NetApp vs EqualLogic. An exercise in dumbness

So right now, we’re looking for an iSCSI capable SAN solution. Plenty of vendors, all with advantages and disadvantages. So I jump on the interwebs to do a bit of background research.

And pretty much all I can find is NetApp employees/fanboys and EqualLogic employees/fanboys picking apart each other’s tiny failings and sniping at each other using negative language, in a manner that I can only describe as pathetic.

Seriously guys, stop it. I just want to know what’s best for me, not what’s best for you…

By Phil Wiffen

Phil is an IT Professional working in Cambridge, England. He generally blogs about useful solutions that he comes across in his work/play.

20 replies on “NetApp vs EqualLogic. An exercise in dumbness”

Get both companies to Demo their product. Shortly after, you’ll see one isfar superior to the other in almost every way. To many ppl are stuck / advised one way and have to back it. I’m so confident you’ll find one far superior that I won’t even mention which one it is.

I had both vendors provide Demo’s and saw pros/cons to both. Yerp, which product did you find so superior and why?

Pros – Scalable, solid performance, CIFS (great if you need this add-on), great support
Cons – Pricing is a bit more expensive and is a la carte

Pros – Easy to use, decent support, all inclusive add-ons, price
Cons – questions about performance

For a smaller shop, running SQL ERP app, many other SQLs DBs, Exchange and about 10TB of total storage needs, I am leaning toward EqualLogic.

I have an EqualLogic SAN in place. It is a 6T configuration. We spec’ed out to maximize performance because we had the same concerns that RUSH commented on. I am happy to say that I no longer have ANY concerns about performance. This thing is SCREAMING fast. All my background previously was in the FC SAN world and I have NEVER seen a SAN perform this fast.

For disclosure sake… I have the EQ on a completely issolated switching fabric (like not even physically connected to anything else) where we have tuned the switches for jumbo frames, etc.

I am going to purchase another EQ this year but maximize it for storage capacity instead of performance. My plan is to divi up the volumes based on performance need (SQL and Exchange on the fast SAN and all the file store and backups on the other). However, I think there might be a chance that I will see little practical speed difference between the two. We will see.

Additional note: I am NOT using any 3rd part HBA’s on my servers…. just the integrated TOE cards that all the Dell servers come with these days. My plan was to evaluate using the TOE cards and then add QLogic HBA’s later if performance was not where I needed it… no need..

FYI Netapp is bundling their app options these days. the prob James speaks about in that blog no longer hold true.
we’re currently atempting to figure out which san box to get too (1/2010)
both companies are still touting they are better than the other, i just want whats best for our environment and apps. most bang for the buck!


Does anyone see any issues with using NetApp’s proprietary RAID DP? Do you know of any performance gains using their DP verses Equallogic’s RAID 50? Also, what capacity gains can be realized using the deduplication capabilities in production on the NetAPP? Our environment is Exchange, Microsoft SQL and typical file storage (mostly scanned images).


NetApp don’t recommend that you use Dedupe on Exchange as it can massively degrade performance with little to no real gains in storage optimisation. I don’t know about SQL server, as we don’t run it here, but I imagine it’s a similar story! On the other hand, we use VMware extensively, and are seeing a good 30-40% dedupe on our VMs.

Thank you all for simplifying this for me. I have been on the fence between Netapp and EQL for quite some time listening to VARs promote thier own agendas. I am a small shop running Exchange and Oracle trying to put the final touches on a DR plan. EQL seems like the logical choice for us as we embark on virtualization environment.

We have a few NetApp toasters and they work fine and all and if you need unified storage then Netapp or Sun is the way to go imo. If you’re not planning on putting you VMware images on NFS then I’d go with Equallogic, since according to me they are easier to set up (it’s a DIY setup in under 30 mins) most of the time.

Also they are cheaper. Having said that there are a lot more competotrs out there selling the same type of products… XIV, 3PAR etc…

My 2 öre (from Sweden here)

We have a netapp cluster running sata drives. Performance was less an issue then cost. Using it for about 4 years now. Mostly for CIFS shares and a little iSCSI. Great machines but you pay for it in support. We have had one bad experience with support where the system went down and they sent a tech that didn’t know what he was doing and almost destroyed a raid group. Backup becomes a problem when you get 15+ TB’s spinning since performance drops when multiple BU streams are running. This is most likely due to the SATA drives. I would highly recommend NetApp.

I have had Netapp for sometime. I wanted to decomm old array and add new array It was hella job took 3 week for me to make sure this is working fine. Performance otherwise is good. My branch office in Australia went with EQL. They were able to do with EQL within no time and no issues at all. Array Evacuation is one of the strong features EQL has and automatic load balancing is another great feature. Support is great. Now we have EQL in other branches also. Some are running Netapp may be we would change to EQL over a period of time.

If anyone in UK wants to discuss EQL, see a demo or get a test unit then let me know and I’d be happy to help.

I was faced with the same decision. I chose Net app, and have regretted that decision ever since. Go with the EQL. It’s a better solution.

I agree with most of the information regarding EQL ease of use and performance. But….. What do you use for a CIFS solution in the EQL case?

Hi Rick,

From what I understand, you use iSCSI Initiator to mount a LUN on the EQL and then format it on the Windows Server host. That way you’re using the native OS to handle CIFS, rather than NetApp’s implementation. I prefer EQL’s way of doing things in this respect (even though you can do the same thing with NetApp).

Hope that makes sense!

Been running 6 EQL arrays for about 2 years now, all 6000 series:
3 x 6000XV (Raid 10)
2 x 6500E (Raid 50)
1 x 6500X (Raid 10)

Using all functionality, snapshots, offsite replication, different raid levels, etc.

Past experience with NetApp, LeftHand, HP MSA, EMC, etc.

These are by far the easiest SAN’s I’ve ever seen to setup and manage.
The SAN HQ software is an excellent insight into the performance of the SAN’s and provides decent reporting functionality
Moving drives across different storage pools is easy and works very well
Hardware rarely fails (including drives), never had a controller failure
Replication is easy to setup, works well across any size pipe, and never fails
When the proper RAID level is applied, application and VM performance is good
Auto volume balancing works well
15TB single LUN’s

EQL releases firmware updates too often in my opinion, not a big deal when you have 1 or 2 arrays, but when you have 6 and a 5 hour window for maintenance every month… well…
Snapshots take way too much space with the 16MB page size
Dell touts “no downtime” firmware upgrades and it actually kind of works, just don’t do it

Summary, I’ve managed SAN’s from about 5 different vendors, these are the best. Sure they have some CON’s but they are very manageable and minor and mostly are just my personal opinions.

Email me if you want to chat more: [email protected]

Very Interesting posts here. Well i had a fierce competition of vendors for SAN solution(as my organization requires open bidding), but ultimately EqualLogic won as it was cheapest with the offered feature set. Here is what i have
120 TB RAW,
12 x EqualLogic Units
4 x 24 Port 10G iSCSI Switch

It gives super MPIO and best performance at 10G, (FC Switch maximum at 8G) Easy easy very easy configurations. I hope it helps all reading to make up their mind what they want. Moreover 3Par now HP 3Par is also a super duper solution but costly.

PS: Be very careful when upgrading Firmware, fried one of the controllers.

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