What is our primary use case?
Typically, when we are doing PowerMax, it is for applications that we need maximum performance, but also maximum reliability. So, Dell EMC has a lot of other products that can do very high performance, but there are not a lot of other products in the market that can reach the reliability and the availability that PowerMax can.
The use case goes back to when you need that ultimate uptime, where you can't ever have an application go down. We see this a lot in healthcare applications. We also see a lot of miscellaneous other database applications that need to be up all the time for running web services and service providers.
How has it helped my organization?
We definitely have situations where we have multiple siloed storage arrays, especially like higher-end VMXs or mid-range storage. So, we have four or five arrays that we can go and take those and put it on one high performing PowerMax, then deliver it to scale and grow.
What is most valuable?
Uptime by far is the most important thing, and also the replication ability (SRDF). Most of the customers who need this type of availability also want the protection of multiple data centers, and it is able to easily switchover workloads to their other data centers.
What needs improvement?
I am looking for ease in usability going forward. PowerMax is super powerful, but because it's been around for so long, there is some complexity in configuration and getting the right SLAs set up that you want. I feel like this could be simplified. I would like to see some improvements from there to avoid having to hunt and peck through an interface to do something that I feel should be relatively simple.
I hear from people on my team that they would like improved reporting. While there are some decent tools for doing reporting, they would like to see a lot more built-in functionality. This way when they are logged into the interface everyday doing basic management tasks, they could also see some statistics on what is their storage pool usage and will be their projected usage with their current data growth. They want to be able to see more detailed stats on how they are using the system and have forecasting.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The great thing about PowerMax is from a reliability standpoint, everything is redundant. Uptime is six or seven nines.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
PowerMax can grow quite a bit. The design with how storage controllers and engines scale out in regards to storage lets you scale your performance pretty linearly, though not as high as some things, like some of the hyper-converged solutions, but it's pretty nice.
How are customer service and technical support?
The tech support has been great. One of the good things with PowerMax, as much as the new branding and everything has come about since Dell and EMC merged, but the actual product history goes back really far. So, there is a ton of expertise from a support perspective within the organization.
There is a lot of knowledge out in the community as well, without having to directly engage Dell EMC support. A lot of times you can find community assistance for common problems and configuration needs.
If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?
We haven't done very many migrations from VMAX3-AFA to PowerMax, just because they're close enough in numbers and performance. However, we are seeing a lot of movement from earlier generation VMAX to PowerMax. I even have some customers who are still on the DMX era that were moving over to PowerMax. That is going to be a big difference for them.
Our PowerMax solutions have met all of their requirements that we had when we threw workloads at them.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
There are very few other products on the market which I've run into that can give performance at this level of availability.
What other advice do I have?
We do a lot of managed services. Where we get a lot of use from the data is we gather a ton of statistical data about our customers: How they're growing and using their own data. Therefore, we have a lot of metadata about our own customers that we have to sort through. From a consolidation standpoint, it's nice to have all of that in one place. It comes back to performance. We have to be able to pull from a lot of different customers, and do it simultaneously.
I find that PowerMax is improving performance for workloads, like VMware, SAP, Oracle, and SQL Databases.
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.