Pavilion HyperParallel Flash Array Review

We can replace the disks in the SAN without replacing the SAN, which is much cheaper

What is our primary use case?

We run a virtualized workload. Right now, we run everything on Pavilion, which includes our high performance databases and engineering tasks as well as Exchange and file shares. All that stuff runs on our Pavilion Hyperparallel Flash Array.

We use block storage for our VMware infrastructure and are a complete VM shop. All of our files servers run on VMs, which use block storage on the Pavilion device.

How has it helped my organization?

It comes down to the performance that they offer as well as the flexibility of bringing your own disk and replacing them on your own cycle. Those are the benefits that we get.

We have been able to consolidate storage into Pavilion. Pavilions are our only SANs because it is a bring your own disk solution. When new drives come out, we are able to take out half of the drives in the system, put in new drives, move our VMs over to the new drives, take the other drives out, and populate those with new drives. Then, we are suddenly twice as dense as we were before. NVMe flash is only going to get denser and cheaper so we can make use of that every couple of years by just throwing newer disks into it at a fraction of the cost of a new SAN.

We have been able to run a tremendous number of VMs on our Pavilion system. We haven't seen a change in staff. I wouldn’t consider any solution that I have to bring on additional staff to support. It is mostly about cost savings in hardware, and a happiness factor for all our users that everything will work so quickly.

What is most valuable?

The performance on it is stellar, but what most attracted me to the solution was the bring your own disk idea. With traditional SAN storage, you are buying their technology and name, but the disks are just commodity disks. When you open up an HPE SAN or a Dell EMC SAN, and you start pulling the drives out, they are the same kind of drives that you can buy on Amazon all day long. However, they add an extra zero to the cost at the end; they are ten times or more what you would actually pay to buy these things yourself. They just flash them with a special firmware so their SAN will recognize and use them, preventing other similar disks from working in it, then they charge you a premium. 

With Pavilion’s BYOD technology, as long as you have some high-performance disk (and it is a well-known disk in the marketplace) you can buy your own disk and populate your array however you want. This means that you don't have to buy a new storage array when the price of disk falls, or disk becomes more condensed, or when there is a paradigm shift in the technology that allows them to make these things cheaper. So, every couple of years, we can replace the disks in the SAN without replacing the SAN itself, and it is tremendously cheaper to do it that way.

It is extremely important that Pavilion offers flexibility in terms of storage and density. I have gone through many cycles in my career where I bought a SAN. The seller would talk a good game about how the SAN was expandable, but all that meant was that I could buy an additional SAN in the future and make them talk on the same network. That is not what anybody wants. They just want to be able to replace the older technology with something newer, not bolt something else on and take up more space in the data center.

What needs improvement?

The rail system that Pavilion uses to mount up into a standard Dell or APC cabinet extends further back than normal rails, and they cover up the zero PDU slot. So, I don't like the rail system that comes with the device. That is my biggest complaint.

For how long have I used the solution?

I might have been one of the very first customers of Pavilion. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have had no issues with uptime. The device has been responsive. It has been reliable hardware. I have not had a single unexpected disk failure. I am very happy with the reliability of the device.

We really only have two network technicians that need to touch it. If you have the password for it, then you can get in and manage it. It is fairly easy to understand because it has an intuitive interface.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It certainly exceeds our expected capacity for years. Right now, our device is populated to about a fourth of the total volume of the inside of the array. So, we are running at about 25 percent of the device's capacity. We are mostly focused on having dense drives so we are more nimble. However, I expect to survive another 10 years, and in the IT space, having equipment survive that long is incredible.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is absolutely stellar. They have the best tech support that I have ever worked with. There is no queuing system. When you call them up, somebody answers. They will block out time and work with you on downtime issues. You don't have to, "Press one, if you have a camera, press two, if you have a printer." There is none of that stuff. They do one thing, and they do it well.

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

I was researching some bleeding edge stuff with NVMe over Fabrics and came across only three companies who had ventured into this space. Pavilion was the only one who had a product at the time. Pavilion was really the first to market with their NVMe over Fabrics technology. I was looking for a SAN which could meet the performance that I needed. We were coming from a Fusion-io background, so we had a number of systems that had internal storage using Fusion-io cards. At the time, those were the fastest things that you could possibly get. You couldn't get more performance than Fusion-io, but we really needed to move towards a centralized storage solution. Therefore, I was looking for something that wouldn't be a step backwards in performance, and Pavilion's NVMe over Fabrics technology was really the only thing in the market that could meet the performance demand.

How was the initial setup?

It has been a few years since I installed our first system, but I don’t recall having any issues with the setup. We just needed to mount it up, give it some IP addresses, and populate the thing with storage. It took a minute or so to recognize everything. We created the volumes for storage, then we presented them to ESX. We were up and running in less than an hour. 

Back when I looked at Pavilion, a lot of SANs had special SAN management software that you had to install on your computer in order to make it work. Some of this stuff had dependencies, like old versions of Java, Flash, or other aging technologies. One of the things that I liked about Pavilion was that all their management was on the box through a web interface. That was something that made me extremely happy, coming from a background of managing HPE SANs and Dell EMC SANs, where you really couldn't do much through the web interface. Pavilion Hyperparallel Flash Array could be completely managed in the web, e.g., a local interface that I could pull up in a web browser. That is what I needed.

What about the implementation team?

I don't know if they still do this, but Pavilion was a very white glove solution for us. We were involved every step of the way, but we had on-hand support for deploying the device. Pavilion has excellent customer service.

What was our ROI?

Over the life of the device (four years), Pavilion has probably saved us a half million dollars instead of replacing it with something else.

It has saved us money over other solutions. We have no direct ROI per se. It is not like the SAN pays us to run. We need to have one. It is cheaper than our other options. So, it was an immediate ROI. We bought it and it is cheaper than the other things that we could have done.

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

This is hardware. They have a singular array that you can populate with your own disk, or you can buy the disks through them. For controllers, you pay for the components inside of the SAN, but there is only one chassis that they work with.

Pavilion provides us with DAS performance and SAN manageability at an affordable price. This has allowed us to continue a very rapid growth of our business.

Because we were one of the first customers, we have slightly different deals than a lot of the people who are coming into it now. I believe their target model was more a lease kind of situation rather than a purchase situation. I know that it appeals a great deal to financial customers, people who work in banking industries, etc.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I looked at other solutions on paper, but Pavilion was really the first to market. They were the only company who actually had a product. Everybody else had a product in development. When I contacted Pavilion, they were like, "Yeah, we know your name. We would love to do business with you. Would you like a device to test with?" I said, "Yeah, send me one." They created it and brought it here, then they set it up for us. They did the demo, and we were extremely happy.

There was nothing in the market at the time that could compare to their speed. So, the speed was absolutely there.

Pavilion is my preferred SAN solution. We have two Pavilion devices in our environment now. We do not have any plans to deploy other SAN storage. Though, that really depends on the growth of the business and if we need more data centers. If we have to make another data center somewhere, then we will absolutely be buying another Pavilion for that location.

What other advice do I have?

I recommend the solution strongly. I am happy with everything about the solution, except for the rail kit. I would rate this solution as 10 out of 10.

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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