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Pure Storage FlashArray Competitors and Alternatives

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Read reviews of Pure Storage FlashArray competitors and alternatives

Arnaud Salmon
Presales Engineer at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Consultant
Top 5
Good functionality, excellent performance, and integrates well with other solutions

Pros and Cons

  • "I would say in terms of architecture and in terms of functionality, the product is quite good."
  • "You don't have business continuity with SolidFire. I think it could be a nice feature to have in the future."

What is our primary use case?

The solution is primarily for a hyper-converged solution, and the hyper-converged solution with NetApp HCI is to address the most common workloads, generic workloads, also workloads around VDI. It's primarily for everything around performance, around software like the CAD suite, and around scientific completion.

What is most valuable?

The performance with the QoS is its most valuable aspect.

The integration with VMware is excellent. There are different plugins to manage the SolidFire storage from the vCenter level. That I really appreciate. 

SolidFire even as a standalone storage platform is excellent. 

I would say in terms of architecture and in terms of functionality, the product is quite good. 

It's block access storage, however, for block access storage we have the guarantee of performance. 

We have the duplication and we have the encryption with this solution. We have almost all the standards needed for storage with SolidFire. In terms of protection, with the level of protection we can set between the SolidFire nodes, it's very good.

What needs improvement?

The only thing I would see as a drawback of SolidFire, is that it's a storage that we can address only with the iSCSI protocol and no other protocol such as FC, or things like that, unfortunately. It's probably the only point that I can see that is not positive compared to other storage solutions. 

It would be ideal if the solution could be more open with access protocols. 

Sometimes we have to be careful when we need to add some storage. I'd say some tips and some best practices with respect to that would help. 

You don't have business continuity with SolidFire. I think it could be a nice feature to have in the future.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been working with this solution at my current company for one year, however, in my previous position I worked with SolidFire solution for two years. I'd say I have around three years of experience with the product.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I've never had any issues with SolidFire's stability, except once. We had a problem with a node, a problem with a motherboard. In fact, with the protection level, we changed the motherboard without any disruption in production and in storage services. If we can change like that from one motherboard of another, and change an entire SolidFire node without disruption, it's okay and I'd consider that quite a stable product. It was even done without performance issues as I recall. From this point of view, it's really a really nice, reliable solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is quite good. I don't have a number in mind, however, I know that when SolidFire is part of the HCI product from NetApp, we can scale up to at least 40 SolidFire nodes. That is quite good for a full SSD solution. On that side, it's really enough to address the most common storage needs.

How are customer service and technical support?

The only time I had an issue was with a motherboard. In fact, with the SolidFire technology, NetApp was able to acquire Active IQ. Active IQ is the software layer that is pushing all information on the health of the SolidFire platform. 

Therefore, the support is really quite proactive, in fact. Each time there was something to do, a component to change, or an upgrade to do on the platform, it was followed by emails from the NetApp support, who would remind me of necessary changes. Even with Active IQ, we've had advice on what we could do on the system to get better performance or better organization about the data that resides on the SolidFire platform. 

It's got really great proactive support, and we're quite satisfied with them.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is not complex. It's pretty straightforward. There was some information we needed to get before installation, such as IP addresses, due to the fact that we were with an iSCSI storage and we needed some IP addresses for each node that composing the SolidFire storage solution. That said, when we have all that in an array, when we have all the information ready to go, the installation process is really easy, quite fast, and well-integrated when we want to provide this kind of storage to VMware.

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

Within HCI, the whole solution is considered to be quite extensive. As just a storage solution, however, SolidFire is at the same level of pricing as a full SSD solution like ASF. It really depends on what the customer's needs are. That said, it's quite well positioned in terms of price.

What other advice do I have?

We're a distributor.

SolidFire is on its own standard storage platform, and, as it's embedded with HCI from NetApp, adds to the storage for the hyper-converged solution.

There are a lot of use cases for SolidFire within HCI. It can address most of the workloads we have on the customer side. It's really something. We can build solutions that really fit the customer and we can size the compute as needed. 

For the VMware server, we use ESX, and we can also add into the compute nodes some CPU cards for all that is graphic or scientific calculations. On the storage side, we can build the storage we need with the SolidFire nodes. We can really address on one side, the computer needs, and on the other side, the storage needs. In fact, that's the value of HCI by NetApp. What is nice with SolidFire is that the QoS is embedded, and for each volume you create, you put the QoS on it. And you're sure to grantee the service level agreement for the customer, depending on the workloads he needs.

Overall, I would rate the solution at an eight out of ten. It doesn't quite have the same amount of options and features as Pure Storage. Yet, it's pretty impressive.

The only recommendation I have to others is on the network side. You need to really get all the information required before you try to deploy this solution. That's all. It's a little work to do beforehand, however, it's really important to address everything before implementing SolidFire.

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
Ahmed Zaki
Infrastructure Architect Supervisor; Solution Delivery Supervisor at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Simple licensing, good performance, and easy to use and administer

Pros and Cons

  • "Most of the features for the reduction in data compression are useful. It is also very easy to use and administer. Its performance is also good."
  • "They can include Amazon file system S3 protocol in the upcoming releases. It is a cloud file system. IBM FlashSystem doesn't have this feature in the box for high-end or mid-range. We have got requests for this from customers because we need to use S3 for EDI application storage. At the beginning of every year, IBM releases firmware. When I find any bugs in the firmware during the year, I am unable to find any information from IBM regarding the bug. I need to open a ticket, and the IBM engineering team makes a patch only for me. This patch is not public. By creating a customized patch for a client, they don't really solve the issue for everyone. If multiple users have the same bug, IBM should upload the patch on the official website so that we can download it. IBM FlashSystem has a monitoring tool in the box, but it is not advanced. I need a more advanced tool for more advanced equations and monitoring. All top three storage vendors, that is, EMC, IBM, and Pure Storage, don't have a powerful monitoring tool. To monitor our box to show the statistics for I/Os and latency, I need to pay for extra software. The built-in monitoring storage is not mature enough to handle all requests and generate all reports that I need. They can include the functionality to stretch a cluster natively without using any additional boxes. In addition, there are some features that EMC has integrated with the box. These features are not available in IBM FlashSystem."

What is most valuable?

Most of the features for the reduction in data compression are useful. 

It is also very easy to use and administer. Its performance is also good.

What needs improvement?

They can include Amazon file system S3 protocol in the upcoming releases. It is a cloud file system. IBM FlashSystem doesn't have this feature in the box for high-end or mid-range. We have got requests for this from customers because we need to use S3 for EDI application storage. 

At the beginning of every year, IBM releases firmware. When I find any bugs in the firmware during the year, I am unable to find any information from IBM regarding the bug. I need to open a ticket, and the IBM engineering team makes a patch only for me. This patch is not public. By creating a customized patch for a client, they don't really solve the issue for everyone. If multiple users have the same bug, IBM should upload the patch on the official website so that we can download it.

IBM FlashSystem has a monitoring tool in the box, but it is not advanced. I need a more advanced tool for more advanced equations and monitoring. All top three storage vendors, that is, EMC, IBM, and Pure Storage, don't have a powerful monitoring tool. To monitor our box to show the statistics for I/Os and latency, I need to pay for extra software. The built-in monitoring storage is not mature enough to handle all requests and generate all reports that I need.

They can include the functionality to stretch a cluster natively without using any additional boxes. In addition, there are some features that EMC has integrated with the box. These features are not available in IBM FlashSystem.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scalable. All projects in my company use the IBM FlashSystem. I am working on high-end storage, not mid-range. I can scale out or scale up. IBM has introduced FlashSystem 9200 to the market in which I can scale SAS disk, NVMe disk, and SSCM disk. I have three options on one box, which are not available with EMC or Pure Storage.

You can also scale out storage in EMC. In Pure Storage, there are issues in scaling. Pure Storage has different boxes like X70, X90, X50, and if I need to scale or upgrade the box, I need to change our controllers. Every Pure Storage box has limited capacity, whereas, for IBM storage, the capacity of the box is not limited.

How are customer service and technical support?

The response of technical support is good.

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

I have used NetApp storage and EMC storage. NetApp storage is very poor and bad. EMC is a good competitor of IBM in the market now, and in terms of the number of customers, EMC is number one. User Interface is the main big difference between IBM and EMC. IBM FlashSystem is very easy and friendly comparatively. EMC is very complicated. 

EMC is also closed, whereas IBM FlashSystem is very open. It provides a lot of communication over the internet for administrating and implementing the storage. I am working on a customer project that has EMC storage, and the customer daily complains regarding EMC Unity or XtremIO.

IBM is integrated with the different operating systems by a native operating system multipath. EMC works with PowerPath multipath. Until recently, EMC didn't have these features in the box, and you had to pay for a multipath license. In new technology and operating system versions of EMC, a separate multipath license is not required.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very easy.

What about the implementation team?

I implemented it. I have experience of ten years in implementing IBM storage. It is very easy to implement. 

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

The integration is already included in the license cost of IBM FlashSystem. The integration is very easy. You get the IBM storage core with all software, firmware, and upgrades. EMC provides the features in the box, but they are not free for customers. There is a licensing cost for features.

We have yearly licensing, but IBM has also provided a new option where you pay as you go. They provide a big box, and I pay, for example, for 10 terabytes. If I exceed 10 terabytes, IBM will charge for the new storage after 10 terabytes. It is a good opportunity in the market for using the storage as a cloud and paying as you go. 

What other advice do I have?

I work only on high-end storage. Before recommending a solution, I need to know about the workload, that is, application workload, backup workload, and database workload. IBM provides a free workload script that can be applied to any environment, such as Windows, Unix, or Linux. I need to see the I/O performance, and after which, I can provide the best solution for a customer from Pure Storage, EMC, or IBM. 

I would rate IBM FlashSystem a nine 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
KN
Sr Data Storage at a energy/utilities company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 20
Gives you full functionality, is easy to use and enabled us to add new applications without having to purchase additional storage

Pros and Cons

  • "Before we implemented AFF, Oracle was running on a traditional storage spindle and at a very low speed with high latency, and the database was not running very well. After we converted from the spinning disk to the all-flash array, it was at least four times faster to access the volume than before."
  • "The monitor and performance need improvement. Right now we are using the active IQ OnCommand Unified Manager, but we also have to do the Grafana to do the performance and I hope we will be able to see the improvement of the active IQ in terms of the performance graph. It should also be more detailed."

What is our primary use case?

We use AFF to serve out the Oracle and for the virtual storage VDI.

How has it helped my organization?

Before we implemented AFF, Oracle was running on a traditional storage spindle and at a very low speed with high latency, and the database was not running very well. After we converted from the spinning disk to the all-flash array, it was at least four times faster to access the volume than before. For the VDI, they were not able to run the traditional spinning disk. This is what we bought the AFF for.

The thin provisioning has enabled us to add new applications without having to purchase additional storage. The basic rule we practice is that every time we create a flex group, we also create it with thin provisioning. That gives give us a little bit more cushion.

AFF has enabled us to automatically tier cold data to the cloud.

It has absolutely improved application response time. Now they talk directly to the SSD rather than a spinning disk. It has improved by at least four times.

We are able to reallocate resources or employees that we were previously using for storage operations. It allows us to do lots of things that we would never have been able to do before, like provisioning, dedupe, and data compacting.

We are able to move large amounts of data from one data center to another or to the cloud. We call it the SVMDR. I am able to replicate the entire native storage to the new location without a lot of effort. 

What is most valuable?

We stay away from what is called a silo architecture. NetApp cluster enables us to do a volume move to different nodes and share the entire cluster with the various sub setups as well as using the most storage we have on ONTAP. We are able to tailor and cut out at a file level, block-level or power level, to our various clients.

What needs improvement?

The monitor and performance need improvement. Right now we are using the Active IQ OnCommand Unified Manager, but we also have to do the Grafana to do the performance and I hope we will be able to see the improvement of the active IQ in terms of the performance graph. It should also be more detailed. 

In the next release, I'm looking for a flex group because that is the next level of the volumes, extended volume for the flex vault. In the flexible environment, we run into the limitation of the capacity at a hundred terabytes and sometimes in oil and gas, like us, when the seismic data is too big, sometimes a hundred terabytes are not big enough. We have to go with the next level, which is the flex group and I hope it has features like volume being able to transfer to the flex group. I think they said they will add a few more features to the flex group. I also wanted to see the non-disruptive conversion from flex vault to the flex group be easier so we don't have to have any downtime.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Every time we start up the system, they have an HA, so the failover capability helps us do a non-disruptive upgrade. It really helped.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is a non-disruptive add on so if we need to grow the system we are able to either add an additional shell to it.

How are customer service and technical support?

We never have any issues with technical support. They are very responsive to our problems because we have a NetApp account manager, so we are able to to engage the level two level three engineering much quicker.

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

We also evaluated Pure Storage. They also provide an all-flash array but I like NetApp better. With NetApp they allow us as a system administrator, we are able to do everything we want.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. We have been doing it for a while, so we know how to put it together.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented it ourselves. 

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

You have to pay a little bit more for the storage but you gain with the speed provided.

What other advice do I have?

AFF is just like any traditional NetApp. It has Snapshot, SnapMirror, and SnapVault.

I don't see anybody get even close to NetApp. NetApp is one of the best. I would rate them a nine out of ten.

My advice to anybody considering this solution is to look at the best out there and NetApp is one of the best in terms of ease of use and gives you a full-functionality. 

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.
TG
Senior Storage Specialist, Digital Systems at Shaw Communications
Real User
Beneficial management software, straightforward installation, and good support

Pros and Cons

  • "The management software that runs in the cloud is called InfoSight and it is very good. It is similar to machine learning software that monitors your hardware."
  • "I would like to have more administrative rights, for example, root-level administrative rights to the underlying OS of the storage array. We want more access to the kind of underlying infrastructure of the storage array rather than relying on support. However, most companies are looking to have more managed solutions which is the opposite direction of what I want."

What is our primary use case?

We use HPE Nimble Storage for VMware VMDK object workloads.

How has it helped my organization?

The first installation we did was at a mine in South America, Chile, in a place called Ike where the elevation was very high that spinning disks were failing, the meantime for failure was low. The main reason we put our first all-flash array was that it was solid-state which has no moving parts. This solution allowed our organization to operate in that location.

What is most valuable?

The management software that runs in the cloud is called InfoSight and it is very good. It is similar to machine learning software that monitors your hardware.

What needs improvement?

I would like to have more administrative rights, for example, root-level administrative rights to the underlying OS of the storage array. We want more access to the kind of underlying infrastructure of the storage array rather than relying on support. However, most companies are looking to have more managed solutions which is the opposite direction of what I want. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using HPE Nimble Storage for four years.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have approximately 5,000 virtual machines servers and over 100 storage arrays and they are placed all over our organization. We are using this solution extensively in our organization.

How are customer service and support?

The technical support has been good in our experience. I have worked with the support quite a lot and I have not had any issues with their support.

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

We have used NetApp previously and our management preferred to use HPE Nimble Storage.

How was the initial setup?

The installation is straightforward. The whole implementation took use approximately one day.

What about the implementation team?

We did the implementation using an in-house team. The solution does not require a lot of maintenance. I have not updated the software in a year and when it is updated it is all done online with no downtime.

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

There is a one-time price for hardware, and with the software support, everything is included, such as software upgrades. The licensing of the solution is included in the cost of the hardware and the support is an extra cost. We have purchased support on an annual basis, but you can purchase support up front for up to seven years. We usually buy five years and near the time of the expiry, we sometimes extend it. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have evaluated Pure Storage and they are very similar to HPE Nimble Storage but are a lot more expensive. For ease of setup and cost perspective, HPE Nimble Storage is the better choice.

What other advice do I have?

We are transitioning a lot of our hardware to Azure and we partnered with Microsoft on their cloud services. For our on-premise setup, we are doing a switch from traditional storage arrays to more of a VMware Cloud Foundation type of structure where we are using VMware vSAN instead of storage arrays.

I rate HPE Nimble Storage an eight out of ten.

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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JS
Senior Storage Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Reseller
Top 10
Easy to manage, easy to provision storage, and it is a good price to performance ratio

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature of this solution is the price to performance ratio."
  • "This solution does not support VMware VVols 2.0."

What is our primary use case?

We are an IT distributor and this is one of the storage solutions that we implement for our clients. The primary use case is for VMware virtualization, although it is also used for database system storage. Oracle and other SQL databases require a lot of performance in terms of IO per second, which is met by using OceanStore Dorado.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of this solution is the price to performance ratio. It is a very good price compared to other products and taking the performance into account, it is probably the best price-to-performance ratio on the market right now.

This solution is easy to manage and storage can be provisioned in a very easy way.

What needs improvement?

The logistics can be improved because sometimes we have to wait a long time for the product to be delivered, despite there being stores available in Europe. Some of our customers are discouraged due to this long wait time.

The marketing for this product needs to be improved because it does not have enough exposure.

This solution does not support VMware VVols 2.0. However, I do not feel that this is necessary.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have about a year and a half of experience with OceanStor Dorado.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The product is stable. We have not had any complaints about the features or stability of this solution from our customers.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not been in contact with technical support, and I have not heard that any of our customers have needed to contact them either.

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

I am also familiar with Pure Storage. They have a nice product and they concentrate only on storage solutions. It is very easy to manage, as well.

I have also worked with storage solutions by Fujitsu and HPE.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is short and rather straightforward. One person can do it on their own.

The length of time required for deployment varies depending on how complex the environment is. For example, the simple provision of storage is very easy, but it is always connected through some kind of SAN so it can take time. However, the product itself takes an hour, at most, to deploy.

What about the implementation team?

We are the distributors for this product and our resellers are the ones who do the implementation and deployment.

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

There are lots of features included with this solution and some of them require additional licensing, such as creating high availability storage using a cluster.

What other advice do I have?

In Poland, cloud-based workloads are just starting to be adopted. For the time being, the majority of solutions are still deployed on-premises.

Overall, this is a good product that performs well and is easy to manage. Everything that is required by the market, this product already has.

I would rate this solution 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: Distributor
Get our free report covering NetApp, Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and other competitors of Pure Storage FlashArray. Updated: October 2021.
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