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Hardware Thread, Rate your SAN in Technical; Just looking for opinions on the hardware you're using at the moment in terms of features, reliability and speed. Also ...
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    gshaw's Avatar
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    Rate your SAN

    Just looking for opinions on the hardware you're using at the moment in terms of features, reliability and speed. Also interested to hear your experiences if you've expanded your SAN to add more disks in terms of cost and ease of upgrade.

    Basically it comes down to...

    - has it been reliable
    - has it met your requirements for performance and storage
    - was it good value on initial purchase
    - has support been good if \ when required
    - would you buy a similar model again?

    Especially interested if you have any of the following...

    HP P4000 series (Lefthand)
    Dell EqualLogic
    Netapp FAS2020

    I know loads of people will recommend their Sun S7000 boxes as they seem to have really high satisfaction rates but the only problem I see there is that the smallest one seems to be 14TB now, which is way more than we need and as such probably too expensive as things stand...

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    I would also be interested in hearing from anyone using any of the EcoVault 200 series SANs.

    Thanks in advance

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    Currently have two SANs. A Sun/Oracle 7110 and an EMC Celerra NS-480. Both are good units and both have (touch wood) been reliable.

    The EMC is a new purchase after a tender was put out for a new SAN. EMC offered a much larger system for a lower cost than everyone else, so in that respect it's been good value. The 7110 was great value since it was half price . The support on both has been good, although its definitely needed on the EMC unit. It's so complex that I'm very glad it was installed and setup by EMC. Didn't help that we had one of the first live installs of their new FastCache technology in the world and it'd been specced up wrong by them!

    I'd probably buy a Sun/Oracle unit again once it was very clear what was going on and after they've ironed out the issues with Sun/oracle integration. EMC would depending on price, and what they were giving compared to everyone else .

    From the three that you've listed I'd be careful with the FAS2020. It's a very poor performing product (just ask Duke on here about his ) as it's a cut down box without the horsepower to really make use of alot of Netapps nice features. You really need a FAS2040 (which is actually newer and faster than a FAS2050) to start to get anywhere. The HP P4000's and Equallogic units are both nice, and I know if we had our stuff replaced with them here I'd still be pretty happy using them .

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    DanWebb (11th February 2011)

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    I've got a Netapp FAS2020 - have only had it since I went virtual in July though!

    I use it as a NFS target for VMware and a CIFS area for file storage.

    - has it been reliable - Yes, absolutely.
    - has it met your requirements for performance and storage - Yes, more than happy - 13TB raw storage and performance is absolutely fine
    - was it good value on initial purchase Certainly seemed to be - I looked at Sun, HP, Dell and LeftHand alternatives and the Netapp seemed to offer better vfm
    - has support been good if \ when required - Yes - only had one minor query, but was resolved within a couple of hours
    - would you buy a similar model again? Yep - definitely.

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    Also very interested in this at the moment, looking for one for the near future. If anyone could give an idea of price also that would be HUGELY appreciated - would rather not have to sit through supplier's waffle whilst they suck in air over their teeth!

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    Hello,

    We have a Dell EqualLogic PS4000XV (16 x 450GB Disks, Redundant Modules)

    - has it been reliable Yes, no problems - had it two years now!
    - has it met your requirements for performance and storage Yes
    - was it good value on initial purchase Yes
    - has support been good if \ when required Never needed technical support on it, but their support site is excellent.
    - would you buy a similar model again? Yes, if using for Virtualised Environments/VDI, for My Documents/File Shares storage I brought a Dell MD3220i last year.

    Thanks,

    Rob

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    IBM DS3400 (SAS) with DS3000 (SATA) expansion
    2x 4GB FC switch


    - has it been reliable yes, notwithstanding the schools dodgy power supply without UPS
    - has it met your requirements for performance and storage yes
    - was it good value on initial purchase yes
    - has support been good if \ when required very, some power supply issues caused some problems (before we spent another £3k on UPS) IBM provided recovery scripts based on our specific setup
    - would you buy a similar model again?yes

    If it is available/affordable I would seriously consider getting intels FCoE instead of regular fibre channel - it would allow FC to run over a 10GB/s ethernet backbone, thus negating the need to spend on ethernet switches and FC switches.

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    NetApp FAS2020

    - has it been reliable: Yes and no. Generally runs fine, about two kernel crashes a year on average. An ONTAP upgrade would probably fix this, but the current upgrade path is so convoluted and I don't think my FAS2020 will run the latest version so it doesn't seem worth it.
    - has it met your requirements for performance and storage: It did initially, but I've found moving to CIFS from iSCSI has meant a drop in performance and we're now short on space. Buying another disk tray for it will cost me the same as a new Sun S7120 so we're looking at building a Backblaze-style box instead. Performance from the FAS2020's processor is renowned for being poor under heavy load.
    - was it good value on initial purchase: Yes, at the time the S7000 wasn't around and the FAS2020 was one of the few enterprise-level, upgradable, expandable solutions and we got a very good end-of-year price on it.
    - has support been good if \ when required: Not especially but I can't completely answer this - I once phoned up NetApp and asked for support and got through to their internal IT support department - HOWEVER, we couldn't afford a full support contract so this to be expected.
    - would you buy a similar model again? No, we looked at going the NetApp route to meet our growing storage and VM requirements and the best solution they could offer us came in at £120k. The S7410 came in at £37.5k for a bigger, faster box.

    Oracle Sun S7410 - I know you said you weren't bothered about this but it is our primary SAN and based on my experience a cheap S7000 should be in line with a FAS2020, are you 100% sure it's out of your price range?

    - has it been reliable: Again, yes and no, we've had more 'issues' with it than the FAS2020 but they've all been easier to troubleshoot and in almost all cases the box has stayed up even when it's having problems, whereas a crash on the FAS2020 completely kills it.
    - has it met your requirements for performance and storage: Yep.
    - was it good value on initial purchase: Definitely, compared to everything else we looked it.
    - has support been good if \ when required: Yeah, the complete fallout of the Oracle transition remains to be seen, but so far everything has been fine.
    - would you buy a similar model again? Looking at getting a S7120 when I can afford it.

    Chris

  10. Thanks to Duke from:

    Hebdenlad (16th February 2011)

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    Thanks for the replies so far

    NetApp is a very interesting one, the feature that really sells them is the dedupe but whether that in itself is worth the price premium I'm not yet sure. We've been stung by their support with the StoreVault (granted a different market sector but I didn't like NetApp hiding product manuals behind a support contract). The lack of CPU power does seem to keep popping up, again for the price I'm not 100% convinced.

    The main issue with the Oracle kit is that the smallest model is 14TB now, it's a good price for that no doubt but it's paying for storage we're not using and so pushes the price up.

    The main SAN that's been popping up in a lot of our quotes so far is the HP P2000 (aka MSA). On one hand it'll probably do the trick and looks easier to expand than the P4000 (Lefthand) range but there's one or two issues that seem to crop up on forums performance-wise, mainly RAID6 volumes very slow. That concerns me a bit as I'd want the RAID6 resiliency for user data.

    EqualLogic seems to be slightly better than the LeftHand on a technical level, again it's loved or loathed in equal measure depending on who you speak to...

    Apparently snapshots are pretty slow on HP boxes as well but that said with DPM and \ or Veeam are snapshots such a big issue now? I know NetApp uses SnapManager as a backup solution but again with the price you pay for it DPM might be a better fit for us?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gshaw View Post
    NetApp is a very interesting one, the feature that really sells them is the dedupe but whether that in itself is worth the price premium I'm not yet sure. We've been stung by their support with the StoreVault (granted a different market sector but I didn't like NetApp hiding product manuals behind a support contract). The lack of CPU power does seem to keep popping up, again for the price I'm not 100% convinced.
    Be VERY careful with this. De-dupe looked really good to us too until we bought the box and deployed it. I had planned to have a 2TB volume for backups, but for testing we just had a 200GB LUN set up. We enabled de-dupe on it and ran some backups to it and were seeing very good de-duplication figures. We then went to put the 2TB volume into production and were told the de-dupe limit is 500GB volumes. I said "Okay, I'll upgrade the licence on de-dupe as being able to de-dupe all 4TB of our data on this SAN was one of the key selling points, how much will that cost?" and was told that we can't. De-duping 500GB volumes is a hard, artificial cap that NetApp have set on the FAS2020 and if you want more you need to upgrade the whole box to a FAS2040. This was definitely the case a couple of years back and I don't think it's changed, I believe it was in part due to the processor in the FAS2020.

    Also calculate your long-term support costs with NetApp. They rarely do discount on support and we recently had a ONE year renewal for the FAS2020 that cost over DOUBLE our quote for putting a THREE year warranty extension on SEVEN Dell servers.

    This is just FYI - NetApp are in principal still a tier-one storage provider.

    Chris

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    Had a feeling that might be the case with NetApp, they do seem to have some sneaky licensing \ support hidden costs which I'm not keen on.

    One other one to throw in if anyone has it... Hitachi AMS series... apparently pretty good but there's not as many reviews \ info out there as there is for the usual suspects...

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    azc
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    We have an Axstor Ai-4000 iSCSI SAN which has 8 SATA disks.

    - has it been reliable?
    Yes. We've had it running since 2008, and in that time we've only had one occasion where it locked up solid and required a reset. It's since had newer firmware installed and has been problem-free for at least 2 years now.

    - has it met your requirements for performance and storage
    Absolutely. We run all of our VMWare ESX servers from it and it also holds all the network data for both staff and students. We bought it filled with 500GB disks but have since swapped them out for 1TB disks, which was simply a case of replacing them one at a time and waiting for the array to rebuild before repeating the process with the next disk. Each LUN can have its own RAID level, so more important LUNs can be configured for greater redundancy.

    - was it good value on initial purchase
    We paid £6,357.00 (ex VAT) for it back in 2008. I feel that's pretty good value.

    - has support been good if \ when required
    The unit was supplied by our general IT support company and they have supported it since.

    - would you buy a similar model again?
    No qualms about that whatsoever. I've been very impressed with it.
    Last edited by azc; 15th February 2011 at 04:31 PM.

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    zag
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    Can anyone explain what advantages a SAN would have over my current setup which is 2 x RAID 5 file servers that mirror each other.

    I really don't get it, but I must be missing something

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    Quote Originally Posted by zag View Post
    Can anyone explain what advantages a SAN would have over my current setup which is 2 x RAID 5 file servers that mirror each other.

    I really don't get it, but I must be missing something
    It all depends on what you want to do, how you want to access the storage, what your performance and uptime requirements are, etc. If you run out of space on one/both of your servers, how will you deal with it? Presumably you don't have an easy, smooth storage upgrade option and if you're running Windows then you'd need to maybe add more disks, expand the RAID array (if the card supported it), then grow the Windows partitions, etc. Not a 'advised' procedure, and you might want to actually backup your data, build a new, bigger array and restore the data to it - not much fun either. In both cases you're limited to how much physical storage you can fit in the server.

    If my S7000 runs out of space, I buy another 24-disk tray, plug it in the back, add it to the pool and just start using the extra space, no rebuilding or major reconfigurion or growing of partitions needed. I can do this up to about 0.5PB if I want to, which is likely more than you'll manage with a Windows server.

    Although we're all saying SAN, most of us will also have NAS functionality and some may have unified storage - that means CIFS/SMB, iSCSI, NFS, HTTP, FTP, etc. all from one box and managed from the same point. Windows can do most of those protocols, but it'll be through different bits of software, managed from different places, all running through the overhead of Windows, etc.

    A SAN is just a dedicated, performance-oriented (it may not be high performance, but the disk type will be dictated but your requirements, e.g. tiered storage) storage device.

    Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by zag View Post
    Can anyone explain what advantages a SAN would have over my current setup which is 2 x RAID 5 file servers that mirror each other.

    I really don't get it, but I must be missing something
    With SAN you can have multiple servers accessing the same filesystem, simultaneously over fibre Chanel. This is really useful for scalability because you can dynamically add servers. With NAS (file servers) you only have one server sharing the data.

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