xalex75
Contributor
Contributor

New ESX implementation: which SAN should I choose?

Hi everybody.

I'm planning to build an ESX infrastructure and I'm contacting some suppliers to get offers.

I already have the servers (Dell Poweredge 2950 III), so I just need ESX license and storage. Each supplier has a different brand about SAN.

The 3 different SAN are:

DELL MD3200i

HP MSA2312i

NETAPP FAS2020

Each one is equipped with double controller.

I've been looking for some comparison online but I didn't find useful informations.

I'm sure that all 3 are excellent devices, but I nees to choose one, and I would like to be sure to make the best choice.

I'm still waiting for NETAPP's cost, so now I just want to understand which one is better for my pourposes and later I will think about price.

If someone can help... thanks in advance.

Smiley Happy

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20 Replies
piaroa
Expert
Expert

I have extensive experience with the FAS2020, and I can tell you it's an excellent filer, for FC, NFS, etc.

Don't know about costs, but I can tell you it performs very well in a medium sized environment and it's pretty reliable.

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golddiggie
Champion
Champion

Also consider the EqualLogic PS6000E array (or any of the PS6000 arrays)... It's also a dual RAID controller, dual network controller (4 ports each), and 16 spindle array. Since you're going with Dell servers, you could probably get better pricing (through a good VAR) by going that route (Dell servers and storage usually makes the manufacturer happier to give more program dollars up)...

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xalex75
Contributor
Contributor

Hi.

I already considered equalogic, they offered me the ps4000xv with very good pricing, but I prefered the MD.

Equalogic has many nice features, but I can't mix sas and sata (and I would like to use 10x600GB sas + 2x2TB sata), I must fill it with 16 disks and is more expensive.

Anybody can link me any review or roundup where I can see why one brand can be better than the others for my needs?

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bulletprooffool
Champion
Champion

I have used various setups - and NetApps really are my favourite for ease of use - my 2 pennies worth.

One day I will virtualise myself . . .
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karo2k4
Contributor
Contributor

Hi, i have a question about your Netapp Filer

Whats is your Netapp 2020 Megabytes per second throughput over FC?

We are using a Netapp 2050 and get at maximum 80MB/s which I think is not really good. Beside this we are really happy with our Netapp Storage Smiley Happy

Thanks in advance

Dominik

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xalex75
Contributor
Contributor

Hi everybody.

The supplier that offered me the NetApp is taking too long time to give me some informations, so probably I will choose a different supplier/SAN.

Between DELL MD3200i and HP MSA2312i, both equippend with double controller and same disk configuration, which one should I choose and why?

Is there a particular and useful feature that one has and the other one not?

I will use iSCSI connections, not FC.

Thanks in advance.

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JRink
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I am using (in different organizations) a Dell MD3200i (just setup last week), an HP 2312i, and an HP 2324i. All 3 are nice units. Seems like the Dell performs best based on IOMeter tests but, the HPs are still nice. I also believe the Dell has 2GB of cache on each controller while the HPs have 1GB of cache.

I don't think you can go wrong with either brand though. Dell probably costs a bit less...?

My HP 2312i and 2324i have been in production for 6 months now. The Dell MD3200i was just put in this week and won't be in production until I move all my VMs over to it this weekend (from internal disk storage) but I expect it to perform fine.

I was a bit miffed at some of the answers I received from Dell as it relates to configuring the MD3200i. Some engineers at Dell said use Round Robin, another said don't use it, use MRU instead cause the RR isn't working right yet until they fix it.. (??).

JR

xalex75
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks for your reply.

Price are almost the same, so I'm just trying to choose the best one. Smiley Happy

If I'm not wrong, MD3200 has 4 ports in each controller, and MSA2312 has only 2 ports in each controller.

This should mean that the max data transfer speed (using a double switch configuration) in MD3200 should be 2Gbps and in MSA2312 should be 1Gbps, right?

Please let me know your impressions on MD3200i after moving VMs to it this weekend, thank you.

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JRink
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Yes, 4 ports on the MD3200i versus 2 on the HP.

Even with Round Robin (which Dell tech says isn't working correctly..) I have not been able to get higher than 1GB throughput on my sequential reads/writes. On the other hand, the real world throughput tests (IO Meter) for random reads/writes,etc. is VERY good.

Moving over the VMs now as we speak. Smiley Wink

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xalex75
Contributor
Contributor

So even if the connection speed is at 2Gbps, disks can't give data faster than 1Gbps?

I mean, is the double 4 ports controller on MD3200i a good reason to choose it or doesn't it change anything?

Difficult choice... Smiley Happy

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aarondovetail
Contributor
Contributor

I'm using an HP P2000 G3 (MSA) SAN in my setup because thats what existed when I started here and so far it seems like garbage, I'm not sure if that's indicative of all HP SANs or this one, but I would avoid the P2000 for sure.

I think it's pretty dated now but I've used IBM DS4500s and DS4800s in the past and they all worked fine.

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mcowger
Immortal
Immortal

Sorry to hear the P2000 isn't working out for you. I will say all that all HP arrays aren't the same - the P2000, P4000 (LeftHand), EVA, XP and now the 3PAR all have very different architectures, so if the P2000 didn't meet your needs I'm sure your HP rep can help you out.

(disclaimer - I work for 3PAR, which is owned by HP).






--Matt
VCP, VCDX #52, Unix Geek, Storage Nerd

9773_9773.gif

--Matt VCDX #52 blog.cowger.us
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xalex75
Contributor
Contributor

I found the main differences between the 2 brands, but I still don't know which one is better.

HP:

-Raid 0-1-3-5-6-10-50

-1GB cache/controller

-2 ports/controller

-up to 255 snapshots

-up to 128 clones

-2 Units size in rack

DELL:

-Raid 0-1-5-6-10

-2GB cache/controller

-4 ports/controller

-up to 128 snapshots

-up to 8 clones

-3 Units size in rack

RAID:

Dell doesn't have raid 50 configuration. Raid 50 should be better than raid 10 because I would loose less space. Can this be a good reason for choosing HP?

CONTROLLERS:

Dell has double cache in each controller and twice ports compared to HP. This should mean that I should be able, using 2 switches configuration, to achieve 2Gbps connection speed between san and servers using Dell san, and just 1Gbps using HP san. Is this correct or not?

SNAPSHOTS and CLONES:

Here numbers are quite different. It's the first time that I try to buy a san and build a ESX environment, so I don't know if this difference is really important or not, because I don't know if 128 snapshots and 8 clones can be enough or not, and I don't know if having 255 snapshots and 128 clones can be really useful or if I will never use so many.

I will have about 10 to 15 Virtual Machines on it.

Thanks very much for any suggestion.

Alex

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mcowger
Immortal
Immortal

RAID - this is nothing more than a terminology thing - they both support the same RAID levels (including RAID50) with the same efficiencies - just different ways of saying it.

PORTS/CONTROLLER - this is a difference worth paying attention to - more ports is always better...

SNAPSHOTS - 128 Snapshots is more than enough for 99.9% of users. If you dont know that you need more than 128, you probably dont Smiley Happy

Based on the stats below, i would chose the Dell - it will be more flexible and faster (more ports, more cache), assuming price is similar

(full disclosure- I'm an HP employee)

--Matt

VCP, VCDX #52, Unix Geek, Storage Nerd

9773_9773.gif

--Matt VCDX #52 blog.cowger.us
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xalex75
Contributor
Contributor

So you are saying that Dell solution supports raid 50 (striped raid 5, right?) even if it is not mentioned?

About snapshots, I don't know if I need more than 128 because... I never used snapshots. 😛

It's the 8 clones max supported by Dell that can be too little, but... ehm... what are clones used for exactly? 😛 (sorry, but this will be my first san)

Price is almost the same and anyway Dell told me that it will not be a problem to apply a bigger discount if we choose them.

Thank you very much.

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aarondovetail
Contributor
Contributor

You want to consider support also. I've had bad experiences with both Dell and HP support, so I'm not really sure which one I'd recommend based on that. Dell Enterprise Storage support every time I've talked with them I've at least gotten someone that speaks english, and they are good on following back to see if the problem is resolved.

HP support this past Saturday when I had critical SAN issues was Indian guys who I could barely understand and who worked at a snail's pace. That's the only time I've called into them so far though so not sure if that's normal or isolated.

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xalex75
Contributor
Contributor

During past 12 years I have tried many brands.

Now I buy ONLY HP and Dell because in my opinion their support is the best.

I don't know if for storage they have a different support...

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golddiggie
Champion
Champion

EqualLogic also has really good support. Even though they are owned by Dell, they're allowed to run their own organization (a wise decision on Dell's part)... They're a 100% US based company (out of Nashua, NH) and put out a really good product (in my eyes)... I can attest to the products supporting RAID 50 with dual RAID controllers (with BBWC) as well as dual quad port network controllers (for the Gb versions, unsure about port count in the 10Gb offerings)... I really like the PS6000/6500 series from EqualLogic... I've used them in two environments and they simply work really, really well. Plus, they're fairly easy to administrate (if you have enough brain power to do the job, you'll be able to handle it).

Personally, I wouldn't just look at how much the units will cost you to purchase them... There are other factors to take into consideration... Such as wanting RAID 50 (really nice to have) on all the spindles. Then there's also how does the SAN grow later? With the EqualLogic array, you can configure it so that you add more arrays into the group and you gain both performance and space. I've done that before and can tell you it's not hype... We started with a single array and then added another (after running out of space on the first)... Performance was easily 1.5x, with closer to 2x, the single array. The disc usage was also split across both arrays per LUN.

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Josh26
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

Surely of relevance is what server you plan on buying.

It would not make business sense to buy an HP server and a Dell SAN. Technically it "should work" but you know full well the first sign of a problem and both companies will only blame the other.

I'll second the idea that any discussion around "raid levels supported" will only be marketing speak - they will all support everything relevant.

Personally we're running a number of MSA2012's (precursor to P2000) and have over two years uptime on several of them, and would rate them highly.

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