Most reliable SAN for VMware ESXi 6.0?

We're going to be a doing a top to bottom refresh of our virtual environment. Once it's running and tested we'll migrate our VMs into it.

We did extensive research into VMware VSAN, but we've decided to go with a traditional fiber channel SAN.

Our IOPs are very low, so performance shouldn't be an issue. Our biggest concern is something that' reliable and easy to support. For example, our current SAN is from IBM and finding any documentation for it is a horrific experience, and updating firmware is a mindbending task.

Currently we're looking at both EMC and Dell products; EMC because of the reliability and interoperability with VMware and Dell because supporting it is so easy.

However, I'd like to get recommendations both for and against other SAN products or vendors.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
NetApp, if you are looking for something modern and flash, you may consider Tintri or Tegile Systems.

NetApp and VMware is a marriage made in heaven, with many integrated products to add VMware Management.

Do you need all the expense of Fibre Channel, with modern NFS or iSCSI over 10GBe ?

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donohoe1Author Commented:
We're looking at fibre channel because it doesn't add much expense but is supposed to be more reliable than iSCSI.

We don't need any modern or flash as we simply don't need that level of performance. We want reliable and easy to manage. Those are, by far, our most important criteria.
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
Take a look at Nimble, started up by ex Netapp employees. The snapshots are better than Netapp and you can actually monitor performance on the Nimble site of your VMs.  Support is way better as well, when you call you get to talk to an engineer not 3 levels of tech support before you get an answer.  Hybrid approach.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
I'm not sure where you get your facts from about more reliable than iSCSI or NFS.

We've all moved on, and are now using NFS, and stopped using Fibre Channel, and lately NFS, because it's simple!

Look at NetApp.
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
I agree with Andrew, greenfield environment and 10GB switches make Fibre Channel obsolete in most environments.  iSCSI works just as well and easier to manage without the need of HBAs,switches and such
Carlos IjalbaIT Systems DirectorCommented:
I would look carefully at VSAN again, specially on v6.0U1 has even more enhancements, that keep on going in each newer version.

Dead simple to manage, update and upgrade. Years ahead of some HW cabins.

Cheaper than SAN / Fabric / Brocade Switches, specially when you work it out on a 4 year period adding support and hardware maintenance.

An I would even say that it is more reliable than normal SAN: in a SAN you have 2 storage canisters and 2 controllers, if you want maximum reliability then you will need 2 SANs, 2 FC switches.

VSAN scales from 2 nodes upwards, I would start with 3, and if more space and resiliency is needed add further nodes (and it has support for stretched clusters now -v6.0U1-).
My prejudice has always been that iSCSI will be better than FC in the long run because it benefits from the much broader range of innovation for network performance improvements. This isn't always true in any given year, but that's how I'd bet for the long-term future.

I liked NetApp when I've used it in the past. Not much experience with the other options being mentioned.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
the rule of thumb is use fiber for distance not for speed.
Carlos IjalbaIT Systems DirectorCommented:
The fastest bus connect available actually for storage is Fiber of 16Gb (there's also 20Gb fiber but this only used for switches interconnects), but is it expensive.
32Gb FC (32GFC) should come out next year.

So Fiber is used for speed and distance, there's nothing faster when travelling on a wire... (in VMware's ESXi case think that VSAN and PCIe-SSD cards are connected directly on the host through internal bus, so this will be faster than FC comms).

10Gb Eth is comparable to 8Gb FC in speed, but iSCSI is cheaper and you can always use multiple connections, or LACP, and its a lot easier to install and administer.

Go for iSCSI, unless you already have a FC infraestructure and knowledge, and want to carry on using it rather than learning something new yet again.  :-)
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