IBM FlashSystem Review

Simple licensing, good performance, and easy to use and administer

What is most valuable?

Most of the features for the reduction in data compression are useful. 

It is also very easy to use and administer. Its performance is also good.

What needs improvement?

They can include Amazon file system S3 protocol in the upcoming releases. It is a cloud file system. IBM FlashSystem doesn't have this feature in the box for high-end or mid-range. We have got requests for this from customers because we need to use S3 for EDI application storage. 

At the beginning of every year, IBM releases firmware. When I find any bugs in the firmware during the year, I am unable to find any information from IBM regarding the bug. I need to open a ticket, and the IBM engineering team makes a patch only for me. This patch is not public. By creating a customized patch for a client, they don't really solve the issue for everyone. If multiple users have the same bug, IBM should upload the patch on the official website so that we can download it.

IBM FlashSystem has a monitoring tool in the box, but it is not advanced. I need a more advanced tool for more advanced equations and monitoring. All top three storage vendors, that is, EMC, IBM, and Pure Storage, don't have a powerful monitoring tool. To monitor our box to show the statistics for I/Os and latency, I need to pay for extra software. The built-in monitoring storage is not mature enough to handle all requests and generate all reports that I need.

They can include the functionality to stretch a cluster natively without using any additional boxes. In addition, there are some features that EMC has integrated with the box. These features are not available in IBM FlashSystem.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scalable. All projects in my company use the IBM FlashSystem. I am working on high-end storage, not mid-range. I can scale out or scale up. IBM has introduced FlashSystem 9200 to the market in which I can scale SAS disk, NVMe disk, and SSCM disk. I have three options on one box, which are not available with EMC or Pure Storage.

You can also scale out storage in EMC. In Pure Storage, there are issues in scaling. Pure Storage has different boxes like X70, X90, X50, and if I need to scale or upgrade the box, I need to change our controllers. Every Pure Storage box has limited capacity, whereas, for IBM storage, the capacity of the box is not limited.

How are customer service and technical support?

The response of technical support is good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have used NetApp storage and EMC storage. NetApp storage is very poor and bad. EMC is a good competitor of IBM in the market now, and in terms of the number of customers, EMC is number one. User Interface is the main big difference between IBM and EMC. IBM FlashSystem is very easy and friendly comparatively. EMC is very complicated. 

EMC is also closed, whereas IBM FlashSystem is very open. It provides a lot of communication over the internet for administrating and implementing the storage. I am working on a customer project that has EMC storage, and the customer daily complains regarding EMC Unity or XtremIO.

IBM is integrated with the different operating systems by a native operating system multipath. EMC works with PowerPath multipath. Until recently, EMC didn't have these features in the box, and you had to pay for a multipath license. In new technology and operating system versions of EMC, a separate multipath license is not required.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very easy.

What about the implementation team?

I implemented it. I have experience of ten years in implementing IBM storage. It is very easy to implement. 

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

The integration is already included in the license cost of IBM FlashSystem. The integration is very easy. You get the IBM storage core with all software, firmware, and upgrades. EMC provides the features in the box, but they are not free for customers. There is a licensing cost for features.

We have yearly licensing, but IBM has also provided a new option where you pay as you go. They provide a big box, and I pay, for example, for 10 terabytes. If I exceed 10 terabytes, IBM will charge for the new storage after 10 terabytes. It is a good opportunity in the market for using the storage as a cloud and paying as you go. 

What other advice do I have?

I work only on high-end storage. Before recommending a solution, I need to know about the workload, that is, application workload, backup workload, and database workload. IBM provides a free workload script that can be applied to any environment, such as Windows, Unix, or Linux. I need to see the I/O performance, and after which, I can provide the best solution for a customer from Pure Storage, EMC, or IBM. 

I would rate IBM FlashSystem a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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