Dell EMC Unity XT Review

Gives me flexibility with its ability to replicate to itself

What is our primary use case?

We use it for our primary storage platform. All of our primary VMs run off of it.

How has it helped my organization?

We went from two boxes that were 8U down to a 2U box. Dell EMC Unity XT reduced the electricity we were using just by making that one change.

On a performance level, with SQL querying, it would take 60 seconds. That doesn't sound like a long time, but when people are staring at a spinning icon they can get outraged. This solution has cut it down to about 22 seconds for a query, so it's a lot faster. The difference was astronomical. We were using an EqualLogic, a hybrid array which had spinning disk and SSD, and the Unity just blew it out of the water.

When it comes to provisioning and management, when you compare Unity to EqualLogic, it's night and day. The EqualLogic wasn't nearly as flexible as Unity is. Once we saw what the Unity was capable of, there was no going back to the EqualLogic at all.

What is most valuable?

It gives me flexibility with its ability to replicate to itself and the ability to use the Dell EMC Cloud as an option. That's always sitting there and waiting if we need it.

I like the fact that it comes with a cloud option out-of-the-box. Just purchasing it gave us an unlimited amount of storage. It allows us to dip our toes in without a major commitment. With AWS or Azure, you're locked in and you're using up the contract and you're always worried that you'll spend a lot more. The use case for us would be disaster recovery or cold storage.

We use our VMware Site Recovery Manager and we use the device to replicate all of those hot VMs over to our DR site. We've actually tested it and it takes 19 seconds for us to get a virtual machine up and running, in the event of a disaster, because of the replication between the two systems.

What needs improvement?

What I'd like to see is a little more detail on the networking side. I can go into where it's showing me the replication, but when I go into the network it just gives me broad-based information. I don't know which replication job is actually feeding it. I have to go in and rely on other apps. But I'm thinking, "It's on there. It should be able to tell me this is the one that's eating up the bandwidth."

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've had no issues with the Unity. We haven't had a failed drive yet.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't had to scale it out. We're going to scale it out next year.

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

We went from a spinning drive array because we needed something faster. We moved our analytic server over to it and the Unity was able to overcome the bottleneck that the previous storage had caused.

Also, EqualLogic went end-of-life, they weren't going to support it anymore. That was our initial driver. But we found we could fix some other issues with the move to Unity.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty straightforward, or at least we thought it would be. We have some complex stuff that we do on our network which caused some issues with it. That didn't make it a standard, out-of-the-box setup. Had we had a less complex network, it would have been a lot simpler to put it in.

What about the implementation team?

We used a reseller and our experience was fine. It was not the first time we had actually worked with that reseller. We ended up having to engage with the Dell EMC people to get everything set up right. It wasn't the smoothest of introductions.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at all-in-one, hyperconverged storage. We decided not to go that route simply because we've made such a huge investment on the networking side. If we had gone the hyperconverged route we would pretty much have had to rip all that out.

Then we looked at Pure. In the end, we'd been partners with Dell EMC for so long that it didn't make sense to venture out into some unknown when we were talking about the main platform which we were going to build all our VMs off of.

What other advice do I have?

Find out your needs before you look at your options. Everyone's going to tell you theirs is the best but you need to know what you need going in, and what kind of performance level you need. If they're not willing to do a PoC then don't do it. If they're not willing to put their product out there and compare it with another product, then don't even consider them.

I would give it an eight out of ten. It has some deduplication to try to reduce some of the overlap that VMs, by nature, have. But I feel that could be better to try to save on storage. Also, better reclaimed-space management on it would be nice. Reclaimed space on virtual systems can be a pain to manage sometimes.

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