Software-defined storage: Users reveal the best (and worst) features

There is no standard definition of software-defined storage, but it typically involves decoupling the management software from the storage hardware (vs. the tight integration of traditional storage products). The goal is to make it easier for administrators to flexibly manage a variety of storage devices via software and automated policies.

Not surprisingly, when discussing software-defined storage products, enterprise IT managers give a high priority to simplicity and ease of use (as well as price), according to IT Central Station.

Four of the top software-defined storage products on the market are Nutanix, VMware Virtual SAN, HPE StoreVirtual and Tintri VMstore, according to online reviews by enterprise users in the IT Central Station community.

But what do enterprise users really think about these tools? Here, users give a shout out for some of their favorite features, but also give the vendors a little tough love.

Editor’s note: These reviews of select software-defined storage products come from the IT Central Station community. They are the opinions of the users and are based on their own experiences.

Nutanix

Valuable features

“The Web-based management portal [Prism] is very robust and easy to understand. There is very little to manually configure … once the scripted installation has completed.”
-- Charley H., Senior Systems Engineer at a manufacturing company
“We can troubleshoot customer issues (e.g., crashes, performance issues) very quickly and efficiently since we know exactly how the infrastructure should behave and what performance values are to be expected.”
-- Banc, Senior System Engineer at a tech services company
“Rather than spend valuable consulting days setting up a SAN and carving out [logical unit numbers], setting up the hosts, etc., I am now able to quickly configure a Nutanix Cluster in minutes.”
-- Stephen S. , Virtualization Architect at a tech services company

Room for improvement

“It would be nice to be able to converge the network switch required to connect the Nutanix nodes together. This can then be managed via the Nutanix Admin console.”
-- Ben V. , Systems Engineer at a government agency
“The processing power is OK, but for the future it needs to be better. Replacing all the hard drives with SSD would dramatically improve performance.”
-- Tommy L. , Network Engineer at a financial services firm

Read more Nutanix reviews on IT Central Station.

VMware Virtual SAN

Valuable features

“Using VSAN Observer, we were able to see exactly what the VSAN environment is doing on a day-to-day basis, so we've gotten to really enjoy that interface.”
-- Matt B. , Data Center Engineer at a tech services company
The most valuable features are “the overall management dashboard, capability to have multiple clusters, link clones, distributed computing [and] Site Recovery Manager for failover.”
-- Anil S. , Supervisor of Virtualization & Storage Services at a media company
“Some of the most valuable features of VSAN include the ability to be able to provision and grow your storage as you need to without a very large upfront cost.”
-- Ritesh K. , Principal at a tech services company

Room for improvement

“There is a great way to replicate data now, but I'd like to see them focus on making recovery from snapshots, off-site, part of the core product.”
-- Ben G. , Global Cloud Architect at a media company
“We would really like to see encryption as part of the offering.”
-- Stelios X. , Director at a tech services company
“I'd like to see support for iSCI. Right now it’s all internal protocols, and they promise it in the next version. They need to support more types of hardware – the list is too narrow.”
-- Anthony N. , Director of IT Infrastructure and Operations at a university

Read more VMware Virtual SAN reviews on IT Central Station.

HPE StoreVirtual

Valuable features

“The implementation of StoreVirtual has allowed us to create cross-site storage volumes, allowing VM’s to migrate freely between data centers. In the event of a data center outage, potentially all 4 domain controllers could be running from one site.”
-- Ryan M., ICT Infrastructure Specialist at a healthcare company
“Valuable features include: it is easy to support, whether it is four or 40 storage nodes, and it is easy to use.”
-- Adrian C. , Wintel Server Support Engineer at a university
“High availability is the most valuable feature for us. It allows us to provide simple, high-availability SAN solutions that are scalable … by just adding extra nodes.”
-- Anthony Q. , Service Desk Manager at a tech services company

Room for improvement

“The management system, while OK, could be made a little more user-friendly.”
-- Doug C. , IT Engineer at a local government agency
“They need to create a separate management port to allow for sending email alerts via non-iSCSI network.”
-- Mark S. , Infrastructure Engineer at a logistics company

Read more HPE StoreVirtual reviews on IT Central Station.

Tintri VMstore

Valuable features

“Speed: The hybrid flash has low latency even at high bandwidth.”
-- Reviewer256836, Enterprise Architect at a university
“For my company, Tintri's most valuable feature is its TCO. This system is easy to install, requires no training, and is easy to upgrade. I've worked on both EMC and NetApp SANs, and this is by far the easiest system to maintain. As a SysAdmin, I really appreciate the built-in monitoring capabilities as well as the PowerShell and REST API toolkits.”
-- Scott V. , Network Services Manager at a legal firm
“The ease of use and management capabilities are the most valuable features for us. Tintri is incredibly easy to use and manage.”
-- Firoze B. , Senior Environments Engineer at a software R&D company

Room for improvement

“Right now, we see that the configuration access isn't as good as it should be. An improvement in this area would be a huge help for us.”
-- TechConsultant406 , Technical Consultant
“It would be very helpful if it had scheduled time-to-full trend reporting, because management always wants to know how much time is left on storage [capacity].”
-- Jack Y. , Datacenter Operations Manager at a healthcare company
“Replication between two VMs needs to be improved to real-time. The solution also needs to have a better licensing model.”
-- Eric S. , Information Systems Manager at a government agency

Read more Tintri VMstore reviews on IT Central Station.

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