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SAN Storage Recommendations

Posted on 2011-03-12
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    We have an environment with over 100 users- use Exchange 2007, Windows 2008 and are looking at a SAN storage solution.Have a little research and it offers great access speed for servers, excellent redundancy and best of all-the ability to keep adding disks for increased storage when needed.A cost-effective solution would be great and by the way any particular vendor recommendations-H.P,I.B.M,etc.
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Question by:hardbullet
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by:uanmi
ID: 35119608
The cost is the issue. Most vendors offer SAN solutions, from Cisco, IBM, HP and so on.
We use HP products so look at

http://h71028.www7.hp.com/enterprise/us/en/solutions/storage-overview.html

I recommend you look at the iSCSI or eSATA storage

http://h71028.www7.hp.com/enterprise/us/en/solutions/storage-iscsi-san.html

the price changes a lot depending on your needs. What storage do you use now?

regards, mark
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by:andyalder
andyalder earned 350 total points
ID: 35120838
>Have a little research and it offers great access speed for servers, excellent redundancy and best of all-the ability to keep adding disks for increased storage when needed

So does having good servers with local disks:

Access speed of locally attached disks is faster than through a SAN assuming similar amount of disks dedicated to the particular server.

Redundancy on a per-server basis is about the same, disk failures are covered by RAID in both cases, the dual paths from SAN to server stop at the HBA (if dual port) or the motherboard.

You can keep adding disks and expanding with a decent PCIe RAID controller just like with a SAN.

Unless you are clustering with VMware, Hyper-V, Xen, etc then the benefits of a SAN are only slight. If you go for low cost you can even reduce the availability; consider a two server cluster with a SAN based on a single iSCSI box, that back end iSCSI server is likely to have the same chance of failing as one of the front end servers so a single front end server is more reliable on the hardware level.

If you're just talking about MS Exchange then the more redundant solution is through using CCR than through shared storage.
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Author Comment

by:hardbullet
ID: 35121052
     At the moment we use servers with 6 disks in a  raid-5 config.By the way andtalder, why have SAN storage technology at all if what you are saying is correct-I mean I know that there is redundancy in raiding, that locally attached disks are fast but I dont think the part about keep adding disks and expanding is correct or maybe I didnt fully understand you.
      We have servers with 6 disk slots and that is it-how do keep expanding on that?
 
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by:uanmi
ID: 35121117
I would not keep expanding a server. That is the point of SAN and NAS storage.
There are many options that connect to servers using iSCSI and eSATA for the cheaper Raid 5,6,10 NAS devices.

It is very logical to get Raid and to use iSCSI for fast interconnect. For reliability you can have Raid NAS and SAN devices replicate.
We currently use 16Tbyte RAID storage systems that take a load off the servers and provide high reliability. The total cost was about $2000 and it has been money well spent.

regards, Mark
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by:andyalder
andyalder earned 350 total points
ID: 35121252
You can keep adding disks and expanding on all the top end PCIe controllers. Take a bog standard DL380 G7 with 8 disks for example, you can add a second disk cage and add a SAS expander card and second disk cage for half hour's downtime, then you can add another 8 disks with it back online and expand the array on the fly. Then you can replace the controller with a P812 in another half hour downtime, power it on and then add 4 * 25 disk enclosures on the external ports and further expand the array. Of course you could have started with the more expensive controller and the second disk cage but just left it empty, then even the two half hour downtimes for planned upgrade wouldn't have had to occur. You can't take it past 108 disks in a supported configuration on one controller, you'd have to add a second RAID controller to do that.

Even your current server ought to be able to take a top end PCIe controller with external ports to hang external DAS enclosures off it.

@Mark, A SAN does not take any more load off the server than a decent PCIe controller unless you're talking about the controller taking a bit more electricity from the server's PSU than a NIC or host bus adapter. I don't think you'll find one with eSATA host ports either.

iSCSI is not fast, 10Gb max whereas external SAS gives 4 * 6Gb to each enclosure; not that you can get disks that are fast enough to swamp either 10Gb iSCSI or 24Gb SAS.

You won't get a SAN box with replication for $2000 either, $20,000 more like unless you build your own. What have you bought for $2,000, does it have any more redundancy than a single stand-alone server?

hardbullet, I'm not saying that a SAN isn't useful, in a datacenter they're essential because of the flexibility they give, but that comes at a high cost. SANs targeted at the SMB market are often worse than not having one at all.



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by:uanmi
ID: 35121272
ok, it is a big jump to be adding disk enclosures to a HP DL380 without knowing the configuration that hardbullet has at the moment. This is why I pointed hardbullet at the HP solutions if he has a HP server - read previous posts.

If a SAN or NAS is required then there are options available that will do the job. If speed is the critical requirement then look at PCIe disk enclosures that also provide RAID.

Hardbullet if you need more info, you need to let me know more about your current systems.
regards, Mark
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by:andyalder
ID: 35121329
They're not cheap are they, entry level P4300, $20,000. That's why I asked you what you got for $2,000. Heck you can hardly get 8 * 2TB enterprise SATA disks for that price.
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Author Comment

by:hardbullet
ID: 35121350
   We use raided NAS predominantly for backups via TCP/IP-not via eSATA or iSCSI.iSCSI I noticed is also a low-cost alternative to fibre-channel for accessing a SAN.
    Mark-Do you access the 16Tbyte storage system in your org via iSCSI? "..use iSCSI for fast interconnect."...So I assume that it must be pretty fast.I suppose you need SAN software to be able to view the drives locally on the server.
   I was thinking SAN with fibre chanel, 2 SAN switches for redundancy, 2 fibre cards on the server for redundancy also and dual paths-also for redundancy.
   Okay...I think you guys just posted something....Ummm...Wow andyalder-I didnt think that what you are saying was possible...honestly thanks for the eye-opener.
   We are predominantly running HP DL380's-G4ps and G5s- and a few ML370s all with gigabit ports connected to a CISCO gigabit backbone switch.
   
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by:uanmi
uanmi earned 50 total points
ID: 35121396
great, thank you for letting me know your configuation. you have the option of looking at a high end solution that can cost more than $20K or a lower end solution that can cost upwards of $2K depending on your system and parts purchased. I recommend you look at iSCSI solutions for a mid-priced solution. If you want a lower priced solution then you can do what we do on one server and that is to connect a raid nas which has 8Tbyte I think currently to the server using eSata. You then setup the NAS share as a drive on the server and away you go.

regards, Mark
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andyalder earned 350 total points
ID: 35121425
All your ProLiants are capable of online capacity expansion, you have to have a battery on the Smart array controller to enable it though and of course need spare disk bays. For DL380 G5 you haven't got room for a second bay, for DAS expansion you'd need MSA70 enclosure plus P400 controller.

If you really want a SAN how about a MSA2000 / P2000? Dual controller models available and you can use FC or iSCSI, there's a chart at http://h18000.www1.hp.com/products/quickspecs/13187_div/13187_div.html that compares the speed of the iSCSI one to the FC one, bear in mind that the figures there are for a fully populated one with 99 disks. Price - about $8000 for a dual controller model without any disks.

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by:kevinhsieh
kevinhsieh earned 100 total points
ID: 35121985
I bought my EqualLogic SAN four years ago and I love it. It is iSCSI and most of the talk about the bandwidth of iSCSI over 1GB Ethernet, 10GB Ethernet, 4GB FC, 8GB FC, and eSATA is irrelevant. In most environments the limitation on performance is IOPS, not throughput. IOPS are generally not limited by bandwidth but by the number and type of disks, RAID levels, and cache. Remember, a single 8K block of data isn't going to move from the SAN to the server any quicker using 10GB iSCSI vs 1GB iSCSI.

ISCSI has more flexibility than FC and eSATA because you can connect without any special hardware (no HBA, special switches, or even special cables) on the server, and your VMs can even use it for clustering. I don't see why anyone would do a new installation of FC unless you had very high performance needs and were looking at starting with somewhere around 100 spindles. If that's not you, go iSCSI or eSATA on the low end. You can use your existing Cisco switches for iSCSI

It is totally true that decent SAN storage isn't cheaper than DAS. It may be shared and more efficient, but it is much more expensive. Only by a SAN because you need the capabilities, not because it will save you money on storage for your servers, because it won't.
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Author Closing Comment

by:hardbullet
ID: 35123613
Thank you guys for all comments and for your prompt replies.Thanks Mark and kevinhshsieh-but I really have to give most of the points to andyalder for the detailed explanation that he has given-rock on!!!!
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