vSphere 5.0 Lab Build Part 2.5: Storage continued….


After a long hiatus, i’m finally back to finish up the vSphere 5 Lab Storage posting.  Since i’ve been away I implemented 2 large CRM systems at work, one containing a massive Hyper-V deployment for Development and Testing..but even more exciting, my wife and I welcomed an addition to our family, our new baby girl Isabella Michele.  The past month has been very busy and exciting time for us!  Now that we are settled in, i’ll have more time to put effort into this blog.  Hopefully, i’ll be able to get more views of this and input from other people like me from around the web.

Before I begin, I want to say these posts related to my vSphere 5 Lab are not very detailed.  I’m a big proponent of pointing people in the right direction so that they can do their own research.  I’ve learned that learning is done through trial and error.  I’ve researched, read, asked questions, and have made many mistakes along my journey of figuring all this out and i’ve learned a ton along the way.

Let me pick up where I left off and complete the storage section of my vSphere 5 Lab environment.

3.  The NAS (Network Attached Storage)

There are several NAS vendors out there in the market today from vendors such as Synology, Buffalo, Drobo, Iomega, Netgear…and the list goes on and on.  Each vendor will tout it’s features like automatic backup, cloud sharing..etc yada yada yada.

Firstly, I made the decision to go with a NAS because I tried the first option that I posted about, roll your own server.  I actually tried both Open Indiana w/Napp-IT and Nexenta.  I did love the features and ease of use for both options, and I was very surprised by the performance.  What shyed me away from keeping this was the noise and heat factor and the fact that I had to manage an OS on top of the featureset.  I just don’t have that much time any longer.  With a NAS, all I have to do is update the firmware, very simple, very easy, small footprint, quiet, and low heat and power.

For the actual NAS brand/model itself, I based my decision on a few factors.

a.  Does it provide block (iSCSI) and file level (NFS) storage for VMware and is it a VMware approved device?

b.  Performance, how does it stack up to other NAS in the same category?  What is the processor and ram config?  How would it compare to my ZFS homebuilt system?

c.  What are other users experiencing?  Are the reviews good for this product..etc?

d.  What kind of media sharing does it support. (While not related to this article, it was important as this is a shared device)

e.  Who makes it?  What’s the company’s reputation..etc  What kind of support do they offer?

These were the key questions that I layed out. There were other things that were “nice to haves” that I wanted as well but weren’t necessary such as, does it support SSD, is their internet sharing..etc

When comparing all the devices against my requirments, there were really only two devices that stood out for me:

Synology DiskStation DS1511+ – http://www.synology.com/us/products/DS1511+/index.php

&

Iomega StorCenter px4-300d (EMC)  – http://go.iomega.com/en-us/products/network-storage-rack/px4-px6/px4-300d/?partner=4760

This really was a hard decision.  The Synology gets great reviews and the performance is great, especially with VMware and other Virutalization platforms.  It all really came down to one, and that was price. The Iomega, while only supporting 4 drives instead of 5 on the Synology, was $200 cheaper than the Synology for the Diskless Configurations.  You can buy these with Disks as well, but I would rather be able to choose the drives I want and upgrade when I want.   Based on that, I chose the Iomega (EMC) NAS.

Here she is:

The interface is superslick and very easy to use:

I’m in love with this NAS.  Performance is very good, only using it for NFS right now.  You can buy a couple of these and do replication, etc.  If you have any doubts of the performance take a look at this video.  EMC showing that it can boot 100 VM’s in a snap!  Of course it was all SSD but the capability powered by Intel Dual Core Atom is simply awesome.  I will be getting another one just for SSD later this year and that will be dedicated to my lab and one will be for home media/doc storage.

Here are the LAB NFS Datastores:

As you can see, there are many storage options available to you.  I covered a few, but tried to grasp the majority of types that you can implement in a home lab environment.  Of course, the choice is up to you.  You can go one or run hybrid model like I do where I run the EMC VNX VSA as well as my NAS.  If building your own suits you, then I say go for it.  It’s nice to tinker and learn, but in the end, you should choose what works for you!

Stay tuned as I will be covering the ESXi 5, vCenter Server Appliance, as well as showing you how you can run your lab on one system.  I will not go into the network as I only have a Dlink 24port Green Gigabit switch.   Nothing really special, not managed, no vlans..etc.

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