6 Replies Latest reply on Nov 16, 2008 3:59 PM by Jae Ellers

    Expansion advice, please??

    tlyczko Master

      I’m looking for advice on expanding and improving our ESX setup.

       

      We presently have a DL380 G5 with 2 dual-core procs, 14 GB RAM, and about 547 GB local VMFS storage for VMs, with about 338 GB free. All VMs run on local storage on a host-based ESX Foundation server, no Virtual Center. With 4 active VMs, CPU usage remains relatively low and about 1/3 of the total memory is used, according to VI Client. esXpress is our backup software of choiice. I expect 2-4 more active VMs to come along in 2009, and 1-3 of them should be pretty resource-intensive (timekeeping/payroll servers and monitoring software).

       

      I want to improve our current setup to be more resilient and prevent any issues if anything happens to a host and to ensure enough storage for future VMs.

       

      Offsite replication of any kind is not feasible since we’re in a very rural area where bandwidth is hard to come by, I am investigating ‘cold backup server’ possibilities for disaster recovery. Any suggestions people have would be helpful.

       

      My initial thoughts are to purchase 1 more DL380 G5 with 2 quad-core processors, as much RAM as I can get, and perhaps increase the RAM on the current host so it can become an effective 2nd host. This should be $8-10 grand.

       

      In terms of available funds and what we need to buy, it looks like the VMware HA Acceleration Kit is what we can buy at this time. This will be about $7500 for 2 hosts and 1 VC. I know we may have upgrade costs later on.

       

      I don’t expect to need more than 2 hosts for a couple more years, though I hope VMware 4.0 will bring more features to the Standard version.

       

      I’ve been advised to buy a SAN – an HP MSA2012i in particular. HP has a 9TB SATA bundle for about $13,000, is this a good price??

      I’ve only been able to find out that the MSA2000 series is “better” than its predecessors. We can’t afford EqualLogic.

       

      1. Are there other SAN products equivalent to the MSA2012i that I should consider?? I think the equivalent Dell is an M3000??

       

      2. Should I consider continuing with local storage and using either the Xtravirt or LeftHand Virtual SAN software??

       

      3. What other options exist for consideration -- storage, hardware, which ESX, anything??

       

      We are a non-profit so we do get some price breaks through CDWG for HP hardware. We have all HP servers.

      I don’t know if any similar price breaks exist for VMware, nor how to find out.

       

      Thank you, Tom

        • 1. Re: Expansion advice, please??
          TomHowarth Guru
          vExpertUser Moderators

          Moved to Enterprise and Strategy at Original Posters request

           

           

           

           

          If you found this or any other answer useful please consider the use of the Helpful or correct buttons to award points

           

          Tom Howarth

          VMware Communities User Moderator

           

           

          • 2. Re: Expansion advice, please??
            Rob.Bohmann Master

             

            There are also replication products out there that would allow you to replicate your vm's between 2 hosts with local storage.

             

             

            This could allow you to continue with local storage and have better resilency, until your environment is big enough to justify a SAN.

             

             

            Just sharing this as another thing to consider.  

             

             

             

             

             

             

             

             

            • 3. Re: Expansion advice, please??
              Texiwill Guru
              vExpertUser Moderators

              Hello,

               

              ANy of the backup tools out there will allow you to backup from remote storage to local storage on the same network. Another option is to backup to tape/disk/blu-ray and store those in a safe as well as offsite. This in conjunction with a good restoration disaster plan would help quite a bit.

               

              You may also consider a server in a hosting facility that you could use for such and have them involved in the restoration process, or go to the hosting facility to do the restoration.

               


              Best regards,

              Edward L. Haletky

              VMware Communities User Moderator

              ====

              Author of the book 'VMWare ESX Server in the Enterprise: Planning and Securing Virtualization Servers', Copyright 2008 Pearson Education.

              SearchVMware Blog: http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/virtualization-pro/

              Blue Gears Blogs - http://www.itworld.com/ and http://www.networkworld.com/community/haletky

              As well as the Virtualization Wiki at http://www.astroarch.com/wiki/index.php/Virtualization

              • 4. Re: Expansion advice, please??
                tlyczko Master
                Rob.Bohmann wrote:

                 

                There are also replication products out there that would allow you to replicate your vm's between 2 hosts with local storage.

                This could allow you to continue with local storage and have better resilency, until your environment is big enough to justify a SAN.

                 

                 

                Could someone please mention what are some of these products, please?? Do you mean products like Left Hand, what??

                 

                texiwill: It's really hard for me to say if we really need a SAN except if we really want HA and similar features. We have possibly just under a terabyte if I count the VMs' storage (oversubscribed to some extent) plus our five current physical servers (DC, SQL, 3 Citrix boxes). The drawback of local storage is that it is more finite than a SAN. I'm using 146 GB disks in the current ESX host.

                 

                I could be happy postponing a SAN except I know we will have at least 2 more VMs, maybe 3, by this time next year. We're close to but not yet at a tipping point but given the economy and that I do have an opportunity to invest now in some hardware that will take us for the next few years, I have to at least consider a SAN...I've been told I can get something to start with for around $10 grand...and I know a SAN needs all the disks to be the same. I received general approval on rather short notice, so I have to work quickly.

                 

                Thank you, Rob and Ed, for taking time to reply. I will try to remember to mark answers next week, perhaps more people will decide to reply. I am also waiting for my new Oglesby/Laverick/Herold book to arrive and hopefully that will help some.

                 

                Thank you, Tom

                • 5. Re: Expansion advice, please??
                  TomHowarth Guru
                  User ModeratorsvExpert

                   

                  for a costed solution you could look at Lefthand Networks,  this will allow  local storage to be presented to the network as a iSCSI target,  2 or more Host's local storage can be replicated to each other thereby building a very resilient target.

                   

                   

                  for a free solution you could use the the XVS from xtravirt,  this solution like LHN solution allows the creation of iSCSI targets from local storage, however it is limited to two hosts (read RAID 1) and a single (upto a maximum of a) 2TB target.

                   

                   

                   

                   

                   

                   

                   

                   

                  If you found this or any other answer useful please consider the use of the Helpful or correct buttons to award points

                   

                   

                   

                  Tom Howarth

                  VMware Communities User Moderator

                   

                   

                  • 6. Re: Expansion advice, please??
                    Jae Ellers Master

                     

                    Storage is always the sticking point when looking at these expansions.  ESX has been keeping the costs down by allowing a double handful of systems to collect on one or two small to midsize servers.  All of a sudden someone starts to worry about reliability, BC, or DR.

                     

                     

                    I'd advise you to buy the "best" physical SAN/NAS you can afford that will serve you for 3-4 years.  If you can afford one set of FC/SAS disks for production data and another SATA volume to backup/replicate to then you're way ahead of the game.

                     

                     

                    Here's an exercise for your boss.  Take all the servers running on ESX.  Turn them off and reload them somewhere else using today's practices.  How much would this cost the company?  How long would it take?  Consider the people that wouldn't be able to do their work plus the money that wouldn't get made thru invoicing or billing systems, etc.

                     

                     

                    ESX with central storage and HA would have them back up in a few minutes with no intervention.  Many times end users never know something went sideways.

                     

                     

                    A central storage device provides additional reliability over and above a single physical system.  It also provides the ability to migrate running systems between/among physical hosts to eliminate maintenance downtimes. 

                     

                     

                    Both of these items should allow a convicing argument with managment that this device would benefit them long term.  Plus it can be used with any other physical systems.

                     

                     

                    I'm not convinced that the virtual sans are useful for 2 node situations.  If one server fails then you're running off of one node and any other problems with the disk on the only remaining server would be catastrophic, or as my colleague would say raid fu yung.