vSphere Storage Appliance

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  • 1.  SMB iSCSI NAS for under $3K... QNAP? Iomega? Drobo?

    Posted Aug 27, 2010 01:35 PM


    I am looking for an iSCSI NAS (preferably VMWare certified) for my small business. Currently I have a OpenFiler box setup, that backs up to an Iomega ix4 (was going to do the other way around, but the openfiler benchmarked better) in an vSphere v4 environment (will likely go to 4.1 when I have some time). This is for my small business, where I'm the CEO, network admin, janitor and spokesmodel (ok, just kidding about the last one. My wife can attest that there's nothing "model-like" about me), so I don't want something that I need a PHd to configure, or that requires constant care and feeding. Basically I want something I can setup in 4-10 hours, and configure to email me when there's a problem, and otherwise leave it humming away in the closet.

    Ideally I want a chassis and then I'll "BYOD" and recycle the disks I have in the OF box, eventually upgrading/replacing them as necessary. The drobo concept of mixing and matching disks has some appeal in this regard... is this possible with a "standard" NAS or is this unique to drobo?

    Driving this upgrade is that I've had some "purple screens of death" when ESXi looses the connection to Open Filer (about every 30-90 days), and come to find out open filer's iSCSI implementation is a bit wonky. I'd like to replace open filer with a supported SAN, and unless there is a compelling reason, keep the ix4 in a backup role since I had a minor problem with it that locked me out of the device, and the only way to get back in is to RMA the unit (not something I want to happen in production). I've got $3K to spend, and my "data center" is a closet in our home, so noise and rackspace should be at a minimum, so that rules out surplus "howler" enterprise equipment with 36 fans and 18 redundant power supplies from fleabay. Here's what my research has indicated thus far:

    Iomega ix4 $800-1000 w/ drives: Known commodity, decent functionality. Worked well when I hosted VMs off it for a few weeks just to test it out while I built my OF box. PROS: Small, quiet, OK support. CONS: slow, and not ready to trust it 100% in production unless I configure it, then leave it alone lest I get locked out. Can't "recycle" or easily upgrade the drives and only accomidates 4.

    QNAP (Probably the TS-859 PRO) ~$1400: Seems well regarded, minimal problem reports here (could be good, or bad if no one is using them). Seems to be speedy and feature-rich. Can recycle my drives and upgrade (I think by building a new RAID array/group?) CONS: Company doesn't seem "enterprise grade" but at this price point, that could be OK, and honestly I can live without 24x7x2h support since I'll have the VM's backed up on the iomega I already own. If it doesn't have "drobo-like" functionality where you can mix and match drives, with 8 bays I assume I could leave 2-4 open and build a new "bigger/faster" array and gradually expand it when the time comes.

    Drobo Elite ~$3000+: PROS: As someone who's not a full-time network admin, I love the concept of being able to slap a drive of any size in, and have the array "grow" to support it with minimal intervention (at least that's how I understand their marketing propaganda). They seem to be active in these forums, but that also appears to be a con since it seems a lot of people are having problems with the Elite. CONS: A bit pricey. I could buy two QNAP's for this price and have cheap insurance or a pile of storage, but if the elite would save me $1400 of my time configuring the array, I'm more than willing to shell out the bucks. I thought this was a slam dunk until I read some of the problem reports here.

    So, any comments on these units for my environment? Anything else I should be looking at? I'm particularly interested in feedback on the QNAP versus Drobo.


  • 2.  RE: SMB iSCSI NAS for under $3K... QNAP? Iomega? Drobo?

    Posted Aug 27, 2010 03:07 PM

    Iomega also uses IETD so steer clear of that. The latest release of IETD has fixed the vSphere issues you're experiencing but neither Iomega or Openfiler have released a fix.

    Before going with either of the other vendors make sure they don't use IETD for iSCSI unless they're at least at version 1.4.20.

    VI3/4 VCP

  • 3.  RE: SMB iSCSI NAS for under $3K... QNAP? Iomega? Drobo?

    Posted Sep 10, 2010 12:07 AM

    Anyone looked at the Netgear ReadyNAS Business? Like the qnap there's not much about them on this forum, so wondering if this is a case of "no news is good news."

  • 4.  RE: SMB iSCSI NAS for under $3K... QNAP? Iomega? Drobo?

    Posted Oct 06, 2010 11:50 PM

    After exhaustive comparisons and research I chose the QNAP over DROBO. One of the things I liked about QNAP was that I could choose any of the models 259,459,659 or 859 + or pros and they all have the same firmware.

    As far as being easy to set up, while I never set up a DROBO, I cannot imagine it being any easier. It is as simple as can be. If you cannot have one of these running in under an hour, there is a problem. Seriously, I have had customers set this thing up perfectly and without issues.

    What I really love, is that you can use NAS or iSCSI or both, you can set up remote replication with another unit in 1 minute, you can use the Qnap for Windows File sharing, integrate it with Active Directory, run a WebDav server and just about anything you can think of.

    I have to say that the Qnap, has not disappointed on the performance front either. While I have not done any measurments, performance has never seemed to an issue apart from times that we are bringing all of the systems up at one time. We have 2 locations. One location has the Rackmount TS439U pro and another site has the TS 639 Pro+. For us it is part lab, part production. We use iSCSI shares for VMware ESXi 4 as well as NAS. I prefer NAS because we have had a few power outages that depleted the backup batteries and when power came back up, it seemed that NAS came up and iSCSI volumes had to be rescanned and "worked on a little" before all was restored all the way.

    We run about 4 dual Socket Quad Core Dells with 32Gb each and we run anywhere from 15 to 20 servers at any given time. We also have 3 Single Socket Quad core machines that we run XenServer, and HyperV on. We are also using Virtual Desktops, a few (5 or 6) on Qnap and Some on local storage. Of the Desktops, maybe 1 or 2 are used frequently and the rest are purely demo purposes. Our second box serves primarily as our DR and we do remote replication of our primary site to there. We also run about 8 -10 VMs at the remote site on the TS659. I recently bought a TS259 for my house and plan to back up my 2 macs and 3 pcs, all of our family photos etc. to it and then replicate them to the TS659 just in case. I cannot see anyone buying one of these and not loving it. The Apps that Qnap comes with are getting more and more use here and I just recently started using the Time Machine for my Macs, and the Download server for Bit Torrent files. Just upload a torrent file, and in a few hours, or a day or what ever, I look on my WebDav share and it is there.

    Here is a link I found that goes into the Drobo vs. the Qnap


    QNAP is a very very valuable and easy to use and setup SMB storage array. I could go on and on about it. For the price? it is ridiculously valuable, best purchase I have made in a very long time.

  • 5.  RE: SMB iSCSI NAS for under $3K... QNAP? Iomega? Drobo?

    Posted Oct 07, 2010 12:03 AM

    One other thing I might add is that there is a well established community at Qnap, forum.qnap.com. It is pretty active too, that was one of the deciding factors for me.