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IBM FlashSystem Review
It supports a high IOPS rate. Initial setup is simple.


Valuable Features:

The most valuable feature is that is supports a high IOPS rate. We have a heavy workload. Some storage systems are not as good in terms of IOPS. We are using just the FlashSystems. It is virtualized using SVCs. We are using normal physical disks like Storwize for not-so-hot data. For hot data, we are using FlashSystems.

I think the performance of most of the application is improving. Our users now say that it's much better than it was before. The storage speed is perfect.

Improvements to My Organization:

We have some processes in our company that were cut in half by using the FlashSystem.

Room for Improvement:

It has room for improvement in the area of stability. The firmware is upgraded frequently. We need to update it maybe three or four time a year because of the new features and bug fixes. On one side, it is good; but, on the other side, it is not good because we need to upgrade within one year or they will not support the firmware. It would be better if they supported what we already have for longer.

Stability Issues:

We sometimes had a problem with some bugs in FlashSystems. One time, one FlashSystem was burnt up. There was some smoke and the data was damaged. We saved it because we have redundancy in the cluster. At the cluster level, we make copies and replicate to the other site for disaster recovery situations.

Scalability Issues:

We upgraded one FlashSystem two months ago because it was not full. We had to buy two modules, if I remember correctly. This was quite a complicated upgrade. IBM brought us new FlashSystems. Because it is virtualized, we moved the data from this one, upgraded it, and moved the data back; but it was done dynamically without any outage. 

With the virtualized FlashSystem, we hope for improved response time, but the availability is improved. It is also flexible in that we could upgrade it dynamically, move the data, and so on.

Technical Support:

I think the guys in our country are very clever in this. We can count on them. When we call them, they respond very fast and bring the new parts on time. The repair time is written into the SLA. Support is available 24/7 and I think the repair time is within 24 hours.

Previous Solutions:

Before we were using IBM DS8000s. The application was consuming a lot of IOPS with a lot of hot data. 

We needed a higher IOPS rate. We chose the FlashSystem because the response time needs to be very fast. When the people working on the application feel that the response time is not good, or there is not enough storage space for the amount of data they have, then we have a flexible enough infrastructure to dynamically upgrade them to the FlashSystem. We do this planning on a yearly basis. We design the infrastructure solution according to the project requirements. Sometimes, this requires an upgrade to the FlashSystem.

Initial Setup:

The initial setup we did ourselves because it is very simple. We did the direct mounting of racks and the hardware. The software design is virtualized using SVCs.

Other Solutions Considered:

We considered other options, but I don’t think there were any other options with such intensive processing as the FlashSystem. We have a lot of tiers; and for other tiers, we have other vendors. I think that the IBM FlashSystem is the highest quality available in the market. For us, considering the whole solution, it was best for us. 

We are very satisfied with IBM's prices, I think.

Other Advice:

I would advise colleagues to use FlashSystems. It's a very good solution for us to achieve our goals.

When I evaluate vendors, for me, the historical relationship is very important, and definitely the communication. With IBM, we know the vendor well. 

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