Dell EMC PowerFlex Review

A great centralized platform with excellent technical support

How has it helped my organization?

Recently we used it in a hybrid setup for infrastructure between the VMs and the physical. Managing such an environment is a little bit tricky. Now, we have now one solution for everything or for the different environments that we have with us with production, disaster recovery, and UAT. Everything gets managed from one platform. Everything is happening from one place instead of just physically. In the past, managing the physical servers alone and then VMs that we have on different versions, just dealing with the different environments was a nightmare. But now since we have everything in one platform, it's much easier, especially since we don't have a very big team. 

So I just needed a simple way to manage things that aligned with the business demands without wasting my time, troubleshooting, and trying to find what the problem was and integrations between the different solutions that we have here and there. Whether it's at a hardware level or software level or network, having everything in one place made my life much easier.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the overall integration and just seeing the three different layers which make up the machine software. Altogether, it's something that I would say is much better than any other solution that I have experienced before.

What needs improvement?

VxRail as a VM, as the extended version of VM, made the solution very powerful, unlike others like Nutanix or HP Synergy or SimpliVity. I can't see any problem other than one thing which is the vendor lock. It means if I want to extend my service if I want to add another stream or another data center and I want to have an integration, I have to have the VxRail bill as a total FCI solution on the other side. That's the only weakness that I see that needs to be improved; with VxRail they need to extend the licenses to any other solution. That's the only thing that I believe though.

On the dashboard itself that I use on a daily basis, I can get most of the information that I want. If I want to have more details or analytics, however, it's a little bit tricky. I'm using one of my resources to keep pulling data from different sources to build custom made reporting for myself. For example, utilization of the different resources on the different servers is there as a part of the dashboard. However, if I want to have the kind of comparison between two different VMs running on the same application, it's a little bit tricky. I'm asking my team to pull data and design it in a different way and send it back and execute it and stuff like that. Exporting data from the dashboard is not very user-friendly. It's just designed in a way that it's going to cover let's say 90%, 80%, of the end-users needs. If you need more sophisticated reporting it's not easy to have.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for one and a half years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable. Over the past one and a half years, we did not face any major instance for the services itself. It's a hyper-converged by design. In terms of stability, we only have around 16 nodes, which is medium-sized. But we've never faced any failure in any nodes.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

VxRail by design has an under systems scalability for whatever solution is provided for us. During the past one and a half years we just added some network cards just to cover the speed. One of them was a major card on the network cards and was one GB. When we changed the network site to have the switches with two GB, we decided also to upgrade network cards there. It was a very small job and since the solution itself it's scalable, we just did it in one day for all 16 nodes. Scalability is good. 

How are customer service and technical support?

We have an agreement. It's a critical mission service where the SLA says they have to recover the service within four hours. So far, all the incidents that were opened with Dell directly were from a year and a half ago after the implementation itself. There have only been three tickets.

In terms of our experience on those three tickets, they were not a major or critical event. They were all medium. They call it flexibility three. It's not even one or two. As per the SLA, within 24 hours they had to fix the problem. They ended up fixing the issue within the first three hours. 

Although it was not a critical ticket, the response was great.

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

We just used pure VM. On HP, on the hardware itself, it was HP and virtualization. It was not a hybrid comparison. It was only a VM solution. We switched to hybrid just to take the features of all the clash kind of stuff that is more I would say sophisticated in the hybrid compared to HCI or other solutions. We moved from converged to hyper-converged. It's the technology itself that lead us to change solutions. VM as a combination isn't as good as VxRail as a total solution.

How was the initial setup?

The deployment was very straightforward. We have four team members who only focus on the environment, on Excel. The system admin also has three team members. Each one has a different area to look at; one for storage, one for virtualization itself, and the other one for the overall health of troubleshooting of the Excel environment. So, one chief and three supporting leads.

What about the implementation team?

When we started this project it was through a partner who did all the migration for us and handled the deployment as well. At that time it was a very small deployment.

What other advice do I have?

In terms of advice, I would say that your success using VxRail would depend on the business itself. For example, if you're a high tech company, VxRail is not going to be a good solution for such a company. The same applies if you are at some software house because you need a very strong kind of computation system. In this case, HP Synergy will be the best total solution. However, if you're environment it doesn't need that high computation, it's either VxRail or Nutanix will be the best solution for anyone.

It depends on your mission. It depends on the business nature itself. For normal businesses, VxRail is a great option. For businesses that need high computation and stuff like that, VxRail will not serve them the way that they want. 

I would rate this solution as nine out of ten.

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