Dell EMC Unity Review

Ability to redefine storage policies and improve performance by adding dynamic cache and “Auto-tiering”


How has it helped my organization?

It has improved the environments for many customers who have transitioned from other vendors storage platforms to Unity, due to technical proposals and offerings defined by us.

What is most valuable?

  • The ease of management and “user-friendly” management environment (GUI).
  • Simplicity for deploying and controlling storage elements.
  • Ability to redefine storage policies and improve performance (adding dynamic cache and “Auto-tiering”).
  • Hardware simplification (e.g., not requiring NAS dedicated hardware).
  • The true “Unification” (to have a fully-flexible solution combining multiple technologies and protocols in 2U of rack space).

What needs improvement?

There are features still to come, like compression and deduplication on hybrid platforms, VDM improvements to be developed for NAS environments, and also improvements in the “self-migration” tools to push or pool information (to assist the migrations to and mostly from third-party arrays).

It has evolved from what it was one year and a half ago, but there are more features incoming with the scheduled “UnityOS” updates (planned on roadmap) that will provide the product with new features only available in VNX2, but most important, all newly added features will have no additional cost for the customers, because the platform is fully-licensed from the base configuration.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Very few (some NAS related issues with early “UnityOS” versions, prior to 4.1).

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

None. Data-in-Place Conversions are available, for “scaling-up”. This feature may be driven online, in the next “UnityOS” release (4.2 SP1).

How are customer service and technical support?

With the new support options offered with Unity, this support is always offered on a 24/7 basis (if the customer allows it, the system will be permanently monitored for issues). In this case, the system will be “two-way” connected remotely to Dell EMC proactive support via an ESRS gateway. Now, with the option to add a feature called “CloudIQ” that consists of an online portal offering (totally free, without additional fees) to access online and watch the system health and behaviour (in real time, from a customer point of view).

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

This does not apply directly to us. I had a very close contact with all “EMC legacy” storage platforms from the times of Clariion and Celerra. Thus, I have experienced the evolution and consolidation of these products, first on VNX, and later on in Unity, that is the pinnacle of this unification.

How was the initial setup?

The initial configuration is guided by an “Initial Configuration Wizard” that is completely straightforward.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Absolutely. We offer Dell EMC solutions to partners who always work with several offerings from various manufacturers, targeting the same scenario (mostly NetApp, Huawei, HPE and IBM).

What other advice do I have?

When implementing this product, be careful while configuring “Virtual Pools” (on hybrid platforms), in order to assure optimum performance. The proper disk raid choice is critical and may impact directly in the performance of a “Storage Pool” dedicated for a specific purpose or environment.

Dell EMC Unity is actually one of my market focuses, from the understanding that Dell EMC has redefined the core of their mid-range storage portfolio, focusing on two main products: Dell EMC SC (Dell legacy Compellent) and Dell EMC Unity (the last mid-range storage solution developed by the former EMC, just prior to committing the fusion with Dell).

In the Spanish market (which is totally different compared with US), it is considered the “premium” Dell EMC mid-range storage choice for those SMB customers who wish to acquire a full integrated solution, combining “multi-protocol” physical topologies (FC/10GbE) but also combining multipurpose storage (SAN/NAS and “Virtualization Optimized Storage”).

From this point of view, I consider it a “well-thought out” solution who was born from the principles that EMC established with the development of the VNXe Storage Series (considering that VNXe3200 is, in many aspects, the mother on Unity). It has inherited a full refresh regarding the “microcode” that characterized the VNX Series, while retaining all the benefits developed in the VNX MCx codes (optimized for true multi-core processing) and foremost developed (is the case of Unity AFA solutions) as a true “All Flash” solution, from their very foundations.

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.
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