ScottBentley
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

Clean slate installation reccomendations small migration.

We are currently looking to implement ESX 3.5 enterprise as we would like all the toys including VMotion etc.

The primary objectives of the install will be to ensure high availability of all the guest servers, with a requirement that it should take no longer than 4 hours to recover from any type of data corruption either of the operating systems or SQL/Exchange databases. Backups need to be as close to real time as possible, 15 minute window

The current configuration is a small base of nine servers all running MS products this includes Navision, CRM, Exchange server along with the normal file and print DC;s etc the network has about 150 users.

We have an inital budget of around £80k this needs to take into account everything including server hardware, SAN, FC Switches and the VMware licence's

Inital thoughts are to have three host servers and a FC SAN, approximately 3TB is required with some sort of disk to disk to tape backup solution. (everything needing to be redundant such as FC switches HBA's storage controllers)

My questions are given a clean slate and the above type of budget...

A) Is it possible to acheive this type of solution on this type of budget?

B) Does anyone have any recomendations with regard to the SAN servers etc?

C) How would it be best to acheive a backup of the VM's so we can make a daily offsite copy and how do you go about calculating the size requirements for the backups?

I know most of this is fairly rudimentary stuff but I have only up to now used ESX in a test environment, and could use some pointers.

Regards,

Scott Bentley

I hope this helps
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9 Replies
khughes
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

You might be cutting it close fund wise but it is definatly doable. You'll just have to find vendors you think fit well for your needs. As for backup solutions you can do a little research here - which give you a baseline comparision between some of the big backup vendors. Personally we use esXpress which works great, and their new de-duplication might work well for you if you are consistantly doing backups.

As for recommendations on hardware, I would think it is like asking whats better coke or pepsi. Granted there are some hardware that is better than others but I think a lot is personal preference. Personally we're an IBM shop due to the fact we can get support contracts for our hardware usually longer than a Dell or HP, but they both make good products. The SAN vendors all have many different things to offer so you just need to go through them, find what you might be interested in and might not be.

  • Kyle

-- Kyle "RParker wrote: I guess I was wrong, everything CAN be virtualized "
ScottBentley
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

Many thanks for your response, I will check out the link regarding the backups that is very useful.

I hope this helps
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Selekta
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I am slightly bias being a consultant myself, but I would suggest getting a consultant in to do a design for your environment. This will ensure you are purchasing the correct hardware and infrastructure for your needs and the environment is setup to best practises.

I have seen some vendors sell VMware solutions very competitively to get business, especially if you are likely to be growing the environment in the near future.






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mikeddib
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I would agree that there are so many variables to picking which storage and server vendors would best fit an environment that it's hard to say. I also am not sure I can speak very well to your budget being in the US but if costs were equal from a procurement standpoint I think your budget is reasonable, but you're not likely to come in under.

This also may be obvious but don't spend or overspend your money on your server hardware. That's your biggest commodity point and when something breaks or is breaking you keep running and just replace as needed. Also, if you need to continue with a FC SAN solution you'll need the money for that area. As you consider your storage solution keep backup a close second because those conversations overlap as what storage platform you choose could significantly influence your backup strategy. As for specific recommendations on storage, I know you mentioned FC but if you considered the Dell EqualLogic iSCSI solution you would get considerable bang for your buck if replication and snapshots are a requirement for your setup. They have all the VM specific hooks built in and you actually simplify your deployment infrastructure needs and lower costs (no FC switches, cabling, or HBAs). If you really want FC I would recommend NetApp because they truly feel like the most flexible platform and they also build functionality into the storage platform (deduplication, snapshot, replication). They also support FC, iSCSI, NFS, CIFS all in the same platform so you could pitch that as a replacement or growth opportunity to use the storage for other areas of your organization.

For backup, the lowest cost solution (besides free options) I can think of is probably the Vizioncore vRanger product which is very wide spread. With the enterprise VMWare licensing you will have VCB available to you if you need it. Getting the data offsite could be done with other replication or scripted copy tools. Calculating the size of backups is not something I can speak to but I know compression is built into the vRanger product. You mentioned 15 minute windows on your VMs and I think that will be aggressive and a solid approach to that would storage snapshots and replication versus a file based backed method, but that will increase the cost of your solution since you would need a primary SAN running your VM environment and then a secondary SAN offsite to replicate to.

Sounds like you have some work ahead and best of luck with your project.

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vmroyale
Immortal
Immortal

Scott,

Hello and welcome to the forums.

With nine servers, you may want to consider two hosts for starters. Not knowing your workloads, it is hard to guess, but that could save you some of your budget up front. Depending on future growth, you could always plan on adding a third host at a later time.

If you don't see yourself moving past 3 hosts any time real soon, definitely look into the VMware Infrastructure Midsize Acceleration Kit for your software licensing. This gets you all the features you want, but simply limits you to managing 3 ESX hosts. There is savings to be realized with this kit, if it fits your plans.

The SAN is going to be the more interesting part. Definitely stick with servers and storage that are listed in the Compatibility Guides. You may just want to pick vendors on this list and start getting some rough pricing together. You can fairly accurately guess the costs of the servers and the software. The remaining should be left for the SAN acquisition, assuming you don't need funding for any outside consultants or additional software. With the 15 minute backup window you mentioned, you will probably want to pay particular attention to vendors that can offer you some sort of SAN-backup solution. You could also look into the 3rd party backup solutions like esXpress.

Good Luck!

Brian Atkinson | vExpert | VMTN Moderator | Author of "VCP5-DCV VMware Certified Professional-Data Center Virtualization on vSphere 5.5 Study Guide: VCP-550" | @vmroyale | http://vmroyale.com
ScottBentley
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

Hi guys

Thank you all for your responses.

I should clarify that we do not need to back up the VM's every 15 minutes to be honest 4 times a day should be enough, but we are considering a continuous protection product for the applications such as MS DPM Server or Veritas CPS to allow quicker data recovery to acheive the near realtime backup required (I hope this makes sense)

We have looked into the midsize acceleration kits and to be honest that is one of the reasons for choosing 3 hosts as a starting point, we should have enough capacity to allow services to run even if one host is offline for an extended period.

I will certainly look at the NettApp products we have also looked at the EMC NX4 however this does appear to be on the high side cost wise, with regard to iSCSI V's FC is there any planning documentation available to help choose one over the other?

I fully agree this is not something we will be able to do without some outside help of a consultant, at the moment I am just trying to guage the feasibility of being able to achieve this project Smiley Happy

Again many thanks for your time I now have some starting points and a lot of reading to do....

I hope this helps
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Selekta
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Symantec CPS should only be used on file data not system data or system state. It also is not recommended to be used to protect Exchange or SQL despite what is advertised in their documentation. There are some fundamental limitations with the product at the moment in regards to Exchange and SQL for example with Exchange protection you can only send backups to tape with a single retention period so you are unable to have weekly/monthly/yearly backups of your data. However if file data is all you need protecting then it is a decent product for that and is of a reasonable price. Be sure to seek professional advice when sizing the implementation of the CPS product because it is easy to overwhelm it if not properly planned out.

Good luck with your project.






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vmroyale
Immortal
Immortal

I should clarify that we do not need to back up the VM's every 15 minutes to be honest 4 times a day should be enough, but we are considering a continuous protection product for the applications such as MS DPM Server or Veritas CPS to allow quicker data recovery to acheive the near realtime backup required (I hope this makes sense)

Makes perfect sense. I know that on the NetApp products you can do snapshots for continuous protection. This could be a good fit for what you are after. They aren't going to get you anything for DR purposes, but for rollbacks they work great. Other vendors offer similar functionality as well for this. It may be possible to avoid the use of 3rd-party apps to achieve this goal. Or if possible, it might be better to put more of your budget towards the SAN as opposed to those apps.

We have looked into the midsize acceleration kits and to be honest that is one of the reasons for choosing 3 hosts as a starting point, we should have enough capacity to allow services to run even if one host is offline for an extended period.

Another bonus of the Midsize Acceleration Kit is the PSO credits that could be used to help with the consulting you will need. This kit is a great cost saver!

I will certainly look at the NettApp products we have also looked at the EMC NX4 however this does appear to be on the high side cost wise, with regard to iSCSI V's FC is there any planning documentation available to help choose one over the other?

In general, FC is always going to be more expensive and possibly more difficult to implement/manage, but it will be the superior performing protocol and historically has gotten support first on newer features. The performance and support issues may change in the near future, but iSCSI and the right NFS implementation can both be very attractive options as well. Make sure to add the Comparison of Storage Protocol Performance to your list of reading. Another good strategy here might be to let couple of storage vendors make cases for what they think you need. If you have the disk IOPs information for these 9 servers, then that can help the storage vendors make very precise estimations of what you require for a successful implementation.

I fully agree this is not something we will be able to do without some outside help of a consultant, at the moment I am just trying to guage the feasibility of being able to achieve this project Smiley Happy

Sounds like you are in good shape - Like you said though, you have a lot of reading to do!

Bring questions you have back here, and you will surely get answers.

Good Luck!

Brian Atkinson | vExpert | VMTN Moderator | Author of "VCP5-DCV VMware Certified Professional-Data Center Virtualization on vSphere 5.5 Study Guide: VCP-550" | @vmroyale | http://vmroyale.com
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mikeddib
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Just one more quick thing on continuous protection I would say to consider in your design is where that comes from so to speak. As vmroyale mentioned Netapp snapshot products can do this at a LUN level for your file data as well as at an application level for Exchange, SQL, and whole VMs. The product names for the application is SnapManager for (SQL/Exchange/VMWare) and they are each a separate cost (not sure of what that is). EqualLogic also offers the same functionality. My point however is that the protection and intelligence is built into the array and therefore scales better than agents in the guests. That's my opinion and there's also something to be said if you already have technologies in place in your environment today, no need to rip and replace, but I always like to keep the guests as light as possible. There's also cost considerations to take into account.

The forums have good information about iSCSI performance in general and comparisons on storage arrays. Being an iSCSI shop I had asked questions of many presenters at VMWorld about new features coming and if they would be supported on iSCSI upon immediate release. The consensus answer was that with the growth of iSCSI solutions on the HCL and the total number of deployments using it that they feel they need to be able to support FC, iSCSI, and in most cases NFS out of the gate with new features. Whether that holds true or not could be debatable. I totally agree that you should definitely get multiple vendors involved on your storage side and let them compete for the business. You'll never have more leverage than now where you don't have a solution in house and they know if they can sell their platform they will have an ongoing customer when you need to grow.

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