Alright, looking at SAN options.

We have a vendor we're working with, and they're obviously pushing EqualLogic hard. They just released the 4100 series which is a bit nicer, and they're trying to get more competitive with their pricing.

However, Dell also released the MD3600 series PowerVault, which also looks quite tasty, both in price and mostly in it's expandability. Our vendor keeps insisting the EqualLogic is so scalable, but it's datasheet details that the 4000 series can only expand to two boxes, and also it seems the technology requires a lot of inter-talk between the boxes, so basically as usual it's wasted resources assuming I don't know how to provision LUNs.

We were originally looking at EMC's VNXe series and NetApps FAS series models because of their attachable disk enclosures, I wanted to be able to use 10/15K SAS for our database and 7.2 NL-SAS for cheap storage for low-demand business apps (Dev, Testing, low demand OSes, etc.).

Of course our vendor gives us the run around about how a non-virtualized block system is practically useless (I think they just don't want us to go with something they may not be familiar with, even though they're a Dell vendor, they almost lost this sale simply because they weren't even willing to disclose the PowerVault did all that we requested of a SAN), and that managing a LUN is way too much work (complaints that if I misprovision a LUN that I'll have to deal with capacity issues, which... I don't expect an engineer to be telling me "well we're going to set you up incorrectly" basically, I love when an engineer is nothing more than another sales person... sigh).

So anyway, the PowerVaults are on ESXi 4.1 and 5.0's HCL, we'll probably be looking at 4.1U1 downgrades being as we'll be running on older blades for this deployment.

So simple enough: Anyone own PowerVaults? How do they stack up? Anyone own both? Is the 8 snapshots per LUN really a problem? Can the PowerVault beat the pants off of the EqualLogic in terms of performance (3200 series has twice the ports, 4x as many in active/active which I was told the EQ could do but then their unit in their rack was NOT)? How about all the VMWare integration that EQ does? Is it worth another 20-25% of cost to our SAN budget? What benefits do I get from a SAN that is Exchange aware (I believe the EQ does)? Is there anything I'm missing here?

We're looking to do replication, I know we lose SAN-to-SAN based replication, but we were probably looking at running Veeam anyway, so that would be fine, right?

Also, I pointed out quite a few times to them that we run NexentaStor right now, and that nothing they throw at us is going to be more confusing to set up and manage than that, actually we're looking to drop to NexentaCore for our backup systems, I'm not scared of having something I have to manage, if anything getting away from such expensive tiering will allow me to buy the equipment to tier.

And they've pushed that it doesn't have RAID-50, which I quesiton that deployment up front, being as however they divy up 22 drives into a RAID 50 (24 - 2 hot spares) means we can get terrible write performance, also it means we have an unmatched RAID-5 size in there which is uh... odd.


Also our ESXi vendor wont support the PowerVault, so it seems they only really know EqualLogic boxes. :\ Leaves me not really confident in them either that they'll only support boxes that require no training to use.

Edit 2:

Also, the lack of manual tiering means that our development system gets to fight with production for resources, ugh!

closed as too localized by Sven, EEAA, Shane Madden, Jason Berg, Ward Sep 16 '11 at 3:39

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  • 1
    Have you considered working with a Nexenta partner like Pogo Storage to identify the issues with your current setup? – ewwhite Sep 15 '11 at 15:51
  • Well I know our issues: it's on an aging 32-bit box with questionable hardware support (so I do a lot of Solaris digging to get things done, it's just an example of "I know what I'm doing, I don't need a box that does everything for me"). On top of that I need other staff in IT to be able to use it competently, and I'm not feeling 100% comfortable about that, especially on production. I love the underlying system (it really is better than any other SAN I've seen), I just wish Nexenta would come out with a little bit better management software. – StrangeWill Sep 15 '11 at 15:59
  • BTW: 32-bit box with SATA outperforms local RAID-10 on our Dev ESXi setup (two mirrored pools + compression). I KNOW ZFS kicks butt... Also AFAIK we don't have any local Nexenta vendors. – StrangeWill Sep 15 '11 at 15:59
  • Check out the solutions: pogostorage.com/products/nexenta/overview/index.php - The main thing is that they sell these to IT groups who can continue to manage. I mean, how often are you touching the storage once the solution is fully-implemented. The solutions are also sold with support. – ewwhite Sep 15 '11 at 16:09
  • I know and I agree, but the choice for close vendor availability is not mine. :( sorry. Also wish Pogo would sell some cheaper dual-controller units like you see in most storage now so their HA setups didn't start at $36k. – StrangeWill Sep 15 '11 at 16:13

The Equallogic is going to have a number of features that you may find attractive.

1) Expandability - Buy another shelf drop it in, add it to the same storage pool, it will move data to balance across the two. With the new shelf comes another 4 ports of connectivity.

2) SAN Replication - This is nice, really nice, and works well

3) Integrations - the VMware integration piece is nice. I believe VMware quiesces the storage and executes the snapshot at the SAN level instead of the guest. Good stuff.

4) EASY - you can be up and running on this thing in under 10 minutes, no bullshit.

I'm pretty positive it will do RAID-50, unless they removed it on the 4100 in firmware 5.1, every group I've deploy has had RAID5, RAID6, RAID50, and RAID10 available. Even our aging PS100 can do RAID50.

  • It will do RAID-50 but depending on the setup, it can kill our DB writes (it already cripples our current MSSQL box), last thing I want to drop is drop RAID-50 and be able to bring the box to it's knees after VDI. A PowerVault had the EQ beat on expandability (if you really want unified storage you can manage it through a NX3500), SAN based replication is nice but we'll be using Veeam, so isn't really necessary (and while looking at EMC we were going to use it to get around licensing costs). The biggest deal is the VMWare integration, but is that worth $10-$15k+ expensive expansion? – StrangeWill Sep 15 '11 at 15:23
  • I don't know if I can answer that, I think only you can decide. – SpacemanSpiff Sep 15 '11 at 15:34
  • It's a hard decision when you're almost handed a blank check and still trying to get the most bang for your buck for it. ;) Mainly it's the whole MD3600 doing 30k+ IOPS and the 4100 series topping out at around 8K (both without going into SSDs IIRC) and whether the tools compensate for the much lower scalability... but I guess if our vendor doesn't support anything more complicated than "little Jimmy's first SAN" setup then I have to suck it up and take what they'll give us. – StrangeWill Sep 15 '11 at 15:41
  • If it were me, and spindle count was almost the same, I'd opt for getting more redundancy, better switches, new UPS, over a few features I might not leverage. Sounds like you're building this for a purpose, so build to spec! – SpacemanSpiff Sep 16 '11 at 13:18

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