Dell PowerVault SAN for VMware setup

Hello everyone,

Had some questions regarding a VMware setup we are looking at doing for a potential client and I had a couple of questions.

1.  Can the Dell PowerVault be used to setup NFS Datastores?  In particular either the MD3200i or the MD3600i.

2.  The environment we are tasked with setting up will have 2 physical servers running vsphere with a maximum of 4 VMs to start off with and would never exceed 10 VMs, would the MD3200i (with a 1gig network speed) be the proper choice, or the MD3600i(with the 10gig network speed)?

3.  That brings up my third question, with VMware essentials plus, that will cover both servers, all the VMs, and a third one down the road?

4.  I am going to get ESXi installed on an SD card from dell and get the dual module for data redundancy, and I am also getting the VMware essentials plus kit from them, below  I will list the hardware for the servers that I have come up with so far.  Since they will be identical then there will only be one list of specs.  Also since I am planning on implementing a SAN then internal storage on either server should be a problem right?
Server Model PowerEdge R720
3.5" Chassis with up to 8 Hard drives
2 processors:
Intel® Xeon® E5-2667 v2 3.30GHz, 25M Cache, 8.0GT/s QPI, Turbo, HT, 8C, 130W, Max Mem 1866MHz
Fault resilient memory - VMware (there is a question regarding this after the specs)
8 16 gig sticks of RAM
No OS installed to internal HDDs
RAID 6 for H710
4 300GB 10k SAS drives
Broadcom 57800 2x10Gb DA/SFP+ + 2x1Gb BT Network Daughter Card
VMware ESXi v5.5 Embedded Image on Flash Media
vSphere Ess Plus Kit v5.x 6CPU Lics, 1yr Subscription w/Dwngrd Rights
Internal Dual SD Module with 2GB SD Card

Does the above sound overkill?  Underpowered?

5.  On the fault resilient memory, is that something extra that has to be paid for through VMware for it work?  Also does it work similar to RAID 1, where if I want 64 gigs of RAM then I need 8 16 gig sticks and not 4?  

6.  Can I get some opinions on the best methods of backing up the entire VMware setup to offsite locations and external media?

Thank you in advance for any help you can offer.
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Handy HolderConnect With a Mentor Saggar maker's bottom knockerCommented:
With just 2 hosts you should look at using SAS rather than iSCSI or NFS for the host to SAN connection, it's limited to 4 HA hosts since each controller has 4 SAS host ports but you'll never need more than that by the sounds of it. You do need to add SAS HBAs (not RAID controllers) to the hots but that cost is offset by not needing NICs for storage and not needing switch ports.

You may need Enterprise Plus to use VMware Reliable Memory because it has to be aware that only certain zones of RAM are resilient. You can use standard memory sparing which uses one out of four DIMMs as a hot spare or mirrored memory which puts everything in RAM twice without any special OS features because the OS isn't really aware of that so it works with anything but wastes 1/4 or 1/2 of your RAM. Even DOS will run on mirrored RAM.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
1. They are iSCSI. not NFS.

2. Depends on what the VMs are doing, but four is very small number, MD3200i or MD3600i should suffice. Check VMware HCL.

3. Correct, Essentials is licensed for 3 Hosts with 2 CPUs each.

4. Seems OTT, for 4 VMs, but not sure what they are, but we've just purchased these, for our large cloud install. Do you need Hard Drives for the Hosts? When you have a SAN? We do not purchase disks for servers, as all the VMs are on a SAN, spend money on SAN disks! Good expansion for the future, and do not purchase reliable memory, if you do not have a license to use it!

5. Sorry,  Reliable Memory technology requires a vSphere v5.5 Enterprise or Enterprise Plus. But basically vSphere 5.5 recognises if your server has Reliable Memory technology, and if it does have it, and has been enabled in the BIOS of the server, the OS, relocates itself into the Reliable Memory!

6. Veeam Backup and Replication is the Killer Backup App here.

External Media is a tricky one, if you still want to use outdated tape, if you Veeam Backup Server is a physical server, the disk based backups can be backed up to tape. or you may want to look at Unitrends, or AppAssure backup, which can use tape.

As for offsite, Veeam can backup to any location, Windows Share, otherwise cloud based backup server - GigasoftDataBackup -

put the Agent on your Veeam Server, and it will squirt the backups to the cloud.
ctagleAuthor Commented:
@Andrew Hancock
thank you for the reply, I'll reply with some questions below

1.  I just checked the HCL, not sure why I only thought it listed servers.  Either way they have the NX3600 listed as compatible, and dell confirms that it supports NFS.  Problem is they don't list a price on line, and getting a price from Dell on that thing is like pulling teeth, so i'll have to wait on that, unless somone has a ball park.

2.  Mostly light duty stuff, the business has around 300 employees, although at first there would only be about 40 users utilizing the servers since this is a major transition for them and has to be done in stages.

4.  OTT i'm assuming means over the top, forive my lack of acronynm knowledge lol.  Yea now that i'm looking at it I don't think i need something quite as powerful as the r710, it mainly needs to be able to handle about 4 VMs now, running light duty file/databases/directory services.  and would go to a maximum of 10 VMs, but it does have to be scalable since at least one of those VMs would be running fairly I/O inensive database (EMR).  I'll leave the reliable memory off then.

6.  I'll look into it and see what it can do.

Well I don't actually want to use tapes, what I had in mind was two RAID1 usb enclosures, one stays on site for a week and then is swapped out and taken back off site each week.  as for the cloud backups i'll checkout that gigasoft.


Can I setup the shared datastores on the clusters for HA with the setup you're referring to?  I don't know much about VMware so I'm not sure if you can setup the HA with an NFS datastore shared between hosts.  Yea I don't see them ever gonig beyond 3 or 4 physical servers unless they have a growth expl
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
1. Okay, the "i" does mean iSCSI any more!

2. Plenty of time to grow, into the large servers.

3. Again future proof should you grow.

6. USB backup is slow......................

You can setup shared datastores for HA.
Handy HolderSaggar maker's bottom knockerCommented:
Shared datastores (or any other shared storage come to that) relies on the RAID part of the storage being in the the storage box rather than in each server so yes, iSCSI, fibre channel and SAS host attached all work as shared datastores for clusters.
ctagleAuthor Commented:
Thank you all for the replies, talked with Dell and ended up gong with the following.

Two R420's same server but smaller HDD capacity since I would be putting HDDs in the server there was no need to have the R520.

One MD3200, upon the recommendation of Dell I went with this, they told me I can hook both of the servers up to it using SAS (just as Andyalder said) and that I can setup a shared datastore for HA that way.  This setup allows for up to four physical servers, which is plenty because I don't see them ever going beyond two, possibly three if they have a growth spurt in the 5 or so years.

so those questions are answered, I did have a couple of last questions though regarding backup.

1. VMware VDP was recommended to me by VMware for running backups, which will allow me to do local backups via scheduling.  the client declined doing replication to the cloud.  Does anyone have any experience with this and if so does it work pretty reliably

2.  Since USB is definitely slow, I was thinking of perhaps going with eSata instead, will this type of interface work with VMware, and if so do I simply put an esata card in one of the servers and hook up the drive to it?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)Connect With a Mentor VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
1. Yes, it's poor in comparison with better maturer products, and not mature, another disaster by VMware! You would think they would learn with VDR (which was also rubbish!).

VDP 5.5.5 is getting better, but an upgrade to it, cause an outage of 7 hours, when the upgrade went Foo Bar, and EMC had to fix it!

I would highly recommend Veeam Backup and Replication (

2. USB is slow, eSATA could work, if supported by the Host, BUT disconnecting VMFS datastores can be troublesome!
ctagleAuthor Commented:
Ah ok, well I spoke with Veeam briefly, but didn't have time to go over the details, I'll have to call them back at some point today.

A VMFS datastore would be setup on the eSATA drive?  I'm guessing that has to be done in order to do the backups to it?  If so is there any way to easily disconnect and reconnect the drives for the purposes of swapping them out and bringing them on and off site?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
You can use the mount/unmount commands, or vSphere Client!

However, sometimes un-mounting.mounting a datastore can have it's difficulties. (and if forced remove, can send a Host into a downward spiral of not responding!)

The ESXi hypervisor, is not designed to have plug and play eSATA devices added and removed!
ctagleAuthor Commented:
Ah I see, so its sounding more and more like tapes might be the better solution for what I'm thinking (which I would prefer not to use).  Although I am open to suggestions, I need to have a backup on site, and a backup off site, if there are any other ideas as to how to accomplish this then I am all ears, er should I say eyes lol.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Connect the Tape Drive or USB Disk to your Veeam Server, and then take offsite!

Backup the Veeam Backups to Tape or USB,.
ctagleAuthor Commented:
A lot of answers to a lot of questions from both posters, I really appreciate it.  I ended up going with the iSCSI based on Dell's suggestion.  Would have gone with SAS but its not supported with off-site replication, something the client wants.
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