hutchingsp
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Entry Level SAN Suggestions?

Following on from my VMware experiments I'm looking at our options if we wanted a bit more redundancy than having a single large HP ML370 stuffed full of drives.

At a basic level an external SAS disk cabinet gives us the "plug it into something else" capability.

I also see that HP do various SAN starter kits (MSA1000/1500).

I'm unsure on the performance of these, plus they seem to be traditional U320 SCSI and haven't yet caught up to using SAS which is where storage seems to be heading?

Whilst I like HP servers I'm certainly not set on them for storage, so I wondered what you folks are using for a small scale ESX setup?

At the moment I'm not looking at consolidating things like our file/exchange server though it may be an option, I'm looking simply at entry level with a couple of ESX boxes attached.

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16 Replies
esiebert7625
Immortal
Immortal

Check out these posts...

http://www.vmware.com/community/thread.jspa?messageID=654468&#654468

http://www.vmware.com/community/thread.jspa?messageID=633419&#633419

http://www.vmware.com/community/thread.jspa?messageID=653624&#653624

Also give these a look, you might also consider iSCSI...

iSCSI , NAS and IP Storage Configuration for Vmware ESX Server - http://download3.vmware.com/vmworld/2006/tac9722.pdf

New Storage Technologies: iSCSI, NAS and VMFS 3.0 - http://www.vmware-tsx.com/download.php?asset_id=20

Configuring iSCSI in a Vmware 3 environment - http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vi3_iscsi_cfg.pdf

Unofficial storage performance thread - http://www.vmware.com/community/thread.jspa?threadID=73745

SAN System Design and Deployment Guide - http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vi3_san_design_deploy.pdf

Choosing and Architecting Storage for your Environment - http://download3.vmware.com/vmworld/2006/adc0135.pdf

Vmware Infrastructure 3, HP StorageWorks best practices - http://h71019.www7.hp.com/ActiveAnswers/downloads/VMware3_StorageWorks_BestPractice.pdf

ESX Storage Virtualization Insights - http://www.vmware-tsx.com/download.php?asset_id=40

Fyi…if you find this post helpful, please award points using the Helpful/Correct buttons.

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hutchingsp
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Thanks - trust me I'm doing a lot of searching/reading and I suspect it's almost turning into information overload Smiley Happy

I'll be getting Dell in at some point as they seem keen to get us back to buying servers from them - have to say I prefer the HP servers but I'm happy to see what they have to offer.

iSCSI still seems fairly new technology and only appears cheap if you go "home brew" which I don't think is an option, unless I've misunderstoof what I'm looking at.

Where I'm totally lost is with NAS.

My understanding is that it's a box that sits on a dedicated network. Presumably though you're going to be pulling date from the NAS to the VM over dedicated ethernet much slower than you would over FC SAN/DAS?

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esiebert7625
Immortal
Immortal

It's been said the Equalogic iSCSI products are a very good choice for ESX, you might check them out. NAS will probably be slower and does not support VMFS volumes, only iSCSI and FC/SAN support VMFS.

Here's an interesting article...

NAS/NFS vs iSCSI for ESX - http://www.vi411.org/2006/10/10/nasnfs-vs-iscsi-for-esx.html

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christianZ
Champion
Champion

The new DS3400/IBM (branded LSI/Engenio) could be good choice as entry level storage - it is expandable, uses sas drives and have a nice managemnet interface.

The MSA family looks already old and seems to be very sluggish.

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AMcCreath
Commander
Commander

NOT an LSI fan in any way....!!

Stick to something QLogic/Emulex connected.

Look at the DELL/EMC AX150i, then pick your favourite server to slap in the above HBA's. DELL 2950 or DL385 if you're an AMD fan, 2850/DL380 if you love Intel.

Sweet thing about the AX150i is that it has all the connections you could ever want, Fibre, iSCSI/ GbE, and a trendy 6TB of storage off the cuff, yet none of the IOPS degradation you get with other devices. and trust me I've tried most of them.

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hutchingsp
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

As I said Dell will be coming in. We got burned badly though with an HP MSA20 which is a SATA box and tbh it's let me very cynical of SATA for enterprise stuff?

Anyone got any experiences with Fujitsu Siemens?

They have a "Fibrecat SX80" which looks like it may be suitable.

Not sure on their servers though - see part of me thinks "keep to one make" to avoid support tennis.

Message was edited by:

hutchingsp

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Anders
Expert
Expert

If your talking to Dell, the AX series is definetly entry level.

It's good to about 10-20 VM's but doesnt really scale.

I'd check out the CX3-10 as well.

Altough it might be out of your price range, it scales much better.

Cost per GB will be quite a bit higher of course...

You can start using low cost iSCSI and move to FC when appropriate.

\- Anders

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Chris01
Contributor
Contributor

We are a small scale setup and have recently ventured into the world of SAN.

Managed to pick up a CX300 with HBA's from Dell for less that £13k, really worth a shot. I believe they have dropped in prices due to the new 4gb CX3-xxx series. Obviously you can save money by going ISCSI or by attaching your servers directly to the SAN (i.e. not via a FC switch)

Alternatively expand one of your current servers with a second controller card and a DAS unit, then purchase SANmelody and have a software / virtual SAN.

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FredPeterson
Expert
Expert

NetApp's entry level SAN device. iSCSI, NFS and SAN connectivity options and room for growth in all directions.

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taylorb
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

If you like HP, check out the MSA1500. The MSA1000 has some pretty weak performance reviews. They also have the MSA1510i if you want iscsi instead.

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hutchingsp
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I don't know if it's my imagination but the HP MSA kit looks dated?

Buying something now it would have to last at least three years so how come all the MSA SAN kit is U320 based when nearly all the MSA disk shelves are going over to SAS?

It suggests future expansion may be a problem?

Just seems the likes of IBM/Fujitsu and others who offer SAS SAN at the low end may have an edge?

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taylorb
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

I don't know if it's my imagination but the HP MSA

kit looks dated?

Buying something now it would have to last at least

three years so how come all the MSA SAN kit is U320

based when nearly all the MSA disk shelves are going

over to SAS?

It suggests future expansion may be a problem?

Just seems the likes of IBM/Fujitsu and others who

offer SAS SAN at the low end may have an edge?

I don't think you would have trouble adding storage to the HP MSA's in the future, but yeah, they are a couple years old. They use SATA or U320 and they are 2Gb instead of 4 like the brand new stuff. I still think for a small shop, it would work fine. If you can get a good SAS/4Gb SAN for a similar price from IBM or Netapp, then do it. You just said you liked HP, so I was making a recommendation based on that.

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JRink
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I recently started using a StoreVault S500 SAN/NAS device with ESX. It's VMWare approved as well. Great price. It's doing everything I need it to do and setup was really easy.

JR

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AustinPowers
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Look at EqualLogic iSCSI. They use SATA and SAS drives. SATA performance blows away HP MSA fibre solution. Benchmarks show HP at 30,000 IOPS, EqualLogic iSCSI at 60,000 IOPS. And every component has redundancies for aggregated througput and/or DR. Not to mention that you can go from uncrating to using volumes in under an hour.

If you don't already have a fibre network, there's no reason to deploy it now. EqualLogic makes SAN simple and you don't give up performance.

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roundorange
Contributor
Contributor

Hi AMcCreath,

I was researching around and the IBM DS3400 (branded LSI/Engenio) caught my eye a few times. Could you elaborate further on why you are not an LSI fan? Any problems encountered/heard of so far?

Comparing the DS3400 with the AX150 series, the DS3400 supports SAS disks whereas the AX150 supports only SATA disks. Upfront it would look like the SAS will outperform the SATA hands down?

TIA!

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hutchingsp
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I had Fujitsu out yesterday, it's clarified in my head many of the options available to us.

Right now I don't think the CX (EMX basically) series of SAN's are where we need to be looking, simply put they cost too much in licensing to do most of the stuff that you would want to do to justify the additional initial cost.

The SX80 looks damned interesting. 4gb/sec fibre, dual controllers, expands up to 12tb, SAS or SATA over FC drives and a low initial cost (though the larger drives are not cheap).

Current thinking is one of these plus a couple of boxes would make a nice ESX starter system as well as allowing us to utilise the SAN storage for our main file server.

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