How has it helped my organization?
The inline dedupe and compression has allowed me to run all my servers and appliances (total 60) in an HA configuration while taking up just 8U of rack space (4x2U nodes). There is incredibly fast I/O and with the OmniCubes, my users are spoiled with the super-fast reads and writes. Did I mention that we truly enjoy our 99.999% up time?
What is most valuable?
The ease of managing this system! Recently added the All Flash CN3400F and oh my goodness are these nodes fast as lighting! I love having a private cloud for my organization. Public cloud will never care for my organizations data more than I do.
What needs improvement?
I gave it an excellent rating, thus I think it's well excellent! If there was anything I would like to see, it would be indexed backups. You have to hunt a bit if you have to restore a file. Index the backups and it would be perfect!
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It's been a little dodgy this year on my CN3000s at Prod when they have lost HA Sync. This has only happened when we've lost Internet connection to our DR site. I'm still trying to understand why this happens. It's quite a pain when this occurs.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Slight inconvenience with scaling out with the All Flash nodes. We had to put them into their own datacenter because of compatibility issues with the CN3000s (seriously?). While it's not the end of the world, I unfortunately am not able to do inline vmotion of servers between the datacenters. Instead I have to do a cold storage vmotion with a powered off guest server. Not the end of the world, but is inconvenient to me because it makes for some late nights. A larger server takes many hours to move over my 1GB network. This may just be an issue with my configuration and lack of a 10GB switch.
How are customer service and technical support?
Customer service has been slightly impacted since HP purchased Simplvity. The support is still excellent, it just takes them a bit more time to get back to you when you open even a critical ticket. I'll give HP some time to adjust and update this part of the review later.
Technical support is excellent +++. The HP purchase of Simplvity has not impacted the skill level of the engineers I have worked with. They are still great.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We had an aging Compellent SAN which was critically close to running out of disk space. Dell would not sell me an additional disk enclosure, thus forcing me to do a forklift upgrade. Moving to the Simplivity HCI allowed me considerably more resources and we came in under budget.
How was the initial setup?
Initial setup was very straightforward. It's almost plug and play! Adding the All Flash node needed a little more effort.
What about the implementation team?
A vendor team implemented it. Expertise was excellent. I couldn't have asked for better.
What was our ROI?
I'm not in finance, so I don't know the numbers, but I do know that I've since added 10 additional VMs and appliances, and can still add more without having to buy anything. I've saved on VM licensing because I was able to get rid of SRM. I couldn't even imagine how much it would cost to host all these servers in the public cloud!
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
This solution, while costly as all these solutions are, was in fact less expensive than upgrading my old SAN. Licensing is easily maintained. Keep in mind that you still have to license VMware per processor.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
Before choosing this product, we also evaluated Nutanix and Dell Compellent.
What other advice do I have?
Having my private cloud within my Simplivity infrastructure has given me so much more than I could have ever expected. I love the ability to fire off a full, application-aware backup of a VM and have it complete in just under four seconds. Also, I can now fail my entire data center over to my DR site and have everything up an running in well under 30 minutes, with my mission-critical servers up in under 10 minutes (the servers do have to power on!). It's awesome. You do need EZ-DR by VM20/20 to accomplish this, but it is a fraction of the cost of VMware Site Recovery Manager.
In the world of traditional backups using backup software which writes to either tape or disk, the backup software will index the files to match exactly to how they appear on the server. When performing a native Simplivity backup which allows for file level restoration , the folders, subfolders and files are not indexed but rather are listed in a somewhat, but not totally, random order. More often than not, when I am asked to restore something from backup, it will be a single file that someone has either accidentally deleted or overwritten. I have very large file servers which contain thousands of folders and subfolders. Without the benefit of indexing, it sometimes takes a bit of searching to find the correct folder/file that needs to be restored. It is occasionally easier to just restore the entire file server (renamed of course), which only takes about 10 seconds, and copy the file from the restored VM than it is to find the single file in the backup. This is just an inconvenience, definitely not a deal breaker.