EMC VMAX Review

A stable and reliable workhorse for our Mission Critical systems


What is our primary use case?

The VMAX3 is primarily used as our Tier 1 Storage Platform. Virtual Systems (ESX VMWare), Physical Sun Solaris, Physical AIX, Physical and Virtual SQL, SAP, ERP, etc.

The VMAX3 services the majority of our Mission Critical systems within our environment.

How has it helped my organization?

The newer VMAX3 and PowerMax systems are super reliable, super fast, and are always on. We achieve sub-ms response times for Mission Critical (MC) systems with poorly written applications. This is a workhorse platform, which is also the most reliable and stable platform in our environment.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features for us are:

  • True Active/Active Architecture = Painless and quick upgrades that require zero downtime.
  • All-Flash Design that provides sub-ms response times - Currently < 1ms average (3ms max) across all of our workloads.
  • Enhanced Unisphere Management Console makes it easy to use and setup - Much easier than previous versions of VMAX/Unisphere. Assigning and Expanding volumes is a snap. We no longer need to worry about meta devices (striped and concatenated) that took a long time to expand. That is now a thing of the past.

What needs improvement?

I'm looking for the day in which the VMAX platform can be considered 'web scale.'  Web Scale to me means having a distributed cluster (scale out) architecture. It's true that you can scale out VMAX\PowerMax systems by adding Engines.  I would like to expand on this by adding the capability to add cpu\disk\etc. and evict old cpu\disk in the system.  This way all data migrations occurs automatically in the background.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three Years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is the main selling point. This solution is super stable and reliable, and the kind of system that allows you to sleep at night. Also, you don't have to sweat out the upgrades.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scales very well and occupies a small footprint. We went from seven-floor tiles to one for a single use case. We would like to eventually see a web-scale solution in the future.

How are customer service and technical support?

VMAX customer service is very good. I can not say this for all product lines, but VMAX support specifically is fast and responsive. More importantly, they know their product very well.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

We migrated off various older VMAX and HDS arrays. We switched due to the ease of use, reliability, no-impact upgrades, and performance

How was the initial setup?

Once all of the up-front requirements are satisfied, it very easy to setup and use.
Ethernet Management Connections, Power Requirements, Floor Tile Weight, Fiber SAN connections, etc. Once those are all identified and pre-staged, the install is fairly simple from there.

What about the implementation team?

Dell EMC did the core rack/stack and initial IP Setup for management as part of their normal deployment. We did everything else internally from that point.  Activated Pool, Connected SAN, Zoned in Hosts, Created Masking Views, etc.  All pretty simple, but Dell EMC (CDW in our case) can provide any services needed to complete the deployment.

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

Setup cost and licensing are pretty straightforward. A single license key enables all of our needed capabilities and functions. The local sales and engineering teams were easy to engage and knowledgeable.

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