Dell EMC Unity Review
The solution is so easy to manage that I forget it is there


What is our primary use case?

We use it for post to all our data stores or virtual environment.

We have had no performance issues. 

How has it helped my organization?

As far as benefits, it gives us fast access orders for everybody in accounting, and it's working. It is all-flash and is in extreme hyper-performance mode. 

When there have been critical updates, we will get phone calls from Dell EMC saying, "We need to update this, and because our contract support level is here, we can do this for you." They will bug you to death until you have updated it, which is good because we are overwhelmed.

What is most valuable?

It's all-flash.

The solution is so easy to manage that I forget it is there.

Their support is now a lot better, so that is good. They are very helpful when we called in and say, "This is the project that we want to do. Which box should we go about buying? They will send us the information and go through it with us."

What needs improvement?

We have had issues with the capacity and some misunderstandings on how much compression that we should be able to see out-of-the-box. When we were originally sold the box, it was before the merger. The salesman promised us at least a 50 percent compression on the box, so we ordered it with 2TBs of storage. That was a mistake, because now we are locked into smaller drivess. When it comes down to it, we are running out of space. 

We realized that were barley getting a 12 percent compression offset, not the 50 percent, and this came about the time of the merger. All of this was happening and a lot of people in the company did not return emails at the time. I guess it's because they were no longer with the company or they knew they wouldn't be, that's just speculation. However, it took us several months and almost ruined the our reputation during that time period. They did make right on it and sent us several drives to double the storage on our devises for free, so they made it right towards the end, but it took a while.

The iSCSI and the VMware integation using vSphere could be less confusing. 

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The box has been on 24/7/365 with the exception of one day when we had to change out the batteries in our battery backup. We realized our network cord was not working in it. 

When I left to come the conference, I looked, and uptime on the battery said "527 days".

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

You only have so many days in the storage. When you buy storage, buy more than you think you'll need, because it will come back and bite you. Because now, if we expand anymore, we will have to buy a box to piggyback on this storage. Hindsight is 20/20, but all-flash is expensive.

How is customer service and technical support?

Technical support is much better now. They are  responsive, and it is easy to get to the right person. They will blow up your inbox and voicemail if you have a critical update that needs to be applied to either the drives or the box itself, which is great.

Which solutions did we use previously?

Previously, all our servers were running one instance of Windows, and running as a particular application. Email servers were on a server unto themselves. We had a mess. We had so much hardware. 

Because of Dell EMC Unity, I was able to turn off the server that I had been managing for ten years for email. This makes the server room a little quieter now!

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

We bought the box of all the licensing that we needed and not run into anything where we would need any additional licenses from Dell EMC Unity.

VMware is a different story, but as far as Unity goes, it's not been an issue.

Currently, we buy directly from Dell EMC. We've tried going through resellers before, but we've found that if we go directly through Dell EMC, we get a good a price from being with the government. So, we are lucky there. We have that working relationship with the folks at Dell EMC, and sometimes I even get to run into the rep or specialist at events, which is great. I don't get that with a reseller.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also looked at iXsystems. We just purchased one of their boxes for storage. I've known iXsystems for a number of years, and they gave us a great price on an absolutely insane amount of storage because all we needed was a box set in a bunker for local backups. The Unity was just outrageously expensive for our needs, so we went with iXsystems. I've managed an iX box in the past. Those guys will bend over backwards to help you as well. So, that's why I chose to go with them.

What other advice do I have?

Spec it out with bigger drives than you think you will need, because when you do expand, you're going to wish you had done that. If you buy bigger drives than what you currently have in a RAID, now you have to have a separate data storage. You can't have one continuous data store. For some people, that might be okay, but we really didn't want that but we were forced into having that.

We do integrate with vSphere. We tried Hyper-V and immediately regretted that decision and went back to vSphere. Right now, that is the only utilization and there are costs involved with the VMware integraton.

Most important criteria when selecting a vendor:

  • Reliability
  • The willingness to make it right when something goes wrong.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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