New SAN solution, thoughts? Sun 7320 w/ ZFS, NetApp or Equal Logic

I'm in the market for a new SAN system and we're presently considering between a Pair of Sun 7320's with ZFS, a pair of Equal Logic PS6010XV or NetApp 3000 series array.  

We have a two node vSphere 4.1 cluster with a pair of DB servers running MySQL, primarily a Linux shop.

Anyone have any really good/bad experiences with any of these devices or other advice?  

We're leaning towards the ZFS solution but it seems there is no software for VMware or quiescing MySQL or other systems where the NetApp seems to have all of that already available but without the readzilla/writezilla caching.
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
The Netapp with NFS will make hosting the VMs a lot more efficient and more managable.  ZFS will do the same thing but I'm not sure ZFS is fully supported by VMWare (since it's owned by EMC) but I know of customers that run it.  The Netapp 3000 would be my preference since it can do CIFS/NFS (NAS) and FC/iSCSI/FOE (block) depending on your needs.  Netapp has flexcache for better perfromance as well and flexclone, SMVI, etc.. that intergrate directly into vmware as well as snapdrive for Linux that makes mounting LUNs a snap directly from the VM or physical system

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I have been an EqualLogic customer for 4 years and I can say that it is a fantastic product, and has excellent VMware integration. The purchase price is high, but everything is included, and maintenance is really cheap (I am paying about 7K per annum for 2 units that are in the 5th year of service). They have also never required a forklift upgrade, and their oldest hardware is fully compatable with the latest models and the latest software, so investment protection is really there. NetApp and EMC seem to always try to get you to upgrade every 3 years or so, and they price their maintenance to make it really expensive to keep older equipment.

I am curious why you are looking at TWO PS6010XV units, as you seem like a pretty small shop with only 2 hosts. I have great performance from SATA drives, and your two units would deliver about 3-4 times read IOPS. Write IOPS all go to cache and should be < 1 ms. I personally don't see much reason to use 10 GB Ethernet. It doesn't improve IOPS, and VM and DB performance doesn't depend on total throughput. I am looking at my interface statistics, any my peak throughput per 1 GB interface has been 6.0 MB/s, on an interface that can do 119.2 MB/s, performance isn't at all dependant on port speed in my environment. So, without knowing more about your specific performance requirements, I say that a single PS6000XV should give you all the performance you need. You can always add a second one if you need more space (or IOPS) or a second data center.

I don't know how good the integration is to get snapshots of linux systems. My understanding is that it's an industry problem because no one has build anything like Microsoft's VSS.
The Equallogic solution would be the one I recommend.  I have had good experience with them.  And they don't try and break the bank.  They are easy to install and maintain.  And since they are iSCSI you won't have to change your infrastruture if you are running on cat 5e or better.  However I would recommend if you go with that solution to get iSCSI switches and run them on there own network or vlan.
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ResultsGenAuthor Commented:
Anyone have any experience with the Sun/Oracle ZFS Solution?  Technologically it seems to be superior in many ways to Equal Logic or NetApp.  Basically I'm looking for reasons to go with or not go with the Sun solution.  The NetApp and Equal Logic are highly deployed and I'm sure are just fine, I just wanted to ping and see if anyone had any good/bad things to say about the Sun ZFS.

Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
Netapp is suing sun because they say that the stole the technology. It's actually very similar to netapp wafl. I have customers that use it in a VMWAre environment but Its not supported oficially by VMWAre
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
Here's the link, it's from awhile ago but gives you a bit of info

Not sure who's right or wrong but explains why technology is similar but you can search "wafl vs zfs" to get an idea.
ResultsGenAuthor Commented:
Actually NetApp lost...
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
I haven't been following too closely. My point is that the technologies appear to be similar although Netapp has better integration with VMWare, Microsoft, SQL, Exchange, etc..
ResultsGenAuthor Commented:
Yeah, that seems to be NetApp's primary advantage, the advantage on the Sun side is the write caching.  I'm torn on the new SAN decision between those two feature sets.  On the one hand I can get 8k write iops and 100k+ read iops with some SSD's through SUN but get no software integration support.
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
The issue with the SUN on ZFS and vmware is that in an enterprise environment when things iffy you want to make sure your configuration is supported.  If you want to run LUNs to the ESX hosts then it's all good, otherwise ZFS is relegated to non critical datastores and backups.

With Netapp the write caching is done through NVRAM since it gets the data first then decides where to best write it in spurts.  Have you calculated how much IOPS you actually need?  

Check out Flex cache for netapp.

The only other item I would consider is that when it's time to upgrade Netapp Ontap allows you to use your current shelves and all you do is swap out controllers without a forklift upgrade

Write cache is easy. As I said, my writes are < 1 ms using SATA disks. Getting good read IOPS is the hard part. Getting good reads is the hard part. You need huge read cache, read from flash disks, or lots of spindles.
Moving to any new storage appliance is a big venture.

How much space are you looking at using? what kind of throughput is needed?

Take a look at the NetApp 2000 series hardware, it makes great use of SAS disks and pretty much all of NetApp's technologies (Dedup, iSCSI, NFS, FC, etc.).

The 2000 series hardware sadly cannot make use of the PAMS (Performance Acceleration Module) which is also referenced above as Flex Cache.

As for scalability, if you decided to go with the 2000 series hardware and determine it isn't right for you  and wanted to step up to the 3200 series, it can be as simple as removing the motherboard from the 2000 series chassis and inserting an ESH4 or SAS module in the chassis and turning it into a shelf, enabling you to scale out successfully from there.

Just a few thoughts.
ResultsGenAuthor Commented:
We've moved past the NetApp solution because it has no write cache capabilities, we're primarily looking at the Sun 7320 now with read/write caching as well as an EMC Celerra solution with FAST Cache.
The ZFS solution set is fantastic, on the windows side there are VSS aware drivers. This solution can be obtained from SUN directly or Nexenta (on the lower cost side) both are ZFS and have write and read caching.

On the linux side I have little more to offer than the sync command.

I know redhat is working on this issue for kvm. If you're a linux shop I would think this would certainly be on your radar:

As would ZFS on linux (NO WRITE CACHING at the moment)

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