HP Tape Controller and Drive in Dell Server?

Posted on 2015-01-07
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-11-23

I need to backup our data so that I have daily backups that are secure and accessible for 7 years. The best bet will be to use tape for this. I am going to use Veeam B&R which I've been happy with for my backups targeted to disks.  

I like HP tape drives because they have overall good reviews, better support (IMO), and are about $1000-$2000 cheaper depending on the configuration that what Dell has to offer.

My issue is that all my servers are Dell, not HP. The Dell T110 II server I am using for backups is a physical server (so I don't have to worry about ESXi compatibility) running Server 2012. I want to use a HP H222 SAS controller with a StoreEver Ultrium 6250 tape drive.

My only concern is that I am going to be using a HP SAS controller in Dell hardware. I can't imagine this will be an issue but since I will be spending a nice chunk of change on this I'm wondering if anyone knows if this could create a problem for me?

Question by:Pawel_Kowalski
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LVL 37

Expert Comment

by:Neil Russell
ID: 40536649
Q. Why do you need to but an addition SAS controller from HP when Dell supply them as a DELL card for a DELL server?

The make of Tape drive is not relevant if it connects to SAS Controller it connects.
LVL 18

Assisted Solution

by:Don S.
Don S. earned 1000 total points
ID: 40536672
The HP adapter card should work fine in the Dell server (I've done this before) but as always, your millage may vary.  I like the HP tape drives as well.  The biggest thing is to get a card that has drivers for the OS you are running on the host used for backup.  Another note - I would generally prefer external tape drives as internal ones do not always fit the slot you have available in the host.
LVL 21

Accepted Solution

SelfGovern earned 1000 total points
ID: 40538027
The HP SAS card should work fine in the Dell server.  HP publishes a list of compatibility for tape drives and libraries in 3rd party servers that you can check at hp.com/storage/spock

If you don't go with an HP card, do make sure that the SAS card you buy supports tape drives.
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Author Closing Comment

ID: 40541280
Thank you guys. I didn't want to go with the Dell card as the HP is priced much better. I will be going with the external drive.

Author Comment

ID: 40541292
SelfGovern, I'm sorry to bug you as I already closed the question. But the link you gave me takes me a page where I have to register for a HP passport account. Is there a list somewhere that doesn't require registration?

Edit: I just registered for an account (I assumed I needed to be in their system to create one, I didn't). However, the H222 Bus Adapter I'm looking at isn't listed, at least not that I could find.

LVL 21

Expert Comment

ID: 40541470
Not a problem, Pawel -- happy to help.  It's not always easy to find all the necessary bits when connecting tape drives to non-HP servers.  The other key document is the QuickSpecs (google "lto-6 quickspecs", for instance) which can be found at http://www8.hp.com/h20195/v2/GetDocument.aspx?docname=c04123270

It states:
"HP Ultrium tape drives are also supported on server platforms from third-party manufacturers
        Dell"

In that document, the H222 controller is listed as supported, and "recommended for Gen8 ProLiant servers".  The H222 controller has one internal and one external 6Gb SAS port.  The external port is an SFF8088.
The tape drive comes with SAS cable part number 406592-001, which is listed as "Mini SAS Ext 8088 to Mini SAS Ext 8088", so you have the correct cable for connecting to the external port on the HBA.

Based on all that, I believe you're good to go.

Other things to consider:
- The tape drive comes with (physically or license to download and use) a copy of Yosemite Backup, a basic business-class backup application.  
- The LTO-6 drives support hardware encryption, and your version of Yosemite either comes with support for encryption or it can be added...  The nice things about HW encryption include 1) Your tapes are safe; someone without the encryption key or passphrase to get to the key can't read the data; 2) There's no performance penalty; 3) There's no compression penalty (encryption happens after the data has been compressed by the tape drive).  however, IF YOU USE ENCRYPTION, you must manage your passphrases/keys intelligently, and protect them against disasters both of nature and human error.  Once the passphrase is lost, you can't get it back, there's no back door to get your keys back and thus no back door to be able to read your encrypted tapes.  For most customers, the benefits of not having to worry about unencrypted tapes getting "loose" outweigh the extra precautions needed to protect those encryption keys/passphrases.
- Your tape drive has a native speed of 160 MB/sec, and because of adaptive algorithms, will slow down to 1/3 of that to avoid emptying the data buffer (which means the tape drive has to stop and rewind and then find where it left off writing so it can start writing again).  Here's the trick -- if you can't feed it data fast enough (steady 55MB/sec or greater), it will get into that buffer underrun condition -- consider turning compression off (which seems counter-intuitive, but if your data is 2:1 compressible, it means that your disks have to feed the drive at about 110MB/sec to keep the drive buffer from emptying, so turning compression off lessens how much data has to get to the tape drive in a given time).  This assumes that the native capacity of 2.5TB on an LTO-6 tape is big enough to fit a full backup in.
- If the speed of your source disks isn't fast enough, and disabling compression isn't an option, consider staging to disk, doing an initial backup-to-disk followed by a backup-application initiated "copy to tape".  The initial backup to disk gets rid of a lot of performance inhibitors such as tiny files, deeply-nested directories, and long file/directory names.

Hope this helps.

Author Comment

ID: 40544904
Thank you! That's awesome information.

I will be using Veeam B&R Enterprise + to do the backups to tape. I am hoping that in the current version their tape support is fully implemented. The fact that I have to feed the data at 110MB is a bit concerning (I will be using LTO-5 tapes to start off but want a LTO-6 drive so I can grow as needed in the future). My current storage needs are about 1TB for each backup so I was hoping I can leverage the compression to get enough space out of the LTO-5 media. Currently backing up to a NAS drive using iSCSI on a Gigabit connection I can get about 50-60MB/s, and the bottleneck is the source ESXi host, not the storage. So I  hope I can get that kind of speed, if not I'll have to investigate the bottleneck coming from the host. Thanks again for all your help. Thanks to your post I'll ask Veeam some questions before I place the order for the hardware.
LVL 21

Expert Comment

ID: 40545112
You should be fine, on several fronts (at least near-mid term):
1) LTO-5 tapes in an LTO-6 drive will perform at LTO-5 speeds and capacity.  So you'll have 1.5TB of space native, allowing you to fit 1TB on a tape with room to spare -- even without compression (or with uncompressible data).  
2) Performance will be 140MB/sec native, a bit under 50MB/second steady stream required to keep the buffer from going empty with uncompressible data or compression turned off.  To avoid backhitching, you might want to turn compression off, allowing your 50-60MB/sec to do a reasonable job of covering the necessary feed speed.
(Note: Data doesn't come in at average speed; you'll typically get well over your average speed when backing up really large files, and much less than average when backing up small and tiny files.  It can't be helped, unless you do an image backup, supported on some backup applikcations, but which haas its own problems.  You just do the best you can with what you've got, in backup as in life.).

Happy to be of help.

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