What is most valuable?
The most valuable feature is the continuity of the user interface. Many of our customers leverage Storwize and XIV storage subsystems. That continuity in look and feel has likely helped the FlashSystem because transitioning to using this new product doesn't require any additional training or familiarization time. Instead, customers leverage their experiences to perform 90-95% of the tasks necessary to get a new FlashSystem 900 running.
It's especially important to be able to walk into a customer site and say, "Hey, you have access to the same user experience that you have with your Storwize system, and/or a very similar user experience to your XIV."
How has it helped my organization?
Having a consistent user experience and user interface has helped save our customers' time: we don't have to retrain them for a new user interface, and they don't have the learning curve associated with understanding the nuances of a new interface.
The FlashSystem has really helped improve our customers' I/O intensive workloads. Many of our customers leverage Flash for database workloads and appreciate the extra performance boost it gives.
What needs improvement?
A lot of the beauty of the FlashSystem 900 is that it's very, very focused on what it does, and it does it well. I don't really think there are additional features required.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The FlashSystem 900 is a relatively stable platform. While any codebase will have some issues and require patching (nothing is perfect), the codebase on which the FlashSystem 900 is built is solid.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
As a building block, the FlashSystem 900 isn't really intended to scale out to a large degree. Instead, it's intended to be used as a block with which to build out a scalable solution (such as with an A9000/A9000R or a V9000).
How is customer service and technical support?
IBM's support for storage hardware is usually excellent. Technical Support
IBM's storage technical support is usually excellent.
How was the initial setup?
I have been involved in the initial setup with a number of customers. It's very straightforward. It's a lot easier than the old days.
What other advice do I have?
If you are looking for a great flash solution that can be virtualized or utilized as a building block for a scalable flash solution, or if you're looking for flash for a very specific workload, then you may want to consider a FlashSystem 900.
It's probably the most straightforward piece of hardware you can get. The user experience from the interfaces and the price points for the performance a really solid.
I'm an IBM Business Partner, so there's really only one vendor that we go to for our storage. However, even if I weren't an IBM Business Partner, having a pretty stable track record with their products, ease of use, and value delivered for price -- I would probably still recommend a FlashSystem 900 for the use cases I stated earlier.