Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've always run Linux on my home computers, and done PC repair for years, but this is my first experience with needing to buy a SAN. I thought I was knowledgeable, but I feel a bit lost.

I need to be able to support 25 VMs, which are currently managed through vSphere. The company I'm at is growing quickly though, so I'd like to plan for the future. Ideally, I want a solution that I can just tack arrays onto and manage as one large, iSCSI drive.

Suggestions? Good resources? If I can find something that appears to software as one large drive, am I better off going with a solution like FreeNAS or Starwind, or an all-in-one proprietary solution like NetApp?

Cost, is (of course, and always I'm sure) an issue.

share|improve this question
This will get closed as off topic most likely. I suggest you take a look at Drobo on the cheap end, and Equallogic from Dell on the not-so -cheap but featureful end of iSCSI. You'll need a pair or decent gigabit switches to support either solution. You can also roll your own by buying a 2U server with a ton of drives and lighting up FreeNAS like you mentioned. It's very subjective. – SpacemanSpiff Jun 29 '12 at 3:37
Welcome to Server Fault! This question was closed because shopping recommendations are outside of the scope of Server Fault. Please ensure you are familiar with the FAQ. – Iain Jun 29 '12 at 7:21
"Where to start?" -- With a big fat blank cheque. – Tom O'Connor Jun 29 '12 at 9:43
Its amusing that two different people mentioned closing the question, one of them a mod, and the question is still open. – ErnieTheGeek Jun 29 '12 at 16:50
@ErnieTheGeek Actually, the question was closed, OT, then re-opened. – jscott Jun 29 '12 at 16:53

If you need an overview of what the market has to offer, consider visiting a storage-centered trade fair like the Storage Networking World. Your questions can be addressed there by the vendor's engineers.

Presenting as a "one large iSCSI drive" is one of the most basic features every solution will offer, but you might want to look at other differentiating factors like

  • performance (especially under random virtualization load)
  • tiered storage (a performance optimization really)
  • advanced features like snapshots, mirroring, thin provisioning, compression, encryption or deduplication
  • redundancy features (like using 2 independent controllers or redundant power supplies)
  • ability to control attached enclosures to accomodate for growth
  • management tools and available statistics / graphs
  • support plans and warranty (you would really want your storage to be repaired quickly in the case of a defect if it is the single point of failure for all your virtual machines)

Good hunting.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.