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scerazy
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

iSCSI HBA or 10 Gb Intel NICs

What is better for use with ESX?

Thanks

Seb

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azn2kew
Champion
Champion

There are several 10GBe solutions such as Neterion, Chelsio Communications etc...out there but you can check out HP solution here

If you have a chance to design from a ground up using 10GBe would be a great choice since it gives you room for grow and higher throughput especially iSCSI/NFS solution. You have to compare the costs (infrastructure devices) between the two and test out performance to see if its really 10GBe you're looking for.

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Stefan Nguyen

VMware vExpert 2009

iGeek Systems Inc.

VMware, Citrix, Microsoft Consultant

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RParker
Immortal
Immortal

What is better for use with ESX?

NFS is better than iSCSI, less overhead and better throughput. If you can use NFS instead, I would go with 10Gb Intel. If not iSCSI HBA would be better, but only because you are limited to iSCSI LUN.

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scerazy
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Thanks guys, I see I did not make myself clear, sorry!

The SAN unit itself (Equalogic PS5000X) has only 3 Gigabit NICs per controller

I wonder if on the ESX side I shall fork out on 10Gb NICs or iSCSI HBAs

Ofcourse if my SAN could support 10Gb then there would be no question

Thanks & appreciate your clarification

Seb

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RParker
Immortal
Immortal

> I wonder if on the ESX side I shall fork out on 10Gb NICs or iSCSI HBAs

No I think we understood, the problem is if you stick with iSCSI then go HBA, but IF you can use NFS, 10G NIC is still better. The question is can you switch to NFS or not? That's what you should do.

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scerazy
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

No, can not use NFS on this iSCSI array, so it seems I need iSCSI HBAs

Seb

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ODOCChuck
Contributor
Contributor

Please explain or provide information that states NFS is better than iSCSI, or is that just your opinion.

We have been running iSCSI for almost 2 years in production with little to no problems. Using Equallogic arrays as well and seems to work great. Blade server we use doesnt have iSCSI HBAs.

HBAs would be the way to go if your doing boot from SAN, but I understand there is a way to do it with the HBA also, just not as commonly used.

I am very wary of NFS though, however I never used it to support a VMware infratsructure so i can not compare its performance.

iSCSI performance depends on teh array I assume, and the Equallogic is the top of the line perormance for an iSCSI array. JMO

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Texiwill
Leadership
Leadership

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RussellCorey
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

There's a half dozen papers out there extolling the virtues of NFS over iSCSI. Performance is virtually identical in a lot of cases but NFS always wins the ease of management battle.

That said:

If my iSCSI target only has gigabit ethernet then the question you should be asking is not "should I get 10Gbe or an iSCSI HBA?" but "should I just use gigabit ethernet cards or iSCSI HBAs?"

10 gig will buy you absolutely nothing unless you intend to upgrade your iSCSI storage to 10Gbe AND you're going to have enough disks to provide that throughput. To answer the question you probably should be asking, it depends a lot on the type of IO you're sending to the storage. If its going to be a lot of transactional stuff then you might see a benefit to an iSCSI HBA. Most of my customers are just using the software initiator though and performance is great for them.

To echo ODOCChuck's comments, unless you're booting your ESX hosts via iSCSI there probably isn't a huge benefit to having HBAs. Just design your iSCSI network appropriately (gigabit, dedicated switches or a VLAN on fast switches and don't use cheap switches)

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depping
Leadership
Leadership

I wouldn't even bother getting iSCSI HBAs. if your SAN is 1Gb just get decent 1Gb nics. With vSphere the iSCSI software initiator does a great job, it has been vastly improved in terms of performance, less overhead, stability.

Duncan

VMware Communities User Moderator | VCP | VCDX

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hegars
Contributor
Contributor

I noticed this NOTE in the ESX Server Config Guide (Page 64) "NOTE Software-initiated iSCSI is not available over 10GigE network adapters in ESX."

From this statement I would understand that CNA's are our only option for 10Gb iSCSI attach? Would that be correct?

BTW, we've been using/testing 10GigE Intel cards with the Software iSCSI Initiator in vSphere for iSCSI attach recently and it does work. The environment is 10Gb Eth end-to-end (host-switch-array)

Does anybody know the reason for this limitation or if it's likely/due to change in the future?

Thanks ...

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hegars
Contributor
Contributor

I have found out since that this Note is a documentation error. Please disregard.

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ne0031
Contributor
Contributor

Don't forget about the possibility of more than one target LUN. 10gbe works great if you are sending more than one stream of data and 1gbe is limiting. I've run into this in the past with sql and exchange. Being able to access multiple data files/stores over 10gbe is much faster since you don't have a 1gbe bottleneck. (This was with software initiator.) I'll add that the base ESX box had a 4062c hba as well.

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superscouser
Contributor
Contributor

I hope the note is an error. Where did you confirmation that it is an error from? Have VMware published anything saying that? Fingers crossed.

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hegars
Contributor
Contributor

VMware themselves confirmed that this note was a documentation error and it has been addressed since.

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superscouser
Contributor
Contributor

Thx. I've asked my local VMware Reps to confirm this is the case in writing so I can ease the concerns of my cusotmers in moving to 10GbE for iSCSI.

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