Best 24 TB SAN System Solution for VMWare

ITbrand used Ask the Experts™
Hi Team,

Which SAN system would you recommend from HP, Dell, or IBM. We are looking to virtualize about 25 servers using VMWare, those are critical servers such as exchange and sql.
We have a quote from dell in an equalogics system but we want to see what you guys are using out there.
Has anyone used Cybernetics.

Thank you.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017

A NetApp Filer.
Senior IT Advisor
Top Expert 2008
Take a look at

Netapp FAS 2240
EMC  VNXe 3100

both can do VMWare on NFS and iSCSI, the Netapp can also do Fibre Channel
both can support CIFS so you can migrate you file server directly to the SAN amd join to domain

I would not recommend P2000 for 24TB of storage, P4000 is ok but virtualizes storage,and the EVA 4400 is a bit of overkill

IBM - It depends..the DS series is a rebranded of a company that is now owned by Netapp

Dell - Has all the options but is only iSCSI and snapshots take a lot of space compared to Netapp and doesn't have NFS or CIFS and doesn't integarate SQL or Exchange as well as EMC or Netapp
Netapp has a nasty habit of discontinuing support for relatively new products quite quickly.

I had a customer buy an s500 in 2007 (a newer product)and they dropped support in 2008.

Their web support site is a pain to use.(need to get a user manual ,but don't have a SN handy,well too bad)

Look elsewhere for a SAN fix.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017
Our clients do not have issues with the website, they register their Filers, and have instant Access to NetApp Now, which also hold the License Portal for their licenses.

Accessed by username and password, do not see what problem that is.
Why do you have to register in the first place?

If you own the product,why else would you even need to access their web site?

Dell support site is free and open to anybody who wants top check out there product manuals ,software fixes or whatever.

Same way with IBM.

After a while you get tired of these company's trying to data mine you to death.

I'd check out a Dell EqualLogic  PS6100XV before going with another Netapp.

As for HP,if there is ANYTHING that HP does well,it's enterprise storage.

Most of their consumer goods and services are iffy,but the old DEC/Compaq side of the company is still worth a shot.
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT Advisor
Top Expert 2008

Not sure where you get your information from but Netapp is in line with most of the other vendors and unlike most vendors you can upgrade without having to learn a new interface/command line.  You can also swap the heads without touching the drives without doing a full overhaul.

Dell is a one trick pony, the do offer all the licensing but only having iSCSI in today's mixed environments gives you limited functionality so if you want NFS, FC, FCOE, CIFS, etc.. you still have to build out double the infrastructure.

2 of the 3 IBM lines are Netapp owned (DS is rebranded LSI offshoot owned by Netapp and N series is straight Netapp rebrand).  Their Vmax is nice and they're getting online with that product as well but mostly high end.

Last time I had a Dell side by side I had to use twice the storage on  the Dell because the equalogic snapshots are a copy on write versus pointers.  On the Netapp I was able to get 50% dedupe on VMs and snapshots took 5% overhead versus 150% with thin provisioning on the Dell.  It's not the amount of storage but the net usable.  

I pretty much install anything, HP, EMC, Netapp, etc..  for any installation just get the units in your shop, kick the tires and pick the best system for you.
I would recommend EMC VNXE (3100 or 3300) are a great starting point. They offer an easy to use GUI interface and are very easy to install.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017


today when searching the Dell site for SAN info! I received this....

Accessing Dell EqualLogic Documents

To access documents, you require a Dell EqualLogic Support Site account. The account is available to all customers with a valid support agreement.

To log in to your account, go to

If you need to create an account, go to

Registering Your Dell EqualLogic System

To register your Dell EqualLogic system, go to

this is the URL

gsmartinManager of IT
There are a number of SANs and NASs out there.  You need to determine what features are the most important features for you and your company; inline with your budget for current and future needs.  I went trough this same process a few years ago.  In the past, I've worked with a variety of SANs/NASs EMC, NetAPP, Hitachi, etc...  For me and my company at the time I was looking for a SAN that had the 'Best of Breed' features.  I was trying to avoid vendors that had the traditional technologies and was trying to look outside the box.  I look at SANs and NASs from almost every vendor on the market (EMC, 3PAR, NetAPP, Xioyrch, PillarDATA, and others).   During the process I spent many months reviewing vendors and going to their Executive briefings.  One VAR came to me that my company had a relationship with and pitched a SAN vendor that I had never heard of 'Compellent'.  

At the time, I was very cautious about considering vendors without any real track record or proven technologies.  However, the more I learned about Compellent I discovered they were on the forefront of SAN technologies.  They offered a single scalable SAN platform that was/is extremely dynamic and flexible.  At the time, Compellent offered technologies that no other SAN vendor was able to compete with such as Storage Virtualization, Automated Tiered Storage, Continuous snapshots/Replication, Thin Provisioning, FC, iSCSI, etc...

Long story short, we've been using Compellent (which who has been aquired by DELL) for the past three years and their features and functionality has only expanded without having to do fork-lift upgrades.  We are able to take full advantage of all newly released technologies.  You can't say that for most SAN vendors on the market, which you typically encounter fork-lift upgrades (i.e. EMC Clariion line replaced by VNX, etc..).  

If had to do this all over again with the current selection of SANs and technologies made available over the recent years.... hands down I would choose Dell | Compellent.  

Ultimately, it's going to come down to your budget.  With Compellent you can strip down the features to control the initial cost and then later add features and functionality.

Another thing to mention is Compellent's Co-pilot is one of the best support offerings available.  Although, I must mentioned it has suffered a little during the Dell transition, but is greatly improving back to it's original state and with much more resources.
Sounds like they are all taking the Cisco route for locking you into a support contract.

I have a 6tb s500 that I want to repurpose and the customer has all the manuals in storage.

Even with the S/N in the registration,they want to know my relationship with the company.

I was at a Netapp dog and pony show a few weeks ago at a Morton's Steakhouse,and they were trying to schmooze us consultants into reselling their product.

After my real world experience of how hard it is to do business with them,let's just say it's going to take more than a filet mignon for me to recommend their products.
I would build my own iSCSI bricks using OpenFiler and 4U server box with 2,5" hot plug SAS/SATA drives filled by a mix of :
low energy large Enterprise class SATA drives (for capacity needs)
SSD (for IOPS needs)
SAS dual port drives (for MPIO reliability needs)

$50k example with a 72x 2,5" drive 4U server box : Supermicro SC417 series with 4 raid HBA and 2x 10Gbe dual port NIC:
24x 1TB 7200rpm SATA $700 => 12TB RAID 10 allowing 2GB/s sequential throughput
24x 250GB SSD SATA $350 => 4x arrays of 1.2TB RAID 5 allowing about 100000 IOPS
24x $400 300GB dual port SAS => 3.6TB RAID 10
gsmartinManager of IT
I remember the days when I use to build my own computers, servers, disk arrays, etc... Thinking you can save money with these specialized peace together solutions.  This is what separates small stagnant environments from growing environments.  For me, I wouldn't want to build a solid foundation for my company on a bunch of non-standardized peace together equipment.  I understand that a lot of companies don't want to make the investment in IT, but it’s up to IT management to make the business case for the company to make the appropriate investment.  This is unfortunate for the company because they only hurt themselves and their potential in growing from a solid proven platform.

I used to be totally against maintenance contracts, contractors, outsourcing (select areas), and other costly dependencies, but the fact is this is part of the cost of doing business; especially in this era.  I spent the last three plus years upgrading our entire infrastructure from the ground up with a variety of best of breed solutions. Replacing an infrastructure built on used out-dated hardware/software and 'Surge Specials' (servers built by a previous IT manager) with no DR strategy.  Now since various management changes, I fortunately have a company who understands the importance of investing in IT.  The irony is the owner of the company was always willing to make the investment, but the IT department never made the business case or had a false perception and assumed they had to implement cheap solutions and technologies.  

As for support contracts, they only aid in ensuring quick response times for parts and support when an unexpected event arises.  The goal is to reduce any potential impact to the business in the event of an outage.  Do you know how much your company could potentially lose per hour or per day if they had an outage?  My company would lose as much as 500K a day... so consider the hardware, software, maintenance, and other costs of your infrastructure in comparison to the company’s potential daily loss when building out your infrastructure.  

The point is the 5K, 10K, or 25K on a device or maintenance contract is insignificant in comparison to losing a day’s worth of business or even a fraction such as a 5th of that amount (100K); and we are consider a small company.  My infrastructure is pretty advanced given the investment and changes we’ve made.

My point to the author is stick to standards and proven solutions vs. slapping together a bunch of miscellaneous hardware like others are recommending.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017

I certainly would not use old and outdated slow Openfiler.

ZFS solution maybe, using Oracle Solaris, Openindiana or Nexacenta.
gsmartinManager of IT

Agreed... if you require NAS funcionality.  ZFS is better than NetApps WAFL file system.   Compellent partnered with Nexenta to add a ZFS based NAS solution.
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT Advisor
Top Expert 2008
Last time I checkec Nextenta is based on OpenSolaris which I believe Oracle stopped supporting in 2009 when they bought SUN so it's all community based updates.

Once again, if you want the functionality you're stating that it's better to get multiple systems, with multiple operating systems, management, and support then a unified system. This is where Netapp and EMC make it easy and they do it from one console, otherwise you're just adding complexity where there doesn't need to be. The whole point is to simplify your environment.
Building a box does not mean you have no hw and sw maintenance contract...
Many manufacturers do that here in Europe.
You customize your platform, add some service, and receive a ready-to-plug box with its arrays build and some spare drives. A 24/7 hotline and a 4 hours or NBD service are although very common services available.
If you don't like OpenFiler (which is build on the latest Linux 2.6 kernel...not an outdated proprietary piece of crap as most of the proprietary storage sw available), you can have RHEL 6 or Windows 2008 R2 on it with an iSCSI or NAS software sustaining the storage services.

Remember that "marketing" enables weak customers to pay useless money for so-called service quality.
The more complex your spofless cluster is, the weakest it is...I would go with a system that my production team DOES UNDERSTAND WELL. That is the most important point AMHO.

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