Dell R715 local storage & VSA - best 'value for money' SFF drives?

Hi, Im building a new vmware essentials plus cluster and wanted to get some ideas on which local hard drives to choose with my new vSphere Storage Appliance (VSA), so i can have shared storage.

The servers are Dell R715 (each one with AMD 6174 2.2GHz 12-Core Processors, 64GB DDR3, H200 controller)

I plan to use the cluster for about 10 VM's including two SQL2008 databases (1 DB for Autodesk Vault 2012 for 10 users), and one DB for ERP system (dynamics ax 2012 for 40 users)

Should I go for SAS 15k drives (can't afford many) or SATA 10k?

Is it necessary to upgrade to H700/H710 controller so I have battery-backed cache?

I'd say I'm looking to spend up to $3,000 for as much storage I can get (plus the VSA software cost), since the servers cost me about $4000 each.

Should i go for RAID6 config or RAID10 on the drives?

VSA admin guide recommends 8 local drives on each host but I find this hard because of budget constraints (ie. 2 hosts * 8 HP 15k SAS drives each could cost more than $10k)

Also, is the AMD edition of the R715 supported in the VSA HCL?

Thank you


Any other considerations in terms of performance when using the VSA? Thank you
darkbluegrAsked:
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darkbluegrAuthor Commented:
some background on the VSA here for those who are not familiar with it:
http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/products/vsphere/VMware-vSphere-Storage-Appliance-Evaluation-Guide.pdf
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
15K SAS drives in RAID 10 (although this has been relaxed, and other RAID configurations are now supported). In terms of performance you will need th fastest disks and RAID configuration to support your datastores.

Battery Backed Cache, will give you better write performance.

More disks = more spindles = more IOPS = more performance. Hence the 8 disks recommendations.

I cannot see at present the R715 on the HCL, you may need to check with Dell.

The Dell R715 AMD is supported for ESXi 5.0, but it does not show for VSA.
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darkbluegrAuthor Commented:
After reading the VSA performance considerations document (attached) it seems that the local RAID controller performance is very important, and it seems RAID 10 is highly recommended

Also it seems its very important to have caching activated on the adaptor.

With these considerations in mind, would it be a good idea to go with the H700 or H800 RAID controller, or get an Adaptec PCIe 51245 which seems to have great reviews? is Adaptec on the HCL for the vSphere Storage Appliance?

Also, would it be risky to replace the Dell HDD's with Western Digital SAS 6Gb 7200rpm drives (specifically, the WD1000FYYG ), which I can buy for $140 a piece?
I could get 8 * 1TB drives on each server (4TB available storage on each), which would give me a total of 4TB usable shared storage in VSA... for $2,200; this would fit my budget nicely.

Does VSA require specific drives in order to work or just needs all of them to be the same make/brand/capacity?

Thank you.
vsa-perf-vsphere5.pdf
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darkbluegrAuthor Commented:
Thanks hanccocka any recommendations on 15K SAS drives around $200-$300?

Would a 3-host setup be better than a 2-host setup in terms of storage performance?

With the R715 not on the VSA HCL is it not going to let me install or does it just mean it's unsupported?

Thanks
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
I would recommend the H700 or H800.

I've not heard of the Adaptec PCIe 51245, I would recommend a Dell Part.

I would recommend you purchase ALL DELL parts and components for their servers., otherwise the server you have purhcased is NOT on the HCL, if using non-HCL parts.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
the system requriements for VSA are

CPU 64-bit x86 Intel or AMD processor, 2GHz or faster

So it will install, as it's based on ESXi 5.0, but it will not be supported if it's not on the HCL.
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darkbluegrAuthor Commented:
also how do I see which RAID adapters are supported in the VSA? the only document I find is from August 2011 and it doesnt specify:

http://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-50/topic/com.vmware.ICbase/PDF/vsphere-storage-appliance-10-install-config.pdf
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darkbluegrAuthor Commented:
OK got it -- please disregard the adapter question!

Thanks for the raid recommendations on h700/h800, however I was asking about specific hard drive models if possible?

thank you
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
if you are still considering purchasing VSA, I would highly recommend you also have a look at StorMagic SvSAN.

http://www.stormagic.com/SvSAN.php

SvSAN
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darkbluegrAuthor Commented:
thank you seems interesting.. even though VSA now essentially costs $2500 when bundled with the essentials plus pack (promo pricing)
will probably try the stormagic first..
thanks..!
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Evaluate StorMagic solution, and then evaluate vSphere VSA, and make your conclusions!
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