Dell EMC Unity XT Review

Inline compress and dedupe are great features for a mid-range solution, but NAS capabilities are lacking


How has it helped my organization?

It can improve your TCO. When you buy a Unity box, you can consolidate a lot in a very small frame. You can save energy and, if you're arranging a room for your equipment, it can help you reduce costs in tiles and flooring, energy, and so on. It is pretty easy to use, so your storage admins don't have to put a lot of effort into managing it. It's easy and practical to use.

What is most valuable?

I like the idea that it can compress and dedupe inline. That is quite a stunning feature for mid-range customers. That is something that is much better than the expectation that we have with VNX, which does that post-processing, and is not recommended for databases. So it's a big step for Unity. When we position Unity, that is one of the first things we say, that it is prepared to work things inline with dedupe and compress.

What needs improvement?

I believe this product lacks some things that are extremely valuable for customers, especially VNX customers. The NAS capabilities of Unity - I have to say there are a lot of things I miss. For example, deduplication for hybrid. I have tons of customers with VNX and dedupe. These customers achieve around 50% dedupe efficiency and they mostly use them for archive. If you're talking about 50TB of NAS, which is stored in a 25TB repository, which is very economical, and you can not provide that in a Unity hybrid box, you have problems. That has caused us a lot of problems. 

The other problem I have with the NAS capabilities in Unity is the WORM feature. We were working with a government company that has a public bid and they were buying storage for 13 remote sites. All of them required WORM. Since this is a government customer they took two years or so to establish the project. And they required the WORM feature to securely store records, and they had to be unmodified records. They bought that the idea and they implemented a NAS solution that was going to be consulted by an Oracle Database. They had to buy VMX because Unity didn't have WORM. That would be the most important thing. It's very problematic.

Migrating from VNX to Unity was not so straightforward in the beginning. You could not migrate NAS servers from CIFs. They began with NFS. they recently added CIF support. So, lots of problems there.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I would say it is stable now. Of course, the first releases had some issues but I believe it is fine now.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Peru is a very different market from the U.S. or Europe. A company that is mid-range in the U.S., for instance, could be using an enterprise solution in Peru. For Latin America in general, it is a perfect product for mid-range and for some enterprise-grade, big, transactional businesses.

How is customer service and technical support?

Technical support is pretty good. It always has been. In Peru, we have a senior engineer that has been with the company for 32 years. He has a lot of knowledge. We have three field engineers. For a small business, like the Peruvian one, it's more than enough, because these machines never fail. You just turn it on and that's it.

How was the initial setup?

We had some issues installing these machines at the beginning, but overall it is really easy. It's done exactly the way the manual says.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate Unity a seven out of 10. I know these products since Clariion, and I believe they hit a great peak with VNX2. It was a product customers loved. When Unity arrived, the ability to consolidate NAS and SAN in a 2U box was pretty cool. But the NAS part didn't follow. That's why I give it a seven.

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