If you were talking to someone whose organization is considering Dell EMC SC Series, what would you say?
How would you rate it and why? Any other tips or advice?
Research is important. Understand the product. Just like any other technology you use, research is the most important part.
If you don't have a SAN infrastructure, this is a great one, a great entry-level SAN to start with. We are actually moving on to a vSAN. Within the next two months, we won't be using the SC Series anymore and will be migrating away from it to a vSAN. There were no problems with the SC Series, we just wanted to implement a hyperconverged system. The SC Series performed the functions we needed it to perform.
It depends on your budget. What are the criteria you're looking for? And it depends on how much storage you're going to use and the cost associated with that. There a lot of solutions now, software-defined solutions, which are way cheaper, but everything has a price. It depends upon your usage. If you are going for virtualization, sure, go ahead and use it. Performance for a regular workload is pretty great, using 3000 IOPS and, during backup at night, it goes up to the 3000 IOPS as well. Overall, the underlying technology they are using is really great. That's the whole thing. It's how they do the data programming, the read-cache and the write-cache. That's why everyone understands it very easily. "Oh, this is the underlying technology that you're using." And the new features they are coming up with, they're constantly trying to improve the system. I rate it an eight out of ten. It's reliable and gives us performance. It's not a ten because no product is a ten. Technology is changing so fast. I'm sure they're adapting to it but nobody can say, "That is a ten out of ten," on a technical thing. It doesn't work that way.
Start slowly. Generally, initially, you'll get pushback because people are used to traditional storage. Start with what we call low-hanging fruit. For example, we put our test environment on it. Once people become comfortable with it, see that it performs well, then they'll start looking for it for the higher-tier environments. We're using VMware and it's particularly easy, you just provision the storage. But when it's a physical environment and you're trying to go to that environment you have to have a migration, usually a whole space migration. We try to get away from that because it's time-consuming, after hours, and so forth. I would rate the SC Series at seven out of ten right now. That might change as future releases come out and more functionality comes into the product.
I always recommend them. Regarding the purchasing process, we were working with a VAR and they helped loop us together with the sales engineers and usually, within a few hours of discussion, we were able to drill down on everything. We had a product solution figured out, and almost next-day. The most important criteria when selecting a product like this are the reliability of the equipment itself and the support. I rate the solution at nine out of ten. They've really got the customer service, especially in the support arenas, nailed. They make information-gathering on their solutions, especially during pre-sale, easy to do.
In terms of criteria when selecting a vendor, if there is an outage and we do not get proper support from their technical team when we call them, in such a scenario we are looking at their competitors sooner.
I would consider Dell EMC to be one of the top options, by all means. I've liked HPE, but it seems that they are integrating with that, as far as VMware is concerned. The two that we're currently using are Cisco and Dell. They're the main two that we're bouncing back and forth with. At times the SC Series has been slow. Most of the time, we have found the problem is on the appliance side, not the hardware side. I rate the solution at eight out of ten. To get it to a ten it would need fewer upgrades and getting things right to begin with. That's really one of the core issues that we've had with it: so many upgrades. Once every two to three weeks we've had to upgrade firmware or something else. Although now, that has slowed down.
Do your research if you are looking into this product. I am very happy with it.
The SC Series is not the thing for your mom and pop shop. It is an enterprise-grade, mid-tier business type solution. It depends on how much space you need. Some situations can be fine with the EqualLogic series, although that's going to go away and, perhaps, the lower-end Unity's will replace them. You have to look at all those factors. In terms of performance with mixed workloads, generally, the Compellent has been very good. If it's over the 20ms mark that's not good, but I have never seen any problems with that, in particular, when we've added flash. In terms of migrations, I haven't used the built-in capabilities. I'll use VMware's VMotion to move things from one SAN to the other. A couple of years ago I had a Compellent upgrade where, at that time, they didn't support the upgrade I mentioned earlier, where you do one controller at a time on that thicker model, so I had to set them up side by side. They had some physical servers and I just used replication to replicate the LUNS over to the new SAN. I then shut down the physical servers for a few minutes and pointed everything to the new SAN and that worked great. I know they do have the data import, it's just something that we don't generally use because most of our customers are fully virtualized. We sell the equipment and install it. I do both sides of the field, the engineering, both pre-sales and post-sales. We still have a lot of customers that are in the 6 series. A lot of our customers have moved up to 7.1. If you have the SSD drives, then you can do things like dedupe, which you can't do on the older versions, and you can't do if you don't have the SSD drives. Evidently, the deduplication uses some part of the SSD drives for metadata or something like that, so that's a must. There's some new stuff coming with 7.3, which just got released, where they're spreading the sparing across the whole array, rather than having a dedicated spare disk, and having it sit there and do nothing until one of them dies, and then it kicks in - and having to rebuild all of that. Now, they'll do the sparing across all the disks and they say that is not only going to add space but performance to the array. I've got a couple of customers that want to use that very soon. I like the SC Series. I enjoy working with it. We've done a lot of sales lately, which is kind of surprising with all the new, fancy, all-flash arrays out there. Customers really don't need all-flash today, and that's really where SC fills in, with its auto-tiering, hybrid - mixed SSDs and spinning disks - customers just don't need all-flash systems. They don't have that kind of workload.
Do your homework. Get in the lab. Figure out what it does and doesn't do. Figure out what's different. Understand your I/O profiles. Understand your applications. Think about how you want to best choose your app mix, when it comes to what's possible. Often, when people go all-flash for the first time, especially in the mid-range, they might be a little surprised at what's possible. Rack one up, fully populate it with disk, and really see what you can get out of it before you make assumptions around what you need and how your applications are going to behave. We have not used the built-in capabilities for migration yet. What we're looking forward to is understanding the opportunity to possibly use these as a migration weigh-station between some of our older VMAXs or any of our other mid-tier storage platforms; where we might be able to use some of those migration solutions to help us get from legacy faster. We haven't done any migration between the two yet. All we've done is refresh tune-up. I rate the solution an eight out of 10 because, overall, for the market that it's serving, it is just a really great product. For us, the extensibility that we've gotten in terms of being able to run multiple application workloads and still get a nice densification factor - and not have to worry a lot about over-provisioning and tiering or about a lot of the other things we used to have to worry about, thanks to the all-flash and the way that it operates - has been really nice. The management overhead is minimal. It just works. It's a workhorse.
I rate it a nine out of ten. Nothing gets a ten.
Look at the Compellent solution. It probably offers the most features: * Ease of use with their system. * Being able to configure it. * Connecting it up, you can run it within a few hours. Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: * The support team behind it. * The stability of the system.
You have to do your preparation and research but that's no different than buying any SAN. Get to know your local Dell EMC pre-sales engineer quite a bit because they'll be able to help you properly size the unit. In our mixed workloads, we generally see sub-10ms latency on the product. I don't really have any stats for high-end IOPS because we are not really doing high-performance computing. We have mixed workloads and I'm more concerned with latency than IOPS. But the performance has been great. We have been very happy with it.
Dell has a foot in the door. We buy their servers and have relationships with their account manager and reps. I'm content. Dell EMC has been through some changes over the past couple of years. When Dell merged with EMC, it was a bit rough, but they have great experts. That kept us in this realm because of their support and team. It is a great, mid-level introduction to storage. I would recommend it. We are happy with it.
I rate the solution at seven out of ten. To be a ten it would need better support and better compatibility metrics across the firmware driver stack.
Do your research, check out all the vendors, and get your hands on it as much as possible.
We do not use the hybrid solution yet. I would rate the solution we are currently using at eight out of 10. Moving to the next performance level would make it a 10. And for this particular solution, the only thing I would like to see improved is the price.
You should definitely have a partner come in. If you're going to do a multi-tier environment, look at your IOPS: What are your hot IOPS, what's your total storage need? You need to plan out those different tiers because that's where it saves you money. You don't have to go all-flash if you don't need it. You only need to be able to deliver your performance and most places have tons of cold data that they aren't aware of. So, having someone come in and do an assessment of your current storage environment and see what performance you really do need - what you're getting now and what your projected growth will be - is important, so that a system can be properly sized. That should be a pre-sales process. Your engineer should understand Compellent and be able to size it properly. I just deployed a 3000 Series in a small VDI environment and, during a bunch of huge data copies, I was seeing 15,000 IOPS at less than about 7 or 8 milliseconds of latency and that was on 10K disk. I was really impressed with that. The most important factor when looking at a vendor is, are they there to sell you a box or are they there to help you? Are they there for the long term? From my dealings with it, it's right up there at ten out of ten. Obviously, there are more expensive systems out there but, for all the deployments that I've seen or done, its been a rock solid platform.
I would recommend to buy Dell EMC 3020 to anyone researching these type of solutions. Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: * Reliability * Support: We knew the support from EMC was really good.