beverlyJean
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Contributor

HELP - SAN Choices: NetApp vs EMC vs EqualLogic

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We are a small shop with storage needs! We are moving to virtualize 40 servers using Vsphere and need to choose the storage piece. We've narrowed down to three final make and models:

1. NetApp - FAS2050

2. EMC - Clarrion CX4-120

3. EqualLogic - PS5000XV

Pricing is similar w/all 3 vendors and not a concern. However, Ease of Use and DR\replication abilities are our main concern. Any advice\suggestions\experiences good and bad (especially from anyone running any of these models) are welcomed in helping us make our final decision.

-appreciated.....bj

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AsherN
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In the same vein as not letting the FC guys sway you, don't let the vendor 'Look how easy it is to configure' sway you. At the end of the day, you shouldn't have to use the management interface all that often. I'd rather spend 2 hours configuring a rock solid array than 30 minutes, and have to use the management interface al the time.

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glynnd1
Expert
Expert

Straight off the bat, I do work for Dell | Equallogic, so you know where I lean. But I used to work for EMC, and used a NetApp 3020 at my last job.

The PS5000XV has been superseded by the PS6000XV, so I would suggest getting a quote on the 6000. Having said that, you should be able to get a good price deal on the 5000. In any case it will still be supported long into the future so that shouldn't be concern.

Do the prices from all three vendors include replication?

Nuno_Fernandes
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Hi,

If price is the same, then use EMC! If not mistaken Dell Equallogic is iSCSI whilst the EMC can offer both iSCSI and native FC, thus performance is much better.

Also, on vSphere, you will have better storage integration, and VMware will support muiltipath sw from 3rd party vendors, and EMC was the 1st to be announced.

Last but not the least, among those 3 competitors, EMC is the #1 ... so why settle with someone else?

We traditionally use HP EVA for our Enterprise Customers...

Have fun,

Nuno

matuscak
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Have you sat down in front of the various systems and walked through some administration tasks? I know when we did that, it was striking how clean and straightforward the Equallogic was. I don't know if Dell is still doing it, but the Equallogic reps would bring in a demo unit and connect it to your systems and let you play with it for a couple of days. It's pretty impressive to take it out of the box and have a working SAN in 30 minutes.

As someone else mentioned, one of the other nice things about Equallogic is all the software functionality is bundled in. I hate screwing around with licensing,so that was a big plus for me.

As far as Equallogic being iSCSI only, I personally reguard that as a feature Smiley Happy If you have not already got FC experience under your belt, I think the iSCSI world is just a bunch more accessible.

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Nuno_Fernandes
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

30m is the amount of time you need to have an HP EVA up and running! I believe if you want Array based replication for DR like SRM, you need to cash in some more € or $... as all vendors charge the extra.

I personally prefer FC, but we do have iSCSI SANs working fine, so it ends up to a question of dollars at the end. But for the same price then FC for me always wins Smiley Wink

Sincerely,

Nuno Fernandes,

IT Architect & Project Leader

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beverlyJean
Contributor
Contributor

Regarding Replication, No we are adding that piece in another phase of the project. But will take that as a recommendation to look at each vendor's Replication and its cost. Forgot to mention we had decided on iSCSI as we already have a Cisco 6509 and NO FC experience under our belt. Smiley Happy Thank you so much for everyone's comments thus far.

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Nuno_Fernandes
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Enthusiast

Don’t cut corners now, to lose performance in the future, FC is still the enterprise.

Look the EMC like the EVA Arrays, are end-to-end FC arrays, controllers, disks, rather than just using plain SAS technology, and they offer up-to 99.999% uptime.

Sincerely,

Nuno Fernandes,

IT Architect & Project Leader

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Twingirls
Contributor
Contributor

Beverly,

I just went through the same initiative. I also looked at Dell-Equalogics- NetApp and EMC. All have good things about them however we ended up going with EMC. Our team consisted of 2 people who liked EMC 2 who liked Nettapp and one who liked Dell because each have used those products in the past.

We made our decision to go with EMC because of the following reasons.

1. Protocol- Our VP of IT liked the fact that we can future proof our enviornment and if we need to put any of our mission critical applications on FC we can in the future with the EMC box. With Dell we can't. Also with Dell if you are going to buy additional disk, you have to buy a PS 8 disks minimum. We felt the Dell box didn't really Scale for usable vs capacity compared to the overhead.

2. Usable capacity and scalability-- In the end, EMC had better usable storage capacity. I believe NetApp came in at about 55% and EMC was about 68-73%. Raid 5....

3. Netapp-- They based their technology around writing fast and they can write the information much quicker then EMC can using WAFL-- (Write anywhere File Language) When reading the information with netapp and their WAFL technology, we felt as capcity increases performance will decrease. We are very high read environment. To give an example, take a closet for instance, Imagine just throwing all yor close in a closet each time you put your clothes away. When you go and look for a specific pair of shoes or shirt, it will take much longer to find it. Since we are in a high reading environment, We know that the EMC SAN reads much quicker because it takes a little bit more time writing the information to store and organize it better. Reading the information was more important to us.

4. Snap Technolgoy... NetApp without a doubt takes a quicker snap then EMC. But we found out that with the Netapp snap if you take a snap at 11am 1pm and 3pm and restore your 11am with NetApp, You lose your 1pm and 3pm snap. EMC has what is called a protective restore. They make a golden copy first of your information and then if you want to restore your 11 am you can and still have your 1pm and 3pm. So you ask if you have coropted data why would I want to make a golden copy. 2 reasons 1. Because my job is to make sure I get the network up asap. My buddies job is to make sure we understand why it happened. WIth a copy of the corrupted snap, we have had microsoft work on it to find out exactly what happened. 2. We have had a false alarm and thought the data was currupted and then find out it actually wasn't. WE ened up just restoring from the golden copy protective restore.... Makes life much easier....

Also-- Netapp stores their snaps on the production disks... That is like having a spare key and keeping it in your glove box for when you get locked out of your car.

Hope this help

Best of luck...

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AllBlack
Expert
Expert

Why not to settle for the number 1?

To me the Clariion and EMC have been a nightmare. We had some major problems and I am not impressed with EMC support. I don't want to go into many details

but if you really want to know feel free to PM me.

Make sure you get all the facts straight from them in regards to support and what you should do yourself

and what you should engage them for.

For example, when the navisphere software needs updating we need to get a EMC partner in to do so.

Also make sure you understand how their software licensing works. Most of the software is extra and comes at a high cost.

EMC may look good up front....

If you want ease of use there is only one and that is the Equallogic, it almost has a touch of magic to it. It does not get much easier and all the software is included.

Yes it is an ISCSI solution but I have never had any problems with it personally and we are a bigger shop than yours

FC would be a lot more expensive to implement and 10Gb ISCSI is not to far away so it will only get better.

I don't want to go into much detail as everything has pros and cons and the other replies have given you some insight.

Anyway, if I was asked to design a storage solution I would go for another Equallogic

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AllBlack
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Have you sat down in front of the various systems and walked through some administration tasks? I know when we did that, it was striking how clean and straightforward the Equallogic was. I don't know if Dell is still doing it, but the Equallogic reps would bring in a demo unit and connect it to your systems and let you play with it for a couple of days. It's pretty impressive to take it out of the box and have a working SAN in 30 minutes.

I could not agree more! I installed the PS myself in the rack and we got a Dell Engineer involved for setup as it was our first. I spent about 80 minutes with him over a webex session and half of that was spent to get the webex session to go, haha. It is impressive indeed. Not just setup but also maintenance.

The EMC navisphere GUI is complicated and whoever says different probably never had the pleasure of working with the Equallogi GUI Smiley Wink

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AndreTheGiant
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We are a small shop with storage needs! We are moving to virtualize 40 servers using Vsphere and need to choose the storage piece

If the 40 servers are not all DBMS, you can also consider two entry level solution like EMC AX4-f or Dell MD3000i.

For both solution use al least SAS 15k disks.

How much disk space are you estimating?

Andre

**if you found this or any other answer useful please consider allocating points for helpful or correct answers

Andre | http://about.me/amauro | http://vinfrastructure.it/ | @Andrea_Mauro
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beverlyJean
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THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR YOUR INPUT. I asked for the good, the bad and the ugly and got it....Your comments helped me dig a little further on items I did not consider! I get the feeling this is going to be like my backup solution, "pick your poison" and live with it! They will all have issues at some point, and am not too afraid of that, that's job security right? We have chosen NetApp as the storage backend and below are my research findings and why we are choosing them over the other two. Sorry it's long but wanted to be thorough for anyone else embarking on this task....it really is a lot to think about.

We have seen demos of all three units and yes EqualLogic was 30 minutes to setup and manage, I favored them in the beginning of this process just bc of that...but we were already at their top shelf and would be dropping more money very quickly. Again, surprisingly hardware price is very similar for all three base units; it was all the undercoating that gets confusing and costly. We decided on NetApp mostly because of its Raid-DP and de-duplication technologies. Double parity, most writeable space, with the most redundancy-can lose more drives than the others. We don't need read as much as we need write-storage for our VM's. From our research, NetApp when writing data to disk , not only ensures that writes (and subsequent reads) are fast but also ensures data is safe (via the RAID-DP and block checksums) As with any lun or file system (EMC or EQL is also not immune to this), if you fill it up past 90%, then the "clothes in the closet", or "nearly full parking garage" analogies kick in. It's just the nature of storing data in a container! WAFL seems to handles this fine. Bottom line - we learned we will need to keep our production totals below 90% and our archival below 95%, and we should have screaming fast reads and writes. All three have monitoring thresholds to set, etc...but you have to set them to work.

Regarding NetApp snapshots-yes they do reside in the same flexvol with the production data and not on a "dedicated lun reserved area", but it is part of the flexvol's metadata and considered a "local backup" and to me is more space efficient and has no performance overhead, unlike the others. With our company moving to a 100% virtualized environment, I think the snapshot feature is a huge selling point for us and may save my butt a time or two. We will be using NetApp's SnapMirror product to counter the system-wide corruption scenario to our DR site and SnapVault to mirror the snapshots to another system that catalogs them. Think of SnapVault like a D2D backup and SnapMirror like DR Mirroring. If our redundant site is one of our other office locations, then we are not worried as it will be our HOT site and we can light that up in emergency situations. For DR purposes we think less data stored=less data to replicate.

We've determined early on we don't need FC backend or FC drives, iSCSI and SAS is perfect for our small shop and fits nicely with our Cisco 6509 switch we recently acquired AND no additional training is required. NetApp also has SAS coming soon to their expandable tray by the August timeframe, which the others do not and is perfect for our deployment times. (At some point, Solid State drives will become the norm-and we won't be debating FC vs SAS-maybe). Also, we find attractive the CIFS technology with no extra equipment necessary. NetApp also just released a new slick GUI interface that seems to be competing directly with EQL's easy claim. Another selling point I personally liked was we would get a NetApp engineer onsite for the day to help with the install-not an integration company that I pay extra for....(it is included in the base price-although yes, I'm sure its massaged in the numbers somehow, but sure sounds good to the boss and we plan to take advantage of "knowledge transfer" - I learn better my doing).

All in all, to me when dissecting the quotes, NetApp has the richest feature sets for the price. As some of you have mentioned-beware of support.....since we are a small shop, this is very important to us. I've heard EMC horror stories but I'm sure they all have those and as we know, it depends on the engineer you get that answers the phone. Because NetApp still runs its business like a small company, I think hold times will be less and I get the feeling the bureaucracy is less. They won #1 slot for best company to work for in Fortune 2009. Makes me think-happy employees might be more helpful. Who knows really, this is a risk we will have to take and live with for awhile. Again, thank you all for your input you've been very informative and helpful.

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saldon
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Enthusiast

My 2 cents...

I have small shoip like yours. We've been running VMware for a little over a year. My environment consists of 4 ESX servers (Dell PE2950) and a vCenter server. We have a pretty significant investment in NetApp so re-purposed a FAS960 for use as our iSCSI SAN. We are working noe to upgrade the FAS960 to a FAS3040 or FAS3060.

Based on you question I have these observations:

I've heard good things about the EqualLogic but I've had excellent performance and support from NetApp. Don't let the FC fans sway you. iSCSI is fast, reliable, and easy to configure. That said, the NetApp will allow you to do FC, iSCSI, or NFS. The biggest factor will be architecting whatever hardware you choose for optimal performance. For example, I chose to run iSCSI over an entirely seperate network. I have two Foundry FLS 624 Gigabit switches an dual connections to each server and the SAN for redundancy and performance.

One other thing to consider. How well will the SAN work with your existing backup solution?

- Tom

- Tom
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AsherN
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Enthusiast

In the same vein as not letting the FC guys sway you, don't let the vendor 'Look how easy it is to configure' sway you. At the end of the day, you shouldn't have to use the management interface all that often. I'd rather spend 2 hours configuring a rock solid array than 30 minutes, and have to use the management interface al the time.

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Twingirls
Contributor
Contributor

Well the good thing is your decision is done which is always a great feeling. Best of luck.

Few points though, once you take a snap, the netapp box locks that data and doesn't dedup it so you will not be saving the space you think using their dedup. Think of me when you have to manage the dedup process. I used netapp, with EMC all you do a check of a box that says DEDUP... I hate to tell you I told you so when you are managing this.

Dedup is built in to the EMC NS 120 as a feature, that includes spin down technology not utilizing power

Raid DP is the same thing as Raid 6 and you will still get a better usable storage percentage with EMC. Nothing new there!!!

From a managment interface, their file movers are active passive so be prepared to manage two seperate consoles just for that, your VM managment interface and more.... Talk about easy to manage.

EMC is also whitepapered at 5'9s available. Netapp can't print that based off of the lack of redundancy and architecture. We asked them for this and they couldn't provide it to us.

It would have been less expensive to use VM SRM for your DR site.

Nothing is for free.... You are paying for the PS somewhere!!! EMC can do the same and hide it too.

EMC has been selling Flash for the last year and 1/2. Glad to see Netapp is following EMC as usual.

And by the way it isn't 90% more like 75%...Your performance will suffer. Mark my words.

Snaps-- That's your risk to take!! I wouldn't want to be the guy who signed off on it to theC level. You don't get fired with EMC> and exactly why IDC placed EMC in the magic quadrant...

Your email sounded exactly like the canned Netapp Responses. Good Luck young grasshopper.

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beverlyJean
Contributor
Contributor

Thank you for your assistance. We do over the wire backups to an offsite location, so none will be going to the SAN, more replica's of .vmdk's and production data will be on the SAN.

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beverlyJean
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks for your comment, i couldn't agree more. i believe if its set up well in the beginning there shouldn't be too much changing, etc. we are a small shop and i'm sure once we get going with it, we will be living with the sizes and configs for awhile before any modifications need to happen....we have 100 users with 2 main locations, one of which will be designated our DR replication site in phase 2 of this process. I know that has always been EQL's claim to fame is the easiness, but we really did compare much more....they are all somewhat similiar just terminology different between vendors. again, thanks.

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beverlyJean
Contributor
Contributor

Well the good thing is your decision is done which is always a great feeling. Best of luck.

Few points though, once you take a snap, the netapp box locks that data and doesn't dedup it so you will not be saving the space you think using their dedup. Think of me when you have to manage the dedup process. I used netapp, with EMC all you do a check of a box that says DEDUP... I hate to tell you I told you so when you are managing this.

Dedup is built in to the EMC NS 120 as a feature, that includes spin down technology not utilizing power

Raid DP is the same thing as Raid 6 and you will still get a better usable storage percentage with EMC. Nothing new there!!!

From a managment interface, their file movers are active passive so be prepared to manage two seperate consoles just for that, your VM managment interface and more.... Talk about easy to manage.

EMC is also whitepapered at 5'9s available. Netapp can't print that based off of the lack of redundancy and architecture. We asked them for this and they couldn't provide it to us.

It would have been less expensive to use VM SRM for your DR site.

Nothing is for free.... You are paying for the PS somewhere!!! EMC can do the same and hide it too.

EMC has been selling Flash for the last year and 1/2. Glad to see Netapp is following EMC as usual.

And by the way it isn't 90% more like 75%...Your performance will suffer. Mark my words.

Snaps-- That's your risk to take!! I wouldn't want to be the guy who signed off on it to theC level. You don't get fired with EMC> and exactly why IDC placed EMC in the magic quadrant...

Your email sounded exactly like the canned Netapp Responses. Good Luck young grasshopper.

wow old-timer, this almost seems so personal. I apologize up front if i somehow made it that way....i was really looking for input and help, not insults. BTW. i am not young (almost 15 years in the industry) well young to the SAN arena, yes. First, because we are a small company we do not let resellers or actual vendors come in and give us their "canned" selling speeches - gee that was so PAINFUL when we did have to go through that step...they help-but muttle things up. We do and did a lot of our own homework ourselves, read independent articles (not vendor whitepapers) and used VERY seasoned friends in the industry help guide us (but no ties to EMC or NetApp). we actually did homework for over 6 months before evening seeing or speaking to a vendor or a demo....

To be fair to all of the models:

1. NetApp - FAS2050

2. EMC - Clarrion CX4-120 (NOT NS)

3. EqualLogic - PS5000XV

we did see lots of postivites for each, but all in all, for US NetApp won out - slightly but they did. This could be a very different outcome for other companies based on their own situations and weighing scales. Because I am not young, I promise to DIG further into these responses\claims to make sure I am covering our due diligence process-(these claims seem awfully similiar to the vendor that pitched his canned speech to us-do you happen to work for EMC yourself?)

For the record, NetApp has a nice snap-in to VCenter also, so YES a one-stop shop is appealing to our small shop, but as AsherN posted earlier...it shouldn't be all about the management interface!

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Twingirls
Contributor
Contributor

After reading my email again, I appologize, I did come off a little hard...

Best of luck to you with you SAN... It will make your life easier in so many ways.

p.s. No, I don't work for EMC.

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beverlyJean
Contributor
Contributor

More Findings.....might help someone out there.

1. Yes, Netapp's snapshots are read-only and it locks-down data whether it is deduped or not. They did mentioned this to us in their best practices to dedup prior to taking a snapshot, and we will certainly follow those guidelines. Does anybody know if Celerra's dedupe works on luns or vmdks? I don't believe they could when we looked at that. I thought it was file-level dedup only? Again, my main reason for using dedup is to see significant space savings on my VM datastores. If Celerra can dedupe .vmdks......

2. Yes, Netapp really trumpets their "raid-dp" technology. It seems like it will spare me the effort of having to decide which data sets required raid10 and which were acceptable to put on raid5. Plus, if I just take all the drives and make them raid-dp, I get the added benefit of pooling together the performance of all those spindles-a nice aggregrate. With the Celerra, I couldn't just make everything RAID-6 and reap the same benefits.

3. In our vendor sales call, we saw NetApp's new GUI Interface-"System Manager". It was a very slick MMC snap-in that manages both active/active controllers in an HA-pair as one system. Much more refined than their older Filerview-which i am glad i won't have to deal with-they've recently released it. In fact, it was so easy to use that their sales-guy ran the demo without an SE!!! (And he was not a tech-savvy sales-guy)

4. For managing our Vmware backups and restores, we did see Netapp's SMVI. It's a software package than will run on our vCenter server and coordinates Vmware snapshots with Netapp snapshots of the underlying datastores. This way, we avoid VCB entirely and it takes the backup-load off of our ESX hosts. It looks like Netapp also has their own free storage-adapter written for Site Recovery Manager(SRM). Have you seen the demo on youtube? i just found this!!!

Again, I appreciate everyone's input and understand every vendor has their strengths and weaknesses. I have learned a lot as you've all challenged me to digg out answers the sales guys don't tell you!!!! Just do your homework and find the best solution for your environmnet.

-BJ

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