Compellent vs NetApp

Discussion in 'SSDs & Data Storage' started by shnelson, Mar 6, 2012.

  1. shnelson

    shnelson Limp Gawd

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    My company is the final stages of choosing a new storage vendor, and it's been isolated to Compellent or NetApp.

    Without introducing the aspect of upfront cost (though for this consideration they are fairly close), which would you choose and why?

    I know this is a loaded question and the answer(s) depend greatly on our expectations, but I'm interested to hear any insight from the viewpoint of another customer rather than the sales department.
     
  2. Brahmzy

    Brahmzy [H]ardness Supreme

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    Neither. I've worked with both extensively.

    For mid-tier, EMC VNX is where it's at right now, in my opinion. Their implementation of solid-state and automated tiering trumps all others right now. Powerful boxes.
     
  3. msitpro

    msitpro [H]Lite

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    From my reading I would tend to agree with you.
     
  4. shnelson

    shnelson Limp Gawd

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    This isn't helpful lol.. EMC is not an option for us going forward.

    Brahmzy, since you've worked with both NetApp & Compellent extensively, would you be willing to share your experience between the two and not factoring EMC?
     
  5. Lazn_Work

    Lazn_Work [H]ardness Supreme

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    Compellent does automated tiering too and solid-state can be one of the tiers as well.

    But I haven't worked with any of that type of rigs directly. I do have friends who do and they much prefer Compellent over the older EMC stuff.
     
  6. apnar

    apnar [H]Lite

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    Ask both vendors to compete in a bake off. See for yourself.
     
  7. schnell

    schnell Gawd

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    Compellent does automated tiering!
    We have SSD's in our first tier.

    I am going to have to disagree about Vnx being "where its at." I came from company that used Vnx and my Compellent is so much easier to use it is a joke. I can run this thing in my sleep. I never had to use EMC support so I don't have any experience with that but Compellent Co-Pilot support is amazing. One time they called me because they noticed a problem before I did. I feel sorry for all the people who drink the Vnx coolaid, they have no idea how many headaches they don't need to have.
     
  8. Treyshadow

    Treyshadow [H]ard|Gawd

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    Correct. If you have intentions of ever leaning on support, both NetApp and Compellent have good support, but Compellent's is better. Copilot is very nice.

    VNX vs. Compellent or NetApp is a fun argument, but when it comes down to it, and you have either in operations each is good. Compellent's tiering against that of VNX is similar and I don't think you will find either a bad option. It depends on what you want to run and how large your systems will be whether NetApp or Compellent is a better option.

    I am more a proponent of IBM storage, but I run NetApp (IBM N-Series) in our environment and also have a VNX5100 and VNX5300 in our PACs environment. I would say NetApp is easier than the VNX, but Waffle and Snapshots for NetApp eats a ton of your storage. Just make sure your pricing thoughts are done around usable, not around RAW storage numbers.

    However which is better? There is no better, there is only different. I would suggest it would depend on operations requirements. If you need to run up the IOPS I would say ensure you have an SSD layer large enough to keep up. Some applications don't work well in that configuration, so check your applications capability of threading and such.

    For my money if I just got to pick. I would say NetApp for Slow disks, Compellent in the middle or high, and if you need super fast start looking at EMC or IBM.
     
  9. theITguy

    theITguy n00b

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    We love NetApp and with the newer ONTAP 8.X things have just continued to get better in terms of efficiency and simplicity. If the end goal of having dynamic tiering is to store less-accessed data on less expensive denser disk (ie SATA) and to not be required to manually move data around, then NetApp provides the same end-benefits, albeit with a different and more simple approach that reduces management overhead. NetApp uses large FlashCache cards (up to 2TB on a single system) which usually allows the vast majority of your data to reside on dense SATA drives but still be even faster than high speed 15K drives because data that is most often accessed sits in cache. On top of this, NetApp's OS is "dedupe aware", meaning that redundant blocks don't sit on the FlashCache, making it that much faster and efficient. You can see how this approach especially makes sense in a heavily virtualized environment because NetApp dedupes at the 4k block level and you will see huge dedupe benefits in VM and/or VDI environments (I've personally seen 80%+ footprint reductions). With Complellent and EMC's newer stuff they do have dynamic tiering (which makes sense), but the onus is put on the IT administrators to "classify" exactly what is a trigger to move data to a different tier....which amounts to guesswork that needs to be constantly revisited for most shops. If you guess wrong you can end up with data you may not want on slower disk and vice versa. With EMC the tiering is also a batched process...it does not happen in real time as classification thresholds are triggered. I'm not saying Compellent and EMC dynamic tiering doesn't work, but I am saying it adds operational overhead you won't have with NetApp and NetApp will still give you the same end benefits (more efficient disk use, better performance, better utilization).

    Finally, NetApp offers a better suite of highly-affordable cloud services. Having key vendors offer these kinds of services will become critically important in the next couple years and NetApp has gotten out in front of things. We use their main service provider partner Net2Vault (http://net2vault.com) for both cloud backup (we use SnapMirror and they take SnapVaults of our SnapMirror) as well as DR-as-a-Service...which costs us about $200 per month to have warm servers sitting in a SAS70 Type2 SunGard datacenter. The service has worked perfectly and their customer service is extremely good.
     
  10. Lazn_Work

    Lazn_Work [H]ardness Supreme

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    Umm say what?? Compellent has done dynamic tiering for years and no you don't set it's triggers. (they were the first to do this by far, I recall my former roommate setting it up at his work over 5 years ago)

    The integrated cloud stuff NetApp has is cool though.
     
  11. Brahmzy

    Brahmzy [H]ardness Supreme

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    Holy misinformation. EMC FAST = Fully Automated Storage Tiering

    You missed the fully automated part. It does it all - that's the point - there is no guesswork. The algorithms do the guesswork for you and they do it correctly.

    Compellent was the first to market with storage tiering back in '03/'04. They've come a long way, but they simply do not have the horsepower to compete with EMC's new top VNX loaded with solid state. As far as pure IOPS goes, it's not even close.

    All depends on IOPS - what is the box going to be doing - buy accordingly. I'm still not a fan of Netapp's RAID-DP / WAFL stuff - I had so many performance issues in the past with it - requiring disk shelf after disk shelf to be purchased just to barely affect the IOPS requirment. They've gotten better, but it was a rough time for many years where their stuff was not performing - especially when VDI hit. Then PAM came out, then PAM 2 came out and holy cow did it cost a lot with all of the seperate licensing required. PAM is still read only. EMC's FAST Cache is read and write and fully tunable. Also, I've has nothing but great luck from EMC support - better than NetApp, maybe not as slick/friendly as Compellent/DELL's support.

    All these sytems do things in different ways, true. And people's experiences tend to change their opinions, and grudges can be held with blinders on for years, even though the technology has advanced leaps and bounds from most all vendors. Bad tastes live a long time in the storage world. They each take their turn wearing the crown, depending on when their flavor of technology hits the market.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2012
  12. schnell

    schnell Gawd

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    Why wouldn't you "lean" on support? If you buy any enterprise storage technologies without a support contract you are a MORON. Sure I can probably fix it in an hour or so but why bother when Copilot can do it for me in 5 minutes? When we bought the new SSD's for tier 1 I slapped them in the enclosure and Copilot re-raided and re-tiered the entire environment for me. THAT is what enterprise support is for. They also had a technician in my building in less that 2 hours when a drive died, he replaced the drive and did the rebuild ... all I had to do was let him into the server room.
     
  13. shnelson

    shnelson Limp Gawd

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    My assumption is that is exactly what he meant by leaning on support. Some shops are ok waiting for a drive to ship via courier and putting it in themselves as opposed to having an engineer come out to do it for you.

    It is always nice to know that they are there when you need them though.

    Anyways...

    After a couple rigorous months of going back and forth between both vendors, we decided on NetApp. Thank you everyone for your insight here, though there weren't many in favor for NetApp I found it very beneficial to hear from Compellent customers.

    In all honesty, both quoted systems were well-suited for our environment.. which is what made the decision so tough. In the end, NetApp provided us with more performance on fewer spindles (this doesn't factor in the PAM either). Compellent provided more storage than we had asked for, but the spindle count was higher (2tb 7.2k drives) and the IOPs were less than half of the NetApp.