Tidbits 3: A Third-Party Maintenance Guide for Dell EMC, NetApp, HPE, and Hitachi Storage

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Can you believe it’s already summer?! It’s been a busy year for ReluTech, and it’s also been a while since I wrote a “Tidbits” blog. Since then, the market has seen some changes, which means we’ve spoken with hundreds more customers and prospects who have evaluated third-party maintenance for storage, all with the desire to reduce the cost of maintenance renewals without jeopardizing their business, their own jobs, or their enterprise data. We’ve learned a lot in that time, and we’ve put together a third-party maintenance guide.

Post-warranty support (aka third-party maintenance) continues to be our No. 1 product that customers want and need to buy. In fact, we have gained 156 brand new customers in the last year and a half, and our growth has been impressive enough to earn us a mention in Gartner.

Without further ado, here is a third-party maintenance guide with some observations from the last 18 months for data storage maintenance on the third-party market:

 

  • EMC VNX and VNX2

There are still so many companies running multiple applications on VNX—even the VNX Gen1 series (VNX5300, VNX5500, VNX5700, etc.)—and even if they have moved on to another platform for primary storage, there is often a good use case for repurposing the system. As you would expect, we’re seeing more and more requests for VNX2 systems (VNX5200, VNX5400, VNX5600, etc.), and our support capabilities are pretty comprehensive there as well. EMC VNX is the No. 1 storage system we support in terms of quantity, and that number has continued to increase in 2018.

  • EMC Isilon

Isilon is an interesting product line and has been a major differentiator for EMC since the 2010 acquisition. It’s a file storage architecture that scales better than most (if not all), but adding additional nodes to a cluster can be cost prohibitive. Our hardware background comes in handy here because we can take an entire cluster under support (at huge cost savings for the year-over-year renewal) and then supply pre-owned nodes to grow the cluster at a fraction of the cost of buying new. Considering that up to 80 percent of enterprise data is now unstructured, this offering to reduce the cost of ownership both from a maintenance and hardware standpoint can easily save organizations in the six figures.

  • EMC Data Domain

In late 2016, I mentioned that Data Domain enjoyed a 61-percent market share for “purpose-built backup appliances” (IDC, 2016) but that scalability, licensing, upgrades, and maintenance renewals could be painful. The second half of that statement is still true, but what’s interesting is that many organizations are rethinking the idea that Data Domain is the automatic answer for their backups. Two technologies we partner with, Rubrik and Actifio, represent a change in the status quo for backup solutions, and customers are starting to buy into these new visions.

  • EMC VMAX

Good news: costs have come down a little when it comes to maintaining these enterprise-class machines as a third party. Also, lots of VMAX owners we talk to are using the system as part of a Vblock, which brings us to…

  • EMC/VCE Vblock

We now support it! As you probably know, VCE (now a division of Dell EMC), introduced Vblock as a step into the world of converged infrastructure. This was before Nutanix really started disrupting the market with what we now know as hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). At this point, Dell EMC has moved on to VxBlock, and our understanding of the complexities of the combined architecture (VMAX, VMWare, and Cisco UCS/Nexus) has increased to the point of being able to support the system. Partnering with ReluTech for Vblock will almost certainly result in six-figure savings.

  • Dell EqualLogic

Last time, I wrote that EqualLogic would likely fade from the Dell EMC portfolio in favor of newer platforms and higher-dollar EMC product lines. I wasn’t really going out on a limb, but it looks like that is indeed happening—albeit slowly. Dell EMC continues to announce EOL dates at roughly the same rate, but we also haven’t heard any talk of a new EqualLogic generation since Dell acquired EMC. So it will be a slow sunset for the highly successful product line. While that happens, EqualLogic customers come to us more and more with needs for both spare parts and maintenance. If you have an environment with multiple EqualLogic boxes, third-party support can save you lots of money on renewals, give you flexibility when it comes to contract length, and allow you all the time you need to decide on your next refresh—even if your system is EOSL (end of service life).

  • Dell Compellent

Unlike EqualLogic, Dell EMC continues to push Compellent to some extent, even if it doesn’t lead with it. Meanwhile, ReluTech has begun supporting Compellent at a higher rate than when I wrote the first Tidbits blog in late 2015. It’s a solid platform that held its own against HPE 3PAR, EMC VNX, IBM Storwize V7000, and NetApp FAS Series for years, so we encourage you to maximize its useful life, even if you no longer need it for production.

  • HPE 3PAR

A little over a year ago, HPE acquired Nimble Storage and left a lot of people to wonder what would become of both 3PAR and Nimble. One month ago, HPE announced the newest generation of Nimble Storage, touting a better price and a guarantee for maximum storage efficiency. What does this mean for 3PAR? Well, nothing necessarily, but it ensures that at least some of HPE’s focus moving forward will be on Nimble’s All-Flash Array. We have seen a very natural uptick in requests for 3PAR support and capacity expansion over the last couple of years, but if 3PAR users begin feeling like their technology is being left behind, we very well may see even more.

  • NetApp

In my first two Tidbits posts, I mentioned that CDOT adoption is a big factor in a company’s desire to go to a third party for NetApp maintenance. While ReluTech can support both 7-Mode (the older version of Data OnTap) and CDOT (the newer version), customers with 7-Mode will just about always move to third-party support, while CDOT customers are 50/50 depending on the use case. Even more interesting is the number of pre-owned NetApp systems we’re selling. I can attribute this only to one thing. Many customers cannot afford a new enterprise-grade storage solution (like those mentioned in this blog), so they begin evaluating lesser-known alternatives. In some cases, these customers find us and are delighted to hear how far their money will actually go—on a very solid name brand—if they’re willing to buy a generation back. Couple that with the fact NetApp is known for its ease of use, and we’ve been providing a lot of first storage arrays over the last year and a half.

  • Hitachi AMS

In case you missed it, Hitachi Data Systems is now Hitachi Vantara, meaning I’ll have to fight the urge to write “HDS” at any point. ReluTech provides maintenance for many of Hitachi’s storage systems, but the legacy AMS platform may be the most relevant at this particular point in time. While all of the big acronyms (VSP, USP, HUS, HCP, and HNAS) are candidates for third party depending on your use case, many AMS boxes actually require third-party maintenance, as Hitachi has been declaring the machines to be EOSL over the last year plus, with the AMS2100 and AMS2300 scheduled to go EOSL this fall. Since that particular acronym means nothing to us, call us up for a quote to extend maintenance.

 

Now that I’ve gone over what we’ve been seeing in the marketplace, allow me to add some ReluTech updates, the first of which is…

 

  1. We are now ReluTech. Our loyal customers know us as the Infrastructure division of Relus Technologies, but we needed to distinguish our offering in the market and on the Internet from another Relus division, so we went with this very mild change to ReluTech.
  2. ReluTech has a new website! We rolled this out in early April, and we’re excited about continuing to build it. We hope to be a thought leader when it comes to third-party maintenance, hardware wholesale, and new alternatives to the traditional OEMs.
  3. We have a bunch of customers! If you’re one of them, thank you.
    1. More than 600 total customers
    2. 20 Fortune 500 customers

 

If you are evaluating third-party support for the first time or because your current provider has dropped the ball, feel free to check out our Frequently Asked Questions page, and if you still have questions, want to see a quote, or simply want to hear more, we’re happy to help.