How has it helped my organization?
We previously had another storage vendor, and we would recompose desktops of 350 VDI desktops or virtual desktops, and it would take us 10 to 12 hours. We then implemented the SolidFire on that same subset of users, the 350 desktops, and we could do it in an hour and a half. It's almost a ten-times savings as far as time for recomposing in our environment or infrastructure.
What is most valuable?
- The simplicity of it
- Ease of use
- The flash array
What needs improvement?
We are looking for, potentially, on the Active IQ reporting side, to do reporting based on the datastore. Right now, I can report on the whole SolidFire, or I can report on just a certain datastore or a volume. I'd like to take all of my VDI infrastructure, which as an example would be multiple datastores, which I would select, and then do reporting on that for dedup, compression, IOPS - all the different metrics that we currently measure in the SolidFire. It'd be nice to be able to selectively pick what you want to monitor, as far as reporting.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Very good. With the exception of a couple drives that reported bad, we've had zero issues from that thing in two and a half years.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scalability's easy. In the automotive industry, we don't know how fast we're going to go and when. It's really unpredictable. So, the scalability was a big feature for us when we were looking for a new storage vendor. We've already added to our cluster two separate times by adding nodes. We've already done that process twice in two and a half years.
How are customer service and technical support?
Hit and miss, to be honest. I've had some bad experiences, I've had some good experiences. All-in-all it's been good, above average, but I have had some unfortunate experiences.
On the negative side of it, I'm working on support, and I would get not enough detail or the support tech would say, "Check the manual." They'd send me the manual, and its a 680-page manual. We're all busy. I have a job too. I don't have time to read through 680 pages. Send me the three, four, five pages that I need that's effective to my problem.
And ultimately just follow-up in another situation where we're working through a case. They tell me I'm fine. Then, a month later, they tell me I've got a problem on my SolidFire array, and all of a sudden. That was not told to me for the past 30 days, and it kind of caught me off guard from a communication standpoint. To me, the customer, I felt it could have definitely been improved.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
Number one was reliability. We had a competitor of SolidFire that was never up, we had multiple downed outages where our whole business was down, and we have 20 dealerships or rooftops. Being down is not acceptable. Obviously, reliability was a big thing, and then, obviously, the scale out and getting to a flash array for VDI was very important for us.
In terms of solving those challenges, it's simple, it's straightforward, it literally just runs itself, and the scalability. When we need more space or storage array, we can just add to our cluster, which is huge, because we can't predict growth in our industry for automotive.
How was the initial setup?
Very straightforward, very easy. We put in a four-node cluster in under two hours, three hours. It was very simple.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We were down between SolidFire before it was acquired by NetApp, so this would be even pre-merger, and our other one was Pure Storage. We chose this solution because of the flexibility to scale out compared to the competitors, such as Pure; along with cost, at almost about a three-to-one cost difference.
Operational costs, flexibility. The more nodes you add the more cost it is, but it's definitely significantly cheaper compared to other competitors that are on the market.
We did not want to consider hybrid storage because we previously had hybrid storage, and we had problems with our VDI, our virtual infrastructure, to where we wanted to get flash array. All flash was a big deal for us to get to.
What other advice do I have?
Primary use case purchase for us was VDI or virtual desktop infrastructure, with the intention of VDI and our whole assortment of load, for the server infrastructure.
Important criteria when selecting a vendor would be reputation, accountability. Support was big for us as well, knowing that support will be there, ten-year, long term. And just durability, and knowing it'll be there.
Regarding advice for a colleague researching this type of solution, do your research, obviously. Check it out, give SolidFire a fair chance if that means you're demoing, bring it on for a bake off, definitely do so. It's worth your time and effort to look into SolidFire and what it has to offer.
It comes down to reliability, and it just runs. It just literally runs itself, which is all I could ask for.