back to article Off-the-shelf servers spar with million-dollar storage arrays

Cheap and cheerful storage from Nexenta matched EMC and NetApp's multi-million-dollar systems in VMworld 2011's Hands On Lab, and took up some of the slack from its rivals when difficulties arose on the first day. EMC and NetApp have cooly brushed off Nexenta's claims it outperformed them. The storage infrastructure for the …


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  1. Darryl
    Thumb Up

    Good on ya, Nexenta.

  2. The Cube

    Ironic really

    That it should be EMC-VMWare who shows the world why EMC is a dinosaur that needs to find somewhere quiet to lie down and fossilise. EMC, where data goes to die.

  3. LarryRAguilar

    One Petabyte in a Rack Powered by Nexenta’s Nexentastor ZFS file system implementation!

    Aberdeen built a system using Nexentastor ZFS file system implementation called the Petarack, over a full petabyte of managed SAN storage in a single 42U rack. It was also on display at VMworld and ran seamlessly thanks to Nexentastor; and compared to EMC's and NetApps million dollar price tags; it's priced at $495K.

  4. Jim O'Reilly

    As thePC fades into history :), will the Big Iron Storage business be PC'd?

    The advent of solid Intel reference designs has taken almost all the risk and variability out of COTS server hardware. This means that the base hardware for those expensive EMC, Hitachi, HP and NetApp products is really the same whitebox that you can buy for peanuts, coupled with$59 SATA drives.

    No huffing and puffing will convince any savvy IT guy that the hardware has any special secret source or gold-plated quality. The market doesn't work that way.

    So, the source of those enormous markups must lie in the software. But, with open-source stacks appearing and evolving to sophistication at a rapid pace, there's going to be a collision of reality and myth in the market. Prices of software functions will fall fast

    SSD will change the rules, but not in favor of Big Iron, since the advent of SSD accelerators and appliances means that increasing IOPS via huge spindle counts is no longer necessary. This will seriously impact Big Iron revenues within 18 months, as IT shops look for growth to existing installs by adding accelerator boxes, and new installations use a much smaller and cheaper hybrid. HDD may be becoming the "Tape" of the next decade.

    I think this will cause EMC to vertically integrate around VMWare, too. EMC is capable of becoming THE cloud company because of that acquisition. All they need is to call their COTS appliance a server, add VMWare, and attach it to their cloud storage.

  5. Chris Mellor 1

    Prices all wrong

    Chad Sakacc sent me this comment and I'm posting it here to get it up asap:-


    Chris – your ensuing article is totally off base - and (perhaps I’m sensitive here) paints the wrong picture.

    First of all – where did you get prices for the configs? Reality is that Nexenta, NetApp, and EMC solution prices are, in the end, about the same.

    Also, was there any support for the “Nexenta supported 50% of the load” quote (where did THAT come from)? Or was it just made up?

    And let me be abundantly clear – EMC came out with flying colors, had no issues, and while I won’t throw the other guys under the bus (because there WERE problems), your article is off base.


    Great comment. The quoted prices came from Nexenta sources. The idea that "Nexenta, NetApp, and EMC solution prices are, in the end, about the same," is surprising and I'm asking Chad for numbers to verify that.

    The 50 per cent load number came from Nexenta; it's a CEO quote in the story. Where he got it from is his affair. Either he is telling the truth or he is not.


    1. lyceus

      Well read - not

      Perhaps Chad should re-read the quote from Nexenta's CEO? It doesn't say that Nexenta handled 50% of the load, it says "50% of the verticals". A very cleverly written post that seems to say one thing but actually doesn't!

      Marketing at it's very finest.

  6. Jim 59


    Why does nobody mention dedupe in VMware stories ? The storage is basically holding 1000 copies of Windows 2008, right ?

  7. virtualgeek

    1PB in a rack - good but not great.

    Disclosure - EMCer here.

    Also - missed it on my earlier comment.

    @LarryRAguilar - your point is a good one, and that highlights my point. 1PB in a 42 standard rack is good, and hey - congrats to Aberdeen.

    EMC's current shipping dense config is 1.8PB in a 42 standard rack.

    And, as per my earlier comment - I'd encourage customers to get multiple quotes on configs - we're all subject to the same market forces :-)

    Oh, and BTW, we're not stopping there. While our stuff is based on the same commodity components as the other guys - customer demand infrastructure to have certain capabilities.

    When that need stops, we won't need to engineer our own storage processors and enclosures (all from commodity components). Today, the integrated value (far more in the software than in the hardware, but some in the hardware still) that drives customer choice is something customers value, and the market votes.

  8. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  9. frunkis

    "would encourage any customer to get quotes and come to their own conclusions."

    And our conclusion was, Nexenta. All the features and more at a fraction of the cost.

    With our budget constraints, we could no longer afford to expand or upgrade our aging Netapp gear and got quotes from all kinds of vendors. We stumbled on a Nexenta solution and the price and feature set was too tempting to pass up. We purchased a system with their software and couldn't be happier. The performance and reliability has been outstanding.

    When you factor in the cost of licensing, for all the features offered with Nexenta platforms, it wasn't even close. Nexenta destroyed the competition. In one case, Netapp's solution was heavily discounted off the street price, had fewer software features and was still 400% more expensive than a similar system spec'd with Nexenta. Basically, their software is a pretty interface to opensolaris with ZFS that manages commodity hardware.

    Where we see differences between Nexenta, Netapp, XIV, EMC, Compellent, etc. is the level of vendor support, education programs and community support, but if you don't need constant hand holding to manage storage, justifying the expensive EMC/Netapp gear becomes difficult.

    Nexenta has replication, snapshots, compression, deduplication, WORM, HA, FC, iSCSI, CIFS, NFS, WebDav, Rsync and a host of other features. With Netapp, they license every feature, per controller and charge you $2000 for a $150 harddrive. Want to use snapmirror with Netapp? Two licenses for the source HA controllers and 2 more for the destination controllers. Want NFS, CIFS? pay them more. Nexenta? included at no cost. We just got so much more than we ever did with other vendor solutions.

  10. virtualgeek

    Disclosure - EMCer here.

    @frunkis - indeed that's your choice, and every customer does indeed - make a choice. I don't dispute the validity of a broad set of solutions on the market.

    Every customer makes a choice. In the last month, here's a short set of customer who have shared their public choice to choose EMC (many of them publicly including what competitors they evaluated).

    - English Premier League Club:

    - Columbia Sportswear:

    - KPIT:

    - Northrup Grumman, Lone Star College, Northern Hospital of Surrey County:

    - Heritage Auctions:

    - Washington Trust:

    - Texas School District:

    - Curtin University of Technology, SPAR Group, Elliot Health Systems:

    - Columbia University:

    Every customer is unique - so the reasons for every choice is almost as unique.

    Look - the point here (at least my point :-) is not that Nexenta bad, NetApp bad (though they seem to have been that way in your view), EMC good. I'm clearly biased. That choice is for every customer to choose, and I respect their choices (how can you not?). I'm purely disputing the facts in the article that are incorrect.

    As you note - they have a nice UI for Opensolaris ZFS. And, have ported parts of it to Ubuntu to deal with the ZFS outstanding legal issues & Oracle basically killing Opensolaris - which is sad, because ZFS (like many things formerly Sun) is, IMO, good technology.

    Competition = good. Good for customers, good for everyone.

    If there is ever an opportunity for your business, I hope that you'll consider EMC (at least give us a chance to win your former NetApp infrastructure, now Nexenta infrastructure). There's no harm in looking at options, right?

    1. frunkis


      We were and continue to be vendor agnostic when making purchasing decisions and we looked at a lot of options. You admit your EMC bias and sound like someone in sales at emc. I am a one of those customer success stories for a competing product.

      Every vendor we met marched through the doors with their customer list and references. You are not impressing anyone with yours. Some vendors went a step further and brought on the FUD surrounding their competitors. As a potential customer, it made my skin crawl every time they tried bashing someone. A feature comparison is one thing, but sometimes their comments were egregious and came off as desperate. EMC and Netapp's favorite was that XIV has double disk failure problems. IBM had a different story. Most did a job comparing the products. Oracle's solution was feature rich without the expensive licensing costs.

      In the end, we took a chance with a Nexenta solution over the similar product offered by Oracle. BTW, the ZFS lawsuits were settled over a year ago. Check Netapps website ;) We still like Netapp and continue to use their filers, but in this round of storage refresh they lost out due to cost. IBMs XIV was really interesting too, but even after they shaved off $1 MILLION from their imaginary internal list price, it was still more expensive and shipped with fewer features than what we ended up with. We also talked with BlueArc, Nexsan, Compellent, Dell ( who were reselling EMC gear ), HP and a few others.

      Competition is good.

  11. MBI


    Uuhhh, remember who owns VMWare. And they are smiling all the way to the bank.

  12. StorageJunkie

    NetApp could easily allow their filesystem code to be ported to a Unix based server (like ZFS). The pendelum is swinging back to direct connected server storage that can be served out.

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