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  • Help with a new VMWare infrastructure to replace an aging one

    I am an IT provider for a company that had (before I showed up) 2 IBM X3550 servers running VMWare ESX 4.0 with HA between the two. The VM's are stored on an IBM SAN DS3400 with 2.5TB of capacity. We are finding ourselves running out of space, RAM and CPU. Being that all of those things are true, it seems as though the proper thing to do is to re-build from the ground up with 2 (or 3?) brand new servers with powerful CPU's and at least 64GB of RAM in each server. Coupled with that for storage I would like to move to a NAS instead of a SAN for the cost benefit. I also need a device that is intelligent where I can run the backups off of, make and store snapshots of the VM's, function as a file server for the organization, etc. Ideally I would like this device to have 6 or more TB's of space.

    I have begun looking into purchasing new servers (or building them to save money) and I've researched both QNAP and Synology rack mountable NAS's.

    My issue is that I do not have the experience necessary to implement and configure this all by myself and I need some help. I have no problem paying for the help assuming the person is an expert in all things VMWare/Storage, but if the members of this amazing forum are willing to share their time and knowledge for free, that would be nice as well.

    If anyone can help me all the way through with this project, I would sincerely appreciate it. Feel free to PM me with your contact info.

    Thanks so much.

  • #2
    Re: Help with a new VMWare infrastructure to replace an aging one

    Why the NAS option rather than SAN?? What are the cost benefits to your org to do so?? We could, and have done so, put an installtion of a Dell iSCSI san with 2 servers that would cost circa AU$55,000.

    Building servers could lead to problems in the future IF you need support from VMware as i'm sure they will only help if the relevant hardware is on the HCL.

    The actual build would be relatively simple IMO.

    1. Install new ESXi 5.0 (Latest version) host.
    2. Connect said host to both the old storage and the new storage.
    3. Install a new VCenter Server and connect all your hosts to this one, it will remove it from the old one. Do not enter your licence key at this time.
    4. Using VCenter migrate all your machines using storgae VMotion to the new storage appliance.
    5. Sit back with a coffee and get praise from the boss

    Storage VMotion

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Help with a new VMWare infrastructure to replace an aging one

      Originally posted by wullieb1 View Post
      Why the NAS option rather than SAN?? What are the cost benefits to your org to do so?? We could, and have done so, put an installtion of a Dell iSCSI san with 2 servers that would cost circa AU$55,000.

      Building servers could lead to problems in the future IF you need support from VMware as i'm sure they will only help if the relevant hardware is on the HCL.

      The actual build would be relatively simple IMO.

      1. Install new ESXi 5.0 (Latest version) host.
      2. Connect said host to both the old storage and the new storage.
      3. Install a new VCenter Server and connect all your hosts to this one, it will remove it from the old one. Do not enter your licence key at this time.
      4. Using VCenter migrate all your machines using storgae VMotion to the new storage appliance.
      5. Sit back with a coffee and get praise from the boss

      Storage VMotion
      The impression I have is that a NAS is much more cost effective and easier to manage than a SAN. And this is what I am looking to gain by having a trusted adviser along this path I need to take now to ensure I am doing things that make the most sense.

      I agree and appreciate your suggestion of not using custom built servers and instead use something on the HCL.

      I don't know how easy vMotion will be being that the SAN is FC and is only currently connected to the 2 old hosts.

      But again, this is why I need someone who has the knowledge and deep experience with VMWare to help me along this monthlong (maybe more, maybe less) process of figuring out what to order, helping with installation, and most importantly, configuring it properly based on VMWare and industry best practices.

      I look forward to your continued suggestions.

      Thanks

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Help with a new VMWare infrastructure to replace an aging one

        I have no industrial experience of using a NAS so can't comment on that. I would however presume that the speeds would be slower than fibre channel. Can your end users live with this if it is significant??

        Yeah stick to the HCL. Most server manufacturers will have servers on the HCL and with that you can get warranty. Some will also install ESXi on a SD card inside the server so no need for any HDD's.

        vMotion is very simple to use and setup if you follow the corect procedures.

        Where are you located?? It might be worthwhile employing a consultant to look over your current setup then make suggestions to the new setup.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Help with a new VMWare infrastructure to replace an aging one

          Originally posted by wullieb1 View Post
          I have no industrial experience of using a NAS so can't comment on that. I would however presume that the speeds would be slower than fibre channel. Can your end users live with this if it is significant??

          Yeah stick to the HCL. Most server manufacturers will have servers on the HCL and with that you can get warranty. Some will also install ESXi on a SD card inside the server so no need for any HDD's.

          vMotion is very simple to use and setup if you follow the corect procedures.

          Where are you located?? It might be worthwhile employing a consultant to look over your current setup then make suggestions to the new setup.
          I see on the HCL list motherboards and CPU's as well so it seems as long as you have that, you will be supported from them. Prices are coming in significantly cheaper to build our own.

          I am located in Chicago, but this is something that can certainly be done remotely, and exactly what you are saying is what I'm looking for...a consultant who I can pay who knows VMWare cold and can help me plan and build the solution for what we need.

          If anyone is out there, please PM and let me know.

          Thanks

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Help with a new VMWare infrastructure to replace an aging one

            I wouldn't go for unsupported hardware or homebuild systems, neither for storage or servers. It will be quite annoying to get support when a hardware issue arise. I would recommend to keep it more professional unless it's for a homelab. You might have a look at de Dell T110 servers for example which might be cheap.

            For SAN vs NAS. Well there are multiple options and if you are currently using 2 hosts it would not really benefit any performance nor simplicity.

            Storage Network;
            For SAN you might need more HBAs when going the FC route, however with iSCSI you might have a need for iSCSI offloading. Secondly I wouldn't recommend to use 1 or 2 GBe adapters for the storage traffic as you might run a bit low on performance on that. However this depends on your requirements. However I mainly work in large environments so I might be a bit spoiled with 10GBe and up per server

            Btw, VMware only supports NFSv3 over TCP, so keep that in mind when choosing for a NAS.

            Disks;
            This is also one of things to keep in mind when choosing a new SAN/NAS. Using 7200 RPM SATA disks wouldn't give you loads of IOPs when there are just a few of them. SAS or SSD might improve that, but it isn't supported in every system. Secondly a QNAP or Synlogy doesn't give you any HA. In case of a failure with the controller or software you might run into big problems.

            Instead of that I would look at HP lefthand SAN (iSCSI) or even Greenbytes. Greenbytes offers you iSCSI (SAN) and NAS (NFS/CIFS) and is HA. Secondly it offers Dedupe a Hybrid solution between SSD and I believe SATA. Anyway I think this might be a cheap and reliable option to look at.

            As an other suggestion you could have a look at the EMC VNXe of the NetApp FAS 2040. But both might be out of your price range.
            Marcel
            Technical Consultant
            Netherlands
            http://www.phetios.com
            http://blog.nessus.nl

            MCITP(EA, SA), MCSA/E 2003:Security, CCNA, SNAF, DCUCI, CCSA/E/E+ (R60), VCP4/5, NCDA, NCIE - SAN, NCIE - BR, EMCPE
            "No matter how secure, there is always the human factor."

            "Enjoy life today, tomorrow may never come."
            "If you're going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill"

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Help with a new VMWare infrastructure to replace an aging one

              I have to completely agree with Marcel. Do not use whitebox servers lol.

              Speak to your management team and get a budget from them for the upgrade work, please factor in the cost of a VMware consultant to help as well.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Help with a new VMWare infrastructure to replace an aging one

                Originally posted by wullieb1 View Post
                I have to completely agree with Marcel. Do not use whitebox servers lol.

                Speak to your management team and get a budget from them for the upgrade work, please factor in the cost of a VMware consultant to help as well.
                If I may ask, why would it be considered unsupported if it is on the VMWare HCL? For example, this one: http://www.vmware.com/resources/comp...roductid=20870

                I can save a significant amount of money by building myself, and not only that but I can build a 3rd and even a 4th server for redundancy and still come in way less than buying Dell/HP/IBM servers.

                Listen guys, if I'm totally off, let me know, by all means. But this is not a huge organization. We're talking 12-15 servers, and 50-150 users. And the applications they need can benefit from a lot of RAM and many many cores - something which is way cheaper when you build yourself.

                As for the storage, I hear what you are saying about not going with 1GigE. But QNAP and Synology have plenty of options with dual power supply and dual 10GBe connections, such as this: http://www.qnap.com/USEng/pro_detail...e.asp?p_id=202 or this: http://www.synology.com/products/pro...3412xs&lang=us which I can buy for $4,000-$5,000. Of course when you add in the cost of the drives it increases but from what I've seen a SAN is significantly more expensive, and FC is 4Gb or 8Gb so I don't see why dual 10Gb is worse off.

                Of course I came to these forums to learn from the experts and I appreciate any insight you can give me into why I should be recommending a $40,000+ upgrade when I can do it for $12,000.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Help with a new VMWare infrastructure to replace an aging one

                  Hardware cost aside don't forget that with a name brand box you also get 24/7 phone support with a SAN / VMWare specialist and you can even pay extra for faster hardware turnaround (as fast as 2 hours from your initial contact with a tech to a local guy being onsite with hardware, even if you haven't figured out the issue yet). If you build it yourself, have spare parts ON SITE, so even if it's 3 AM you can fix it if it's a hardware issue.(

                  Basically what I'm saying is to always keep in mind not just the upfront costs, but the upkeep costs, maintenance costs, upgrade costs, OH SHIT IT'S ON FIRE costs, etc.

                  Having said that I have a Synology DS1511+ at home and it's mighty perty
                  Last edited by Wired; 20th April 2012, 02:17.
                  ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Help with a new VMWare infrastructure to replace an aging one

                    Originally posted by kingbear2 View Post
                    If I may ask, why would it be considered unsupported if it is on the VMWare HCL? For example, this one: http://www.vmware.com/resources/comp...roductid=20870

                    I can save a significant amount of money by building myself, and not only that but I can build a 3rd and even a 4th server for redundancy and still come in way less than buying Dell/HP/IBM servers.

                    Listen guys, if I'm totally off, let me know, by all means. But this is not a huge organization. We're talking 12-15 servers, and 50-150 users. And the applications they need can benefit from a lot of RAM and many many cores - something which is way cheaper when you build yourself.

                    As for the storage, I hear what you are saying about not going with 1GigE. But QNAP and Synology have plenty of options with dual power supply and dual 10GBe connections, such as this: http://www.qnap.com/USEng/pro_detail...e.asp?p_id=202 or this: http://www.synology.com/products/pro...3412xs&lang=us which I can buy for $4,000-$5,000. Of course when you add in the cost of the drives it increases but from what I've seen a SAN is significantly more expensive, and FC is 4Gb or 8Gb so I don't see why dual 10Gb is worse off.

                    Of course I came to these forums to learn from the experts and I appreciate any insight you can give me into why I should be recommending a $40,000+ upgrade when I can do it for $12,000.
                    If its on the HCL then it will be supported. By whitebox we mean building one yourself with components that you purchase seperatly.

                    A lot of what we are saying is to protect you down the line when the preverbial does hit the fan. The actual installation is the easy part. Pick a server that is on the HCL, pick your storage and away you go.

                    What you need to account for is the cost of the support contracts from each of these companies after the time that you buy the servers/storage. For example does your Tyan computer provide on site support if that motherboard fails?? or will it need to be shipped back to the manufacturer for repair?? Can your company cover the cost of the downtime, if there is any?? Yes you can install 2 servers that can support your entire infrastucture but if one of those servers fails can the other handle the load of running all of your VM's??

                    Ultimately the decision is yours and yes the initial up front cost can cause some people to choke but calculate the cost of the appliances and support over the lifetime of the install, typically 5 years, then make a decision from there.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Help with a new VMWare infrastructure to replace an aging one

                      Originally posted by wullieb1 View Post
                      If its on the HCL then it will be supported. By whitebox we mean building one yourself with components that you purchase seperatly.

                      A lot of what we are saying is to protect you down the line when the preverbial does hit the fan. The actual installation is the easy part. Pick a server that is on the HCL, pick your storage and away you go.

                      What you need to account for is the cost of the support contracts from each of these companies after the time that you buy the servers/storage. For example does your Tyan computer provide on site support if that motherboard fails?? or will it need to be shipped back to the manufacturer for repair?? Can your company cover the cost of the downtime, if there is any?? Yes you can install 2 servers that can support your entire infrastucture but if one of those servers fails can the other handle the load of running all of your VM's??

                      Ultimately the decision is yours and yes the initial up front cost can cause some people to choke but calculate the cost of the appliances and support over the lifetime of the install, typically 5 years, then make a decision from there.
                      So let's do this: Assuming we build 3 servers ourselves (with motherboards and CPU's that are on the HCL) (HCL does not only include pre-built systems...it has specific parts as well)...and each server is capable of handling our ENTIRE operation...and we put into production 2 servers and leave the 3rd for growth/DR (in case a component fails in one of the other servers)...and we are saving thousands and thousands of dollars...wouldn't you say it's worth it? VMWare support contract will include all VMWare configuration errors, and my additional server on standby will support any hardware outages. I wonder what you guys think about that. Assuming the experts on the forums here agree that this is not a terrible solution, let's talk about storage now.

                      I am not tied to QNAP and/or Synology. I just like the fact that built into the devices they have many great features which you would normally pay tons of money for on a SAN. Assuming the NAS's do have dual power supply, dual controller cards, RAID, and 10Gb ethernet, what would be the downside to using such a device?

                      And again, I'm open to other NAS companies, or even a SAN if it's within price range, but as mentioned earlier, I think everyone agrees that a SAN is 3, 4 or 5 times+ the price of a NAS. And I'm not supporting thousands of users...I'm supporting hundreds. And I'm not running hundreds of virtual servers with tens of hosts, I'm supporting tens of servers with 2-4 hosts.

                      Thanks guys...I'm really getting some good info/advice from this site.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Help with a new VMWare infrastructure to replace an aging one

                        Well do what you want to do. I'll stick with my earlier story.

                        You can save all the dollars you wanna save, yet your users are depending on you. Yet, you also going to miss the more advanced features as hardware monitoring, ILO (dRAC whatever) hardware vendor support such as next business day repair etc.
                        Have you thought about Opex? What is it going to cost to maintain, repair, solve etc the whiteboxes, even if it's a SAN/NAS like openfiler and/or freenas? Every storage device I mentioned is either a SAN or a SAN and NAS. All are HA capable and that is what Synlogy and QNAP are lacking. You are mistaking that a SAN will be more expensive then a NAS.

                        IMHO you are going to make a mistake. You are looking at Capex instead of Opex and IMHO that's just part of the deal.
                        I suggest you hire a consultant, since I got the feeling you are ignoring us and just want us to say want you want to hear.

                        If you are still open for my opinion, buy a couple Dell Rack servers, Cisco C-series servers or HP DL 360's or something like that and a VNXe/NetApp FAS2040 or a Greenbytes.
                        Last edited by Dumber; 20th April 2012, 19:52.
                        Marcel
                        Technical Consultant
                        Netherlands
                        http://www.phetios.com
                        http://blog.nessus.nl

                        MCITP(EA, SA), MCSA/E 2003:Security, CCNA, SNAF, DCUCI, CCSA/E/E+ (R60), VCP4/5, NCDA, NCIE - SAN, NCIE - BR, EMCPE
                        "No matter how secure, there is always the human factor."

                        "Enjoy life today, tomorrow may never come."
                        "If you're going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Help with a new VMWare infrastructure to replace an aging one

                          Originally posted by Dumber View Post
                          Well do what you want to do. I'll stick with my earlier story.

                          You can save all the dollars you wanna save, yet your users are depending on you. Yet, you also going to miss the more advanced features as hardware monitoring, ILO (dRAC whatever) hardware vendor support such as next business day repair etc.
                          Have you thought about Opex? What is it going to cost to maintain, repair, solve etc the whiteboxes, even if it's a SAN/NAS like openfiler and/or freenas? Every storage device I mentioned is either a SAN or a SAN and NAS. All are HA capable and that is what Synlogy and QNAP are lacking. You are mistaking that a SAN will be more expensive then a NAS.

                          IMHO you are going to make a mistake. You are looking at Capex instead of Opex and IMHO that's just part of the deal.
                          I suggest you hire a consultant, since I got the feeling you are ignoring us and just want us to say want you want to hear.

                          If you are still open for my opinion, buy a couple Dell Rack servers, Cisco C-series servers or HP DL 360's or something like that and a VNXe/NetApp FAS2040 or a Greenbytes.
                          I appreciate the constructive criticism. I don't want you to feel that I am waiting to hear what I want to hear. Just once I fully understand why I need pre-built versus custom built or SAN versus NAS, I can then realize why one is better. But people keep saying that with pre-built you have support - they are not referring to software support because that comes from VMWare. So they are referring to hardware support. But what do I need someone to be able to come down with a part within 4 hours if I have an extra server with all the parts I need waiting on standby right there on site? So if I understand the answer to that question, it will help me make a decision.

                          And with the SAN versus NAS, same thing. Everyone said don't go NAS because you won't get goo throughput or HA. But dual 10Gb ethernet cards provides faster throughput than a SAN and offers HA (with the dual power supplies and RAID configuration on the hard drive). So again, please pray tell the real reason for going with pre-built and SAN versus custom built and NAS.

                          And BTW, I have a VMWare consultant who is an expert with VMWare. He is part of SQLSkills.com and I think he knows his stuff pretty darn cold. He also said I should go with pre-built but after the discussion he said he doesn't see an issue with going with custom (assuming a 3rd server on standby for parts).

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Help with a new VMWare infrastructure to replace an aging one

                            Of course we are talking about hardware support since VMware will cover the software part.

                            And although the VMware Consultant from SQLSkills, I disagree with him, about the hardware.

                            Whiteboxing is fine, especially for labs environments, but with witeboxes you cannot guarantee performance since it isn't tuned. Usually whiteboxes uses cheaper hardware, based for home systems. You cannot guarantee up times nor life cycles. Have a look at the MTBF values between different components. There can be a huge difference. Look at the warranty etc. There are many factors you can think of why not going for the whitebox just for a couple of bucks.

                            NFS can utilize 10GBe easily, however it's less secure then iSCSI, FC or FCoE. Sure, NFS can do CHAP but that isn't really secure. NFS is widely accepted for VDI environments as well. Yet, NAS is more then NFS only, it can also be CIFS, so you need to be clear about that. I assume you are talking about NFS, since VMware doesn't support CIFS.

                            SAN can be used for (for example) clustering for Microsoft Cluster Service which cannot be done with a CIFS/NFS share. However for VMware I really don't care. 10GBe can be utilized with about the same performance (more or less) as 8GB FC. IP is less reliable (there is TCP invented for) and therefore has it more overhead and cost some additional CPU Cycles.

                            Yes I do usually work in the larger datacenters as you might expected and I do a lot with different hardware vendors, VMware and VDI. However I'll never ever will recommend any whitebox systems for any of my customers, how big or small they are.
                            Marcel
                            Technical Consultant
                            Netherlands
                            http://www.phetios.com
                            http://blog.nessus.nl

                            MCITP(EA, SA), MCSA/E 2003:Security, CCNA, SNAF, DCUCI, CCSA/E/E+ (R60), VCP4/5, NCDA, NCIE - SAN, NCIE - BR, EMCPE
                            "No matter how secure, there is always the human factor."

                            "Enjoy life today, tomorrow may never come."
                            "If you're going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Help with a new VMWare infrastructure to replace an aging one

                              Originally posted by kingbear2 View Post

                              I can save a significant amount of money by building myself, and not only that but I can build a 3rd and even a 4th server for redundancy and still come in way less than buying Dell/HP/IBM servers.
                              two years down the track.. how much money will you have saved if the whitebox you build blows caps on the motherboard, and you can no longer find a mainboard to replace it because they are EOL?

                              Dell/HP will have them in storage, becausre you pay for that warranty..
                              Please do show your appreciation to those who assist you by leaving Rep Point https://www.petri.com/forums/core/im.../icon_beer.gif

                              Comment

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