First Office SAN for virtualization with Hyper-V... questions

I'm having trouble getting everything together to pull the trigger on a purchase. I'm wanting to put a SAN in our office to consolidate storage and get some more redundancy in our network. I'm primarly running a 70gb Exchange 2010 server, a SQL 2008 server with about 300GB for all of our Databases, a few small sharepoint sites on some IIS servers and a "file server." The file server is what I'd like to replace with a SAN since the server hardly gets used other than just a place to dump network files for our 40 users. The entire server farm storage needs might be 2-2.5TB in total.

I'd like to be able to do this:
-Multiple Arrays with SAS drives for the Database and Exchange Server and SATA for file storage and Backups
-Be able to boot up VM's using Hyper-V directly from SAN
-have a backup image of all servers stored on the SAN for ease of restore in case of a server failure
-Possible use the SAN as a bootup volume for existing or future servers
-have network storage for my 40 users
-RAID6 at minimum on any arrays
-1.5TB on the SAS side and 6-8TB on the SATA side?
-Redundant power supplies and controllers preferred

All servers are Dell machines purchased in the last 1-4 years.

What makes the most since for an environment like this? PERC/SCSI? iSCSI? AOE? I would imagine FC is way out of my price range as I'm thinking my budget is anywhere from 5k-8k. I'm not opposed to picking up something refurb'd or building my own as long as the management software is easy to use. I've built a SAN for home use and didn't really bump into any issues but a place to store movies is not what I call "mission critical."
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
With everything that you're looking for you may want to look at a Netapp.   Take a look at at a FAS2020, 2050, or 2040 (more expensive bu future proof)

It will do the following, depending on that package you get

CIFS: Act as a file server, allow you to do CIFS with up to 255 snapshots, and instand restores
iSCSI/FC LUNs for Hyper V.  
Snapmanager for Exchange/SQL/Hyper V: Allows you to snap exchange, SQL, Hyper V VMs.  

It will deduplicate your data (primary) and single instance.  This includes your regular files, VMs, etc..  Budget is woudl be at least double what have but worth it.

Low end I would take a look at a Dell MD3000, HP MSA2000, or Dell Equalogic but these typically do only iSCSI.

The connection technology you need is iSCSI, with possibly CIFS if you want your storage to act as a NAS filer instead of using a standard Windows server (physical or VM) serving up your iSCSI SAN storage.

Just about any iSCSI product should support Hyper-V clustering. The VMs would live on the SAN, and Hyper-V would access the VHD files to boot the VM.

Being able to boot a physical server off the iSCSI SAN is more a function of your server NICs or iSCSI HBAs and server OS than the SAN storage. Your Dell servers should be able to do it with either the Broadcom or Intel NICs with some changes to the NIC firmware and settings. I am currently doing it with two Windows 2003 servers and I wish I hadn't. It's more hassle than it's worth.

Let me know if you find anything that meets your availability, capacity, and performance requirements in your budget range, because I would love to buy some.

Other options that I have not used but are less expensive include Celeros and StarWind Software, which would allow you to use the existing internal storage in your Dell servers and turn it into a virtual SAN. They have high availability features, so you don't lose your SAN just because a server needs to be rebooted. You can look at as well.

I use Dell EqualLogic at the office and I can tell you that the management software is very easy to use, and all current and future features are included with the maintenance. Performance is good, too. I was running dozens of VMs supporting hundreds of Exchange, Blackberry, IIS, SQL, Domain Controller, and File Server users on a single PS400E array with 14 7200 RPM SATA drives. Maintenance is very reasonable in later years, unlike some other very large vendors where maintenance becomes so expensive that it's cheaper to buy a replacement unit. The PS4000E is their entry level model, and the 2 GB of network connectivity really is more than what I am ever using is a much larger environment.
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