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SAN, No SAN, iSCSI, FC

Posted on 2013-06-17
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Last Modified: 2013-06-25
Experts,

I am in charge of an upcoming decision and need some more guidance. IF anyone wants to help I'd appreciate any direction possible.
We are a smaller company with bigger ideas and a smaller wallet, typical office of 22 emps.
Currently 3 local hosts with 8-15 VM's on each, NO SAN or LUN at this time.
Our current growth of data is about 300-500MB a day in combination of emails, data, and sales documents.
We were looking at a HP P2000 G3 with 24x 300GB SFF and FC with upgrading to VMware Essentials Plus (currently only have Essentials, which is no Vmotion or other snappy features). That was prices at $50k with Lic, software, FC switches, cables, 24x7warrenty.
OR a NAS with 5.4 TB of space from QNAP for about $1800, but not going to get our feet wet in updating technology. so we scrapped this idea.
We are wanting to know if its possible to get an HP P2000 with iSCSI and just add storage for data shares and email archive to a SAN device so next year we can get the FC cards, HBA and FC switches its 2/3rd the cost. This is around $15k for SAN, 2nd HP 2910al, 8x 300GB sff drives.
Basically we want at this point to ADD storage with the upgrade to a faster SAN next year and with the new SAN releases coming really soon is it also worth waiting?
Any info that anyone know about iSCSI crash course is also greatly appreciated.

Any guidance in this is appreciated.
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Question by:Mutogi
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BurundiLapp earned 250 total points
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As I understand FC is being phased out by some vendors in the SME arena in favour of iSCSI.

FC has the edge over iSCSi in the large enterprise sector where companies have the resources to go all FC with 10gb+ interconnects, for a company with 3-500mb of data growth per day and only 22 employees you will be fine with iSCSI.  The switches are cheaper (normal gigabit ethernet switch and you don't need special NIC/HBA's).  It's recommended to have dedicated switching for the iSCSI network, keeping it seperate for the LAN to ensure performance.

We have 22tb of storage on a NetApp SAN, replicated to an identical SAN at another site, we have data growth of approx 1GB per day and we are nowhere near utilising the available bandwidth on our iSCSI backbone, we haven't even needed to enable jumbo packets yet.  We use x2 1GB iSCSI connections per host into two HP 1GB switches, the SANS have x2 1GB iSCSI connections per head, we have two heads per SAN for resiliency.

If spreading out the cost is a major factor then perhaps add redundant switching later on, however buying as much of the NAS/SAN as you require now is recommended as the more you buy in one purchase the greater discount you can command, or maybe try to negotiate a fixed price upgrade path for the next three years, that's what we did with NetApp so it is possible.

Don't be afraid to hunt around, DELL do quite a range of storage options as well ;)
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
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You may want to look at iSCSI and SAS versions of the HP P2000.
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by:Mutogi
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Thanks for the input!

Is it possible to maske a iSCSI SAN act like a NAS device?

Can a use the SAN without upgrading our VMware soolution atnd adding $5k more to the build?

--I dont really want to add VM to the SAN at this point, just storage of emails?--

I was looking at EMC 2 years ago and just last week, seems they are still really strong in this area?
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
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You cannot really make an iSCSI device a NAS, unless the SAN/NAS supports that function, like the NetApp Filer, which supports FC, iSCSI, CIFS and NFS, so it's a NAS and SAN.

otherwise you would have to install and use VMs, and use Shares.

You can use a SAN, and not connect it to VMware.

e.g. you can connect direct to servers, via iSCSI and FC.
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by:andyalder
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For 3 hosts the best solution for host connectivity is neither fibre channel nor iSCSI but SAS; the SAS based P2000 G3 MSA has 4 SAS host ports per controller so supports up to 4 hosts in a cluster without switches. You may say that FC is 8Gb and iSCSI may be 10Gb whereas SAS is only 6Gb but that's 6Gb * 4 lanes so it's really 24Gb per host (not that you can achieve that kind of throughput with 24*15K disks anyway).

Note that the SAS host connect based MSA is not the same as the SAS based expansion shelves (P2700 etc) but contains the same RAID controller and management controller as the iSCSI or FC variant, it just has different wires to the hosts and is about the same price. The SAS HBAs for the hosts are a bit cheaper than FC HBAs though.

http://h18000.www1.hp.com/products/quickspecs/13551_na/13551_na.pdf lsts the controllers available, as to whether you could use iSCSI for now and then FC (or SAS) later it is possible but you would either have to buy the expensive FC/iSCSI combo controllers or buy new controllers when you upgraded from iSCSI to a better protocol which is rather a waste of money since it's the controllers that cost the money.

Get whoever priced up the FC variant to price up the SAS variant for you as well, AW594B is the main unit with two SAS controllers, most of their other pricing will be the same except for the SAS host cables and HBAs. Ignore the SAS switch mentioned in the quickspecs since it's only for bladed.

N.B. Since SAS is closer coupled than FC or iSCSI I would only use the SAS variant if you have ProLiants, same with Dell's equivalent SAS connected option.
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by:BurundiLapp
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Generally speaking, making a SAN act like a NAS is fairly easier, it's making a SAN act like a SAN that is the harder part, you are looking for a box that can do CIFS access, preferably with full Active Directory awareness.

I'm not that familiar with EMC, although I do know they weren't competitive when we looked at our SAN purchase approx 12 months ago, I don't know if they have any new products in the SME area now though.  We ended up deliberating between DELL Compellent and NetApp, both were very good products and very well featured, it was eventually our decision of installer that directed us towards their preferred product which was NetApp.
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by:Mutogi
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Going with a NAS due to the overall cost and complexity.
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