One of the best features of the VNX is the ability to combine drives of different types into a virtual Storage Pool. By combining small but fast flash drives, SAS drives, and high-capacity but slower NL-SAS drives, the VNX can intelligently move data to the different tiers of storage based on usage. This maximizes performance and investment by making sure commonly accessed data is stored in flash, while rarely-accessed data can be sent to the NL-SAS drives.
Improvements to My Organization:
By utilizing the Storage Pools feature of the VNX, our organization can provide the required performance without having to over-invest in storage for data that doesn't require expensive drives.
Room for Improvement:
The management software used for the VNX is Unicenter. While it is an improvement over Navicenter, used in older EMC SANs, it still feels outdated in comparison to other SAN management software. Reporting is clunky and requires data collection to files, which then have to be retrieved and uploaded to a third-party site for processing before finally downloading the report.
Use of Solution:
I have used the VNX SAN for six years, upgrading from the previous SAN.
Deployment was very easy with the help of EMC technical services. Migration of data to the VNX was minimally disruptive thanks to the SAN copy feature.
There were never any stability problems thanks to fully redundant storage processors, power supplies, and hot spare drives.
We did purchase additional shelves of drives a few years after the initial purchase. Again, with the support of EMC technical services, the hardware was added to the VNX without downtime or disruption. The Storage Pools allow for dynamic addition of new drives.
Customer service is top-notch with a dedicated sales and technical resource who are familiar with your environment and spend a lot of time understanding your business needs.
EMC technical support is top notch when utilizing the ESRS appliance which sends critical alerts directly to EMC. Failed drives were replaced without any input on my end, sometimes before I became aware of the failure. Support can also remote in and perform code upgrades.
Previous to the VNX, we were using an EMC CX-80 SAN. The reason for switching was to stay on a supported platform.
The initial setup involves completing a pre-install survey, which the installer needs to properly configure the settings (IP addresses, DNS, NTP, etc.). The questions are easy to understand.
The initial hardware setup and configuration was completed by on-site technicians from EMC. They were fully trained and certified on the VNX and had completed dozens of similar installations.
We calculated our ROI to three years and the planned life of the VNX is six years. We are currently in the process of migrating to a new EMC XtremIO SAN, which will have an even shorter ROI.
Cost and Licensing Advice:
While EMC tends to be on the expensive side, the stability and support of their products are top-notch and I feel are worth the cost.
Other Solutions Considered:
When we evaluated SANs, we also looked at solutions by IBM. Our familiarity and relationship with EMC weighed heavily with our choice.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.