Vsphere 4 and iSCSI question

I have created an ESX 4 lab on my Quad Core /8GB HP desktop that runs inside of VMware workstation 7. In this lab I am running 2 x ESX hosts, a VC VM, and an Openfiler iSCSI appliance. This environment works for 90% of my testing needs.


I would like to get a StorCenter Network Storage iSCSi but I was wondering if I need to get iSCSI hardware nic or If I could use the regular ethernet NICs on my current system. I am going to keep the ESX hosts inside VM work 7 and replace the iSCSI Open filer.

How should I peform the setup? Do I need extra components besides 2 ethernet nics and the iSCSI Iomega device? The ethernet NICs are certified by VMWare.

Thank you.

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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
you should be able to use a regular nic and use software iscsi initiator.  I don't think the iscsi hw hba would work since you wouldn't be able to pass it through to both esx hosts.
Using gigabit TOE NIC's are prooving to be much better options than using ISCSi HBA's because of their versatility plus they cost roughly $200 versus their $2000 counter part. Plus with TOE NIC's you can create LAG groups to greatly increase performance. With an ISCSi HBA you cannot. The only caveat with that is your switch needs to support 802.3ad, which it should. Also, make sure your switch meets VMWare's requirements. There are few things you need to be aware of. The only reason I would use an ISCSI HBA is if I was using an application that had a very high transaction rate requirement. There really is no reason why you can't start off with a TOE NIC and replace it later if you feel you need an ISCSi HBA.
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
With most servers, especially the quad-core systems there is usually plenty of processing power to do the computing for iSCSI. A few years ago with 1Ghz CPUs this was not the case but I have never seen a server use more than a single core for iSCSI processing.  

If you're going with Iomega in your production environment you should get SAS drives because I have a IX2 and the SATA drives are dog slow with iscsi or NFS.

On another note if you're doing vmware you should try NFS, it is fully supported and certified with the Iomega and doesn't have the overhead that's used for iSCSI and allows you to grow and shrink your datastores on the fly as well as thin provision by default.

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llaravaAuthor Commented:

I was looking at this one
http://www.biz.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822186204 is that one the one your are talking about with SATA drives?

The unit is 2TB however are 2 real TB is that a mirror that only leaves 1TB?

Also do you know if Iomega has something with SAS as you mentioned?

I won't go with iSCSI HBAs I will use a regular 1Gb ethernet nic and I will be using iSCSI software initiators on the ESX nodes to connecto to the iSCSI device.

Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
That's the one but it's way to slow for a production environment, testing is great (I have a two Netapp Simulators on it and actually use it for Netapp/ESX lab).  I don't think Iomega has SAS drives but some of the other vendors may, just make sure they're on the vmware hcl.
llaravaAuthor Commented:
This is not going to production this just test. What do you mean with the Netapp simulator? Are you running Netapp storage on production and you have loaded the simulators to work with the Iomega device so you can test prior to implement changes in production? If so is there anything similar for SAN that you are aware of?
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
It's perfect for testing.  I have vSphere lab running and on my NFS datastore I have a several Netapp Simulators (does everything a real Netapp does).  On the Netapp I have NFS and iSCSI datastores and LUNs for testing Snapmirror, Snapmanager, etc..

I do consulting so I am always trying new things.  NFS actually is a lot easier to implement than iSCSI and with Netapp you have a lot more tools such as deduplication of the VMs, snapping SQL, Exchange, etc.. good stuff
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