You name it, we're updating it:
- New Cat6e homeruns
- All new Dell PE1950 III Servers
- Windows 2008 Server
- VMware VI3
- EqualLogic SAN (PS100E + PS5000XV)
Yes we're putting in an iSCSI SAN. I've even purchased a couple of the new Dell PowerConnect 5448 Switches ($900 each!) that are supposedly designed especially for iSCSI traffic. Although I've heard bad things about Dell switches, I could not pass them up at that price. I'll just test them out and if they don't meet performance expectations, I'll ship them back and pick up either a Cisco 2960G or HP 2810 Switch. I don't have the budget to do redundant switches if I Cisco or HP, though.
Back to the EqualLogic iSCSI boxes. We looked at 5 vendors total: LeftHand, IBM, EMC, NetApp, and EqualLogic. Here is my progression of logic in choosing EqualLogic over LeftHand:
- EqualLogic & Lefthand are not "tier one" providers of SANS (some may argue this now that Dell has bought EqualLogic.) In comparing these two solutions, I tried digging into independent reviews/comparisons of midrange SANs. Lefthand does not appear in many of these reviews as it seems like many in the storage industry do not consider LeftHand as serious a contender in this space as NetApp, EMC, or EqualLogic
- Lefthand SANs configured properly and within my budget would only give me 50% of RAW disk space as usable space. Now this changes when you add more boxes of disks, but at this point, we're looking at what we can immediately use.
- Lefthand had single controllers in its boxes.
- According to Microsoft ESRP (Exchange Solution Review Program), LeftHand would handle less users per disk.
- Lefthand was only recently certified with VMware
Performance was a major driver in this project as CAD Engineers are apparently not very patient. ;) With LeftHand off the table, I focused my attention on NetApp, EMC, and IBM.
- EMC, NetApp and IBM (DS3000) are all controller + "dumb bay of disks" type SANs. EqualLogic has 2GB cache + redundant 3x GigE Ports on each bay of disks. Everytime you install a new bay, you gain more cache and more potential bandwidth.
- EMC, NetApp & IBM were very expensive for yearly maintenance (10K+) on hardware and software was ala carte. EqualLogic was all inclusive (like LeftHand).
- NetApp does have dedupe included which was very attractive when considering we will be moving our servers to VI3.
- The IBM DS3000 is a rebranded LSI product which is what the Dell MD3000 is based on. Overall not a great performing product in comparison to the EqualLogic.
- EMC was only certified "five 9's" reliability rating less than a year ago in their midrange product: http://chucksblog.typepad.com/chucks_blog/2007/05/five_nines_and_.html
- EqualLogic has been "five 9's" for 3+ years.
- Performace: EqualLogic has all comers (even many fiber channel!) beat: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/exchange/bb412165.aspx
I believe I'll have the SAN in hand next week so I'll do some testing and report back!