Dell EMC PowerMax NVMe Review

A huge benefit of it has been the decreasing of our physical footprint


What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for Power Max is customer data. We host hundreds, if not thousands of applications, large and small, for hundreds of thousands of customers. It's the storage platform for our customers' online presence.

What's not on PowerMax? Because we have hundreds of thousands of customers running thousands and thousands of applications. From the small mom and pop shops running their mission-critical eCommerce site to the major Fortune 500 companies running every major database: Oracle, SQL, MySQL, Postgres, etc. We're running the big database engines, and the database is the holy grail for all online businesses. Therefore, major database applications are very important. Big eCommerce applications for very large brands are running on top of it, as well. We are running everything on it.

The role that data plays in Rackspace is two-fold because we are both a customer and a partner. As a service provider, we are monitoring millions of data points every hour for our customers. We are monitoring the health of their systems: the traditional IT monitoring, CPU, networking, storage, uptime, security, etc. We are gathering all that data and need systems where we can dump that data, then analyze it without fail, knowing that it will be there. PowerMax gives us the latency and capacity that we need at any scale for all the data that we can throw at it.

On the customer side, they are using us and our underlying PowerMax infrastructure for their mission-critical applications to do things with big data, dedupe, and other applications. Our customers are using us for the foundation of their big analytics applications.

How has it helped my organization?

There are a lot of ways that PowerMax is helping our organization function. From a storage admin standpoint, there is no longer a need to rely on the command line interface (CLI) to get data which is needed for performance monitoring and troubleshooting. When you use a CLI, you're actually requesting copies of data and impacting the performance of that production's data. With the REST API, we can do things, just ask for it, and there is the info. We are not impacting production systems.

What is most valuable?

PowerMax specifically is giving us incredible improvements in performance. Significantly decreased the latency, which is different than IOPS. I've been told by the team, "Don't focus on IOPS anymore, it's the latency. Not how fast is the data, but how quick is the data." So, we've seen great performance: Single millisecond type performance, which has been fantastic. 

Another huge benefit of the PowerMax has been the decreasing of our physical footprint. We recently did a consolidation where we went from 58 tiles down to 5. If we had used just the PowerMax, we could have gone from 58 tiles down to 2 tiles, which is huge space savings. If you have 56 newly available floor tiles on a raised floor data center, which you previously had to cool and provide power to, then now, not only are my costs going down, I now have more revenue opportunities because I have more space to put new customers.

My storage engineers are very happy with PowerMax. They are very pleased with the performance, decreased latency, and dependability. From the team, the RESTful API makes management so much easier for them versus the command line interface.

What needs improvement?

I would like them to continue improving the management tools and continue moving towards a RESTful API versus CLI. 

They should work with the storage engineers to better tweak the management tools to give them improved visibility into their data.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've used it for well over a decade and are very happy with it.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability has been fantastic on PowerMax.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Right now, we have zero concerns about scalability. It's running everything we throw at it, and we can't wait to get more.

How are customer service and technical support?

Our relationship with Dell EMC is fantastic. We have very smart storage engineers, and they in turn work with Dell EMC's very smart storage engineers. We have zero complaints. We don't ever have a question that doesn't get answered.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

As a major service provider, who has been working with Dell EMC for well over a decade, hosting mission-critical applications for important brands and businesses, along with some health institutions, where access to data is literally a life or death, we have to go with a system that we can trust without fail. PowerMax has been giving that to us.

How was the initial setup?

One of the things that we learned right away about PowerMax during the setup is that regardless of your awareness of data type, structure, or compression, we starting seeing benefits immediately.

Rackspace is running a 1G, 2G, and 3G Dell EMC storage systems, then we added PowerMax into our array farm. So, we are migrating some data into the new PowerMaxs, and it has been smooth as silk.

What was our ROI?

I'm going to give PowerMax a ten out of ten just for the savings that I've heard about. From reclaiming data center space which is so tightly constrained these days, it will pay for itself in a short amount of time, which is fantastic. Anything we can do to get more out of our current physical data center space helps us a ton, and PowerMax has helped enable that.

PowerMax is giving us significant improvements in Oracle and VMware. We are seeing between four to eight times improvements in latency, which is serious numbers. 

What other advice do I have?

Look at Dell EMC storage solutions. They have been around for a long time and are time-tested. The R&D department is constantly improving its offerings with better features, better performance, great return on investment for your purchases, and amazing support. Dell EMC bends over backwards to help its partners and customers get what they need out of this stuff. It's time-tested and trusted.

PowerMax gives our storage engineers everything they need to do their jobs successfully.

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. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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