IBM FlashSystem Review

Virtualization significantly decreases the data migration time

What is our primary use case?

We usually use Storwize for SMB customers, when they need small but reliable storage and fast response times. The performance is great.

How has it helped my organization?

The virtualization feature shortens the time to convince customers, to sell the solution, and to implement it.

From the moment we first see a customer and tell him that we are capable of doing this, until we do it, is a relatively short time. It's not going to be a long-term project, one that is going to take time for migration.

What is most valuable?

The user interface is very mature and it's becoming more mature all the time. They made it very easy for the user, very friendly to work with.

They have a virtualization feature and, even if you do not want to buy that feature, you can have it as a trial for two to three months. If you have another brand of storage from another company, you can use this tool to transfer all your data from the old system to the new Storwize system, which really shortens the migration time. This feature makes it much easier for us, as a business partner, to convince the customer that it can be done in a very short time, without any concerns about losing data or something breaking. That's one of the main features, and it works.

It helps me a lot when talking with potential customers who are stuck with all this data and, when they think of moving on to new systems, the first thing that bothers them is how to migrate all this information to a new system.

The other stuff that everybody sells today like tiering, which IBM calls Easy Tier, and FlashCopy, they have been around for years with the other vendors as well.

What needs improvement?

IBM gets a lot of input from the field, from system engineers, regarding what needs to be done and I believe they have a roadmap to try to constantly make the user interface more mature, as well as the options and tools. I trust they are doing good job on this.

I have looked at a few pages of a report I download and I saw a graph there regarding software-defined vendors. IBM is not in a good position on this graph. I know that they are working very hard on this, to make it much better and to get to a level where it's not only hardware but also software to provide a complete solution.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable as a single system or you can have it as a cluster for redundancy. We haven't had any issues, as far as I know, of it crashing or something that might make you suspicious about the reliability of the system. It is really reliable. The system engineers we work with have no doubt regarding any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is fine, but it also depends on the type of customer. If they are a lower-level SMB and we can find out what their growth would be over the next year to two years, the availability of different models from Storwize makes us comfortable in telling customers that they can expand, without any doubt, for another three to four years. They don't need to worry about having to buy a new system in two years. Just upgrade and expand, that's all.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have our own engineers trained by IBM and they are certified. I don't really recall many real issues. As I think back, there has been nothing critical where we had to ask IBM to contact their own labs to find a solution. Day-to-day, we have almost no need for IBM to show up for any problem or technical issues.

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

We are not in a good position to answer this question because we have worked with IBM for all these years. But I believe the way it came about was that we had a situation where we moved a customer from the competition to IBM Storwize. When we looked at the space it took, the performance, the pricing, the ease of working with it, and the migration - especially the migration, because when you want to move somebody from a different vendor to Storwize, people know it's hard work - it was easily done by Storwize and the software that comes with it.

As a business partner, when selecting a vendor the important criteria are the terms and conditions under which you can work with your supplier. In addition, it's the level of availability of the vendor when you need them, that they will respond immediately and are with you in the problem, hand-in-hand, to go solve the issues. One of the main issues is that you don't feel alone in the field, you have somebody with you. That is very important. If there is a problem, the customer also needs to be confident in who we are. We have a name and we are a business partner, but who is backing us up? When you go with a company like IBM, with all its experience, and with your own experience over all these years, that's a huge advantage.

How was the initial setup?

I'm not involved in installation but, as far as I know, it's very straightforward, it's very easy. The main issue is that if you spend enough time on design, to find out what the customer really wants, that makes the implementation easier. That's where the emphasis should be. But as far as the system itself, the installation and putting it up, it takes no time. As far as I know, it's so easy.

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

The pricing has been very competitive for the last few years. IBM got to the point where they changed the pricing model and we feel very comfortable with the pricing. It's very competitive.

Over the last two years, IBM has been coming up with all kinds of interesting promos, especially for the SMB systems. That makes it very competitive price-wise and in terms of performance to help convince customers. It benefits both the customer and us.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also do sell HPE if we have to, but IBM is usuall the first choice because of the pricing and performance.HPE has tried to work with us a lot and we tried to work something out with them, but each time we went back to Storwize, as it fits our needs and it's much easier to work with.

There really aren't any others really on our list. The Infinidat we have in our data center is for our own usage and our own services that we have in the cloud system. It's not something that we go out and install.

What other advice do I have?

IBM is really open and available to those who want to find out what kinds of solutions will fit their needs. More than that, if it becomes more serious, with potential, IBM can provide you almost everything you need to see in its labs, to show you that the numbers they talk about are not only on paper but in real life. They are real and they can get to these performance levels.

IBM does a lot of customer setups in their labs and they invite the potential customers in and show them. But it's not for everyone. When we have a real potential customer and they demand it, that's what we do for them.

There are no 10s in the market right now. Everybody is evolving. As far as where we see storage going, it's not only hardware, it's also software-defined, and everybody is trying to reach a higher and very comprehensive level. And that takes time. It's not IBM, they need others to get to that higher level so we can have a comprehensive solution. It's not because IBM is an eight out of 10 and somebody is a nine or 10. It depends on the solution and application. In some cases, they would rate a 10, in others you might only give them seven.

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
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