Dell EMC PowerMax NVMe Review

It offers a high level of availability and near zero downtime

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is for Tier 0 applications. It is meant for applications which are absolutely mission-critical, when you can't compromise your system performance. We have customers who use it across the board for just mission-critical applications, high availability, and guaranteed performance.

How has it helped my organization?

I have customers who are using this for large Oracle and SQL applications and European SAP types of infrastructures. They are integrating PowerMax with ProtectPoint for additional data protection of their data. They are also automating the backup and recovery of those systems through AppSync, which is another product for keeping everything protected in an automated way.

It's a zero light loss upgrade. So, they're upgrading the system without losing any type of light from the communications of the system. Also, it has zero interruption of upgrades.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is its global cache, which allows for uncompromised performance. 

It offers a high level of availability, so pretty much near zero downtime.

It is the best platform for just seeing and getting visibility into performance and capacity utilization. It has very positive management. Through CloudIQ and others integrations that Dell EMC provides, visibility has excellent predictive health metrics that we can look at.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see continued visibility and analytics in the platform.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There is nothing more stable in the market today.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable. Depending on what platform you go with, it has both a scale up and scale out architecture. You can scale without compromising performance by adding additional compute nodes to the front-end which allows it pretty much uncompromised capacity expansion and scale-out.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is excellent. It's a very immediate, high level of support. The Mission Critical ProSupport response team that Dell EMC has is the highest level of support.

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

We looked at this system because we analyzed applications and workloads, then understood our customer's business requirements. It is understanding that there is a need for low latency and zero downtime. We were previously using a combination of VNX and Unity.

When we looked at PowerMax, it was extremely low latency: five submillisecond types of latency. From a general performance perspective, most of these systems that we are designing tend to be more than 100,000 IOPS for input/output operations per second. The other thing is that it handles these types of IOPS with very large block sizes. If you really understand your data, it's very easy to optimize it on PowerMax, and it is exceeding our requirements.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward with Dell EMC Services. An organization with this type of investment would want to install it themselves. Therefore, with Dell EMC services, it's very easy to get going.

The migration from older VMAXs to PowerMax is extremely straightforward, as it's a zero downtime migration. You can move systems from one VMAX platform to a PowerMax platform with zero downtime and 100 percent of the data migration compatibility. We typically do that coupled with Dell EMC services, as well. They have a very dialed in process for taking that data over to a brand new platform.

What about the implementation team?

We used resellers for the deployment, as we are resellers. We always use resellers, because that is the best option that customers have.

What was our ROI?

We are implementing PowerMax at a much lower ROI than maintaining maintenance on legacy systems. We have actually seen return on investment in as low as two years from an ROI perspective by leveraging PowerMax for consolidation of workloads, as well as consolidation of maintenance contracts, where they might have across multiple legacy platforms.

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

From a general capital investment, it's one of the higher price points in the market. It depends on the size and software features that you would include in a system. So, the cost varies dramatically.

The cost has room for improvement.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Alternatives in the Dell EMC portfolio are primarily XtremIO and Unity. However, PowerMax is the only product which can meet the uptime and latency requirements.

What other advice do I have?

Engage a reseller to analyze the workloads and do the data-driven architecture behind it. Use the data to drive the solution and make sure it meets your requirements.

There is so much innovation in it. They have been very relevant in terms of the Tier 0 workforce. It really differentiates itself in the market.

It meets the needs of what we're trying to do from a file level perspective for performance and capacity.

If you live and breathe by your data, there are a lot of features in PowerMax which allow you to protect yourself from ransomware and other types of relevant threats today. It is not just about a platform for running mission-critical apps. It's also protecting mission-critical apps through features that prevent ransomware infection. If you get infected, it allows for recovery of that data without having to pay the ransom fee or other alternatives.

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
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