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NetApps FAS2040 or EMC VNX5300

We need to provision a SAN array. We went to Netapps, EMC and dell and got quotes from each. Now I believe Dell is out of the running as their compellent series appears to be (from what Ive read) inferior to both NetApps and EMC Vnx series.

Here is what we have:

Netapps FAS2040 with the Base Pack, Foundation Pack, Protection Pack and Server Pack. This array allows for 24 * 300 GB SAS drives and 12 * 1 TB SATA drives, which when we use their RAID-DP tech, comes to a total of 4.2 TB SAS and 8 TB SATA usable storage. IT also comes with FC and iscsi native.

EMC VNX5300 has 24 * 600 GB SAS, which means 9.94 TB usable storage based on 3 RAID-5 Array configuration. This comes with their replication manager (Local only), Local protection suite and application Protection Suite.

They both come in at the same price. I have no experience with either, so can I get some people's expert opinion on which they like more and why. I need to justify this to management. Your experience with either units would be appreciated.

I hear that EMC are unreliable in terms of supported their products after a new family line is introduced. But other than that, in terms of efficiency, ease of use, etc etc and anything else I am missing, which is the better product?

We will be using VMsphere 4.1 in cojunction with the SAN.
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Network_Padawan
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Network_Padawan
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3 Solutions
 
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Both are good products, support is very good from both companies, either EMC or NetApp will serve you well.

If you are considering using the NetApp, NetApp has better integration with VMware vSphere, (Snap Manager for Virtual Infrastructure) in my opinion. e.g. SAN Snapshot based integration with VMware vSphere, SnapClone (LUNclones), Snap Mirror (for DR), FlexClones. But these software products are additional costs.

So have a think about Virtual Machine backups, DR to other sites (Snap Mirror for DR), if you cannot afford these options now, you can always add to your building block later.

If you were also to use the SAN for Exchange, SQL you've got other products, Snap Manager for Exchange and SQL that offer SAN Snapshot based restore.

Just me 2 cents worth!
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
With the Netapp we typically get 50% or more deduplication with Virtual Machines (comes in the base pack).  This is for your general VMs which we normally keep the same OS systems on the volumes to get better dedupe.  This will allow you to use your storage much better.    
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Network_PadawanAuthor Commented:
Thanks han, I am leaning towards NetApps.

If I can not get approval for the additional packs and I am forced to do without the snapshot software, what is the main difference between the VM snaphot utility and the NetApps?
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
i know its very confusing, because of the term snapshot, but with most SANs, and NetApp you can snapshot the LUN at block level to backup VMs.

This is different Snapshotting the VMware machine, useful for patch management.

You can still snapshot luns on the netapp, but without smvi, theyll not be crash consistent, although we dont bother, and we have written scripts to do it, bevause once upon a time, NetApp didnt have a product with nice gui for vmware!
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
The Netapp snapshots are volume based and will not quiesce the virtual machines.  This will snapshot the VM in a crash consistent state (like unplugging the power to the VM. It will typically work but not as good as having Snapmanager for Virtual Infrastrucure).  Instead of SMVI you may want to look at Veeam or Quest vRanger, both products will back the VM to disk and offer granular VM file level recovery at a more economical price.  It will also allow you to restore to another system while Netapp SMVI or regular snapshots are only SAN based.

My $.02
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
@hanccocka: I think we've got all the different snapshots covered now...other than SME, SMO, SMSQL
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Backups and Restores are not instant with third party products. We dont quiesce VMs on our NetApps, it works for us. And there are some major corporates in th UK that dont either, it works for them.  
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
@paulsolov: we could go on all day! and DeDupe is freebie now, you had to pay for it originally, and that made my clients unhappy when they annoucned that!
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
With SMVI restores aren't instant either..remember it mounts the LUN and copied the VM back to the original.  Faster then 3rd party but still can take some time.  With NFS the file level recovery requires FlexVol which is in a different software pack.  3rd Party allows for easier offsite management especially if you don't have another netapp and snapmirror
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Duncan MeyersCommented:
The VNX5300 is a higher performance system than the FAS2040A. It will support SSD drives for additional caching and automatic storage tiering - things that the FAS2040A can't do (you have to go to the FAS3xxx range to get access to Flash Cache). Replication Manager is the equivalent of the Snap Manager range of products, but does it all from one screen rather than from the individual hosts. The VNX also supports thin provisioning, file level de-dupe and block level compression for improved storage efficiency.

Like the NetApp array, the VNX integrates nicely with VMware - you can provision storage from vCenter Server and you can see the VMs and VM storage useage from Unisphere (the array management tool). Unisphere is also a single pane-of-glass tool, something you don't get with the FAS 2040A unless you purchase NetApp Operations Manager.
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
@meyersd:  The above quote has protection pack which includes Operations Manager for reporting and protection manager for a centralized location to configure snapshots, replication jobs, etc..

For personal knowledge can a customer easily manage the EMC?  From previous experiences on tangental projects we had to call EMC to do any type of upgrades, major configuration changes which almost made it a "black box" when it came to managing.  Has EMC eased up needing to control everything with respect to their product or do they still make you dependent on them for many of the management tasks?
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Duncan MeyersCommented:
>For personal knowledge can a customer easily manage the EMC?  
For a VNX? Absolutely. It's as easy to manage as the NetApp kit. You most likely working with a Symmetrix or DMX which is a more tricky beast to manage and does require more input from EMC. The VNX box is a really nice bit of kit and has set the benchmark for mid-range stuff - especially with RecoverPoint and fully automated storage tiering. I keep hearing persistent rumours that NetApp will have block-level storage tiering coming in a future release, but no-one's committing to dates or DOT releases, so it could be some time...
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Network_PadawanAuthor Commented:
Hye guys, sorry you guys went off on a tanget and have really confused me.

When VM takes a snapshot, does it quiesce the VM or not? I thought that was reserved for application integrity snapshots such as the Snap Manager for Virtual Infrastructure?

Lets say, I dont get these apps, but just the SAN, and need the VMware to do the snap shots, the snapshots are of the entire VMDK file right? And they are stored on a datastore mapped to a certain specified LUN?

When taking a snapshot this way, does it halt the services on this VM? Eg lets say the VM is running Terminal Services and people are connected to it...is there any issue with taking a snapshot?
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
If you have SMVI it qill quiesce VM, if not it will not quiesce VM but will give you a crash consistent snapshot.  The way it quiesces teh VM is by creating a "vmware snapshot" which makes the vmdk read only and creates a secondary vmdk that has any new data written to it while the backup is taking place.  Once SMVI finishes the secondary vmdk "snapshot" is applied back to the intial vmdk (deleted) and the VM backup is nice and happy.

It  doesn't stop any services but latency intensive apps such as TS or Citrix may have connections drop depending on the type of latency for the apps used and time out configuration of the TS config...doesn't happen too often but I have seen it.  
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Network_PadawanAuthor Commented:
Thanks Paul, that makes perfect sense. Can you breifly describe a "crash consistent state"?
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
I'll let Netapp do this one.  From my experience Windows 2008 VMs are fairly resilient with a crash consistent snapshot but you never know until you have to restore.

http://blogs.netapp.com/extensible_netapp/2008/08/smvi-part-v-vir.html


SMVI part V: Virtual Machine Consistent Backup
I promise to get to what SMVI does but I need to explain one more thing... For those who understand the term Virtual Machine Consistent Backup, just skip this post.

Two forms of Backup

There are two forms of backup, crash consistent and consistent.

A crash consistent backup is the moral equivalent of pulling the plug on a server and then backing up the data. The state of the data that is being backed up with respect to the users of the data is indeterminate.

A consistent backup is the moral equivalent of first performing a clean shutdown of the application, then the server and then performing the backup.

Of course, in practice, a consistent backup can be performed without shutting down an application or server by putting the application and server into hot backup mode while the backup takes place.

What's the difference?

A crash consistent backup may result in:

1.Application data loss during recovery
2.A backup that can not be recovered from
3.Longer recoveries because of application and server consistency checks
4.Has no additional impact to the application beyond moving the data
5.Simple to do because you just copy the data with no concern for its state
A consistent backup will

1.Have no data loss during recovery
2.Will always allow recovery
3.Enables very quick recoveries because there is no consistency checking
4.Enables finer grained recoveries.
5.While the backup is in process, application performance may be impacted.
6.Complex to do because you need to perform some co-ordination between the server, the application and the backup process.
So given that consistency is better than crash consistency the challenge is how to make consistent backups as easy to perform as crash consistent backups and that's where SMVI fits in ...

What is a Virtual Machine Consistent Backup?

A virtual machine consistent backup is the equivalent to performing a server consistent backup. And by that we mean that any in-flight I/Os are committed to stable storage before the backup is performed.

in the case of VMware, the way that is achieved is by using VMware snapshots
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Duncan MeyersCommented:
... and that's what Replication Manager does in the EMC environment. It communicates with the host OS and/or VMware to create an application-consistent snapshot.
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Network_PadawanAuthor Commented:
Thats fantastic paul. Thanks everyone. Before I close this post off, can I get your personal preference of which SAN you would select and why?

The only problem I have with Netapps is the smaller amount of usable space and the fact they can not provide all SAS drives, they mix it in with SATA. VNX have 24 SAS drives.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
NetApp - Better all rounded solution. (even though EMC own VMware!). We see more NetApp then we do EMC today at client sites. My preference.
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Duncan MeyersCommented:
6 months ago I would have said the NetApp box. However, EMC now has the technology lead with the VNX at the moment  and you can have FAST for automatic storage tiering and the array supports as few as two SSDs for both cache and primary storage. The 2040 does not support PAM and you can only buy 24 SSDs at a time - which is overkill for most people - especially in Oz.

The EMC VNX array gives you more flexibility and higher performance at the same price - it's the one I'd go for.
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Network_PadawanAuthor Commented:
Thanks guys. Im going for Netapps. Appreciate your comments but the price point and its features and its support of its product lines long after EMC bury theirs, netapps is my pick.
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Duncan MeyersCommented:
>and its support of its product lines long after EMC bury theirs,

Say what?? I know of EMC arrays still in use that were built before NetApp made it into Oz. That's a most egregious piece of FUD!

But thanks for the points!   :-)
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
The problems with EMC in the past is the forklift upgrades which is I think what he's referring to.  Netapp you can take the head units and make it a shelf on the new unit or take teh shelves and connect to new heads without forklift upgrades
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Network_PadawanAuthor Commented:
We bought a AX4-5 just three years ago...already not supported. End of life. "Buy a new one" we are told.
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Duncan MeyersCommented:
Ah. Yes. Forgot about the AX series. EMC did not exactly cover themselves with glory with their sudden and unexpected EOL decision. The CX series, however, are fully supported - even old ones (including the very old FC series boxes) as I noted above.
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