What is our primary use case?
My customers procure the HCI boxes from Dell. They deploy it in their data center and then we plan the solution and design or configure the network-based upon how many PLR's and how much storage we need for the Vscale setup. Then we create all the storage-related configuration software policies for networking. We usually use NSX and then we have a different setup. If we are using ACI Cisco it's also a different setup. So we configure it based on company to company. Some of the cases we have configured are portals. In some cases, we use API to provide detailed automated deployment. We have other tools that we use to automate end to end deployment.
The use cases of HCI or even Vscale Architecture are predominantly the areas where the customer has an edge data center or an extended data center where they don't want to set up end to end distributors or fabric costs or to set up network fabric using LTL server switching. We configure the aggregation layer before we sell, plug the plugin distributed cables, manage the networking independently, start it independently, and compute it independently. We use it in the use case when the customer wants an agile type of environment where they can plug and play and get it with a box and a small data center from edge locations. It is for customers who are leveraging IoT of IG setup who have edge data centers and want to be agile and less prone to human errors.
What is most valuable?
The feature I have found most valuable is SDN, the software-defined networking stack. With both HCI and NSX, I find this very intuitive. I have also found the storage management, the ease of fabric which we create, and the no file tolerance features valuable. Additionally, you can say the robustness and the stable behavior of the VxBlock boxes. I particularly find them to be very robust and agile.
What needs improvement?
In terms of what could be improved, I particularly think the scope of automation is very much limited. So they should introduce some more STK's and APIs for automation first thing. Secondly, in terms of Vscale Architecture, they should have some evangelists. When I go to the community for VMware ESXi or NSX, I get lots of information online everywhere because community members are talking, evangelists are talking. Additionally, I usually have a lot of KV articles and lot of community articles I can read and sort out the minor issues. But, in terms of Vscale, you need to be very mature in all aspects of the technology and when you get disturbed, you have to go through the entire documentation to figure things out. I think I heard this from one or two customers as well. Their resources are not able to find much online support for Vscale.
As for what should be included in future releases, customers are looking for a unified management console, which they have, but the console should be more user-friendly. Secondly, they should have more scope of orchestration. Thirdly, regarding monitoring, there should be a built-in monitoring engine like we have in Nutanix. These are the things customers complain about sometimes.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have been working on Dell EMC Vscale Architecture since 2017.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Vscale Architecture is quite stable. Once the consultant has deployed it then it's quite stable and it's quite a reliable solution. I know customers who deployed Vscale Architecture once and now it is running for the last year without any support.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Vscale's scalability is super good. Vscale's scalability, manageability, and performance are all three areas that I emphasize when I sell Vscale Architectures to the customer. Compared to Nutanix or SimpliVity, these three things you will find better on the Vscale setup.
How are customer service and technical support?
The technical support is quite good. It's quite good. But I get help more quickly with VMware support because we have their technical account manager for that, for multiple customers. For Dell, we get support quickly once we get the support engineer online, then it's very seamless. But getting the support engineer sometimes takes time.
Again, if I compare the support to VMware, VMware is faster. If I compare it with some other products, maybe HP, then the Dell support is quick.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
Earlier I was working directly with VMware, but right now we're not.
How was the initial setup?
The initial set up is very much straightforward. In terms of networking, if somebody wants to do an underlay or an overlay setup, then it gets complex. But the initial setup, if you have to do any low-level setup on a greenfield deployment, it's very intuitive and very good. You can say it is a seamless setup.
As for how long setup takes - it depends. We've deployed some setups in one day but in that case, we already had the design and our planning ready. Then when it came, we plugged it in with the IP details and we configured it from the console within a day. The first time it's a small setup. For the big setup, we need more technical things. Let's say it's a telco customer or a banking customer, they have to adhere to PCI standards and guidelines and be tier 9,000 compliant. In that case, it took us two or three days.
What about the implementation team?
People should use the help of an integrator, re-seller or consultant and not just use an IT team.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
We evaluate availability, manageability, performance, and scalability. These four factors are what we use to create a design for a customer. Apart from that an odd out cost is also a factor when it comes to management approval. So we design a solution and I go to a big internal bid and the customer has to evaluate multiple things. Smaller budgets are also one of the constraints which we have to consider if we go to market to get things.
We have a procured license with Dell and I am basically a technical resource, an architect. So whenever we propose a solution, if the solution gets the bid, in that case there is a supporting team, so procurement comes with licensing.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
In terms of comparing the technology in detail, I have end to end PPT's, etc. and I created all those details - every file from the network, storage, computer, and all areas. If you talk about the monitoring portal or the orchestration portal or the manageable management portal, then things are different. In Nutanix, they're end to end infrastructure is quite seamless. If you want to configure Vscale, you have to go through three consoles. So those things are issues. I don't think this is the right time to compare all technologies.
What other advice do I have?
In terms of advice for people considering Vscale Architecture, I would like to tell them not to compromise when they evaluate the technology. They should evaluate properly on performance, scalability, manageability and availability. They should evaluate these four factors deeply. Sometimes customer don't evaluate enough on performance and the scalability and they go for Nutanix or SimpliVity, but if they properly evaluated these factors, I think they would find Vscale Architecture more profitable in the long term.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give Dell EMC Vscale Architecture an eight. This is because of the cost for the customers. Some of the customers are not getting good costs for their budget, especially if they are a small customer. When they evaluate the budget, it is high for them. The second thing is orchestration and manageability. The management of the console or the management lead which we have is little bit distributed. I know these things will mature with time and we'll get a better solution. We are trying to position Dell, Tealium, and Vscale. We see Vscale architecture more than other solutions and I firmly think that one day it will be 10 out of 10.