IBM FlashSystem Review

Provides data reduction for many workloads.

What is most valuable?

This was a great step forward from the XIV in next generation hardware for the customer. We're seeing tremendous data reduction for many workloads. It's not a 100% move from XIV for all workloads, however, but the customer is very pleased, for the most part, in their environment.

How has it helped my organization?

Benefits for us include lower overall cost, higher density, lower data center costs, and reduced total TCO, as well as moving to an all-flash solution versus a flash/spinning disk solution.

What needs improvement?

The HSM management console GUI still need some enhancements. It is still a bit awkward in navigation, and some functions/features are not yet fully integrated into the GUI support, but only via CLI. We also need to get reporting down to individual pool and volume levels, rather than just overall system levels. Customers need a more granular view of their individual business usage as well.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've had some issues with stability, such as a couple of hardware failures and a couple of code bugs. They were addressed, but they caused initial customer concern.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is quite nice, with being able to support over 1.5TB effective in one rack is a nice selling feature. One of the early issues was that they weren't at a code release where we were able to add new elements right away in a non-disruptive fashion. We had to wait for a couple of code releases for that. We've gone beyond that now. At this point, scalability is no longer an issue.

How is customer service and technical support?

Technical support has been great. They have been engaged from start to finish.

Which solutions did we use previously?

Regarding previous solutions, this was more of a technology refresh decision. A customer was heavily invested in an older technology that they were very satisfied with, but they wanted to continue to make the move to flash technology. This was the next logical era of evolution.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was a little more difficult than the predecessor XIV, but it's a new product, so a learning curve is to be expected. As it is becoming more common in the field, it should be getting better documented and more straightforward to deploy. We are seeing new and continual updates to Red books and best practices documents now.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We didn't really consider alternative solutions, mainly because there aren’t any out there that can touch the A9000 family. From our standpoint, we're an IBM business partner. We value reliability and performance above everything else. Price is a close second, but reliability is key.

What other advice do I have?

Read anything and everything you can, such as documentation manuals and best practices that are coming out. Stay plugged into the IBM communities and leverage services if this is your first engagement for capacity and sizing.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We are an IBM business partner.
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