EMC VNX [EOL] Review

It Was Ill-Equipped To Handle Our Environment Though Tiering Does Allow Dynamic Data Allocation Among Disk Types

What is most valuable?

Tiering, because it allows your data to dynamically move among different disk types based on demand in the last 24 hours. This removes the manual work to keep data in certain disk types.

How has it helped my organization?

We actually stopped using the VNX as it was ill-equipped to handle our environment with the way EMC spec’d it out. I do not recommend the Gen 1 VNX to anyone in this day and age. It’s outdated technology and a newer far less expensive array can more than adequately handle 99% of the tasks better than the VNX architecture.

What needs improvement?

EMC could have made the effort to spec the device appropriately. Instead, they low-balled the config in 2011 to make the price tag look alluring. Then, less than 12 months in, we needed to spend 35% of the cost of the entire array to put enough disks in the array to make it both perform and contain enough capacity, which only lasted until mid-2013. The device had multiple issues from 2013 – 2016 and numerous support calls to no avail, until I told them they would lose our business if they couldn’t identify the issue.

They finally spilled the beans, years after all of the issues, that the device was not spec’d appropriately for our environment. If they would have been honest about it, instead of cheaping out the config to make the solution appear appealing, this could have been avoided.

The competitor’s product was more expensive but would have destroyed the VNX’s capabilities. All they cared about was the sale.

For how long have I used the solution?

Six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Yes, there were many performance issues due to the storage pool latency being averaging more than 7ms, causing user-side impacts; spikes all the way to 256ms, array-wide. All issues surround the original EMC config, and poor architecture in their attempt to add disks to fix their own issue. It caused us three years of production-level issues including downtime to key servers.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Yes, this solution is sensitive to scalability in the sense that you require certain proportions of all three tiers of disk if you enable Auto-Tiering. This resulted in performance issues with the mid-tier having insufficient capacity. The array was thrashing to attempt to use 7200 RPM SATA disks in the lowest tier since they had the capacity. This was disastrous and EMC would not even acknowledge the issue until they forced us to prove it.

How is customer service and technical support?

Two out of 10 for overall technical support. Simple hardware issues like failed drives were promptly dealt with, but performance issues were treated like mysteries even by tier 2 support and engineers. This went on for over three years. We had to use our own team to prove to them, with their own tools, what the issue was in the NAR files.

Which solutions did we use previously?

HPE EVA. End-of-life standard lifecycle replacement.

How was the initial setup?

EMC made it overly complex, and miswired the B fabric on our fibre channel. We fixed it a year later, after it caused an outage. To be clear, this was a paid-for EMC install engineer. Mistakes happen, but costing a company in downtime is not acceptable.

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

Ask thrice, not once, not twice… Ensure it is spec’d for your needs for performance and capacity. Ensure you have the appropriate suites purchased up front, and always buy the warranty for all years up front, or EMC will gouge you on years four and five. The $75,000 in support we would have pain in year four for a maxed out VNX 5300, let us simply pay for a chunk of a next-gen, all flash array and solve all issues for latency and performance as well as capacity.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Yes, first-gen HPE 3PAR and IBM.

What other advice do I have?

Stay away, it’s old technology now. Look at newer arrays and features.

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