Advice on SAN for VMWare - ISCSI (EqualLogic PS6100XS) versus FC (EMC VNX5300)

Posted on 2012-09-12
Last Modified: 2012-09-14
Hi Guys

I've been offered a choice of either a Dell EqualLogic PS6100XS or an EMC VNX5300. Both are Hybrid SSD/HDD and both cost approximately the same, the specs are

EqualLogic has 7x400Gb SSD and 17x600Gb 10k SAS
EMC VNX5300 7x100Gb SSD and 15x900GB 15K SAS  

The real difference that is leaving me indecisive is, do we go with the EqualLogic which is ISCSI with 4x1Gb ports, or the EMC that has 4xFC ports... FC will probably be faster, but the  ISCSI is more flexible.

This is NOT a "large environment", 4 medium sized servers (64Gb RAM each, with Dual Intel E5 cpu's)..

I'd appreciate any advise or guidance on this :)
Question by:EVIL3
    LVL 116

    Expert Comment

    by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
    If I was purchasing an Equallogic today, I would request prices on the 10GB controller options, and then run iSCSI via 10Gb.

    I would opt for iSCSI, unless you have a real need for FC, and higher IOPS.
    LVL 42

    Expert Comment

    The 5300 will can also do ISCSI as well, and NFS/CIFS.  It also offers better VMWare integration.

    If you want to do snapshots on each be prepared to lose up to 100% the LUN you want to snapshot (these units can thin provision snapshots but after some time they can fill up enough storage to equal production data LUNs).

    The VNX 5300 offers easier management (IMHO) although the Equalogic comes with all licenses included where you may need to purchase addtional licensing for options such as replication on the VNX.

    Both come with 10GB options, just make sure you have 10GB infrastructure to support it, there are many issues connecting 10GB nics to 1GB switches (cache can't handle load and fragmanation/dropped packets occur)

    Author Comment

    I think we may be stuck with the 1GB Ethernet controllers on the EqualLogic, I have requested costs for the 10GB, but I suspect this additional cost for the controllers and bigger switches will be to expensive.

    The 1 real appeal of the FC, is I will only have 4 ESX Servers, which means they can plug directly into the VNX5300 (rather than having to use a switch). But then there is the additional cost of the HBA cards.
    LVL 42

    Accepted Solution

    With the VNX you can have both FC and iSCSI so if you have high IOPS physical servers you can direct attach LUNs via FC and run vmware from iSCSI.  Most customers don't go above a 1GB to 2GB of throughput is what we have found.  If the throughput needs to be exceeded you can always move to FC and re-attach the LUN or storage vmotion them to a new FC Datastore.

    Author Closing Comment

    Brilliant - Pretty much along my lines of thinking, I'm also glad you mentioned 1-2Gb of throughput as this also tells me that both options are good viabilities.

    1 Last question, both boxes are hybrid - The EqualLogic offers us far more SSD Capacity, with 2.8Tb and auto-tiering, where the VNX is only 800GB but uses a caching.. We only have about 200-300Gb of data that needs to be kept "really hot".. but which do you think is more effective and better bang for buck? (baring in mind both are around the same price).
    LVL 42

    Expert Comment

    Both work well, what I would do is get each company to give you a unit for a few weeks so you can beat on it.  The VNX gives you more flexibility, the Equalogice gives you all the licenses.   You may also look at the Netapp 3240, it will do everything that the VNX can but will also give you deduplication and snapshots that take a small percentage of total space.

    Author Comment

    Thats a good call -  I've contacted our supplier to see what NetApp and 3PAR have on offer.

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