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Centralized storage for small VMware setup

Hi Experts,

It is time to refresh our MD3000i Dell SAN iSCSI.  We had both 7.2K NLSAS and 15K SAS drives in it.  This is the back end for 2 R710 Dell servers in a VMware 5.0 environment, running about 8 VMs including Small Business Server 2003 (to be upgraded to Win2012, Exchange 2010).

I have a quote for a Dell MD3820i iSCSI which is about twice as much as the MD3000i.  I started thinking, do I really need a SAN?  Can I use a fast NAS instead?  Do NAS devices support VMFS?

I'm looking to upgrade to about 6-8 TB, from about 3 TB now.

I need some recommendations, both for the type of storage (NAS, SAN) and suggested vendors/models I may want to look at.

I don't want to spend money on something I don't really need.  But I don't want performance issues either.

Thank you for your help and opinions.
3 Solutions
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
Take a look at

HP MSA 2040 - great little box, 10GB iSCSI or SAS.  Snapshots are not efficient but you can get it cost effictively

Nimble - great snapshots and easy to use like the MD series and offers SD front end with backend of SATA

Netapp NAS/SAN - can get pricier then others but does offer a great combination of hardware and software for exchange, sql, etc..over good dedupe and inline compression (compression not used as often)

HP 3PAR - Newcomer so pricing should be decent, good snapshots but they take a lot of space unless you get a shelf with lower tier

EMC VNXe - SAN/NAS.  SAN is good NAS not so much, dedupe at file level only

What's your price range?
svillardiAuthor Commented:
I'd like to stay under 12-13k if possible.
Have you checked out Dell's Compellent????

Reasonablity priced, very scalable and easy to manage. At my last job we replaced and EMC SAN with a Compellent and saved $80K by going with the Compellent..
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SHBStorage Network SpecialistCommented:
I'd say go for HP 3PAR.

The advantages

Node architecture
Can get it for less cost
Administration is super easy. The CLI is very simpler
Good snapshot feature and it can be integrated with Vcenter (3par recovery manager)
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
3PAR snapshots are really not that good, it's a copy on write technology which means you have to use 2X the storage. Albeit you can put this on lower tier storage but in a small environment you may not be able to do this.  The Nimble and Netapp are superior in snapshots since it's redirect on write which uses about 5% of storage versus double.  In addition to this the block size is 16KB so if you have a lot of small files (especially for cifs/nfs) it will use a min. of 16KB per any change.
svillardiAuthor Commented:
Well, we were going to go with the Dell 3820's, but 10Ge means new iscsi switches.  Priced them out at 7K apiece!  That's crazy....
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
7k for a 10gb switch is not too bad, cisco would charge 4 times that much.  I prefer the sfp+ and twinax cables myself.  For 2 ESXi hosts you don't need 10GB, get some extra nics and enable multipathing, take a look at your current throughput, I can almost guarantee that you're not even using more than 1 to 2 Gbps.
svillardiAuthor Commented:
How about something like this:

It's about 1500 and has great reviews.  This is an isolated SAN iscsi network.  Nothing else going over.

I wouldn't go for a NAS. Stick with a SAN.

If you're only ever going to have 2 nodes, you could look at SAS attaching the servers but it is rip and replace if you want more in the future, so not advised.

HP 3PAR and Compellent will be far too much, so the HP MSA or Dell MD series are your best bet.

Can you not re-use some of the enclosures from the MD3000 on the MD38000 even as a stop gap to spread the cost?
svillardiAuthor Commented:
I will have to get back to this.
svillardiAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all the options.  We decided to go with the 3820i and keep the 1 gb iscsi switches we already have.
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