IBM FlashSystem Review

Good compression and deduplication features, good price, and stable

What is our primary use case?

It is block storage. We basically use it for the storage units.

What is most valuable?

The compression and deduplication features are the most valuable. 

What needs improvement?

They can improve its initial configuration. The initial configuration is currently very difficult. There are multiple choices or alternative ways to configure based on the use case and what you are targeting out of the device, that is, more capacity or more performance. These multiple alternatives cause a lot of confusion.

They should increase the processing part of the nodes. Currently, you can cluster up to eight nodes. From my experience and the workload that I am facing in my environment currently, I would like to see either a bigger or stronger node or a larger number of nodes that can be clustered together. We formally communicated to them that we need to see either this or that, and they are working on something.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for 14 to 15 months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

If you set it up correctly, it is very stable. After we configured it correctly, we didn't have any issues. I didn't have any issues after the first week of the configuration.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't scaled it yet, but based on the documentation and specification, it is actually scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have been in touch with IBM support, and I did it a lot. Normally, they respond within an acceptable time with a sufficiently detailed answer. Around 90% of the time, you will get the answer straight back. In some rare cases, you need to ask them more. You send them a mail asking to clarify something or get more details about how to do a specific task, but normally, they provide a satisfactory answer.

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

We are a very large bank, and we have a lot of storage devices from multiple vendors. We have devices from Dell EMC, NetApp, and Pure Storage. Every product has its advantages and disadvantages. 

If you are targeting functionality, we get the most functionality from IBM FlashSystem, and then from Pure Storage, and then from Dell EMC boxes. If you are targeting performance, then Dell EMC will come first, then IBM FlashSystem, and then Pure Storage. If you are targeting compression deduplication that will generate more capacity, then Pure Storage will come at number one, IBM FlashSystem will come at number two, and Dell EMC will come at number three.

How was the initial setup?

Its initial configuration is difficult. We went through the books and manuals, but we didn't do it correctly. Therefore, we had to start again from scratch. It took two or three attempts to do it correctly. 

What about the implementation team?

We implemented it on our own. My team is managing all of the storage devices that we have, and there are six of us. IBM is responsible for its maintenance.

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

Among IBM, Dell EMC, and Pure Storage, IBM is the cheapest. The price is also based on our location, the size of our entity, and our regular annual purchases from them. We are a very big IBM customer, so we normally get very high discounts. We are not a big customer of Pure Storage. We don't buy that much from Pure Storage per year.

Everything is included in the price. There is no extra license for different functions.

What other advice do I have?

I would advise others to get somebody to do it for you. Don't do it yourself, or read the book carefully. Our implementation was complicated, so we ended up doing it multiple times. Other colleagues I know in other institutes have much smaller systems than the one we bought. They implemented it in four hours. So, for complex and big implementations, either get an expert to do it for you or read the documentation multiple times before you start, which we didn't.

I would rate IBM FlashSystem an eight out of ten.

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