Dell EMC Unity XT Review

Gives us the ability to provision storage from the CLI, but needs native replication

What is our primary use case?

Primarily we use it for our file side storage. It's pretty solid. It's tied into our VMware environment for the virtual storage, but Exchange doesn't run on it. It's mostly just Windows File Servers at this point.

We had some issues with it in the beginning, but Dell EMC took care of them and it has just been sitting there running ever since. We haven't had any real problems since then.

How has it helped my organization?

For us, it is cheap and deep. That's really why we wanted it, to get an expanded amount of storage. We also run Xtremes, but they're a lot more expensive. Really, it was the cost-benefit for longterm storage.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the ability to provision storage from the CLI, versus having to go in and use the GUI every time. I can just script it out and it will create what I need. That makes it super-easy to manage. 

Also, for us, it's a set-and-forget. Since we provisioned it out, we haven't had to mess with it.

What needs improvement?

It could always use native replication. Then I could get rid of RecoverPoint.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We had some problems in the beginning, but since they did the code upgrade and the bug fix, it has been solid for the last eight months. We haven't had any issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scaling is easy. If we need more, we just buy another shelf. It's probably not as easy as the Isilon, but it scales well.

How are customer service and technical support?

Our local SE guy is awesome. Everything we have is set to call home, so that's the set-and-forget for us. If there's an issue that pops up, they immediately send equipment to our SE, and he comes in and replaces it. I never have to mess with it.

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

Our old arrays, the VNXs - we had a 5400 and a 5700 - were reaching the end of their days, and we wanted to go to the next step up, but not quite to the Xtreme level. Unity was the obvious choice.

When selecting a vendor, support has to be rock solid. And then, ease of use: Do they have all the features we need? Are there any outstanding issues that are going to clash with our onsite stuff (which usually ends up being with AIX)? As far as Dell EMC goes, we've been pretty good with them for a while.

How was the initial setup?

The setup process was pretty straightforward, similar to any other storage device. I don't think there were any special considerations we had.

What was our ROI?

We've only had it running for not quite a year yet. I can't say, versus our other arrays, if the ROI is better or worse at this point.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We only use Dell EMC and Pure for storage. We went with Dell EMC because of cost. We have an aging Isilon that we're also replacing. We do have Pure, we do the flash array there, but that's quite expensive compared to the Unity. What we needed was dependable cheap and deep storage.

What other advice do I have?

It really depends on your specific needs: if it's speed or if it's longterm storage. Dell EMC has a whole array of products. I would say go for it. We used to push the Isilon a lot, that's super cheap and deep, and that's been rock solid as well, but you lose that block functionality. You really need to go to the Unity. I would definitely do the Unity over the SC.

It was pretty easy to order. We got rezoned when Dell took over, so our sales rep is out of a different state. But, as far as going through our partner, it was perfectly fine, like any other normal purchase.

I would rate the Unity at about seven out of ten, once the bugs were fixed. To be a ten it would need native replication.

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