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Suggestions for SAN implementation/high availability

Posted on 2008-06-19
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Hi Experts;

I'm the sole admin for an SMB and we're running Exchange 2003, SQL Server 2005, and hosting an internal web site. All of our mission-critical systems are running on individual boxes and I've been instructed by the execs that we can tolerate no more than a 15-minute down time on anything.

Toward that end, I've been considering virtualization and SAN implementation, but I'm very green in this area. I don't have a tremendous amount of capital at my disposal (about 10K) and I don't want to reinvent the wheel here, but I'm trying to come up with a reasonably cheap, reliable solution that would provide the uptime we're looking for.

Currently, we have a Windows infrastructure with Standard licensing for everything. I know we can't cluster unless we upgrade to Enterprise versions of software, but my boss is unlikely to accept that since licensing alone would eat our budget. Has anyone had experience migrating physical servers to virtual, and utilizing a SAN as the backend storage? I've got a DR site at my disposal as well, and  I'm thinking it may be easier for me to invest in some VM replication as long as I've got SANs at both sites.

Thoughts?
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Question by:lamontc
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larstr earned 400 total points
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With such a limited budget I think one of your few options would be to setup an ESX Server at each site and use vReplicator to replicate the disk image(s) of this exchange server.

Lars
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by:SysExpert
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If you already have SANs at both ends, just make sure that ALL of your critical data is on them, and set up clones of your Server at the DR site ( Just OS and apps ), and keep them off until needed. That should about fit your budget.


I hope this helps !
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by:HeinoSkov
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15 min downtime and no money to implement a solution seems like a tough challange.

An alternative to Lars' suggestion would be 2 ESX servers (1 on each site) with a bunch of disks in each server - local. Then use a Virtual SAN Appliance to replicate the LUNs between your sites with iSCSI.

Take a look on this appliance: Xtravirt Virtual SAN
http://www.xtravirt.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=95&Itemid=123

The SAN appliance is free, however you can buy support on it.
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by:lamontc
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Hm...good suggestions. I particularly like the virtual SAN since there's no cost involved.

SysExpert, I don't already have SANs at each site. I'm trying to weigh all possible options and keep costs down so I don't know if it's practical to get two separate SANs.

So it looks like I could get two copies of ESXi for about 2200, which is more than reasonable. Is it possible to also use a DAS appliance with ESXi, or should I just stick with beefing up storage in the physical servers?

And with replication using a virtual SAN, is it possible to replicate via a WAN link or do you need a direct, dedicated connection? I don't want to tie up too much network traffic with the implementation.

Awesome suggestions, guys...thanks!
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by:larstr
larstr earned 400 total points
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This depends on the amount of data that needs to get replicated and the bandwidth of your wan link.

If you go with the solution based on 2 ESX servers and vReplicator you can't use ESXi as vReplicator doesn't support ESXi yet, so you need atleast "VMware Infrastructure Foundation", at $995+SnS a piece: http://www.vmware.com/products/vi/esx/esx_buy.html

For replicating 1 VM with vReplicator, I think the price would be ~$500 (contact your reseller).
http://www.vizioncore.com/vReplicator.html
Also see this link for a review of vReplicator:
http://www.petri.co.il/vmware-esx-server-vizioncore-replication-site-to-site.htm

Lars
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by:jfields71
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If you can extend you budget slightly for software, then you might want to look at Lefthand Networks very powerful VSA: http://www.lefthandnetworks.com/virtualstors.aspx.  You can download a trial version of one, if you get ESX installed.  They handle multiple-site replication and can provide fault tolerance with the cost of the actual VSA software.  
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by:lamontc
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Sorry for not responding just yet...this is taking some time to implement and I don't want to award the points until it's actually done. I'm currently evaluating the Xtravirt Virtual SAN solution. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

I've purchased the two copies of VMWare ESX and I should be able to virtualise the environment within the next two to three weeks.
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