Small Enterprise Hyper-V Storage reccomendations

David Moen
David Moen used Ask the Experts™
on
Hyper-V Storage Recommendation for small enterprise required.

I have a customer that is a 25 seat accounting practice.  Currently they have a server that is 4 years old, dual Xeon CPUs, 72GB of RAM.  Storage is a RAID 6 array of 8 15K 300GB SAS hard disks.  There are 2 years remaining on the warranty.  The server is a Windows 2012 Hyper-V host.  There are 3VMs, a DC, a file server and a RemoteApp server.  The server provides more than adequate compute resources but is running out of storage space.  One of the file server volumes has already been moved to a Synology NAS connected via iSCSI.  Even with that, storage on the server is becoming severely constrained. Storage requirements are only going to grow as the client is moving towards "paperless" operation.

I don't know much about storing VMs outside of the box that they are hosted on, but it seems attractive to move the virtual disks to some sort of network based storage. Easily scalable storage, and when the time comes the ability to replace the Hyper-V host hardware and simply migrate the VMs without disturbing the VHDs.  For a smaller organization like this it seems (from my limited research) that a true SAN is not going to be financially viable.  Is it feasible to use NAS boxes to store VMs or am I going to be better off just recommending replacing the entire server?

DR is handled by a 4TB Datto Siris, so building a multi node cluster really isn't necessary either IMHO.  I know there are some small scale cluster solutions that I have considered, but with the Datto box in play, it doesn't seem like that's the route to take.

Your thoughts? Thanks for your time.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
Why not just expand the storage?  900 GB+ drives are $150-300 each.  Far cheaper replacing 8 of those 300s with 8 900s and it gives you triple the space.
Top Expert 2014

Commented:
>8 15K 300GB SAS hard disks.
Probably small form factor so depending on the server it may be possible to add a second drive cage. What make/model is it?
David MoenComptuer Professionals

Author

Commented:
The server is an HP ML350p Gen 8.  I looked for drive cages some time ago and wasn't able to find anything.  I could probably find a complete server in the used market at this point, but given the age of the server, I'm not sure that putting more money into the box makes sense if there is a cost effective way to move the storage outside the box in a manner that can be moved over to new compute assets when it's time to replace the HP box.
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Top Expert 2014

Commented:
Server takes a second cage, either LFF for 6 3.5 inch or SFF for 8 2.5 inch,

HP 5U 8 Small Form Factor (SFF) Hot Plug Drive Cage Kit 659484-B21
http://shop.mcidiventi.co.uk/HP-659484-B21-5U-8SFF-Hot-Plug-Drive-Cage-Kit.html
Will also need a RAID controller

HP 5U 8 SFF Expander Hard Drive Cage Kit 661714-B21
http://www.harddrivesdirect.com/product_info.php?products_id=481848
Much more expensive as it has SAS expander but you do not need a second RAID controller as it daisychains.
David MoenComptuer Professionals

Author

Commented:
I should have mentioned, I am in Canada.  The best price I have found for 900GB SAS drives is $415.00, so replacing all the drives would be about $3300.00 more or less.  I guess with the RAID array I could mark each of the existing drives as bad, then replace it with a larger drive and incorporate it into the array.  Seems like a simple, mid-term solution.
Top Expert 2014

Commented:
Buy a second one and move the storage to your server.
https://www.ebay.ca/itm/HP-ProLiant-ML350P-Gen8/192555957255?hash=item2cd53abc07:g:XwwAAOSwvDpbA9c9 

https://www.ebay.ca/itm/HP-631670-B21-633538-001-G8-Smart-Array-P420-1GB-FBWC-6Gb-2P-SAS-Controller/132128148213?hash=item1ec3738af5:g:TssAAOSwvktaUIB~

6X500GB added for $800 + $84. You can probably use the RAM it comes with too. Slow disks so move slow data to them. Stick to RAId 6 and you get 2TB more.
David MoenComptuer Professionals

Author

Commented:
These are useful suggestions, But I really want to explore a storage solution that will last longer than the server, which if we replace it before the warranty expires, is going to be less than 18 months.
Top Expert 2014

Commented:
If someone offered you exactly the same spec server as the current one but with 5 years warranty on it would that be acceptable?
David MoenComptuer Professionals

Author

Commented:
Probably yes.  Of the solutions you have proposed, buying new drives for the existing server is a better decision that buying a used server full of hard drives that might be 7-8 years old in my opinion.  I was really hoping to hear more real world feedback on NAS storage though.  Most of the mid range NAS boxes can accept a 10GBe card, and with a 10GBe card installed in the server for a fast link to nearly unlimited storage is possible.  Fewer, large drives backed with SSD caching should make for an affordable, scalable solution, but I am just speculating at this point.
Top Expert 2014

Commented:
Depends on what third party maintenance contracts are on offer where you are. A lot are based on the whole server whatever is in it so a second shelf of disks gets covered at the same price as if it had just 2 disks in it.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017

Commented:
Look at NetApp Filer solutions, you can then select NAS (NFS and CIFS/SMB) or iSCSI.

Expandable by adding storage shelves to grow your business, if you have the budget, of something smaller like a HPE MSA 2050 (SAS, iSCSI of FC)

https://www.hpe.com/uk/en/storage/entry-level.html

You'll be surprised what you can purchase entry level, and have a true SAN

We would avoid the lower budget NAS solutions offered by Synology and Qnap.
Comptuer Professionals
Commented:
Thanks to all that participated.  In the end we replaced the server with an HP ML350 with all flash storage and migrated their VMs over to that.  HP came up with some really attractive pricing that made wholesale replacement of the server easier to stomach financially speaking.

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