VMware Software Defined Storage Review

Comes in a single management panel and doesn't require the need to buy separate dedicated storage

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case relates to the increasing number of customers moving away from traditional types of storage and trying to reduce the storage provisioning time and improve ease of use. That's the main reason customers are asking for software-defined storage.
We deal with medium to enterprise-sized customers.

What is most valuable?

The valuable feature of the product is that the customer doesn't have to buy a separate storage box and manage things separately. The single management panel is the main feature that is wonderful for the customer. The single management panel plus the fact that there is no need to buy a separate disk is most valuable. You have the disks in the servers and it serves the purpose for your shared storage in the environment. 

What needs improvement?

I think VMware SDS is pretty good. It has all the ingredients that an SDS should have. I think it's the most competitive product in the market. 

The OEM solutions that are being offered based on the VMware SDS solution is different to that offered by other companies. HP and Dell EMC offer the data migration service to their appliances. The data migration itself is not a big challenge. It's sort of an OEM customized solution. VMware does not offer similar equivalent the solution, they work with OEM partners, and they offer it that way. Since normally, enterprise customers won't rely on unknown brand storage. They rely on the larger players like HP, EMC, IBM, NetApp and Hitachi - VMware has an alliance with those companies. 

Ideally, I'd like to see improved hardware compatibility because normally all the software-defined solutions require compatible hardware. Usually, the hardware evolution is quite fast-paced.  If customers procure one class of the device or hardware and it's compatible with a certain type of software version, and later they purchase another from a different vendor, there is a catch. I think the hardware compatibility should be very open and support different kinds of hardware because the hardware is very specific. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been working with the solution for more than three years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's a stable product. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's easy to scale and expand but the main catch is the cost. It's expensive.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is awesome. I think that's one of the main reasons people opt for VMware. Service matters to the customer, especially for the mid-tier to enterprise-sized customers who require their systems to be running all the time. Again the issue is cost. We are now looking at similar products to sell that are less expensive.

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

We previously tried a Chinese version that came in at a very cheap price but we didn't stick with them because they can't be trusted to provide good service and there was an issue with agreements. It's important for us to have the references and it was a challenge to sell that product. It had all the wonderful features that such a solution should have, but it was very difficult to sell it to an enterprise or medium-scale customer because of issues with reliability.

How was the initial setup?

Setup is relative - if the person has good knowledge, it's relatively easy. Otherwise, it's going to be a tough job. For someone who has the knowledge base, setup can be done within a couple of hours. Most customers in Pakistan rely on the vendors to do the setup. It only takes one person, sometimes two or three for an enterprise-sized company.  

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

Setup cost is based on the software price and licenses on sockets. A single socket costs you around US $6,000 with three years services. At a minimum, you have a three node cluster for a small or medium-scale company. It can get quite expensive because you're likely to need four to six sockets on the other site to achieve business continuity. It comes to around $30,000. If you compare it with the Microsoft solution, Linux solutions, this is more expensive.

When you deploy any of the software-defined data solutions you need hardware. Hardware vendors have their own appliances ready to sell. The main catch is if a customer is proposing a software-defined solution for one of their production systems, they may purchase software and hardware from different suppliers. There could be a conflict while troubleshooting a problem between the hardware and the software vendors. In the case of VMware or any of the brands, it's best for the customer to have a ready appliance, which comes from the hardware vendor with a software-defined data central software already installed. It would mean only one service provider for both hardware and software and hence no conflict.

All hardware vendors are currently offering the Software Defined Ready nodes. If we compare VSAN Ready nodes from hardware vender and customer solution based on compatible VSAN hardware and VSAN software, the overall price of VSAN ready node prices will be slightly on higher side possibly around US$5K - 10K per node. And that's the catch if the customer wants one windows services they have a pay higher cost. If you have enough expertise buying separate will save cost else go with the VSAN ready node solution.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Yes we tried Sangfor, Microsoft Storage Space Direct and Linux Software Defined Storage Solutions

What other advice do I have?

VMware is better for those who don't have much experience with such tools because the locally available resources are enough to handle the solution. I think the product requires an OEM approach, purchase the hardware, software, and service from one source. The footprint of the hardware vendor should be established in the country and you need to have a very good partner in place to handle the hardware requests. 

I would rate this product an 8 out of 10. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?


Which version of this solution are you currently using?

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