Dell EMC Unity Review

Easy to use and configure, and significantly reduced our data center footprint

What is our primary use case?

We have it in one of our branch office data centers, and we use it for a small number of users. It's a first step into the flash storage system for us. It has worked very well for us. We're very happy with how it works.

We're a VMware house, so we've integrated it into ESX and we use it as our target environment for vRA. It's worked really well.

We've had it just about over two years now, and it's performing very well. It has fulfilled all our needs. We've had none of the I/O issues that we had seen on our previous SAN. It's worked really well.

How has it helped my organization?

In terms of service and deployment, it was done easily. It was a big SAN beforehand, so being flash, it was configured quickly. The footprint that it left in the data center was small, so it has definitely consolidated everything that we've put in there. Across-the-board, our first step into flash went really well.

What is most valuable?

Ease of use would really be the best feature. We were easily able to get the correct performance details from it. And the configuration was great, it was relatively easy as well; that was brilliant.

In terms of managing it, the performance metrics that it gives, generic stuff, it does everything that we need it to do. We didn't have to create any custom reporting. It all went well.

What needs improvement?

It has ticked all the boxes for us so far. A fourth year of maintenance at a good price would be good.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

From the beginning, we've had no issues. Since it's been turned on, it's worked flawlessly.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We probably overcompensated with the numbers that we put into it in the beginning, so we've not had to upscale anything yet. We're still using it two-and-a-half years later, which is proof that it works.

How is customer service and technical support?

We have the Call Home feature, which is a kind of preemptive alert for us. So Dell EMC has been telling us when there have been issues. There really haven't been any big ones; minor things, maybe firmware needed to be upgraded. But other than that, it's been fine.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We were using something different. We were coming from the typical fiber background. We needed to get something new, so we looked at a few different options at the time. We went with Dell EMC Unity because we were seeing a higher I/O through the data center, and we thought flash would be the one for us. That's why we went with the Unity box. Also, we went from a 20U footprint down to an 8U footprint. At the time, it was a massive consolidation, space-wise. It did everything else to fill all the proper metrics that we were looking at.

The other criterion we had for vendor selection was ease of use, that was a big thing for us. We've used Dell EMC everywhere else, so we thought it would be a good model to fit in with everything that we have. Going that way was the right step for us.

How was the initial setup?

From the beginning, I worked with Dell EMC on getting it set up the way we wanted it, carved out the way we needed it. It was easy. They got it done in a few hours and it's worked really well since.

What was our ROI?

The ROI comes down to the level of effort that we've had to put in to make it work, which has been relatively small. That's a massive return on investment for any team.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

NetApp was one that we had, they were in contention. We had an IBM solution that they were going to put in place. EqualLogic was also on the shortlist. But we thought Dell EMC Unity would be a good choice for us.

What other advice do I have?

If you're looking at a flash-based system, one that you want to work and not to have to play around with it - to be sure it's working all the time - Unity is definitely a step in the right direction for any company, going forward.

In terms of the purchasing process, we came from the EMC side. It was our first branch into flash after using EMC for so long. It's worked flawlessly, so we have no issues there.

I rate this solution at eight out of ten. Nothing's perfect. It's very hard to make something perfect. Being an eight, it's a really good model for any company to choose. It's a realistic metric to put against something, rather than saying it's perfect.

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