Thursday, March 13, 2008

Infrastructure update

I've started this blog while in the middle of our big infrastructure update.

You name it, we're updating it:

  1. New Cat6e homeruns

  2. All new Dell PE1950 III Servers

  3. Windows 2008 Server

  4. VMware VI3

  5. 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:

  • EqualLogic has been "five 9's" for 3+ years.

  • Performace: EqualLogic has all comers (even many fiber channel!) beat:

I believe I'll have the SAN in hand next week so I'll do some testing and report back!

Peace out!

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