vSphere Storage Appliance

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  • 1.  Low cost yet reliable storage

    Posted Oct 08, 2010 08:55 PM

    I know this is probably not the best place to post something like this but I feel like I will get a good answer from the pool of people that use these forums. I wanted to get the communities thoughts and leverage your experiences on this topic. I am looking specifically for rackmount NAS storage with 4-16 bays SATA and/or SAS to store VMware Data Recovery backups on. Since this is for backups, I do not necessarily need redundant power or any really high end features, just SMB/CIFS, NFS, and possibly iSCSI although it is not a requirement. Since rack space comes at a premium, I would like any solution to be between 1U and 3U, preferrably 1U. We are looking to spend sub $3000.

    We have been looking at several different vendors and have been very disappointed by support options for devices like this. QNAP was the most appealing but we had a very high failure rate (3 bad devices in a row) and their US tech support was literally one person. Getting replacement units took a week or longer which meant we were potentially without a backup solution for a week had this been production. They are so close to being a great solution but we cannot rely on something with such poor support.

    The vendors we have looked at in varying degrees include QNAP, LaCie, Thecus, Synology, Buffalo, and Promise. We are currently leaning toward the Promise VessRAID 18x0i series but we have one of these in production and the NAS feature set is very (almost too) basic. For example, it does not support complex passwords for local NAS user accounts (only numbers, letters, and underscore).

    Another idea I had is to build a NAS using FreeNAS or OpenFiler. I really really like FreeNAS's feature set and it seems reliable, but I'm afraid we would be in the same situation with support. If it breaks we rely on the community for help which could take several days. On the other hand, if we have a part go bad, we do not have to ship off the entire unit.

    I would like to get any thoughts, feedback, experiences, etc. Let me what you think!



  • 2.  RE: Low cost yet reliable storage

    Posted Oct 08, 2010 09:27 PM

    Set up the Promise VessRAID 1830i/1840i as an iSCSI device (making it a SAN, not a NASty)... Populate it with SAS drives (from their compatibility list) and you'll be good to go... I would use either of the two models mentioned above for several reasons, not the least of which is the redundant power supplies and 4 network connections that can be leveraged. While you said that you don't think redundant power supplies are important, with them you can have one fail, still be up and running while the replacement item is shipped out and not have any down time (or missed backup windows)... Depending on how much IOPS you're talking about needing for the backups, you could also create two RAID 10 arrays with the 1840i and have plenty of space (at least I would hope so) and still retain high redundancy. Or just go with RAID 60, just make sure you have the right drives inside the box.

    I wouldn't use LaCie for this, or Buffalo for that matter. I also wouldn't go with the FrankenSAN option (FreeNAS or OpenFiler) since that's adding more complexity on top of everything else. Go with a SAN built for 24x7 operation, with support and warranty coverage on it.

    How many GB/TB are you looking to have? Are you planning on migrating the data, after a set amount of time, off to tape? I wouldn't put all my B&R eggs in just one basket if it was me... The SAN is a good option for a few weeks/month worth of backups, but it would be a very good idea to have an archive that you can restore from as well (tape library) in case you need to pull back that VM you deleted three months ago when it looked like it was a dead item, only to find out that it's needed again, and has to be identical to how it was before.

    CYA so you don't have RGE's...

    VMware VCP4

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  • 3.  RE: Low cost yet reliable storage

    Posted Oct 08, 2010 09:55 PM

    Thanks for the thorough reply. I definitely agree that redundant power is a nice to have and would be ideal, but as long as we could have parts overnighted I would ok with single power if the price were right. We are looking to fill our current requirement of about 5TB but to be able to grow in the upwards of 20+TB. If we just did 4 bay boxes, we would grow by simply adding another one, it doesn't necessarily need to be contiguous. I could point some backups to one device, others to next and so on.

    As for retention, VDR seems to have pretty good options (although I rofl everytime I look at them :smileygrin: ) and the imaging solution we use for our physical boxes does too. Ideally we would keep everything on disk and store it for up to a year using the "More" option (or more depending on how much free storage we actually had available after dedupe, compression, etc) and then replicate that to an offsite facility and then archive off to tape anything requiring longer retention. We just keep adding servers and are running out of space with our existing setup.

    Is it safe to assume you have (or have dealt with) a Promise VessRAID? If so, I have a few questions about it. With the iSCSI, does it support carving up the logical disk into different sized LUN's? Also does it support thin LUN's (no space reservation)? Also does it support growing a LUN or LUN's larger than 2TB? Also does it do online RAID expansion (ie growing a RAID 5 by a disk or two without downtime)? So many questions... :smileygrin:

    Thanks again, it is really appreciated.