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Dell EMC PowerFlex Competitors and Alternatives

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Read reviews of Dell EMC PowerFlex competitors and alternatives

Massimiliano Bartolozzi
Chief Information Officer at Lucart
Real User
Top 10
Crashes continuously, complex to deploy, and bad after-sales support

Pros and Cons

  • "The ability to size the available space in a way that matches our company's needs is most valuable. For instance, you can decide if you want 80/20, 70/30, or 60/40 space. Redundancy depends on your needs without changing the appliance. You just add space and decide the percentage of space that you need free and the percentage of space that you need for backup. It is all automatic, and you don't have to do anything. You just add space, and the system automatically configures itself with the chosen option."
  • "Its stability is very bad. It has been crashing continuously. In one year, we got three crashes, which is unbelievable for an appliance that is guaranteed for 10 years without any crash."

What is our primary use case?

In 2020, our site-based AS/400 infrastructure was going to the end of its life cycle. So, we started a market investigation for an appliance that could host our new SQL server environment. We also selected a private cloud data center inside the Telecom Italia facility in Rome. After the hardware selection, NetApp won the challenge, and we decided to fill the data center room with the NetApp H-series appliance. We went live with the new data center on March 6, 2021.

How has it helped my organization?

It has increased the availability of our systems from 12 hours for 6 days to 18 hours for 7 days. Because the NetApp system is faster than the ones we had before, so we need less time for backup and maintenance. We also have more time for applications availability. We are now saving almost 30% time.

It has helped to reduce or eliminate storage performance issues. There is a 30% increase in the performance.

In terms of the use of compute resources, it has increased our efficiency by 30%. 

What is most valuable?

The ability to size the available space in a way that matches our company's needs is most valuable. For instance, you can decide if you want 80/20, 70/30, or 60/40 space. Redundancy depends on your needs without changing the appliance. You just add space and decide the percentage of space that you need free and the percentage of space that you need for backup. It is all automatic, and you don't have to do anything. You just add space, and the system automatically configures itself with the chosen option.

What needs improvement?

Their after-sales support, SLA, and third-parties availability should be improved. NetApp's support is very difficult to engage. We have an SLA of onsite support within 24 hours. but they don't respect the SLA.

Its stability is very bad. It has been crashing continuously. In one year, we got three crashes, which is unbelievable for an appliance that is guaranteed for 10 years without any crash.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for one and a half years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Its stability is very bad. We had problems with the stability of the appliance from the beginning. It has been crashing very often. I would rate it a zero out of ten in terms of stability. We have been very dissatisfied with its stability during its implementation and since it has been live.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Its scalability is very good. When we discovered that there was not enough available space, NetApp was able to install additional hardware. We can auto-configure it to get more space. So, we can easily and quickly scale if we need.

We are using it extensively. It is being used in the main data center for our group. Currently, 800 people from all departments use this solution. We do have plans to increase its usage.

How are customer service and technical support?

We got three crashes in one year. NetApp's support is very difficult to engage. We have an SLA of onsite support within 24 hours. They did not respect any SLA. They came after three days, and they did not have the spare part. They had to find the spare part. 

I also suspect that they gave me a reconditioned one and not a new one, but it is only my impression. I don't know whom to call in order to complain. Their support is not at all good.

How was the initial setup?

Its initial setup was complex. First of all, we had problems with the stability of the appliance from the beginning, and it was crashing very often. Second, NetApp's calculation of the available space after the installation was also wrong, so we had to add another hardware, which NetApp provided for free. That was absolutely fantastic, but it delayed our implementation process by three months. Overall, the deployment took six months.

There was not really an implementation strategy. We were not changing or migrating anything. We were setting up a new data center from scratch. We're building it from nothing.

What about the implementation team?

We use a company from Sienna, Italy called Argon. The experience with them has been very good. They've been with us for years now, so they are a solid partner. Every time I call them, they are ready to answer. We had a good experience with them. They also provide post-sales support to us.

What was our ROI?

Without the crashes, I would have seen a return of investment because of the additional 30% availability. Considering the time that I have lost because of the crashes, our return on investment is now negative.

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

Its price is aligned with the market. In addition to the standard licensing fees, there is an integrator cost.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated HP, IBM, and Dell. We chose NetApp because our partner and the system integrator company strongly recommended to go for NetApp. Because we trust this company and this company was responsible for setting up the entire data center, we decided to follow their advice.

Overall, all of these solutions were very advanced. Technically, I would put NetApp and Dell at the same level of innovation. IBM and HP are more established technologies, but they are not as innovative.

In terms of cost, HP and NetApp were the ones that could make a bigger effort to reduce the cost. IBM and Dell were a little bit more expensive. 

What other advice do I have?

My advice to those who want to implement this solution is to not go for this solution because it is not stable. I don't really know how we could have avoided this because you don't really get to know before buying a solution that it is not stable. The only lesson that I have learned is that rather than going for an advanced technology that is not yet properly tested, it is better to go for established technology, even if it is a little bit older.

I would rate this solution a three out of 10. Its instability destroys everything good that has been done during the implementation.

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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HE
Data Center Team Lead at a comms service provider with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 20
A good solution for medium-sized setups and replacing legacy systems especially with VMware

Pros and Cons

  • "This is a good solution for medium-sized installations especially when it will be coupled with VMware."
  • "There is a limitation on the number of nodes."
  • "Troubleshooting can be a little more difficult than legacy systems."

What is our primary use case?

In medium-sized installations, many of our customers require a reasonably-priced solution to replace legacy computer storage. Those are the customers who we are suggesting using the  VxRail solution to. If the customer is building a data center using VMware, we are recommending VxRail because of the VMware compatibility.  

Medium set-ups can be used in a large enterprise but only when they need this solution as a smaller part of their environment. It works well for small setups or medium setups, or for new application setups.  

What is most valuable?

Most of the products of this type have features that are almost the same. We are using VxRail especially because we would like to have products that are compatible with VMware and Dell to support our prospective client base.  

What needs improvement?

The configuration of HCI (Hyper-Convergence Infrastructure) solutions is very easy compared to the legacy solutions. Legacy systems run the computer and the storage separately and use switches to get the connectivity. That is much more complicated. It is completely the opposite when using generic HCI technology. The implementation is very simple and so is the operation.  

The only thing about the HCI solution is that troubleshooting is a little bit difficult because it is still a new technology. Other than this it is simpler than the traditional technology. HCI is nice and it makes sense. I think there is a need to improve the solution because it is difficult to troubleshoot. But compared to legacy solutions, you are troubleshooting one that is a little bit difficult instead of troubleshooting two different products that might each be a little easier. In the end, the difference as far as troubleshooting is not much but the advantages are still there on the HCI side and technology upgrade.  

The other thing I would like to see improved is not really a feature. It is about scalability. It would be good to increase the limit of the number of nodes within the clusters.  

For how long have I used the solution?

I had experience before 2018, but I have been using it for this past year.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Even compared to Cisco, I think VxRail is a very stable solution. It is in the same class as Cisco.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

VxRail is easy to scale, but the number of nodes is limited. This is not the same with other solutions like Nutanix. VxRail has a limit for a certain number of nodes within the cluster and if you need more than that then you have to create another cluster. It is an issue but at the same time, it is not an issue. It is kind of just a configuration difference.  

How are customer service and technical support?

I do not have any direct contact with technical support because I am not doing the product delivery. If the technicians have some issues, they have to make the contact. I have not heard anything bad or good about the support. That suggests it is good.  

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was simple. The amount of time it takes depends on the number of nodes you have.  

It does require some maintenance over time. For maintenance, you have to request that through your supplier or even through the implementation team. It will be totally different depending on the kind of activity and the issue, but it should not be disruptive for the most part. The only exception is in critical applications. These may be critical but it is simple to restore the network connectivity or storage availability.  

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

My advice about cost and setup is that it is just as cheap to have the HCI solution as to stay with legacy solutions. If you convert the value of HCI versus the traditional, legacy solution you gain more than you spend. It comes out to an even trade as far as budget.  

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Compared to other HCI products, VxRail has advantages in stability and support from the vendors. If you bought Cisco, for example, you have to open an account with Cisco for the hardware and open an account with VMware for the software separately. With VxRail this is not what happens. You opened the account with them and they will manage all the communication and the services. That ends up being more stable. Getting your support from one company is better than having to get support from different companies when dealing with an issue shared between products and trying to sort that out.  

What other advice do I have?

I recommend VxRail as a solution especially for those using legacy services. We often recommend VxRail over other competitors. The only exception really is if the customer does not want Dell computing resources. For example, the client may have another vendor they tend to use. So if everything they have is HP they may like to have an HP solution. If they are using Cisco, they may want a Cisco solution. Those are the only times that we will not go with suggesting VXRail.  

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate the VXRail solution as an eight-out-of-ten.  

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
JB
Consulting Solutions Architect at a tech services company with 5,001-10,000 employees
MSP
Top 20
Everything is core centralized; it's a significant cost saver for those not leveraging a hypervisor

Pros and Cons

  • "Everything is core centralized on the UI."
  • "Could have better visibility with the main OEM backup integrators."

What is our primary use case?

We deliver a lot of different solutions on various platforms, including different HCI solutions and solutions like Nutanix and Cisco HyperFlex and NetApps, later HCI mile. Most of them have been on Nutanix and on Cisco HyperFlex and as well as VxRack. Our primary use case has of Nutanix has been for virtualization consolidation. We are partners and resellers of Nutanix and I'm a consulting solutions architect.

What is most valuable?

Nutanix has several feature sets that we like. For example, everything's core centralized on the UI. You don't have multiple interfaces that you have to jump between like in some other solutions. It's more integrated for the overall management of the infrastructure. The other part too which is very attractive, is the fact they provide an option if you're not leveraging your OEM hypervisor like VMware or HyperV. That was a significant cost saver for us as well as enabling us to look at alternatives to the VMware tax. 

What needs improvement?

For now, I can't think of anything that can be improved. They've been pretty innovative and have provided a fairly comprehensive roadmap. I've worked directly with some of the backend TME guys and they're very responsive and have addressed anything that's come up. However, I would like to see better visibility with the main OEM backup integrators to have a full backup recovery from site to site and from site to cloud and cloud to cloud - the full range. The cloud ecosystem for public/private, site to site visibility with a single backup product.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this solution for five years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

From a software perspective, it's incredibly stable and portable. The only caution I would give is that since it is a software-defined solution, be careful of the underlying hardware. It's nothing to do with Nutanix, it's a hardware issue. You may have a highly available, reliable software platform, but it's on commodity hardware so you might experience more failures on the hardware because you decided to go for commodity. You need to be careful how you're architecting your solution and your application factors as you build up your data center, and not sell yourself short and get the cheapest hardware on the market to save costs, because that can turn out to be an expensive decision. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I haven't seen any issues with scalability. Most people I know for the most part are very sensitive about the fault domains. So they tend to go off from smaller clusters. You do have the ability to go pretty much as far as is humanly possible, it depends how much risk you want to take, but at the same time the scalability is definitely there. Most systems are capped at where you can scale out cluster-wise of VMware, 64 nodes and HyperV at 64. There are two factors to the scalability equation. There's the storage within each node, which is fine and then obviously the scalability as far as CPU and memory go. You can mix and match your platforms on your favorite vendor, but then you need the ability to go beyond 64 where necessary. We do have a couple of accounts that we've worked with where they have some fairly large clusters and I think that's a great option for people needing that level of scalability.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest thing that I've seen has been the backup and recovery which has been challenging for them over the past couple of years. They partnered with Beam and with Rubrik and Cohesity. They had their OEM go-to's, but didn't initially deliver a very good story for application integration for backup and recovery where they had good copy data management. Most of the OEMs are very good at backing up single clusters for local backup and recovery. That said, whenever true disaster recovery was needed and you're leveraging multiple Nutanix missions site to site, there wasn't the visibility of being able to backup or being able to have the application integration.

I would rate this solution an eight out of 10. 

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller
ITCS user
Web Services and Systems Development at a non-profit with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 10
Helpful and proactive support, offers full redundancy, and is cost-effective

Pros and Cons

  • "The vSAN provides full redundancy for storage while reclaiming some rack space."
  • "I found that certain browsers are not fully compatible with the administration web access portal."

What is our primary use case?

StarWind Virtual SAN has been a welcomed addition to my network.

How has it helped my organization?

Overall, StarWinds vSAN is a cost-saving storage option with top-notch support.

The vSAN provides full redundancy for storage while reclaiming some rack space. I can focus on other IT needs now, rather than having to worry about redundancy with an aging physical SAN storage unit. If an HDD fails, I can easily hot-swap and continue the business.

Support was extremely helpful in regards to setup and implementation.

What is most valuable?

The admin portal has been easy to use and provides a great overview of health and usage.

What needs improvement?

I found that certain browsers are not fully compatible with the administration web access portal. I would like to see continued improvement with additional compatibility for other browsers to be able to work properly with the administrator web portal.

I did find out, with the help of StarWind's support, that the Firefox browser seems to be the browser that works the best with their web portal.

It also appears that vMotion is slower than my previous SAN solution, which was a traditional physical unit.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using StarWind Virtual SAN for one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Since implementation, I have not had one issue with performance or stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is a scalable solution, as it is simple to add another vSAN.

How are customer service and technical support?

I never felt rushed while I had to install additional host NIC cards and they walked me through every step of the setup process. Their support has been quick to respond and with frequent updates. They will always work a case until I am satisfied that I have a proper and understood answer.

I am not bombarded with additional sales calls, but they do check in from time to time only to make sure all is well. That is appreciated.

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

I was forced to replace my traditional physical SAN when I was unable to get additional service parts, even as it was still under a support contract. I needed a full-featured, low-cost replacement for it.

StarWind came highly recommended throughout various IT channels and colleagues.

What about the implementation team?

I implemented myself, with the use of StarWind's support team. Their support team was instrumental in aiding the completion of the setup process.

The support was a great resource for setup and continued use. They took the time to really explain how their solution works, specifically within my environment.

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

StarWind is a low-cost, full-featured alternative to the traditional SAN environment, and their support will guide you every step of the setup.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Dell/EMC and HPE solutions and they were all extremely expensive.

A sales rep was quick to get me in touch with an engineer who patiently walked me through my endless questions of compatibility and setup. They even assisted with recommendations for host hard drives: both HDD and SSD options.

What other advice do I have?

Overall, StarWinds vSAN is a cost-saving storage option with top-notch support.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Shawn Bender
Global IS Admin at Benshaw, Inc.
Real User
Top 5
Good performance, built-in storage saved us money, knowledgeable support

Pros and Cons

  • "The presence of built-in storage saved the company from having to purchase a separate storage array and related network equipment."
  • "I would request that the terms and conditions be reviewed and made more acceptable to corporate security so that we could finally turn on the proactive support feature, as it is included with our support agreement."

What is our primary use case?

The StarWind HCA solution provided our company with a turnkey hyper-converged platform that strengthened our processing and storage capabilities by greatly expanding our RAM, processors, and flash-based storage.

It also enabled us to take advantage of VMware vMotion technology. This allows us to transfer a virtual machine from one host to the other without interrupting production, which is critical in our manufacturing plant.

I haven't had to make any software related changes since the solution was implemented.

How has it helped my organization?

By having multiple servers, we are able to perform maintenance on one server while the other is still operating. The speed of the flash drives helped with performance, and the support that StarWind offers is very professional and accommodating.

We had to engage with support several times during the migration as we made licensing changes, and moved virtual servers from the old host to the new ones. The response time was quick and although there was a bit of an accent, I had no trouble understanding as the work was being completed.

What is most valuable?

The presence of built-in storage saved the company from having to purchase a separate storage array and related network equipment. When we looked at the costs for a storage array, they were somewhat higher than the solution from StarWind.

Knowing that the virtual machines will continue running in the event of one of the servers failing provides peace of mind. Also, having support readily available in the event of a problem helps as well.

We were impressed by all of the redundancy built into the solution to protect it from failures.

What needs improvement?

My only concern was with the terms and conditions of the proactive support. Our legal department didn't accept them, so we weren't able to take advantage of it. Having the heartbeat monitor working would save some time, by getting issues resolved by support as soon as, or possibly even prior to them happening.

I would request that the terms and conditions be reviewed and made more acceptable to corporate security so that we could finally turn on the proactive support feature, as it is included with our support agreement.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using the StarWind HyperConverged Appliance for six months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There have been no issues with stability since the solution was implemented.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It seemed that we would be able to increase the scale as needed.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support at StarWind was very knowledgeable and was able to resolve any issues on the current call.

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

Our previous solution was a single server and it was out of support.

How was the initial setup?

Its initial setup was complex, but that is why we had support from StarWind look after it.

What about the implementation team?

It was implemented mostly by StarWind in coordination with our in house team.

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

The setup cost was included in the support.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We considered solutions from Dell and Nutanix.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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