Dell EMC Unity XT Review

Price / Quality ratio is good and since OE 5.03 code the array family reached a rather good maturity level


What is our primary use case?

We are running 3,000 VMs spread out over five such units.

How has it helped my organization?

The initial Unity x50 series, even all-flash, were quickly driving the CPU to near 100% on as little as 180TB, having data reduction on all volumes in place.

The XT came in support and sizes better on our infra, due to more CPU power. The system doesn't seem to have a module to offload datareduction, but in the end does a great job in getting the datareduction come round at higher capacity without oversubscribing the CPU (%). In the end the SDD media cost more then the array/storage processors. So basically you want to datareduce as much as the system can take.

What is most valuable?

Good in-built monitoring tools from the System|Performance section Tab, from CloudIQ you can reach out to vCenter as well. ESRS (Call Home) on the service delivery part is valuable.

Remote Code update support (interactive or not) is free of charge , as you wish, nonetheless you are free to do it yourself as update are cumulative and retained on each new codelevel.

What needs improvement?

The UEMCLI is not an object-oriented CLI and the more object-rich PowerCLI has been discontinued. Only people with bash experience possibly can operate it. Still nowadays, feeding object from one command into another is still a burden with such CLI. When adding a few disks to a cluster, the CLI is actually standing in the queue for one disk to be added to all, requiring multiple scans on each membering host, before proceeding with the second...and scanning all hosts once again.  One could add all disks at once and stand in the queue once for a rescan all.

There isn't a means to add volumegroups , nor hostgroups. A feature that any solution I worked with so far has. Its a burden to assure each host has the same LUN ID on each host in this manner. As of the june 2021 releae , code OE 5.1 it seems to offer the option to have hostgroups in the end !

The integration with vCenter comes with a sideeffect, in that it will take control of the vSphere scan process, moreover every esx host is scanned multiple times. It takes easiliy a few hours to add a few LUNS to a few hosts. Rather Painfull. Even when adding LUNs using the unisphere GUI , you can keep up with the pace of your script.

Support Responsiveness & time to fix bugs should be improved. Over the past 1,5 yrs we had occassional controller reboots and we went all the way from OE 4.5 over 5.02 to 5.03 and eliminated the  most common causes. We still face a stress triggered cache merge issue and though we provided the dumps and engineering acknowledged the bug, it has been told that addressing the bug requires substantial code rewritting and the problem will be fixed in the next major code release (OE 6.x) . We are now a year later, still no fix, but furtunately faced the considition once on one out of 5 arrays during that year. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Unity (XT) for 15 months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

OE 5.03 is a rather mature & stable code, without to say that it will addresse all. Some bugs are stress/load triggered and rather exceptional but might be easily recurring if the same conditions are remet.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The XT scales better then its predecessor. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Not the most responsive support, we have a Service Account Manager and reporting in place now and keep the pressure to get answers. Very bad post bug/incident follow up.

How was the initial setup?

The system is easy to install and you might be able to do it on your own on the 2nd attempt.

What was our ROI?

Ease of use, Price Quality, vSphere Integration, CloudIQ (Performance data) , ESRS (Call Home) and though not used as such , Support for Block Devices, Cifs,NFS

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

The setup is rather straighforward.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have compared Unity x00/x50f versus Unity XT x80f. 

What other advice do I have?

Midrange solution for SMB up till Large Entreprises too if you spread the load on many units.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

OE 5.03
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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