Sunday, 28 September 2014

Two weeks after XtremIO Gotcha

It's been 2 weeks since I blogged about the XtremIO Gotcha, and the story has since been covered by many people and news services (See previous post for links).

Chad Sakac quickly responded on his blog, and if you read through the comments, he says they'll take care of customers:
"I'll say one thing more: we planned a ton of free services (and swing hardware!) to help customers and partners that need it - at NO COST TO THEM. The customer gets a better, faster solution - for free. This is "customer first", from top to bottom." - Chad Sakac
For any customer where the firmware upgrade could have been an issue, the offer of support from EMC really takes away most of the concerns, to it being not much worse than any other firmware upgrade.

EMC acknowledged a problem, and they're going to fix it. I think that's reasonable.

For most existing customers, that's probably the end of the story.
Other storage vendors have been taking the opportunity to jump in, questioning everything from the architecture to the marketing of XtremIO. You'll see on all the blogs covering this story, there doesn't appear to be a lot from customers.

While EMC have admitted to the disruptive update, their marketing collateral still advertises "non-disruptive software and firmware upgrades to ensure 7×24 continuous operations" on their website. At this point in time, the statement is false, as admitted by EMC.

The updated 3.0 firmware is due to be released in a few days, and from that point onwards, all updates will be non-disruptive, so the product will then match the marketing statement.

Until then, and for the past 2 weeks it's false advertising, and not everyone reads Chad Sakac's blog to be aware of that.

The ACCC have laws in place to protect consumers from false or misleading advertising, that state "Businesses are not allowed to make statements that are incorrect or likely to create a false impression" -ACCC  http://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/misleading-claims-advertising/false-or-misleading-claims.

It's a good reminder that when making a substantial investment, do your research. Be diligent and ask vendors the tough questions. Even ask their competitors about them, as they'll usually have a competitive response. Take those comments back to the vendor, to find out which ones are true, half truths, or lies. It'll also give you an insight to how respectable the competitors are.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

XtremIO Gotcha

17th Sept update:  I've been contacted directly by EMC, and they say they'll work through this with us. Sounds promising. There's been a lot of coverage on the topic. I've provided additional links at the end of the post.The funniest comment I've read so far is "More like Xtrem uh-oh".
16th Sept update: here's an official response from Chad Sakac http://virtualgeek.typepad.com/virtual_geek/2014/09/on-disruptive-upgrades.html

While at VMworld last month, I was networking with attendees when I mentioned my current employer purchased an XtremIO half X-Brick for a VDI project.

One of the guys told me an issue with the array I didn't believe, so I went to verify it from other sources. The 'rumour', was that to upgrade from the current 2.4.x firmware, to version 3.0, the data would be lost, and there'd need to be a complete backup/restore. My first thoughts were "that's crazy". 

On returning from VMworld, I passed the news onto my employer, for them to follow up with the integrator and EMC. 

The news came back that in fact it was true. I was stunned.

OMG!! (funny image removed as requested by EMC)

To clarify, firmware 3.0 has NOT been released, but is scheduled for release at the end of September, beginning of October. The upgrade process will require all data to be moved off the array, as all data will be wiped during the upgrade process. The new firmware includes performance benefits and inline compression. 

As a customer with limited funds, this is the only array for a VDI project, where the business runs 24/7, so to have to wipe the array has massive impacts. 

The integrator has offered a loan device for when firmware 3.0 is available to do the upgrade, but if the project has gone live, it will need to be equivalent in performance with the XtremIO X-Brick. Now that we know, we can plan accordingly. This is the intent of the post. 

My opinion, that in 2014, if we need any disruption to update/expand a production storage array, we're doing it wrong. 

I'm not sure if they will continue development of the 2.x branch, but you'd hope they would support it for the next 3 years or so if you don't have another array to migrate data to so you can perform an upgrade. I'd hate for the next support call to say "Please upgrade to the latest firmware" before they even begin to troubleshoot an issue.

As firmware 3.0 has NOT been released, perhaps the upgrade process will change from what I've been told when it GA's. I'd like to hope so. We'll have to wait until the firmware has officially been released to know for sure. 

I still find it hard to believe, so I'd be Xtremly happy to have EMC correct me. If you have XtremIO units, chase it up with your official channels to confirm the upgrade process.

This also highlights the benefits of networking with other users in your field. Here you'll find out real user experiences.  Although always confirm them with the vendor. The devil is in the details.

Updated:
For more info, the topic has been reported and debated in the comments on the following websites:
The Register - XtremIO firmware upgrade will wipe data
IT News - Extreme upgrade pain for XtremIO customers
Chad Sakac - On disruptive upgrades
Silicon Angle - EMC will wipe user data with XtremIO firmware 3.0 upgrade
Michael Webster - Data destructive storage firmware upgrade in 2014 surely not
Vaughn Stewart - Have a few days to spare we need to upgrade the XtremIO
SolidFire - The Advantages of a Shared Nothing Architecture for Truly Non-Disruptive Upgrades
Chris M Evans - EMC XtremIO Destructive Upgrade Demonstrates Architecture Matters
Silicon Angle - Gartner: Flash array startups ranked ahead of EMC, HP and IBM
Nigel Poulten - XtremIO Craps on EMC Badge

Plenty of other vendors have reached out, stepping on EMC so they can be the successor. If we're interested, we'll contact you.