SolidFire Review

Has great APIs right out-of-the-box, but it is not fitting our pattern to go to NAS

What is most valuable?

It is fast. By default, its APIs expose pretty much all of its configuration items. On the ONTAP systems, we use WFA to expose the APIs, where with SolidFire, everything is pretty much out-of-the-box, so the customers like it. The main uses are virtual machine environment. This is internal, on a private cloud. In India on most of their workstations are on virtual machines, and those all are hosted on SolidFire.

SolidFire is one of the products that does have great APIs right out-of-the-box. It works great. The tools and the other stuff seem to work a little better right out-of-the-box than the ONTAP stuff does, C-Mode.

How has it helped my organization?

It's doing SAN, so that would be the major difference. We use NFS file storage much more than we use block storage. SolidFire is our only block storage offering right now. Honestly, we're kind of phasing block storage out, but it's filling that gap for applications that claim they need block storage and can't use file-based. That's kind of its role.

It is just filling the gap of the block client, because maybe 10% of our clients have to use block storage and have a good technical reason. The other 90% we've gotten on a NAS.

What needs improvement?

They could do a file-based NAS: SolidFire NAS-based. It's probably not its niche, but that is our direction, not to use block, and it's block. Solid state block is what it is.

If it was the same price as C-Mode and did file-based storage, because this is what our company is heading towards.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

It is pretty low-maintenance for upgrades and support issues. We haven't messed with it much. We have set it up, and we have the capacity so we haven't added a lot to it either. I have not had any issues with it.

Setting up new clusters is pretty straightforward. ONTAP is great, and it is really easy to use and setup.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. I forget we have it sometimes, because once we have it configured, it just up and runs. Plug and play, the GUI works and the APIs, customers can use them. Everything is kind of there, therefore, it is very low-maintenance.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not scaled it a lot, because there are some niche environments running including the virtual workstations. So, I don't know how well it scales.

How is customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

It is fine.

Technical Support:

That is a problem we have. When we call tech support, we have to open a tunnel to the SolidFire device, then tech support can get in and look at it. The tunnel keeps closing on them. So we'll open the tunnel, 10 minutes later I'll get a phone call. "Hey, the tunnel closed. Can you open it?"

The only way to keep the tunnel, and I think it might be an issue with our proxy on our end, but something is closing the support tunnel. I don't know if it is a NetApp issue. We haven't been able to fix it on our end, so I don't know if they can give me any feedback on it, but it is a chronic issue. We have to babysit that tunnel, and I don't know why.

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

We would probably use SolidFire more, except we're getting more bang for our buck with our purchases of ONTAP right now, and the deal we made with NetApp, so it's more of just a cost decision. Because we're going NAS, it doesn't really fit the pattern of where we're going, because everything is being presented via NFS, so it's just block storage. That would be the reason the footprint is not growing.

However, as long as the price is right, it is a no-brainer on block.

What other advice do I have?

If they are using block storage, then it is very user-friendly. It's easy to use out-of-the-box. I was not a storage admin when I came to this team. I was a server guy, so it was all new to me, and SolidFire was the easiest thing for me to pick up. We had old 7-Mode systems. We had C-Mode. We had Isilon systems on EMC, and SolidFire was in a day, you knew how to do everything. It is just a real easy setup.

We don't have a reason to not use solid states. I don't know why we'd use anything else at this point other than solid state.

Most important criteria when selecting a vendor:

For a storage vendor, it is price and stability are probably the main thing. We like vendor support, but we have a huge internal IT shop with a lot of engineers, so we don't need that much support and hand-holding. It's really the following:

  • Management
  • A cost decision, who gives us the best deal.
  • Stability.

If there's stability, and we haven't had stability issues with NetApp, they are a better deal than EMC, so that's why we've been using them. We were an EMC shop until three or four years ago.

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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