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Lab - SAN options

Update: Going to wait and see what the next few months brings for new products. Hesitant to purchase the Iomega units as they are several years old now.

I had a sobering thought this afternoon. My entire VMware lab is basing iSCSI SAN usage off of our Synology DS410j. The same NAS that houses all of our pictures, data, etc. If my lab kills it, my wife kills me. (and frankly I'd be super-upset as well) We do have backups (that I need to test) done to an external, but it would be a giant pain if it broke.

Thus, I consider my options.

Dedicated Openfiler box (~$1800)
This would be a stand alone machine running the latest version of Openfiler. Dual RAID cards with 8 spindles each, two dual NICs for MPIO to two locations, thus mimicking two SANs.

Pro: Does MPIO, high spindle count.
Con: Cannot test SAN replication. Power hippo.

Two NAS that support iSCSI (~$2200)
Basically buy two DS411+ and fill with 1TB or 2TB drives.

Pro: Simple to configure/maintain. Can do synchronization between units.
Con: Only four spindles. Only one NIC (no MPIO). Relatively high cost per unit ($690 per bare chassis).

ESX host running Openfiler VM (~$2200)
Basically an ESX host with a LOT of local storage (dual RAID arrays, 16 spindles).

Pro: VM appliance. Able to run other VMs on same machine.
Con: More complex to maintain. Less ports usable for ESX purposes as they are tied to Openfiler VM. More layers so more latency.


All in all, pricy, and none of them really give me what I'm looking for.

However, there is one more option that I've been avoiding:

NAS Option #2 (~$1300)
IOmega IX4-200d (4x1TB). A lot of the VM bloggers use these, so maybe it's wise to just jump on board. VMware HCL is no small thing either. I would have liked some sort of MPIO option. According to the manual, it does a limited version of MPIO, so maybe this is the best way.

Pro: On the VMware HCL. Dual NICs. 4x1TB is plenty of space.
Con: Bad support (many people not happy). Cannot buy diskless.

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