Dell EMC vs. NetApp

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Dell EMC and NetApp are two of the largest names in the data storage market, with a MarketWatch report showing Dell and NetApp topping the list of “key players in the global enterprise storage market.”

Dell has long been a runaway leader in this market, owning over a quarter of it alone, but NetApp is an innovative competitor with its own strong offering of products:


Dell EMC

Dell EMC sells data storage appliances, along with hardware and software solutions for virtualization, analytics, information security and compliance, and cloud computing. Unlike almost all its competitors, Dell does not obscure its prices. Among their products:

  • PowerVault ME4 Series Storage: Purpose-built for SAN and DAS virtualized workloads. Up to 4 PB capacity HDDs, 320K IOPs, 5500 MB/sec bandwidth
  • PowerStore 500: All-flash storage, scalable to 1.2 PB with a 4:1 storage efficiency with always on data reduction compression
  • PowerVault LTO Tape Drives: Up to 18 TB of capacity on each tape, able to encrypt with 256-bit AES, and can be configured to write-one, read-many. Up to 400 MBps transfer rate
  • PowerProtect DP4400: An integrated data protection appliance that offers backup, deduplication, replication, recovery, and cloud readiness. Up to 5.3 PB capacity
  • PowerProtect DD Virtual Edition (DDVE): Virtual appliance that runs on choice of hardware or in a public cloud (with most major vendors)


NetApp’s products and services are wide ranging, providing solutions for in-house data management, cloud services, and hybrid solutions. Here is a sampling of their products:

  • FAS Storage Arrays: The company’s flagship storage products, each of which strike different balances between performance, capacity, and other demands of enterprise-class workloads. Highly scalable, with some clusters able to reach 176PB in raw capacity
  • ONTAP Data Management Software: Unix-based proprietary operating system that aims to provide a seamless management of data, regardless of its location in the cloud or on-premises. Deployed on many NetApp products such as FAS arrays
  • SolidFire All-Flash Storage: Private cloud all-flash units with dynamic scaling, automation, and API hooks
  • StorageGRID: Software-defined object storage system, available as software-only or for turnkey appliances within a hybrid or multicloud environment. Can be deployed as virtual machines or Docker containers
  • E-Series Data Storage: Hybrid-flash storage systems, aiming for a middle ground between price and performance. Their largest array supports up to 180 concurrent drives, giving the system a total capacity of 2.16PB
Breadth Depth Specialization Overall
Dell EMC X X X
NetApp X X X


Dell EMC

Dell is a massive company with global reach, and its partners are near ubiquitous. Dell EMC’s partner program has been rebranded and re-envisioned a few times over the years, now taking its current form under the singular helm of the Dell Technologies Partner Program.

The program is broken into four tracks:

  • Solution Provider: Gain access to tools and resources to build opportunities and capture markets.
  • Cloud Service Provider: Build your own cloud, supported by Dell Technologies infrastructure. Expand service offerings, build new revenue streams, and accelerate time to service.
  • System Integrator: Deliver joint solutions to clients with in-house expertise and services, paired with solutions from Dell Technologies.
  • OEM Partner Program: Partners in this program are hand selected based on their resources and capabilities. Some of the benefits include streamlined business processes, advanced knowledge of upcoming Dell Technologies OEM products and services, and improved ease of doing business.


NetApp works with over 30,000 businesses all over the world. Google recognized NetApp as the Cloud Technology Partner of the Year. Its partner program is broken into five paths:

  • Global Systems Integrators: Focus on building skills and creating sales
  • Solution Providers: Business growth through NetApp technologies and brand strength
  • Service Providers: Accelerate solution deployment and reduce time to reach a positive ROI
  • Cloud Partners: Integrate NetApp’s cloud suite into partner cloud offerings in public clouds, like Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud
  • Alliance Partners: Accelerate innovation, expand market awareness, and grow sales with NetApp solutions.
Breadth Depth Specialization Global Reach Overall
Dell EMC X X  X
NetApp X X X

Case Studies

Dell EMC

A growing Virginia-based hospital network, Sentara Healthcare, was rebuilding its IT back end to better distribute information for its staff of 30,000 physicians, nurses, and support personnel in support of its more than 900,000-member health plan.

The company enlisted Dell EMC to deploy a hybrid and multicloud framework that significantly brought down latency by a factor of 10 and increased its input/output operations per second by 33% over its previous hardware.

The company used Dell’s PowerMax, PowerScale, Isilon, PowerEdge, and PowerProtect solutions, resulting in a total modernization of its computing, while also bringing multimillion-dollar cost savings.


NetApp has also seen remarkable success in the health care industry, most recently serving the North Carolina hospital network, Cone Health. The network was looking to digitize medical records across numerous locations and for millions of patients, requiring a high degree of accessibility, security, and HIPAA compliance.

This data was being handled by on-premises data centers, but the necessity for disaster recovery meant it would all need to be duplicated into the cloud. These workloads were pushed into Azure, powered by NetApp’s Cloud Volumes ONTAP and Azure NetApp Files solutions.

NetApp delivered sizable performance, speed, and cost improvements over the strictly in-house data center solution.


Dell EMC

PeerSpot ranks Dell EMC as No. 1 for its PowerMax NVMe All-Flash Storage Arrays, based on nearly 900 crowdfunded reviews. Overall, Dell EMC has a cumulative 4.5 out of 5 stars rating on the site.

Reviewers praise Dell EMC for its price point, which was evaluated in some cases to be superior to NetApp’s for the same services. Major factors in choosing Dell also involved the ability to close databases without increasing storage footprints and the ability to create service levels for consolidated environments for storage or disk groups.

On the other hand, customers were slightly critical of the GUI and suggested that the out-of-the-box configuration needed some work.


Similarly, PeerSpot gives NetApp a No. 1 ranking for its Cloud Volumes ONTAP solution for cloud software defined storage, cloud migration, cloud storage, and public cloud storage solutions, based on 650 reviews from the past month. In aggregate, NetApp holds a 4.5 out of 5 stars rating.

Reviewers praise the service for being hassle free and say it enabled them to quickly and simply migrate large numbers of files to the cloud. Sales and support is noted as being highly responsive, and scalability is found to be similarly “pain-free.”

However, NetApp’s high data availability is also seen as a key positive for some reviewers. 

Dell EMC 4.5 out of 5
NetApp 4.5 out of 5


Dell EMC

Dell has received numerous awards for its storage services, such as the CRN Tech Innovators Award in 2021 for its PowerStore mid-range storage solution along with its hyperconverged infrastructure VxRail product.

IDC has ranked Dell as No. 1 in AI infrastructure, cloud IT infrastructure, high performance computing, servers, enterprise storage, and in converged and hyperconverged infrastructure. The company also received an award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences — the Emmy for Dell EMC Isilon — for its usage in the television industry for mass media storage.


NetApp has received a breadth of awards, including the Microsoft 2021 Customer Experience Partner of the Year and the Stratus Award for Artificial Intelligence and many other awards for its business intelligence and AI systems. 

It also received the 2021 AWS Independent Software Vendor Design Partner of the Year award for its joint partnership with AWS on a fully managed, multi-protocol storage service to migrate enterprise workloads without refactoring. It has aso won numerous awards for being a highly desirable place to work.

Variety Significance Volume Overall
Dell EMC X X X X


Dell is the runaway leader in this market, often outcompeting other storage providers on cost alone. However, there is no shortage of IT pros who would gladly pay extra for the service and support they receive from NetApp.

Portfolio Partners Ratings Recognition Overall
Dell EMC X X X X X
NetApp X X X


Litton Power
Litton Power
Litton Power is a writer and public affairs consultant. He has an extensive background in science, technology, and the energy sector and was a former science communicator at Idaho National Laboratory. He lives in Tennessee, where he spends his free time hiking, camping, and building furniture.

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