models to buy. Maybe SolidFire could do the same thing.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's stable. We haven't had any stability issues at all. It works really well.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We have not had any scalability issues at all. I think it scales out really well. We've tested it with cloning multiple VMs at the same time. The numbers it generates are pretty impressive.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    I did have an issue where, when I was deleting stuff, it did not detect that I had deleted something. I just reached out to the SE and he gave me the script to unmap the blocks that I had originally used. That was the only time I had an issue. They were great, excellent, and responsive.

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

    Management of traditional SANs was becoming cumbersome. We wanted to look for a more efficient solution. That's why we started looking at SolidFire.

    How was the initial setup?

    Initial setup was very straightforward, easy. I've used all the hyper-conversion platforms before and I think we got it up and running within an hour or so. It was very simple.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We also looked at hyper-converged infrastructure competitors.

    We actually have both in our environment. We're really assessing both at the same time and trying to see which might be better for certain use cases. One is more storage focused and the other one's computing and storage. There's that problem, too, where you just want to compute. Expanding on storage is more difficult with the hyper-converged stuff but with SolidFire, you can just expand on the storage without worrying about compute.

    What other advice do I have?

    Start small, then expand. That's what I would do.

    I think the solution was very simple and easy to set up, which I really appreciated.

    To give it a higher rating, I'll have to thoroughly test it and have a better understanding of the whole architecture and the solution and also the capabilities I’ve mentioned.

    When I look for a vendor such as NetApp, some of the important criteria are the market space, their customer support, and how responsive they are from the account manager to the SEs, not just tech support but also the other guys involved in the organization, too.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    it_user527382
    Architect at a retailer with 1,001-5,000 employees
    Vendor
    The most valuable features are their QoS, the scalability and the serviceability of the environment.

    How has it helped my organization?

    We have approximately 8,000 VMs that we had been running on our traditional storage system and it simply was not able to keep up with the workload, so we've migrated all that to the SolidFire product. Provisioning times have gone down and a lot of the random errors from different things that we've seen across time kind of all went away. It's made everything much more efficient. It has saved us time.

    We do a lot of tear-downs and rebuilds in non-production environments, so those processes have been reduced to minutes. It's been tremendously beneficial for our development.

    What is most valuable?

    The most valuable features for us are their QoS, the scalability and the serviceability of the environment. Our ability to add nodes or take nodes out for service and the QoS policies we're able to wrap around volumes are all very helpful.

    What needs improvement?

    The upcoming release is supposed to have much richer VMware virtual volume (VVOL) support, which is something we're very interested in. For our particular environment, we also use the VMware Integrated OpenStack, and so our VVOL adoption is waiting on VMware because they have to update their VIO product, but that's definitely a direction we want to move.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's been rock-solid. We have not had a single incident. We've not had any latency issues.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    It is very easy to scale. We started with our non-production cluster. I think we started off with six nodes. It's now a 14-node cluster. That's a seamless process. It just worked. No down time, no service disruption, nothing.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    I have dealt with technical support many times. They’ve been very good. What they tout is they only have level-three engineers; there aren’t the normal layers of trying to get to somebody who can actually answer your question, because the first engineer you get ahold of usually knows the answer. If they can't, they basically have direct access to the engineers and developers. It's amazing; it works very well.

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

    We had some NetApp 8040s and 6220s, which we still use for certain workloads because the SolidFires only do block; they don't service our NFS workload. The NetApps we had were flash pools, basically spinning disks fronted by SSD. Even with that configuration, they weren't really able to keep up with our workloads, so we needed something that had a lot higher throughput, so we started looking at all-flash technologies.

    At the time, we didn't feel the NetApp offering was as mature as it needed to be, though we didn't technically evaluate that. We looked at ExtremeIO, we looked at Kaminario and finally the SolidFires. The ExtremeIO was really expensive. The Kaminario seemed slightly better but we liked the scalability story around the SolidFires. We then talked to some other customers who had them and confirmed that they really did live up to what the marketing hype said, and that sold us. For our highly dynamic VM workload, it's what the platform was built for, and it was a really good fit for us.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup was very smooth and straightforward. Basically, you put an initial configuration on each of the nodes and then they form a cluster, and then as you add additional nodes, you make it a member of the cluster. Originally, we had done that using their GUI. The last couple of clusters I built, I used their APIs to do it; very quick and painless process.

    What other advice do I have?

    Look at SolidFire. It sounds cliché but it's true. For us, it worked really well.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    it_user527406
    Infrastructure Engineer at Netgain hosting
    Consultant
    I like the way It is implemented from a node perspective. I use the QoS settings to maintain a standard of performance for the VMs.

    Valuable Features

    I like SolidFire's technology and the way that it is implemented, from a node perspective instead of having a controller shelf architecture. One node can control everything, but if the node goes down, obviously the other nodes can bring everything back up. Going into the next generation data center, that's very compelling, as well as being able to use QoS settings and maintain a standard of performance for the VMs and things that are underlying it.

    The SolidFire's technology and architecture allow for a more fluid and dynamic data center. It moves away from the controller and shelf design philosophy to a node design. This means that each node has the ability to control the entire cluster. In essence, you have the same number of controllers as the shelves.

    If a node goes down, the other nodes easily take the load. This is accomplished both by the node technology as well as the Double Helix technology. If needed, you can easily remove one node and ship it to another location or attach it to a different cluster, with very little effort. The implementation of the structure is fairly easy, as well. Our first 5-node cluster from the box to serving data (for testing), took about five hours.

    Improvements to My Organization

    The biggest advantage is going to be the QoS settings, being able to maintain a level performance for our customers on whatever application that they're running at that particular time. For us, a business advantage is implementation time; our first cluster, four hours from un-boxing, racked, stacked and having it up and running.

    Stability Issues

    We've had issues with the stability of our platform. We're a hosting provider and we've pushed it to its limits. We've found some of the bugs. The nice thing is that SolidFire has worked with us to correct those issues, bring new OS versions online to help correct whatever problems we've run into.

    Scalability Issues

    Scalability is excellent; it scales very easily. I can scale from a sizing perspective as well as an IOP perspective very easily. I can add a new node to the cluster. Within about an hour or an hour and a half, it's up and running. I have more space right then and there. Power and cooling is minimal as well.

    Customer Service and Technical Support

    The technical support is great. I've never had an issue with the technical support. When we open up a ticket – whether it's email, phone, whatever it happens to be – we usually get something back fairly quickly; they'll jump on the problem. We can give them access to the arrays or the clusters fairly easily so that they can figure out what the issues are. Getting new nodes or hard drives or whatever, in-house, usually happens fairly quickly. I have had a couple of issues with that in the past. Nothing major, but that's probably where they lost some of their points.

    Initial Setup

    I was responsible for the initial setup in our Chicago data center; it was extremely easy. We had one of the SolidFire NetApp engineers with us when we did it and, as I’ve mentioned, it was four hours from opening the boxes to having it up and running.

    Other Solutions Considered

    We've evaluated three or four different all-flash type solutions. We actually went with one of the other solutions first. We ran into a very large bug about a year or year and a half ago, with an all-flash solution, and that particular provider was having issues correcting it. They still really haven't corrected it, so we can't push it as hard as we want to. When we were starting to look at a different solution, SolidFire came back with a good pricing model for us, as well as being able to meet the demands of what we're trying to deal with, and provide a rip and replace solution on our storage area that worked awhile back.

    Other Advice

    Evaluate everything. But if you're looking for an easy-to-implement solution from an all-flash perspective, really take a look at SolidFire. Try to get a PoC in house and run from a proof-of-concept perspective. The API's implementation is all very easy. You can look at it from your power and cooling aspects as well. That's the advice I have: Do a good proof of concept on the flash storage.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    it_user184665
    Independent IT Analyst with 51-200 employees
    Vendor
    Solidfire has finally added a smaller model; one of the most interesting flash based storage architectures out there.
    SolidFire thinks big and small at the same time! You know, I don’t usually hide my opinions and I’ve already wrote my sentiments about SolideFire a couple of times recently. They have designed a very good product with many interesting characteristics but, up until yesterday there were two different problems from my point of view… which now look like things of the past. A new smaller model Solidfire has finally added a smaller model to its products line up, which now counts 3 new models (SF2405, SF4805 and SF9010). You can consider them the small, medium, large capacity models where, in fact, the big difference between them is in the size of the SSDs (respectively 240, 480 and 960GB). With the new SF2405, the minimum configuration starts now at 200K IOPS and 9.6TB (35TB after…

    SolidFire thinks big and small at the same time!

    You know, I don’t usually hide my opinions and I’ve already wrote my sentiments about SolideFire a couple of times recently. They have designed a very good product with many interesting characteristics but, up until yesterday there were two different problems from my point of view… which now look like things of the past.

    A new smaller model

    Solidfire has finally added a smaller model to its products line up, which now counts 3 new models (SF2405, SF4805 and SF9010). You can consider them the small, medium, large capacity models where, in fact, the big difference between them is in the size of the SSDs (respectively 240, 480 and 960GB).

    With the new SF2405, the minimum configuration starts now at 200K IOPS and 9.6TB (35TB after dedupe/compression, but mileage could vary… you know) and at a price of around $100K (setting the $/GB around 2.8, and this can improve by adding more nodes). All cluster nodes remain interchangeable (you can start small, but if you need higher capacity nodes you can add them to any cluster) and all features are the same across all models/configurations. I like it when vendors are able to keep things simple! It’s also a sign of good product design… isn’t it?

    This is a good advancement from a market positioning perspective. Solidfire can now address many more opportunities and can offer more choices to existing customers. At the same time, having a more affordable lower end model, makes it easier to think about an expanded channel… which is often the best (sometimes the only) way a startup can think about implementing serious operations outside US (especially in Europe).

    A new funding round

    Solidfire made a second announcement yesterday, which I think is even more interesting when you look at the SF2405. They raised another $82M in a series D funding round (for a total of $150M!).
    This money will also help the company to accelerate growth, employ more sales people and, again, expand its channel (which BTW, already counts more than 60 partners and 4 distributors worldwide).

    Why it is important

    Solidfire has one of the most interesting flash based storage architectures out there. And even if their primary targets remain, by admission of their spokesman, ISPs and large enterprises, now they can be more competitive in relatively smaller environments with a new proposition which is also helpful to build a bigger sales channel… and the extra funding will help to do it faster.

    First published here

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.