ESX 3i local storage, iScsi storage and vm "storage appliance"

I am presently in a mad dash to get a new Dell server implemented.  I have never setup iScsi SAN storage on an ESX host and have not had the required time to spool up knowledge.

Server: Dell PE2950 with six(6) 1gb NICs and RAID 5 for local storage based VMs
OS: Esx 3i
SAN: Intransa iScsi already in place, I am disconnecting from the present host that is using it (a 5 nic windows box) after reconfiguring the RAID, all of the switch and head unit redundancy is already in place, so it will be a new 10tb RAID6 and ready for the Dell ESX host when I'm done

PLAN
I am thinking of doing the following.  Know that I have a fairly unique requirement where I want to have a big file share accessible by a number of small VMs.

1.) Setup Dell host with local RAID 5, partion that into a 2tb vmfs datastore and another vmfs datastore with what is left over (its a 3.2tb RAID 5)

2.) setup Dell host with six(6) nic vswitch/vmnetwork to LAN in an IP Hash team with Static LACP on the physical switch

3.) attach to my Virtual Center 2.5

4.) setup Linux VMs using local vmfs datastores

5.) setup a "storage appliance" VM (like Openfiler for example) and give it the 10tb iScsi SAN for storage, I will then setup either NFS or SMB shares with that storage using the "storage appliance"

6.) from the Linux VMs we will mount the NFS or SMB shares

QUESTIONS
Can I have the 6 nic vswitch for my VMs also provide the access to an iScsi SAN on the same local network ethernet/segment? Can the "storage appliance" VM use that same vswitch to connect with the iScsi SAN (it will be on the same physical network/segment as the vswitch)?
Or must I dedicate say 3 nics to my vswitch0 for VMs and 3 nics to the "storage appliance" VM for access to the iScsi storage?

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated


ryanrupertAsked:
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aldanchCommented:
Can I have the 6 nic vswitch for my VMs also provide the access to an iScsi SAN on the same local network ethernet/segment?

It would be better to dedicate your NICs for certain things (i.e. Management, iSCSI, IP Network).

vmnic0 (onboard) - Management - VLAN50
vmnic1 (onboard) - iSCSI Software Initiator - VLAN51
vmnic2 (pcie) - Management - VLAN50
vmnic3 (pcie) - iSCSI Software Initiator - VLAN51
vmnic4 (pcie) - IP Network - VLAN52
vmnic5 (pcie) - IP Network - VLAN52

Can the "storage appliance" VM use that same vswitch to connect with the iScsi SAN (it will be on the same physical network/segment as the vswitch)?

Am I reading this correctly? 5.) setup a "storage appliance" VM (like Openfiler for example) and give it the 10tb iScsi SAN for storage, I will then setup either NFS or SMB shares with that storage using the "storage appliance"

It sounds like your using Openfiler to present the 10 TB iSCSI SAN storage on a file level (NTFS/EXT3 file systems). If I'm reading this correctly, then yes, the OpenFiler is actually running on the ESXi server, but stored on the Intransa iSCSI SAN. Make sure to map a LUN (2TB max per VMFS volume) to your ESXi server for use on the Openfiler VM. Format as VMFS with an 8MB block size. Add hard disks on the Openfiler to fill each LUN capacity.

Or must I dedicate say 3 nics to my vswitch0 for VMs and 3 nics to the "storage appliance" VM for access to the iScsi storage?

Your ESXi will be connected to 3 different networks. Your Openfiler will have vNICs, 1 for iSCSI and 1 for IP network connectivity. Assign the iSCSI traffic from the Openfiler to either the iSCSI VLAN or the Management VLAN.

Openfiler
vNIC0 > vSwitch0 > Management VLAN50 > vmnic0, vmnic2
vNIC1 > vSwitch1 > IP Network VLAN52 > vmnic4, vmnic5
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ryanrupertAuthor Commented:
Wow aldanch, for you to taking the time for such a great response. Many kudos. I will try to update this post with the details of the implemention once complete.
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