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Justify an MSA 2012i controller upgrade??

  • 1.  Justify an MSA 2012i controller upgrade??

    Posted Jul 06, 2011 04:48 PM

    VMware 5 is coming out later this year, we have an MSA 2012i G1 (P2000 G1) SAN.

    I know it is possible to upgrade an MSA 2012i to a P2000 G3 controller.

    My questions are:

    1) Is this worth doing?? All I know about the new controllers is that HP includes some kind of snapshot technology and that the new controllers with current firmware support VAAI.

    2) What benefit(s) would I get from having VAAI and more current controller hardware/software?? All I know is that VAAI makes storage usage more efficient and there's something to do with more or better multi-pathing.

    Thank you, Tom

  • 2.  RE: Justify an MSA 2012i controller upgrade??

    Posted Jul 06, 2011 09:12 PM

    Hi Tom - I can't speak to the cost/benefit for you specifically but I do think the P2000 MSA G3 is a significant steop up from your current MSA technology.  Several things:

    1. The P2000 MSA G3 includes up to 64 local snapshots - that is included with the base product
    2. Remote snaps are optional and can be either via FC or iSCSI
    3. Here's the QuickSpec for the P2000: http://h18000.www1.hp.com/products/quickspecs/13551_div/13551_div.html

    I'm a big fan of VAAI - in vSphere 4.1 there are several "primatives" that VAAI uses to offload an ESX host and have the array do the work.  I have a couple of video blogs that talk about this and show VAAI in action on tour P4000.  I'm hoping to have a video demo of the P2000 with VAAI soon. So here are several links with more info to help you:

    This is my first attempt to embed a video - if it doesn't work, there's a YouTube link (watch the video full screen so you can see the demo better): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbtfZd98ERk&hd=1

    Feel free to contact me if you have more questions.

  • 3.  RE: Justify an MSA 2012i controller upgrade??

    Posted Jul 06, 2011 09:28 PM

    Thank you for responding, that's a lot of reading/watching.

    The snapshots feature is nice but one must have something to snapshot TO and we only have one SAN. :smileyhappy:

    The current MSA does very well for us, I am mainly thinking in terms of VMware 5 compatibility, it took HP and VMware over 1 *year* to make this SAN compatible with vSphere 4 and 4.1, plus being economical about storage, any comments you have about the G3 helping us be more efficient with storage would help.

    Thank you, Tom

  • 4.  RE: Justify an MSA 2012i controller upgrade??

    Posted Jul 06, 2011 09:36 PM

    I figured you didn't have anything better to do than to watch videos and listen to podcasts! :smileysilly:

    Actually, if you ever do a vMotion or a local copy, the VAAI offload helps with that.  It doesn't help with replication to another SAN.

    I can't say anything about vSphere 5 yet but not sure how much that would affect my decision of upgrading your MSA 2012i to a G3.  If you're happy with what you have and you are trying to limit your spending - then I'd hold off.  If you were going to listen to one thing, I'd say listen to the podcast I did - that's less than 10 minutes and if you want to download it to listen to on your MP3 player later, you can do that too.  It gives a lot of info about what's new in the G3.

    If you have more specifics about your environment that might help me better access whether upgrading in the near term makes sense for you, feel free to either leave that information here or you can email me at hpstorageguy [at] hp.com.  

  • 5.  RE: Justify an MSA 2012i controller upgrade??

    Posted Jul 06, 2011 09:37 PM

    Thank you for commenting again.

    We don't do vMotions often, so not an issue.

    I will watch the movies before long. :smileyhappy:

    Thank you again, Tom

  • 6.  RE: Justify an MSA 2012i controller upgrade??

    Posted Jul 07, 2011 04:48 PM

    Hi Tom,

    I found some decent documentation on each of the vSphere VAAI 4.1 primatives and what they do.  Here's the explanation:

    Block zeroing (WRITE SAME)

    When creating a new virtual disk (VMDK) in the ESX server, areas are zeroed out. By off-loading

    the processing to the disk arrays, the resource consumption in the ESX host can be reduced. In

    addition, because only control instructions can be exchanged between the ESX host and the disk

    arrays, traffic on the storage network can be reduced.

    Full copy (XCOPY)

    Copy processing, such as creating a clone of a virtual machine, is off-loaded to the disk array.

    Because the ESX host does not have to read/write data when copying it, the ESX host workload

    can be reduced, and traffic between the ESX host and the disk array can be reduced, resulting in

    improved copy performance.

    Hardware assisted locking (ATS)

    The function that locks volumes when updating VMFS metadata is off-loaded to the disk arrays. By

    enabling exclusive lock per block with the lock mechanism of the disk arrays, SCSI reserve command

    contention can be reduced, and this leads to improvement of VMFS scalability.

    VAAI is for more than accelerating vMotion and hopefully this helps a bit.  I'm sure there's more detailed descriptions out there but this might help you decide if you should look more closely at VAAI.  I'm also guessing that there will be more primatives added in the next version of vSphere but we'll have to wait until next week to hear about those.

  • 7.  RE: Justify an MSA 2012i controller upgrade??

    Posted Jul 07, 2011 05:23 PM

    Yes, I also think vSphere 5 is a likely candidate for July 12 unless they bought some awesome stealth company better than (ugh) Facebook. ☺ ☺

  • 8.  RE: Justify an MSA 2012i controller upgrade??

    Posted Aug 25, 2011 01:07 PM

    OTHER real good reason to think about this is that the MSA 2012i as of today is NOT on the vSphere 5 HCL.

    The P2000 G3 is the only P2000 on the HCL as of today.

    It took about a year to get the MSA 2012i on the vSphere 4 HCL, it will probably take equally long again.

    I've been told the P2000 series does not have or do the VASA APIs...no ETA, probably also a year :smileyhappy: probably that VASA stuff was/is always only intended for Big Business with lots of money. :smileyhappy:

    Thank you, Tom

  • 9.  RE: Justify an MSA 2012i controller upgrade??

    Posted Aug 26, 2011 05:22 PM

    The P2000/MSA product family has a very strong story for upgradeability from generation to generation (controllers, chassis, etc) and we have also supported “data in place” upgrades from a drives and data perspective.  Once the EOL date hits, we don’t typically continue new feature development on the older platform but rather try to encourage customers to migrate to the latest platform if they are interested in new features. It went end of life two years ago.  The work to support the new features would require firmware updates and that just isn't likely on a product that went EOL two years ago.  Sorry to deliver bad news.

    (And again, I work for HP Storage)

  • 10.  RE: Justify an MSA 2012i controller upgrade??

    Posted Aug 26, 2011 05:52 PM

    The next best thing is to continue packing more new features into the G3 controllers. ☺

    Although replacing the controllers costs almost as much as buying a new SAN.

    Thank you, Tom

  • 11.  RE: Justify an MSA 2012i controller upgrade??

    Posted Jan 09, 2012 01:04 PM

    Now the G3 is EOL, can we only expect updates for under 2 years?

    As for the MSA2012i, maybe it's time to step back and look why it was bought, if it's for the back end behind a small cluster of two or three hosts - would the new 'VMware vSphere Storage APpliance' doe the job?

    The cost if the MSA2012 storage box wasn't huge - the cost is in the SAS drives used to fill it - maybe rather than updating the box with smarter controllers, the other option could be taken and dumb it down so it becomes an external SAS drive cage. Admited that does mean swapping the cotrollers, but at least the cost is downwards rather than up.

  • 12.  RE: Justify an MSA 2012i controller upgrade??

    Posted Feb 28, 2012 06:49 PM

    For those whose storage (like the MSA2012i) is no longer compatible with VMware 5 I wrote up an article on a good workaround here - involves a proxy between ESXi and incompatible storage:


  • 13.  RE: Justify an MSA 2012i controller upgrade??

    Posted Feb 28, 2012 07:09 PM

    We bought the new controllers...ouch $$$$

    Anyway, even if the MSA 2012i is not supported for vSphere 5, would an MSA 2012i still be *usable* with vSphere 5 for a day or so?? Long enough to get it unregistered from the vCenter and the hosts??

    Thank you, Tom

  • 14.  RE: Justify an MSA 2012i controller upgrade??

    Posted Mar 12, 2012 12:29 PM

    Is it possible to dumb-down an MSA 2012i G1 DC iSCSI-Array to a JBOD by swapping the iSCSI-Controllers for JBOD I/O-Modules?

    This way we could use an unused Server as a Head Unit and leverage compression and SSD caches and VAAI through NexentaStor.