IT managers critique enterprise flash-storage products

The market for enterprise flash array storage is highly competitive, with traditional storage vendors battling against innovative startups. Tech buyers are typically looking at factors such as ease of use, improved data management, performance, deduplication algorithms, a small footprint and low power usage.

The top enterprise flash array systems on the market include HPE 3PAR, Tintri VMstore, NetApp All Flash FAS, Pure Storage, EMC VNX and Kaminario K2, 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 enterprise flash array storage systems come from the IT Central Station community. They are the opinions of the users and are based on their own experiences.

HPE 3PAR

Valuable features

“The 3PAR built-in reporting features were the answer to all our reporting woes. We are now able to report as often as we would like, including automated report generating.”
-- Zane M. , Associate Infrastructure Manager at a tech services company
“The 3PAR StoreServ Management console has given the console the fresh look that it really needed. Also, their support has been fantastic; every time I have had a question or a problem they have been able to help me the first time.”
-- Austen E. , Network Analyst at a K-12 school system
We “went through an Oracle E-Business Suite R11 to R12 migration. Three-quarters of a terabyte database. Oracle said this should take 24 to 36 hours. [Actually] it took 10 hours [mostly because of] the 3PAR back-end storage system and our ability to transform the actual virtual volumes and the I/O, the rate configurations, within minutes.”
-- Jeremy Z. , Enterprise Architect at Alliance Resource Partners

Room for improvement

“I'd like to see just a little bit more virtualization so that as I work on the front end, I can make any necessary disc switches. I'd also like to see expanded correspondence systems.”
-- Mario M. , ICT Infrastructure Architect at a communications service provider
“We're not missing anything in terms of hardware, but the firmware could be improved.”
-- Dr Henner T. , Head of Global Engineering Computing at a manufacturing company
“It needs to provide better customer visibility of what's going on. For example, having access to a customer's ticketing system could be a perspective that's extremely helpful. It's important that we have clear and open lines of communications with our customers, and 3PAR doesn't provide that yet to meet our needs.”
-- Tony R. , Head of IT Infrastructure at a construction company

Tintri VMStore

Valuable features

“This product was purchased for our VMware View VDI environment. At the time we were having disk latency issues and were looking for an all-flash array. This is a hybrid unit. At first we were skeptical it could provide the same performance as an all-flash array, but when we tested it against one it did. So speed was our primary feature we were looking for and we certainly got. We also find the detailed per-VM reporting, and the ability to see reports from the hypervisor straight back to the storage, useful.”
-- Rene C. , Server & Storage Administrator at a university
“We have been using NetApp for several years and made the switch for increased performance. The performance of the T820 exceed that of our NetApp FAS8040.”
-- Keith P, , Senior Systems Engineer at a tech services company
“All of them [the features]. Tintri Snapshot, vCenter integration, powerCLI integration, the way you manage everything. Bye-bye time spent on managing storage arrays.”
-- Adrian C. , Senior IT Infrastructure Analyst at a financial services firm

Room for Improvement

“I would like to be able to add more storage capacity to our two units down the road without buying an additional separate array. I hear that their newer models may solve that issue though.”
-- Robert H. , Server Administrator at a university
“Tintri hardware is perfectly sized for the medium-to-large office. Their interface and methodology is great, but it's a shame there is nothing for an office with 10 to 20 machines.”
-- Adam W. , Infrastructure Analyst at a tech services company

NetApp All Flash FAS

Valuable features

“ONTAP A3 was huge for me because it introduced non-disruptive upgrades, which is imperative in the retail business.”
-- Red J. , Senior System Engineer at a retailer
“The speed is really the most important feature for us. The SnapManager feature is also very important. I looked at Pure Storage and we decided to get NetApp because they have SnapManager, which Pure Storage doesn't. I need to create a copy of the production database and without SnapManager, I cannot do this.”
-- Cristiano F. , CTO at a tech services company
“For me it’s important that my flash system is a part of the NetApp storage system. It’s just an extension of it. My guys can use the same tools, the same application integration, as they did before.”
-- Reinoud R. , IT Manager Infrastructure & Operations at a healthcare company

Room for improvement

“The price needs to come down. Also, it has a learning curve and I needed to learn a lot to do the installation.”
-- Josef S. , UNIX/SAN System Specialist at a communications service provider
“It would be nice to see a 1GB portal for networking on the back rather than just the 10GB that we can use as a backup. If we have an issue with the 10GB, we can have the 1GB cable as a backup while we fix the issue while running them in pairs.”
-- Malcolm B. , IT Manager at a wholesaler/distributor

Pure Storage

Valuable features

“The features of this product that are most valuable include the data reduction capabilities. Being able to write and read data at incredibly high rates of speed and reduce the footprint of your data by three to four times at least is invaluable. Also the ability to clone and snapshot the data with little to no additional size impact. In the database world this function has quickly become a must-have and not just a nice option.”
-- Stanton C. , Storage and Backup Engineer at a healthcare company
“The Flash Reduce feature makes use of data de-duplication techniques, which in turn reduces the amount of storage required, thus reducing the need to procure additional storage.”
-- Zane M. , Associate Infrastructure Manager at a tech services company

Room for improvement

“The product could improve by providing the capability to support NAS storage – CIFS and NFS. Currently, the product only supports block storage (SAN).”
-- Henry L. , Lead Storage Engineer and Architect at a tech services company
“It doesn’t provide enough information on performance analytics. For example, Nimble Storage has Infosight, which provides data; Pure Storage doesn’t have an equivalent. It has every other feature, but more data [is] the only thing missing.”
-- InfoSysAnalyst121, Information Systems Analyst at a pharma/biotech company

EMC VNX

Valuable features

“It's easy to use, and integrate. I can go in there and follow instructions to complete the job.”
-- StorageArch509, Storage Architect at a tech services company
“It’s amazing, you can add and stack, and add more elements. You can group to scale horizontally and vertically, can add VMware tech, can add flash arrays, and everything integrates seamlessly. The intelligence controls everything. I don’t worry about infrastructure and I don’t have to move to the cloud.”
-- ITDirector870, IT Director at a consumer goods company
“They have more different/flexible models in the midrange storage area in comparison with other vendors. They have also built-in VMware specific features. Lastly, it has reasonable performance/cost.”
-- Arsalan S. , Technical Manager at a tech services company

Room for improvement

“It only supports 10GB copper, and cannot do 10GB fiber. The system health screen could be more useful and show more important information. No support for flash drives.”
-- Michael P. , Network Engineer at a K-12 school system
EMC should "make major changes to the file services, Celera, [and] do something like a lite version. It used to be a more solid product before unifying Clarion and Celera.”
-- StorageArch509, Storage Architect at a tech services company

Kaminario K2

Valuable features

“Speed and ease of use. The system is very quick to get installed and up and running. The GUI is very straightforward and easy to use. Kaminario is very competitive on price. They also have a pay-per-TB model.”
-- Kevin E. , Senior Systems Engineer in the storage practice at a tech services company who is a reseller for Kaminario and several other storage vendors

Room for improvement

“The system currently has a 15TB LUN size limit. And snapshots need to be scheduled through script API instead of the GUI. These are items that will be addressed in future firmware releases.”
-- Kevin E. , Senior Systems Engineer in the storage practice at a tech services company who is a reseller for Kaminario and several other storage vendors
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