VMware Cluster Upgrade with options for local storage

mlsbraves
mlsbraves used Ask the Experts™
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I currently have a site where we had originally purchased a 3-2-1 (3 servers – 2 ISCIS – 1 SAN) solution back in 2012. The SAN was upgraded about 4 years ago, but we are really at a point where we need to do a full refresh. Overall the setup has been good and haven’t had any major complaints from end users.

Due to the single point of failure and latency sometimes incurred during backups, large upgrades to our application server which uses SQL, and RDS use, I was hoping to move away from SAN and use local storage while keeping the HA / vMotion features.

Obviously, VMware’s vSAN came straight to mind even though I knew I’d basically have to purchase all new licensing (Currently Essentials Plus) and vSAN.

We will be replacing all our Windows 2008R2 VMs with Windows 2019 but here is a quick overview of performance:

RSR-Overview.png

RSR-Disk.png
After the upgrade it be similar to another site and VM count.
GPT-Overview.png
GPT-Disk.png
Overall we should not have over 12-15 VMs. There will be 1 RDS server which will probably have around 32-64GB of RAM but I usually dedicate a host for that VM.

I called my Dell rep and tell them about the refresh and budget I’m trying to stay in for hardware and any VMware licensing and of course they come back with the vxRail solution, Enterprise Plus Licensing, etc, with a price point 3x my budget. I feel like I’m talking to a car salesman looking to see how much they can get out of me and pushing the products and services with the best returns. I understand the vSAN ReadyNode benefits but believing the only vSAN option is a turnkey solution at 200k doesn’t make sense for me.

Question
Is it no longer advisable to purchase servers on the HCL and make sure the HBA and disk are on the vSAN HCL to have a supported and reliable infrastructure? Even the vSAN sizer on their website is now the vSAN ReadyNode Sizer.

Putting together:
4 PowerEdge R740’s (1 CPU Xeon 4214 2.2G 12C/24T, 128GB, HBA330 Controller, 6x 1.6TB SAS SSD and 10GB NICS)
4 vSAN Standard License
4 vSphere Standard
1 vCenter Server Foundation
Adding the Windows licensing I need

This all seems to put me within my budget. Unless its not advisable anymore this seems to be the best pathway forward. Dell’s not going to spec anything that compatible with vSAN unless its vxRail. So if I went this route I would need to be very careful with the hardware config and making sure its deployed correctly.

My other 2 options would be either a Starwind vSAN solution with the HCI deployment configuration to remove some of the ISCSI overhead, or move to hyper-v. I do have a quote from Dell that is a 3 node solution and enterprise licensing thats in budget. I’ve questioned moving to hyper-v in the past due to no additional cost, but I’ve been using VMware now for probably 8 years in production and I am very comfortable with it. Maintenance and any issues would be something I would have to resolve, and I can’t even remember the last time I called VMware’s production support even though I pay for it. I also have another VMware site and we cross replicate our backups with Unitrends so this is also a problem until I upgraded the other site in 6 months. Cloud is not an option at these sites so Azure doesn’t really help me as a selling point.
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VMware and Virtualization Consultant
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Expert of the Year 2017
Commented:
Firstly, traditional local storage you cannot use HA and vMotion.

vSAN is a little different because is shared storage, but I'm sure you know that.

At present Dell do try to sell VxRail solutions, if you are considering vSAN - that is a given!!!

The *BIGGEST* issue with vSAN is compatibility, and items *MUST* be on the HCL, in the old days you could build a vSAN by just obtaining items all on the HCL - BUT VMware's biggest support issue was stability!!!

Now, it is advisable to purchase vSAN Ready Nodes, and ensure that when the vendor sells them THEY ARE TAGGED AS VSAN READY NODES!

and not just servers with SSD and HBAs etc...

I'll explain, a vendor sold a vSAN solution to a large BANK, it was a very large vSAN solution, it was not tagged and sold as a vSAN solution or vSAN ready nodes, although they were vSAN ready nodes!!!

The BANK had a SSD failure, logged a support call with Vendor, the Support guys did not know it was vSAN Ready Nodes, shipped out a replacement SSD, it was inserted in the Ready Node, and the entire vSAN FAILED and was down for 3 days!!!!

Because the Support person did not know to replace like for like, with the correct firmware!

So it is very important when working with vendors to ensure you definately tell them, what you requirements are, and if vSAN get it tagged as vSAN.

We are just waiting for another vSAN Ready Node delivery for a client from Dell. It's not VxRail, we don't use many VxRail, and we've ordered R640s to reduce costs.

Discuss with your Account Manager.

Your other questions Starwind is very good, and Hyper-V is another good hypervisor.
Top Expert 2014

Commented:
>Because the Support person did not know to replace like for like, with the correct firmware!

If that is a constraint it is good advice to avoid that specific product.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017

Commented:
Needs to be vSAN Ready Node and purchased as vSAN Ready Node

And Vendor Tagged as vSAN Ready Node

Purchase bits separately then you run the risk!

Or purchase VxRail!

I’m afraid that’s how it is the same risk of purchasing a server for ESXi not on the HCL

Many new products coming into market eg Runecast to check vSAN HCL status

Author

Commented:
The *BIGGEST* issue with vSAN is compatibility, and items *MUST* be on the HCL, in the old days you could build a vSAN by just obtaining items all on the HCL - BUT VMware's biggest support issue was stability!!!

Now, it is advisable to purchase vSAN Ready Nodes, and ensure that when the vendor sells them THEY ARE TAGGED AS VSAN READY NODES!

and not just servers with SSD and HBAs etc...

This makes sense at least on the hardware side.

We are just waiting for another vSAN Ready Node delivery for a client from Dell. It's not VxRail, we don't use many VxRail, and we've ordered R640s to reduce costs.

Discuss with your Account Manager.

Under Premiere it no longer shows the R640's under the ready nodes section, just the VxRail. Dell made it seem like this was there only Ready Node solution but I do see when using the vSAN Sizer that it suggest the R640 Ready node as a solution. Issue is no matter what I try to size under the Ready Node Sizer, even just 1 VM with 100 i/o, it still presents a 5 node solution with a required license of Advanced. I'm not sure if the sizer is trying to up-sale or if VMware only wants larger environment using their vSAN product.

To stay with VMware I could see buying new licensing for vCenter, vSphere and vSan standard but there's no way I can push to Advanced.

The BANK had a SSD failure, logged a support call with Vendor, the Support guys did not know it was vSAN Ready Nodes, shipped out a replacement SSD, it was inserted in the Ready Node, and the entire vSAN FAILED and was down for 3 days!!!!

I know someone that had vSAN installed around the 6.0 era and it lasted about 3 days before the entire storage crashed and they had to recover from backups to SANs. My understanding  was vSAN has matured since then. Seems like there would be some type of compatibility verification before the SSD was initialized.  

Do you know how stable Microsoft's Storage Space direct is compared to Vmware's vSAN? I know they have a compatibility list as well but it is one of the other two solutions I'm looking at.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017

Commented:
the bank incident was recent! in the last 9 months! It was not 6.0!

vSAN 6.0 is a very different beast to vSAN 6.7

we have been chasing this client order for almost 12 months it is possible that we were advised to wait by Dell because Gen15 is around the corner so things could be changing.

we worked with Dell to get the sizing correct but things specifications are changing all the time!

we cannot comment on the Microsoft solution!

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