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We'll start shortly a partial virtualization of our infrastructure and consolidate a dozen servers into virtuals instances. We'll also add some client application virtualization into the mix for good measure. Two HP DL 380 with the new xeons 56xx and 96 GB of memory each running xenserver + xenapp will then take charge of most of our IT needs.

So far, so good.

One element that is missing from the picture is the storage part. We need some sort of shared storage to enable live motion and other HA features. We have an IBM DS 4300 SAN that we can use for that. But since it's in production since 2005, I'm not sure about such a critical role for a 5yr old part. So my question is: What is the reliability of this kind of equipment after 5 yr ? Can it last 10 yr with no or few problems ? Since our budjet is tight, not buying another SAN will be a big plus.

This lead me to another question: FC disks cost an arm and a leg from IBM. When I type the replacement # in google (for example IBM 300GB 15K 4GBPS FC HDD 42D0410), I can find it at a fraction of the price at various sites. So am I stupid to buy from IBM or naive to trust 3rd party reseller ??



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I have no previous experience with SANs, so take this with a grain of salt, but SANs are built to last even more than servers. And we have several servers running 24/7 for over 8 years. See this SF question too If you have redundant controllers, I think you are safe for 5 more years, if you don't have other limiting factors, like no space for adding more disks. I don't know what to say about the disks, however. – Prof. Moriarty Apr 13 '10 at 14:26
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The 3rd party parts are highly likely to be used, despite what the seller might say.

Whether used by you or someone else, 5 year old disks is starting to take a decent risk of ugly failures, if you have enough capacity and spare drives increasing the number of drives in the spare pool is a good idea, as is RAID6 which by some indications is in your current SAN. There's also power supply or controller failures to worry about.

It's also likely to be 2Gbit FC at best, which is getting a little slow for that many machines.

There's some decent SAS options starting to hit the market, but that might not scale in the way you need, but HP FC options would be the EVA4400 starter kits or the P2000fc series (probably better).

Another option would be an IBM, HP, or Intel blade chassis with inbuilt storage, both the IBM and Intel options are fairly decent shared storage, the HP is fairly limited in what you can do.

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So, assuming that I buy refurbished disks... If I raid-6 them and add online spares, would this be sufficient protection, or am I asking for trouble ? – Chris Apr 13 '10 at 15:54
Just make sure the 3rd party disks will work in your system. Some LSI (DS4300 is rebadged LSI IIRC) boxes will want specific firmware on the disks and may require magic metadata on the disk too. – James Apr 13 '10 at 17:24

I'd have no fear of using a 5 year old SAN so long as it's all in working order, gets preventative maintanance and is covered by some form of support contract. I'd also happily use third party disks so long as the were covered bybthe same support contract. I might take the opportunity of the cheaper disk to move to R10 however, it'll protect you more than R6 and give you a nice lift performance wise. Oh and good call with the 380s, they're great, especially with the 56xxs too :)

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