All-Flash Storage Arrays Forum

Rhea Rapps
Content Specialist
IT Central Station
Jul 31 2018
One of the most popular comparisons on IT Central Station is EMC VNX or HPE 3PAR Flash Storage. One user says about HPE 3PAR, "The optimization features move chunklets or hot spots to faster drives." Another user says about EMC VNX, "The replication feature provides another functionality to protect your data." In your experience, which is better and why? Thanks! --Rhea
Chaan BeardActually the answer is neither. VNX and 3Par are both technology best described as yesterday's hero. Look instead to another HPe product called Nimble A series AFA or the AccelStor AFA series. AccelStor are actually delivering frightening performance in their P710-SLED platform which delivers over 400K Mixed load IOPS, has 69TB effective capacity and is fully VMware VAAI integrated and certified for an MSRP of $49,995.00. Either are so easy to install 8 year old kids can do the job without much head scratching going on. AccelStor does not charge by capacity and comes with all the software you need baked into the price and this includes snaps, clones, mirrors and full replication capability. HPe 3PAR and Dell EMC VNX platforms come with capacity based licenses and replication pushes the costs up through the stratosphere. Between Nimble and AccelStor for the reporting capability the Nimble is very nice but you also pay extra for those nice reporting capabilities, but it is good. AccelStor gives you what you need to know, no nonsense style - basic reporting but they are working hard currently on new features that bring them up to par with Nimble's fantastic reporting engine. 3Par and VNX are not true All Flash Array platforms by the way, they are Hybrids that accommodate both spinning disk and All Flash SSD. Nimble A series and AccelStor's entire range are purpose built all flash arrays with operating systems designed to cater for all flash only. www.accelstor.us is their website. Enjoy!
anush santhanamHaving significant experience with both products, here is what I would suggest. Before we begin the comparison the first point to note is that EMC is deprecating/stopping the sales of the VNX and if it is an all-flash solution you are looking for, then the modern equivalent of the VNX would be the EMC Unity. So any discussion around the VNX would be moot. Having said that, HPE has invested significantly in 3PAR and has tweaked 3PAROS to be flash friendly in terms of being optimized for flash. Next HPE has been a pioneer in terms of a providing a thin guarantee (benefits you will gain from thin provisioning) which is worth exploring. Next as one user has observed, its ability to break data/IO into chunklets and manage it at that granularity makes it very efficient in terms of capacity management as well as tiering. Further, HPE maintains 3PAROS as a single platform across its entire Storserv model range. With VNX, you are still relying on RADI-5,6 etc, HPE uses RAID-MP which is comparable to Netapp’s RAID-DP which is double protection without the ridiculous backend writes penalty of RAID-6. With the VNX, while you have the option of using Mirrorview and VNX Replicator, most enterprises go with Recoverpoint for all intent and purposes as it is a phenomenal product but an added cost. 3PAR replication is strong and its peer persistence (metro clustering) is a strong capability as well. In short, for this comparison the answer would be 3PAR. Hope this helps.
GALILEO DI SALVO Pros EMC VNX Multi-tiering positively affects the efficiency of the storage space. The replication feature provides another functionality to protect your data. The implementation of both block and file system storage in a single GUI provides is better situated than most other storages. From my point of view, the configuration that I can sell is restricted to the EMC best practices. It is hard to make a mistake in a solution. It means the configuration has good performance and scalability options. It is very stable even during multiple power failures. Integration with VMwareFAST (auto-tiering): Doesn't require configuration and is managed by the array itself. The most valuable feature is the tight VMware integration, due to the migration from bare metal to virtualized environments and then on to the cloud. HPE 3PAR FLASH Storage: Scalability, because our customer is fast growing and our solution should be able to start very small and grow very quickly. The chunklet technology is the main benefit out of 3PAR. The way it subdivides. It is using more logic to subdivide the drives into smaller pieces. With our 3PARs, we have never lost data. With the new flash arrays, 3PAR has improved our performance. The new StoreServ Management Console (SSMC) tool is more user-friendly.HPE can log in, fix things, alert us to things, and upgrade. We are there and aware, but we do not do the work. So, that is good.3PAR is easy to keep running and does not require too much effort. It has been very reliable, which is key. The scalability is good because it is easy to add to new disks. We just add them on the fly, and they are available for use. Cons If the VNX had embedded encryption, that would be great. The scalability is average because the storage has some hardware limitations and, obviously, operating system limitations. It would be very helpful to get an automated report that shows you the size of the checkpoints and get warnings when a checkpoint is reaching either maximum capacity per a file system or hitting the ceiling on the SavVol pool consumption. The administrative console (Navisphere/Unisphere) needs some improvement, especially on their Java-based GUI. The updated version of Java is not compatible.VNX can improve by offering flexible upgrade options. It's not possible to add a single HDD to a current array and there are fixed rules to make upgrades. EMC VNX needs to support bigger SSD and the Next Generation EMC Unity does this. Poor connection to FC.Intel Xeon processors with under 2 GHz processing speeds could be replaced with more recent ones. Security is a mandatory feature because our customer needs to protect delicate information. I would like to see a faster Ethernet connection. Right now, it is 10G. If they could do multiple hundred gigs to speed up the transfer from the array to the servers, that would be good. We are trying to get away from Fibre Channel. We need additional enhancements to InfoSight, especially from a VM standpoint. Today, we can see in the Azure VM performance stats in 3PAR, but it is so huge, we can't just drill down on each and every VM and look at its performance. We are seeing that there are some enhancements which are required in the SSMC console. There are some features that we do not see in the dashboard. There are some weird things that we can't figure out. I would like to see the ability to be able to migrate to newer versions of the 3PAR without having to take any of our data offline and be able to upgrade on the fly. We would like to see better support for iSCSI.A lot of tasks, you have to manually set up. They need to already have them set up and working. Then, you can just go in and tweak them if you need to. Pricing and Cost Advice Reducing dependency on JavaServer Pages (JSP) could improve the administrative overhead. The initial pricing and licensing are reasonable, the yearly EMC is more expensive pricing is somewhat higher, especially in Zambia, perhaps due to the low sales volume. Over time, VNX has become pricier than its competitors, and we have turned enthusiastically to Unity. While EMC tends to be on the expensive side, the stability and support of their products are top-notch and I feel are worth the cost. Make sure you understand how the licensing works and that you are getting the right set of licenses if you need array-to-array replication. The initial pricing and licensing are reasonable. Yearly EMC is more expensive. Making the decisions to buy it can be complex. Since the prices of the flash storage have gone down tremendously, I would definitely recommend going for the all-flash storage array or 3PAR. It is a bit expensive even now, but it will be the future of all industries. You can't get software maintenance from a third party. You have to do it from HPE, which is a letdown.3PAR was quite a bit less money than EMC, and that was one of the deciding factors. We had to go back and purchase iLO licenses and brocade switches for the flex fabric to have a complete solution. Cost-wise, it is a little bit on the higher side, but it is an awesome product. We are going to buy eight nodes this year and eight nodes next year. Eventually, we are not going to want to buy large storage devices and probably utilize just storage, but in a different manner going forward. From my EMC point of view, I choose it by habit, greater renown, and advantages over the SCSI support and because I've worked more with EMC.
Rhea Rapps
Content Specialist
IT Central Station
Jul 18 2018
We all know that it's important to conduct a trial and/or proof-of-concept as part of the buying process. Do you have any advice for the community about the best way to conduct a trial or POC? How do you conduct a trial effectively? Are there any mistakes to avoid?
reviewer70797The best advice I can offer is to clearly define the business objectives for the POC. Just trialing AFA without a specific goal is the mistake to avoid. For instance if you required workload (if known) is 50,000 IOPS and 1MS response time for 1000 concurrent users... it is not very meaningful to evaluate systems that provide 2million IOPS and 0.5MS response time. If you can run real workload and inject predictable load would be great.
Chris ChilderhoseThe best way is to determine the following - 1. What will the AFA be used for - workload type, application, etc. 2. What is the workload required as noted previously as evaluating a rocket ship over a car is a big difference in pricing, IOPS, etc. 3. Test multiple vendors - as many as possible that offer the solution required for the PoC as it will help with pricing in the end. 4. Test, test, test - ensure to put the AFA solution through its paces when testing so you can ensure the one you purchase is the one you need. There are many vendors in the AFA space and not all are equal. Be sure to research while conducting testing.
James MercerFrankly, attempting a trial with a capex item of this value is almost impossible. I don't know of any vendors who would permit a trial of such an item - not to mention the expense and effort to configure and then fully and properly test something like this. I would suggest that you review your existing load(s), and then examine the published performance characteristics of the array's you're interested in. Once you have your baseline criteria, add 30% - 50% to capacity and demand in order to ensure that you have headroom until your depreciation is reached, then choose based on price/performance after researching any independent feedback regarding your target device. Also... perform at least one site visit to someone already using one.
Rhea Rapps
Content Specialist
IT Central Station
Jun 29 2018
One of the most popular comparisons on IT Central Station is Nimble Storage vs Pure Storage. One user says about Nimble Storage, "InfoSight, Nimble snapshotting and replications, as well as the zero-byte cloning, are invaluable to us as a company and has greatly improved our offerings to clients over our previous storage vendor."  Another user says about Pure Storage, "The most valuable features are extremely low latency, high IOPS with VMware, inline deduplication and compression. We liked the non-disruptive downgrade from FA-420 (POC) to FA-405 in production and the non-disruptive upgrade from FA-405 to M20." In your experience, which is better and why?
reviewer725136These are my experiences with both storage arrays: Nimble has recently been bought by HP so it’s future is uncertain Both are able to snapshot and replicate to another SAN of the same brand PURE does not need to integrate with vSphere for Snapshots, Nimble has to integrate with vSphere to snapshot VM’s with SQL server installed which can cause errors with snapshots and causes some storage volume limitations Nimble has iSCSI toolkits for Windows and Linux to make setting up multi-pathing and setting up new connections easier, PURE does not PURE is more expensive PURE has much higher IOPS due to the all flash array PURE has better data reduction through compression and deduplication PURE has a longer lifespan with their highest level of support that will replace the entire SAN as it becomes obsolete The Nimble user interface seems to be more intuitive from my perspective Nimble firmware upgrades can be performed by IT staff PURE support has to perform the firmware upgrades for you Overall I would choose PURE over Nimble.
Reviewer117139This is anonymous feedback. I don’t want my name plastered all over the internet, but this is my opinion. Neither..both have their challenges. I’d recommend NetApp. I wouldn’t put Nimble in the Enterprise storage category. My bigger concern is with HP. What are they doing to innovate? How does this play with the other HP solutions. When will they go through a SKU rationalization process and will Nimble make it out? Will it ever be in the same category as Enterprise. Pure’s storage efficiencies are good, but they’re based on usable capacity and their Raw to usable number is terrible. They get about 60-62%. So 100 TB of raw is about 62 TB usable. They have to get 3:1 just to keep up with everyone else getting 2.5:1. And make sure you read the terms and conditions of the contract, they’ll claim 5:1, but won’t stand behind it. It all comes down to the data. You can only dedup/compress so much. Overall, it’s marketing and isn’t as great as they sell it. Where is the cloud integration with both of these? Hybrid cloud is the future for everyone and neither of these solutions have good options.
Tahera CapriettaHands down Pure Storage over Nimble. The main reasons I choose Pure are for all the capabilities and benefits. The deduplication and compression capabilities of Pure wins it for me. If you have an extensive workload, this is the choice you want to make. Other benefits would be the Forever Flash M&S. Pure offers to replace the hardware and software forever and upgrade the controllers every three years forever at the same price you first purchased... you guessed it forever. That means that your CAPEX remains lean and expected forever. This is the hassle free choice financially and the best choice technically for our ever growing and changing IT environment.
Rhea Rapps
Content Specialist
IT Central Station
One of the most popular comparisons on IT Central Station is Dell EMC Unity vs NetApp All Flash FAS. One of the users on our site says about Dell EMC Unity, "As long as you know what you're doing storage-wise, Unity is really easy to use." Another user says about NetApp All Flash FAS, "I think that the most important thing is the integration with the existing features that we already have, and existing management systems." In your opinion, which is better and why?
reviewer429375In general, I lean to EMC Unity due to its flexibility, modularity and low cost. I would use NetApp if I already had this in my portfolio and you heavily used key features like file support.
reviewer99798Full disclosure I represent both manufacturers. In my opinion, it comes down to use case. Certainly, all flash is the way to go from a starting point. If you are operating in a block storage environment I would suggest the Unity has some advantages. If you are looking at more of a file world then I think NETAPP has the edge. Both are well built and both will be aggressive price wise. Both are well integrated to VMware if you are virtual in nature although I would probably give the edge to Unity on that front given VMware is part of Dell Technologies. If you have more specifics about the use case ( data access type, capacity, performance, relocation and or DR etc ) I could probably narrow it down a little more for you.
Alfred Morgan JonesCompanies looking for a an all flash system will be swayed by 3 main factors: What storage vendor they already have, price and how well the proposed solution is marketed/sold. Feature comparison normally comes about 5th on a list of the most heavily weighted factors. In my many years of advising clients it has been my experience that if the IT manager knows and likes a particular brand, that is the one they will purchase. So, a client with Netapp will buy Netapp. From a features viewpoint: Both have a lot of very useful features and both have horrible "gotchas" that can trip up unwary administrators. If you buy a new brand, spend money on training !!
Harmeet Sohal
User at a tech vendor with 10,001+ employees
How does HPE 3PAR Flash Storage differ from INFINIDAT InfiniBox? Which do you recommend?
Rhea Rapps
Content Specialist
IT Central Station
Does anyone have experience with both NetApp AFF and Pure Storage? A number of users recently inquired about how they stack up, what are the reasons you might choose one or the other or the differentiating aspects of each product.  How do NetApp and Pure compare?
Jean Carlos Bitencourt Da SilvaHello, In the design of choice of our AllFlash storage we tested several equipments, among them NETAPP and PURE. The finalists were: PURE / NETAPP / EMC. All delivered the performance and features that we had as success requirements. But ... our choice was PURE for simplicity of implementation and management, in addition to its innovative licensing model where you have the right to use everything that is implemented and what will be implemented yet you will also have right of use. We have been with PURE for 12 months and very satisfied with the results.
Bunyamin TasdemirHello, We don't use AFF but we used 8020 SAS and 8020 SSD and we replaced them to PURE. IO problems minimized, volume limitations resolved I degraded servers ram and cpu which were working on Netapp but when i moved systems to PURE, they started working as never degraded
reviewer503028I don’t have a NetApp AFF array. Our NetApp is actually quite old so I’m sure that taints my experience but from that experience, I will say it’s night and day difference between Pure and NetApp in ease of use, support, and customer service. Pure is set it and forget. It’s been mostly hands-off since we purchased it which for our team was a big selling point. I believe the NetApp AFF we were looking at still had some quirks with how patching was done even down to updating firmware on the individual drives. The NetApp allowed for more tuning of the pools whereas the Pure managed it all behind the scenes. In a larger environment, those may be selling features for the NetApp but those things were detractors for us as we don’t have a dedicated storage admin. Hope that helps.

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