10GBE ISCSI direct attached

When I first heard a customer suggest they had been told by a competitor that 10GBE ISCSI directly connecting their two hosts to their SAN was ok, I immediately scoffed and said "not a good idea".  When asked "why?" I spluttered a bit and said, "because its not good practice".....scratching my brain further I said, "its encapsulated so it has overhead in comparison [to the direct connect SAS solution we recommended]" ....a pretty weak excuse given that would be true regardless if switches were used.

Aside from that I struggled to think of a good reason.  I knew it would work as I have direct connected ISCSI for troubleshooting purposes many times.  However for a non scaling DR site (never going to grow beyond the two hosts for this solution) why isn't 10GBE direct connected a good idea?...

Interested in getting some opinions on this one.....
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DLeaverAsked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Not sure I would recommend, or say OK. It's unconventional.

Not the first time I've seen this question on EE and we have a few clients that do this as well trying to save money.

It's certainly an interesting concept my thoughts are you will be limited on the number of hosts you can connect depending upon ports on SAN.

And also multipathing may be difficult.

I've never tried performance testing direct connect versus switched but I don't have tight minded clients not too sure on the supported aspects with you SAN vendor!
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Carlos IjalbaSenior SysadminCommented:
I had a client before that only had 1 cluster of 2 hosts connected to a SAN and it was connected directly via FC quite happily, and using multipath as each host had 2 connections, one to CTL-A and the other to CTL-B, using all 4 FC ports of the SAN.

The trouble came when they wanted to add a second cluster, when we had to connect one host to each port, losing multipathing.

At the end they had to buy a couple of brocades, do zoning, and setup a proper SAN Fabric, but until then direct fibre worked fine for they small environment.

So, I can't see why not direct 10GbE won't be recommended for small clients, the only drawback, is that as soon as the company grows they will have to build a fabric. But this move might save a small company a few bucks for a couple of years, and if the hosts connected are powerful VMware hosts, it will buy even more time.
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Max SandoStorage EngineerCommented:
Sounds fine from what you told me, as long as its a cluster.
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DLeaverAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the feedback guys, very useful
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