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I am looking for a reliable SAN solution

Posted on 2008-10-14
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I am looking to invest in a SAN box (recommended by a friend) to HA some of the services and first thing came to my mind is HP or IBM. I know these solutions dont come cheap but if anyone has extensive knowledge and experience on this domain can you recommend something ?
reasonable (no need to cheap out too much) price and reliability is the most important
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Question by:shadow2007
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by:Andres Perales
ID: 22712037
the better question that you need to answer is what exactly are you trying to do?  there are many solutions out there for shared storage...
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by:Zac Harris
ID: 22712040
We use the Buffalo Tera Station Pro's. They are excellent! They will even tie into our active directory system for permissions. They are very easy to manage and not to bad priced either. We got a 2TB for just under 1500.

Here is a link to their page    http://www.buffalotech.com/products/network-storage/terastation/

HTH

Zac
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by:shadow2007
ID: 22712193
well, it will house the DB (mainly) and used to store other data and multimedia archives
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by:Andres Perales
ID: 22712291
so are you just looking for storage then, or ability to cluster servers and such...what kind of servers do you have now?
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by:shadow2007
ID: 22712844
a group of dl300 series rack servers
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by:Andres Perales
ID: 22712973
and are you just looking for direct storage, networked storage, what exactly are you wanting to do, but your best bet would be to stay with HP...
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by:shadow2007
ID: 22713982
I would say direct storage to reduce load on our core switches and to improve performance
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by:Duncan Meyers
ID: 22716045
How many useers?
How many servers?
What applications are you running?
How much disk space do you need?
Do you have a budget in mind?
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Andres Perales earned 250 total points
ID: 22721328
Alright so there are devices that are called DAS (direct attached storage) usually used to directly attach the storage device to a server, using either SCSI card on server and storage device, is used to expand storage on a single server, i.e. file server, mail server, database server.  Some DAS support two machine direct connections to support cluster operations.
NAS (network attached storage) - a storage device used to act as a file server independent of a server with operating systems as they usually have their own operating system and drives to provide storage space.
SAN (Storage Area Network) used to provide storage space to mulitple systems over a private fibre channel network.  You will have to have fiber channel switches for this type of architecture as well as fiber cards to each server that will need to be attached to the storage allocated to that server.  Switches are configured for zones that will allow connections between the server and the storage allocated to that server.  Can be costly and you will need to be readily familar with additional hardware and software.  There are now cheaper SAN solutions that utilize iSCSI connections which can used with standard network cards and etherswitched, still needs to be a private separate network for best performance.  Also making SAN devices cheaper are the utilization of SATA drives, again all based on the type of performance you are looking for...and the amount of space you have available to you.
So...if you have more than 2 or three servers that you need to allocate storage then a SAN device, with iSCSI and SATA drives is the cheapest way to go, again this is not performance storage just simple storage for say server backups and low end file serving.
If you need performance storage to more than 2 or three devices then, SAN with fiberchannell connects, 4GB fiberchannel switches and 10,000 rpm drives for performance.
Basically all dependent on your budget and what you are trying to do exactly.
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by:exx1976
exx1976 earned 250 total points
ID: 22723558
ITGUY - that's not a SAN, that's NAS.  Totally different, and not even CLOSE to the same performance.

To the OP - I have two 28TB IBM DS4300 Turbo units.  They are a couple years old, but have been wonderful the whole way through.  Two dual-channel controllers on each, 2GB of batter-backed cache in each controller, 2GB/s fibre channel, FC drives.  They weren't HORRIBLY expensive (if memory serves, like $100-125k each).  They are connected to Cisco MDS9506 SAN directors (EXCELLENT devices!!  SAN OS is almost like IOS - VSANs instead of zones, very easy to use if you're familiar with Cisco IP gear) - kind of pricey units, but worth it.  Check out World Data Products for refurbished ones - much cheaper, and lets face it - Cisco gear just does NOT break.  Plus, you can still get SmartNET warranties on refurb stuff.

I can attach up to 64 hosts or host groups (clusters) to each unit, and any operating system type is supported.  Controller failover is automatic, and the multi-pathing (IBM calls it RDAC) drivers for WinTel systems kick ass.  They communicate real-time with the SAN controllers for negotiation, ownership, status, failover, everything.  The management interface is solid, and it has all the standard notification stuff.

I believe the DS4300 series has been replaced by the FastT600.  Check that out if you need storage, we are very happy with them in terms of price, performance, and reliability.  I use qLogic HBA's with it, and all IBM servers.

For databases - STAY AWAY FROM SATA.  It doesn't have the IOPS to handle database loads.  SATA is good if you just need lots of cheap storage, for like an archival solution or something, but the performance of it is abysmal.  A friend's company went with a SATA iSCSI SAN, and they ended up having to move their database back to local storage because the performance was absolutely horrendous.  It isn't a very busy database, either - ~70 concurrent users.

Best of luck.  Let us know what you decide.
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Author Comment

by:shadow2007
ID: 22724014
great thanks a lot for an elaborate explaination and sorry for the delayed response had to deal with some issues anyhow
so here is the breakdown
 I am looking to host 2 VMware servers on 2 of my servers (one as a fail-over) ESX solution
and I was wondering if I could have the vmx for the servers on the shared storage (there will about 5 vms per machine running http, java, mutimedia streaming, and may be a CMS on them)
now, budget wise I would love to go with iscsi/sata solution (probably HP) but what worries me is that housing the vm config files on the iscsi which some what creates a single point of failure, I know that there is redundancy on the iscsi device itself so this is where my dilema is
is
1. is Iscsi fast enough to handle OS I/O through a dedicated network
2. is Iscsi reliable enough to put the vm config files on it.

appriciate your input
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by:exx1976
ID: 22724154
iSCSI is simply a protocol.  The devices behind it are what you need to worry about.  If you are worried about multiple points of failure, just make sure to assign multiple initiators to each server, and then have them going to physically separate switches on the iSCSI network.  Also, make sure to get quality switches like Cisco.  If those break, you don't lose network connectivity, you lose connectivity to your STORAGE!

Check out LeftHand Networks for iSCSI.  Just make sure you go with SAS drives as opposed to SATA.

Yes, you can use this for ESX.  I currently host 6 ESX servers on my FC SAN, and a friend's company hosts 3 on a LeftHand iSCSI solution.

Further, you MUST have shared storage if you expect to use VMotion, DRS, or HA.  These things do not work without shared storage.  You need to actually store the VMs themselves on the shared storage, not just the config files...

iSCSI speeds are only limited by the speed of the ethernet connection (well, that and the speed of the drives).  You can get 10GB ethernet now, and if you put enough drives in your array (and use quality, high-speed drives), you can get a screaming iSCSI solution.
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by:shadow2007
ID: 22724171
yes decided to house the DBs locally if going with iscsi
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by:Andres Perales
ID: 22724172
for bang for buck, I would say you will be ok on a iSCSI solution, but would get something that I could update / upgrade later, since you are using HP, get with your HP rep. if you have one and sit down and discuss this, it will be the best solution...
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by:shadow2007
ID: 22724831
10gigs ? its out ? who is the manufacturer ?
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by:exx1976
ID: 22724857
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by:shadow2007
ID: 22724985
great thanks
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by:avcontrol
ID: 25764552
exx1976
Can you please maybe provide me with guide on MDS9506 to be connected to MDS9124e(with HP blade servers behind)?
Kind of lost with zoning config using GUI.
Installation should  be very simple- no fancy stuff, just 16 blades(behind MDS9124e) have to be attached to  hitachi storage behind MDS9506 over fiber.
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by:exx1976
ID: 25767141
Open a new question and post a link to it here.
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by:avcontrol
ID: 25770391
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