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Quahitis
Contributor
Contributor

Trouble picking a SAN

I'm looking to consolidate our servers using VMWARE with a SAN. We are currently running 9 servers which consists of Exchange, SQL Server, ERP software, document capture/archive, file servers and some other app servers. I have looked at the EMC Celera NS, Dell/EMC Clarion CX, Netapp and Eqaullogic but I can't decide which one to go with. I need about 3 to 4 TB of storage currently and would like to start out with iSCSI. Any recommendations?

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36 Replies
bggb29
Expert
Expert

We have a HP EVA and a CX500. We are also in the process of looking at alternatives.

You may also want to look a compellant, it will do FC or Iscsi. Don't forget to think about the snap space you may want.

We typically do 3 to 4 times the useable space to include snapshots and snapclones. Personally I would stay away from

the dell versions of emc storage, they typically criple some of the more usefual features.

The support from HP and EMC are very good, I can't comment on netapp or equalogic. Remember this the 4th qtr so EMC

will deeply discount to get a sale to boost yearly numbers.

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needcaffeine
Contributor
Contributor

we currently use a Dell EMC CX600 we use fiber channel connections; b/c I see network and i/o being the primary bottlenecks on my vmware systems.

I only had 1 major issue with the SAN in the past 3+ years, but this was more a procedureal issue; support kept wanting to test software, when it was a hardware failure. and this only affected systems with LUNS on different SPs.

we are about to replace this SAN with either an EMC or Dell/EMC solution; we've been very happy with these. Going purely on hearsay, I believe w/ certain SANs only the manufacturer/support service can install drives, arrrays, etc? We had the SAN installed initially by Dell/EMC, but all additions we've done on our own.

What you need to ask yourself, is how much do you expect to grow over the next 3yrs(lifespan of a SAN); how many servers? how important is cacheing? Those answers will help you to determine your choice.

We started with 1.5TB, and have grown to ~5TB(raw) in the past 3yrs.(we have 2.5TB of RAID10 data space for databases). WE also started with 2 16port switches and 4 servers, and now we're maxed out. We need to buy more switches, but we''re going to replace the whole thing in the next 3-6mo. {major project}

RobBuxton
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

You'll want to check the VMWare HCL lists for all SAN components.

Then make a list of the features you want and rank them in order of importance.

Do you want SAN replication / snapshots etc. Consider ease of management, growth, different disk types (low and high cost) in the same cabinet.

We went with HP's EVA as it came out on top of our particular vetting process.

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rswitzer
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

We use a EMC clarion cx 500 in one location and we have an AXIOM from Pillar data systems. I am very happy we with the cost/performance of the SAN from Pillar.

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Quahitis
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks for the input guys! I have broaden my search to other vendors and I'm really looking hard at what each one offers. I still like the Celerra box by EMC but there are several others that look like they will meet our needs as well.

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ejward
Expert
Expert

Thanks for the input guys! I have broaden my search to other vendors and I'm really looking hard at what each one offers. I still like the Celerra box by EMC but there are several others that look like they will meet our needs as well.

How would you attach to the Celerra? With NFS? We had performance issues with that. I don't think NFS has nearly the performance of iSCSI. We're currently an EMC shop (DMX, Clairiion, Celerra, Centerra, essentially everything EMC sells). We are currently testing an Equallogic iSCSI SAN. The whole unit is roughly the same price as we pay EMC for just raw disk from EMC. And that's WITH our 50% EMC discount. With the Equallogic SATA drives (They have SAS drives too), we're getting better performance than our 2GB fiber attached DMX with fiber drives. The Equallogic is not even performance tuned yet. We took it out of the box and did a "Next, next, next" install. It's a single 1GB NIC going over the same VLAN as 400+ other servers. The switch has not been optimized for iSCSI traffic either. It's getting almost as good performance as our fiber attached Clairiion. I'm only saying this because Eqallogic has been giving us their sales pitch for almost 2 years now. The typical one where they are the greatest thing on earth. I never really believed them until we bought one to play around with. Once we got it in the rack and powered on, I installed the Management software on my PC, assigned it an IP address, setup users, initialized 5TB of storage, setup the RAID config, and assigned 100GB of storage to my PC. This literally took 7 minutes. That included having to look in the manual one to find the default user ID and password. Try and do this with ANYTHING EMC sells. We also had a drive go on it 9you can lose up to 4 drives and still be up and running). It phoned home and we had a new drive the next day. And the best part ...... we didn't need a team of EMC engineers on-site to install it. We just pulled the old one out and popped this one in. There are other iSCSI solutions out there too. Compellent comes to mind as another one we were considering. All in all, I see us ultimatly dumping EMC and going with iSCSI at least for Vmware.

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rswitzer
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

It sounds like you have FC already in your enviorment? Why not use the existing FC, instead of iscsi? Just curious.

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Quahitis
Contributor
Contributor

I'm looking hard a equallogic and compellent right now because they both have great reviews and a better price point than EMC. I'm not currently running anything on fiber so that is why I'm looking at iscsi. I'm dealing with CDW for Equallogic and Insight for Compellent.

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ejward
Expert
Expert

Fiber cards are $1,000 each x 2 for each server. Fiber ports for them to plug into are about $2,000 each x 2 for each server. Powerpath from EMC (used to balance 2 fiber cards) is about $800 per server. The software iSCSI initiator is free and has roughly the same performance as the hardware initiator. With small block size it actually has better performance. The powerpath software equivlent is free. On paper, 1GB iSCSI is faster than 1GB fiber. We've yet to test this but, we're not saturating the NIC or the fiber card as of yet.

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doubleH
Expert
Expert

i'm an equallogic customer and very happy with the performance. i've got a PS100e and will be ordering my 2nd PS100E next week that will double my capacity AND performace.

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pdrace
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

I just read that Equallogic is being acquired by Dell. We had a Dell fiber channel SAN. My experience with it rhymed with their name.

I'm suddenly much happier as a NetApp customer! :smileygrin:

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doubleH
Expert
Expert

where did you read this? please post a link.

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Quahitis
Contributor
Contributor

I found this....

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ejward
Expert
Expert

Ouch!! I'm not sure I like Equallogic anymore. But Dell is an EMC partner. They sell re-baged EMC iSCSI stuff. If nothing else, it sure says that EMC is not where it's at anymore.

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rswitzer
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I picked my HBAs for around $1000 like you stated, but my FC switch cost only $3600 for 8 port enabled on a 16 port switch. Thats only $500 a port. There isn't a cost from a powerpath standpoint since I don't need it for ESX 3.

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ejward
Expert
Expert

I picked my HBAs for around $1000 like you stated, but my FC switch cost only $3600 for 8 port enabled on a 16 port switch. Thats only $500 a port. There isn't a cost from a powerpath standpoint since I don't need it for ESX 3.

We get our switches through EMC so, I know we're paying way too much. I don't really have any control over that. Our storage department says "use this' and we get charged for it. It took a whole lot of complaining and cost justification by me for the past year for them to even allow Equallogic in the door. A pretty sad way to run a bussiness. Smiley Sad

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Quahitis
Contributor
Contributor

What about LeftHand Networks?

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ejward
Expert
Expert

Yeah, what is Left-Hand? I saw them at Microsoft's Tech-Ed last Summer. Their booth was set up so poorly that you couldn't even tell what they did. I didn't even know they were a storage company. I've got a lot of vendors trying to hook me up with them lately.

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