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Fujitsu Storage ETERNUS AF250 Review Discussion

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The Fujitsu Storage ETERNUS AF250 is the company’s midmarket version of its all-flash ETERNUS storage line. The array can pack quite a bit of storage in its small 2U form factor. Leveraging 15.36TB SSDs, the array can host almost 370TB without using compression and data reduction (with DR on its effective capacity jumps all the way up to around 1.84PB, still within 2U). Capacity is one side of the coin, but if a company is going to invest in an all-flash array, performance is more than likely a top concern; the AF250 has quoted performance of 760K IOPS sequential performance and 430K IOPS random performance with 170μs read latency and 60μs write latency.

 

Fujitsu Storage ETERNUS AF250 Review

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The Eternus AF250 has lower latency numbers than the NetApp AF200 you tested earlier this month.  It would be great if you could also test a 3PAR 8200 all-flash and maybe also a PureStorage //X70.  I don't know in what price segment the later is, but the 3PAR 8200 is a direct competitor of the Eternus AF250.

PureStorage currently is the leading compagny on Gartner's chart for flash arrays.  Doesn't mean much to me, but the management crowd drools when you show them Gartner graphs.

Fujitsu seems to be more present in Europe than in North America.  They have a local office here, but we never see them at trade shows and I've never been been invited to a product information lunch from like like HPE and Cisco do on a regular basis.  They might have great products, but their marketing is well behind those of their competitors.  Sending you a review unit seems like their best marketing move in years.

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Believe me, we'd love to test both. We're making progress with HPE, we have the hybrid MSA in for review now. Yes, it's entry level storage, but it's a good first step. In terms of a Pure Storage review, they've been very clear that they'll never let us review their systems. We've had a few chances to work on a POC system that we've been offered by Pure customers/prospects, but we don't want to get them into trouble. :(

 

As to Fujitsu, we reviewed a prior model a year or two back also. They're trying to get more mindshare in the US, though they have a lot of marketing work to do. Huawei is doing the same thing, we're seeing a big push from the APAC OEMs trying to get more North American exposure. The good news is that there are a lot of options and hopefully for Fujitsu they'll get a couple more looks now.

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Great review. It is apparent there is a large hit on performance at the limit when compression/dedupe are enabled. How feasible is it to run with those features enabled in a moderate IO requirement environment though? Looking for something that can do 15K IOPs (70/30 @ 32K) and the pricing puts it right in line with an HP MSA hybrid setup assuming data reduction at 2:1. 

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19 hours ago, Ascendo said:

Great review. It is apparent there is a large hit on performance at the limit when compression/dedupe are enabled. How feasible is it to run with those features enabled in a moderate IO requirement environment though? Looking for something that can do 15K IOPs (70/30 @ 32K) and the pricing puts it right in line with an HP MSA hybrid setup assuming data reduction at 2:1. 

That 15k IOP requirement could be served by a Synology array, which is cheap when compared to other "brandname," products.  Even a SAS connected DAS could be engineered to do this.  Do you have any other requirements like snapshots, replication, data services?

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20 hours ago, Ascendo said:

Great review. It is apparent there is a large hit on performance at the limit when compression/dedupe are enabled. How feasible is it to run with those features enabled in a moderate IO requirement environment though? Looking for something that can do 15K IOPs (70/30 @ 32K) and the pricing puts it right in line with an HP MSA hybrid setup assuming data reduction at 2:1. 

It's feasible in that if it meets your needs, so be it. But if you have highly compressible and dedupable workloads, there may be better options pending your reply to Mitch.

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2 hours ago, mitchm3 said:

That 15k IOP requirement could be served by a Synology array, which is cheap when compared to other "brandname," products.  Even a SAS connected DAS could be engineered to do this.  Do you have any other requirements like snapshots, replication, data services?

No, no requirements like that. All of it is done at Hypervisor level. Even though the requirements are modest, we still need enterprise support and dual controllers though. Budget is $40K for 20TB usable with support. The dedupe/compression on backups is 3-4:1 so I imagine the data should get 2:1+ on an array with dedupe/compression.

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2 hours ago, Brian said:

It's feasible in that if it meets your needs, so be it. But if you have highly compressible and dedupable workloads, there may be better options pending your reply to Mitch.

Definitely open to options. MSA 2052 was at the top of the list until I saw this review.

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At this point, I'd just shop around.  Pick your preffered vendors, DellEMC, NetApp, HPE, etc.  Tell them what you want AFA, 20TB usable (with no dedupe factored in) under $40k.  Tell each vendor you're looking at two other vendors.  Then play a pricing game.  I'm seen a Unity 350F All flash with 40+ usable TB for under 50k or so, it did 90k IOPS per it's sizing, the customer only needed about 25k IOPS.  

There are also capacity guarantees from various vendors where with dedupe/comp, say 3:1 or whatever..  So you would buy only 7-10TB of capacity, and it should all work and if it doesn't, they will give you the extra capacity.  But like all promotions, READ THE FINE PRINT.

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Thanks for the information...looks like it's a bit of a buyer's market at the moment. Forgot to add the one requirement which seems to eliminate a good few vendors immediately - the array must support direct attach FC. That's 3PAR and Compellent out; Nimble also don't like doing it apparently but a recent code update means it's now supported if you don't mind halving bandwidth. I see Unity does support it - had no idea they were coming in at pricing that low. Can't really see the entry level hybrid arrays being viable for much longer...

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Direct attach FC?  As in, no FC switches inbetween host and SAN?  Hmm...  I've deployed that myself, it's been a while (Promise arrays and a nexsan array about 15yrs ago)  I see if done a bit today, some AS400 and iSeries boxes with direct attached FC tape and FC DataDomain (VTL). That customer will never invest in an FC switch, no matter how hard I try.

Good luck with your search!  It truly is a buyers market these days.

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On 8/31/2017 at 2:49 PM, mitchm3 said:

At this point, I'd just shop around.  Pick your preffered vendors, DellEMC, NetApp, HPE, etc.  Tell them what you want AFA, 20TB usable (with no dedupe factored in) under $40k.  Tell each vendor you're looking at two other vendors.  Then play a pricing game.  I'm seen a Unity 350F All flash with 40+ usable TB for under 50k or so, it did 90k IOPS per it's sizing, the customer only needed about 25k IOPS.  

There are also capacity guarantees from various vendors where with dedupe/comp, say 3:1 or whatever..  So you would buy only 7-10TB of capacity, and it should all work and if it doesn't, they will give you the extra capacity.  But like all promotions, READ THE FINE PRINT.

I've been thinking a lot about how to better socialize street prices for storage. The vendors will tell us, but of course don't want to let us post such things. That said, it seems like anyone who buys has a pretty good idea of what the street is anyway. I'd love to be able to anonymize the proposals and post them in a repository by vendor. For now, you guys chatting about it here is a good start.

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On 8/31/2017 at 3:05 PM, Ascendo said:

Thanks for the information...looks like it's a bit of a buyer's market at the moment. Forgot to add the one requirement which seems to eliminate a good few vendors immediately - the array must support direct attach FC. That's 3PAR and Compellent out; Nimble also don't like doing it apparently but a recent code update means it's now supported if you don't mind halving bandwidth. I see Unity does support it - had no idea they were coming in at pricing that low. Can't really see the entry level hybrid arrays being viable for much longer...

I think that's why we're seeing action like the Tegile deal, where they couldn't IPO and couldn't continue operating at a loss. I haven't seen a concrete number of what WD paid, but it was certainly less than Tegile wanted to IPO for. We've already seen that with Nimble (HPE) and others. 

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8 hours ago, Brian said:

I've been thinking a lot about how to better socialize street prices for storage. The vendors will tell us, but of course don't want to let us post such things. That said, it seems like anyone who buys has a pretty good idea of what the street is anyway. I'd love to be able to anonymize the proposals and post them in a repository by vendor. For now, you guys chatting about it here is a good start.

Generally speaking, take MSRP, divide by half. However it can swing by upwards of even 30% more.. yes, going 80% off MSRP is possible, as a "normal," price, or as part of a competitive take out, or end of quarter or end of fiscal year price concessions.  

There are days I feel vendors are nothing more than used car salemen.  The resellers that represent them, are crack dealers, chopping up the product, and adding in margin to pad their pockets.  Of course your mileage may vary by region, city, country...  

 

Using Federal GSA pricing schedules, you can figure out some levels of discounting. Or some of the other government contract vehicles. Those docs just float around the web a bit too freely if you know how to look for them. 

 

Edited by mitchm3

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Agree with the above, I'm really tired of the song and dance that's required with storage purchases. For everything else we operate a "best price, first time" policy with no back and forth and it works well. Storage is a different matter, regardless of vendor. You usually have to show a competitor quote to get a better price, which I'm not comfortable with.

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We've had a lot of conversations as to why this is and a lot of it comes back to the way government agencies procure hardware. There's a nuance of discounting that would be impossible if they started out by quoting a "real" price.

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14 hours ago, Ascendo said:

Agree with the above, I'm really tired of the song and dance that's required with storage purchases. For everything else we operate a "best price, first time" policy with no back and forth and it works well. Storage is a different matter, regardless of vendor. You usually have to show a competitor quote to get a better price, which I'm not comfortable with.

There is nothing wrong with sharing the pricing IMO.  Why?  Because it helps them better understand where things should be priced down the road, or where they need to be, in other sales, with other customers.  You're actually helping the vendor understand how to better price things.

And always get in writing some price assurances when you need to expand or fixed maintenance.  That should ALWAYS be negotiated in.

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11 minutes ago, mitchm3 said:

There is nothing wrong with sharing the pricing IMO.  Why?  Because it helps them better understand where things should be priced down the road, or where they need to be, in other sales, with other customers.  You're actually helping the vendor understand how to better price things.

And always get in writing some price assurances when you need to expand or fixed maintenance.  That should ALWAYS be negotiated in.

How many times back and forth do you go though? Until they 'tap out' after a few weeks of horse trading and your relationship with the intermediate supplier has been burnt?

On the 2nd point - we always do 5 years support up front with storage/networking purchases. Guaranteed pricing for capacity increase is good in theory, but there are so many loopholes that can be worked into their "pricing guarantee" that it often doesn't play out as planned.

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