Looking to Add All Flash Array to my environment

I am a NetApp Shop running Data On-Tap Mode-7.  My SAN is about 85% full and I am starting to look at adding some All Flash Array to it.  We are a small law firm of about 150 employees, running 90% plus virtual on-premise. Users have been complaining for some time about slowness.  The NetApp serves up all the storage for my environment so I feel that there must be some contention between the VM's and the calls for all the shared files.  

I running 2240 with a mix of Fast 15K disk for my VM's and high density disks for my file shares.

I want to augment my VM's from the fast disk aggregate to All Flash.  
I have spoke to three different companies:

EMC: XtremIO

EMC is way to costly and the cost to add additional storage is even more costly.  This one is out of the game.  Solidfire looks great and allows for smaller chucks which is ideal, but not sure if I want to move to this.  Then there is Netapp.  I spoke to storage solution architect and they suggested that I stay with Netapp add their All Flash array and migrate over from Mode-7 to cDot.  

I would like to know what some of the EE members take on this project is.
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yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyAsked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
We wouldn't recommend any of those vendors, the reason why is they are well established in the industry, and trying to play catchup, with All Flash and Hybrid Flash Arrays.

We would recommend however, the following in this order, if you have the budgets to purchase NEW, if you do not want to purchase a new system their are other options, you can do to boost performance of your SAN, without changing your SAN...or speaking to SAN vendors...by moving SSD flash cache in your Hypervisors, close to the VMs and processor!

Tegile Systems - http://www.tegile.com/

What can I say about these guys, super fast flash arrays, patented technology, read about what they have done the metadata, massive sales, Platinum Sponsors of VMworld 2015 this year.

Nimble Storage - http://www.nimblestorage.com/

Up and coming, well established.

Tintri - https://www.tintri.com/

Well established.

The above vendors are specialists in all flash, hybrid frlash, rather than existing vendors playing catchup, by just sticking SSDs in their shelves!

So do you have the budget to purchase new......

or add FVP....see here


Add Flash Cache to speed up existing SANs....

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yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyAuthor Commented:
The budget is not hard set. I am looking at options and want to have the information regarding the various cost.

I know we are looking at 6 figure number for any solution.

Since my shelves are running out of space this is why I am open to revamping the infrastructure.  

 This is the second person that mention Tegile at the top of their list. I will look into them as well as your other suggestions.

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Tegile is worth a look at!

They are out performing all solutions at present, and dominating the flash and hybrid flash storage markets, winning many awards.
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Just a few points here:
1. A lot has happend on the storage side during the past few years and a hybrid solution is probably fast enough for your needs
2. If you figure out your iops and latency requirements, it would be easier for you to choose and size the best fitting solution
3. Andrew: XtremIO is actually a native AFA (and operates as a company almost like before the EMC acquisition)
4. If you have a bit of memory in your servers you could see how much performance gain you would have just by adding some extra cache in your servers by installing PernixData FVP 30 day trial (or similar), using server-memory as cache.


yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyAuthor Commented:
Thanks Larstr.

I do have about 40% available per server, but this was allocated for Hypervisor failure/maintenance in my cluster.

If I did try the 4th listed option and it works What would I need to do so I can get my system to take advantage of this technology without affecting my HA/Failover of my cluster?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
insert supported Enterprise SSDs or PCi-E Flash Card in each host, and purchase the software, and then enable on a per VM basis, if you are referring to FVP.

Cheaper option, than purchasing a new Flash Array.

But you may want to do the calculations, as Enterprise SSD and FVP license per server, depending on how many hosts, may equal a new Hybrid or All Flash Array!
yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyAuthor Commented:

What has been your experience with FVP?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Yes, we use it and all I CAN SAY


Best of all the software products......

But don't take my word, download a trial, and take it for a test drive, and it allows you to enable on those VMs that need an IOPS boost, and not ALL.

SAN Array Agnostic.... as the caching is done before the array, cache next to the host CPU, which is where you want it to get over that latent network link!

and I'm sure HATED by Flash Array Vendors, as they cannot make any more money from you selling spindles or shelfs of SSDs!
yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyAuthor Commented:
Thanks Andrew.
I am going to leave this ticket open for the time being while I do my assessment.
yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyAuthor Commented:
Another Question about the FVP when a server host fails and the machines start their vMotion does the cache data migrate over to the failover host?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
If a host fails it fails, it's dead.

There is no vMotion when a host fails.

VMware HA (if that's what you are referring to), RESTARTS VMs, from the share storage on other hosts when a host fails due to an uncontrolled shutdown, e.g. power off, or host crash.

It's a common belief by VMware Admins, which think that vMotion is responsible for the transfer of VMs, on host failure - WRONG!

vMotion is the Live Migration of Power-On VMs, when they are powered on, and the only data which is moving is the host process and memory between Hosts, via vMotion network. (VMKernel), the virtual machine storage (VMDK) stays where it is on the SAN...it does not move!
..and Fault Tolerance is sort of like a HA+vMotion combined. It's a continuous vMotion where the VM will get activated on the second host when the first one dies. It has a bit cpu+io overhead and a few limitations though.

FVP keeps a synced cache across several hosts so you will not get corrupted data if one of your hosts dies.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
If a Host (fails) or more importantly an SSD fails in a host the FVP software replicates 2 copies of the data to different hosts in the "FVP Cluster".

If a Host or SSD fails in a host, once of these redundant copies, is used to recover the write back to the primary storage to maintain consistency.

It's good, we've tested this by pulling out the SSD or Flash PCI-E flash card.

it carrys on working with no issues.
yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyAuthor Commented:
Still working on this.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
no rush....no problems.
yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyAuthor Commented:
I will be trying the FVP solution, but do not want to award the points just yet.
Have you look into Pure Storage?
yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyAuthor Commented:
Note yet.

So far just dialogue with the various venders and engineers.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Remember, there are also about 15+ other flash cache software vendors, just like FVP!
yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyAuthor Commented:
I have not tried anything yet, but I feel that you all deserve points for your contributions
Naomi GoldbergCommented:
You might also find real user reviews for all the aforementioned solutions, as well as all the other major enterprise flash array storage solutions on IT Central Station to be helpful: https://www.itcentralstation.com/categories/enterprise-flash-array-storage

HP 3PAR is currently ranked the #1 enterprise flash array storage solution among IT Central Station users.  This R&D senior director writes, "The 3PAR solution...with dedup and the chunklet concept is a piece of technology that nobody else has, and is a great advantage to our data center." You can explore his full review here: https://www.itcentralstation.com/product_reviews/hpe-3par-flash-storage-review-34064-by-frederic-van-haren
yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyAuthor Commented:
@Naomi Goldberg

Thanks for the reply.  I have a question for you.

Do you have Flash Array in your environment?
If so can you give me your POV of your experience?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
@yo_bee, look at Tegile Systems, that's what we now use......excellent designs, support, brilliant for VDI.

created and designed from scratch, unlike most older vendors, just re-hashing their solutions to fit SSDs and flash Cache!

Also what's your budget ? Also if you already have a SAN, there is not really a need to replace it, just put FLASH before it, in he host near the CPU! e.g. FVP.
yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyAuthor Commented:
I was focused on PURE as my leading candidate.

I have HP NetApp, SolidFire prior to NetApp acquisition and EMC as other possible candidates as well.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
So you've decided to rip and replace, and have the budget?

Compare Pure Storage with Tegile Systems!
Naomi GoldbergCommented:
I work for IT Central Station, but you can see all our user reviews for All-Flash solutions here from our community members:  https://www.itcentralstation.com/categories/enterprise-flash-array-storage#top_rated
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