IBM FlashSystem Review

Provides our customers with virtualization and flattening.

What is most valuable?

The most important feature that our customers are very interested in is the virtualization. Being able to have the flexibility as they grow, without having to just lift and replace everything that they're doing.

Where it's moving into now is a unified set of advanced features that they're able to lay across their enterprise, without it being different in every single product that they're dealing with.

The virtualization, the flattening, and those advanced characteristics of the product are really what our customers have gravitated towards on the V9000.

How has it helped my organization?

When it comes to our benefits from this solution, a lot of it comes down to simplicity. If we take a look at a lot of these complex IT solutions today, they're very hard to maintain and to administer. However, the V9000 and the investment that IBM has made to the user experience, makes it very easy for our customers to be able to self-maintain and self-administer their own environment. They don't have to always go to a storage consultant or have to call into support. That's been very beneficial to our clients.

What needs improvement?

We think that IBM has to continue to invest in additional data reduction capabilities which are on their roadmap. Being able to use flash most efficiently, where the least amount of data is physically being stored on the V9000 is really where IBM needs to make additional investment. They are doing that.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability's been rock solid. If we take a look at the V9000 and the base of what it's built on, it is the heritage of IBM Storwize. This goes back to IBM SAN Volume Controller or SVC. We're on a very mature code base and it is a code base that's been very extendable.

So over the years, they've been able to inject new capabilities in the product line while still keeping the product very stable. We've had customers who have been through multiple upgrade cycles over the life of the product with no issues at all.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of the V9000 product is really where it shines. Being able to add additional capacity to the unit, without having to come up with a different management of lots of separate units, has been very beneficial to clients.

That idea of starting small with their current flash rollout and then being able to grow as the budget allows, has been very beneficial to clients.

How is customer service and technical support?

We've been absolutely happy with the technical support.

From an IBM perspective for technical support, they really love the V9000, especially when you're going to do some enhanced service offerings that IBM has.

When it comes to using things like the technical advisor, being able to have more of a concierge service with support has been very beneficial to clients.

Which solutions did we use previously?

A lot of our customers were previously using either all disk or hybrid solutions for their storage. Moving towards an all-flash V9000, allowed them to take performance management and stop having to worry about that in their everyday tasks.

Moving to an all-flash array allowed them to spend more time dealing with application integration and dealing with their end users. This is rather than having to do performance management and moving data around. The all-flash array made their life a lot simpler.

How was the initial setup?

We were involved with all aspects:

  • Initial design
  • Setup
  • Rollout
  • Integration with the different operating systems and different hosts through the storage fabric

It was straightforward. What we really like about the V9000 is that we're able to take implementation engineers who had experience with other members of the Storwize family.

They are able to take those skills that they learned within other product sets and directly translate those to the V9000.

They are able to very quickly come up to speed on the product without having to learn a brand new skill set.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

From a CAS Severn perspective, IBM continues to be our premier supplier of storage. We do have a lot of experience with other vendors in the industry, including Pure Storage, EMC, and HP.

When it comes to recommending a vendor, the entire lifecycle of supporting a system is important. That's everything from design, to implementation, to ongoing support. IBM provides a strong package on all three aspects of the lifecycle of the equipment.

What other advice do I have?

Folks that are looking to implement the V9000 really should take a look at the simplicity that an all-flash array can bring to their environment. They should look at the efficiency of being able to take skills that they might have learned within other Storwize products and be able to directly translate those into the V9000.

To summarize: Similar interface, similar support interaction, and the way they can take knowledge that they previously had and be able to directly translate that to their all-flash array decision.

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