Dell-commissioned report praises APEX file services speed in AWS cloud

Color us shocked. A Dell-commissioned report has claimed that Dell’s APEX File Storage for AWS is 4.3 times faster writing data than NetApp’s Cloud Volumes ONTAP in AWS.

Update. NetApp comment added; 7 July 2023.

Prowess Consulting did the research, available as a downloadable PDF. Dell’s APEX File Storage is based on its on-premises PowerScale (Isilon as was) scale-out OneFS software. This was compared to NetApp’s high-availability configuration of its Cloud Volumes ONTAP (CVO). There were several points of comparison, but we want to focus on the performance aspect where Prowess was looking for high performance. 

Prowess looked specifically at moving data into the cloud, with a home directory example: “Migrating this data into the public cloud is potentially a massive task involving months of planning, validation, migration, and re-validation. An ‘easy button’ migration tool with native data replication lets you continue to use data services that you’ve already invested in by ensuring that your data and metadata stay intact and error-free during the transfer.” 

CVO has two controller nodes per cluster in HA mode. Dell APEX File Storage (AFS) has from 4 to 6 nodes per cluster and so can bring more compute power and parallel IO processing to bear.

Prowess’ test results apparently found that “Dell APEX File Storage for AWS delivers 4.3x higher bandwidth per server cluster than NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP HA configuration” with 100 percent sequential writes. The actual numbers were 3,930 MBps for Dell APEX and 897 MBps for NetApp CVO.

A table from the Prowess report adds more comparison points:

It also shows that the Dell AFS offering is a scale-out system whereas NetApp’s CVO is scale-up, and only two nodes in the HA configuration. Since NetApp doesn’t have a scale-out CVO there is no other Dell and NetApp comparison Prowess could make in the circumstances.

Prowess did not look at sequential read performance nor random read and write IOPS so its research is incomplete, but then it was a Dell-commissioned study and not a piece of independent research.


A NetApp spokesperson said: “Where Dell is coming to the reality of organizations’ hybrid cloud infrastructures several years late, NetApp has been leading the cloud storage market for the last seven years and our satisfied customers (such as Boomi and Karcher) prove the market direction we’ve set and lead is the right one. 

NetApp ONTAP is the leading Cloud OS and CVO was introduced seven years ago. Today we offer Azure NetApp Files, FSx for NetApp ONTAP, and Cloud Volumes Service for GCP. NetApp is the only storage vendor to offer the simplicity and unparalleled scale of native cloud storage, which translates to integrated, simple, and highly scalable offerings built to support VMware, databases, SAP, and more.

As you know, last November NetApp launched BlueXP to deliver a single, unified management experience for storage and data services on-prem and in the cloud, which is well beyond an “easy button migration tool.” The BlueXP governance and classification feature rapidly scans volumes targeted for cloud migration to ensure correct permissions so sensitive data doesn’t get put into a cloud domain where it shouldn’t be, and customers can identify and avoid moving duplicate, stale, or non-compliant data.