VMware Virtual SAN Ready Node on a Blade Server

UPDATED I recently had to determine the best option for a customer from the Virtual SAN Compatibility Guide / Virtual SAN Ready Node guide and was a bit surprised to see only a single blade server vendor listed.  When it comes to choosing a server form factor, there are many reasons to choose blade servers, and several reasons not to choose them (see “5 Reasons You May NOT Want a Blade Server – April 2013.”)  If you think blade servers will fit for your infrastructure needs, here are a few options to consider.

Before I begin, it’s important to realize the least expensive up-front cost to building your own virtual SAN is to do-it-yourself (DIY) using components off the VMware Virtual SAN HCL.  This may be a good way to try virtual SAN, but often comes with unforeseen technical challenges.

The VMware Virtual SAN Ready Node is a VMware-OEM server vendor validated server configuration in a tested, certified hardware form factor for Virtual SAN deployment.  In addition to being jointly validated between VMware and the OEM vendor, many Ready Nodes come pre-loaded with vSphere therefore reducing the time to market.  The VMware Virtual Ready Node is not an appliance, but instead a pre-configured, pre-validated bundle ready to run VMware Virtual SAN for users who don’t want to build one themselves but prefer not to use an appliance model.

The appliance model, like the VCE VxRail, may be an easier way to get into virtual storage but may be more expensive compared to the DIY or Ready Node options.

Back to the original topic – choosing a blade server option from the VMware Virtual SAN Ready Node list.  From the current Virtual SAN Compatibility Guide / Virtual SAN Ready Node guide, only Dell’s FX2 product qualifies as a “blade server” (NOTE: I’m refer to systems that share power, cooling and networking as a “blade server” therefore sled-based designs without networking are outside of what I typically cover on this blog.)  There are 5 different Ready Node options from Dell, depending upon your requirements:

FC430 AF-6 Ready Node Configuration (up to 9.6 raw storage capacity)

This is a 4 node all flash VSAN in a single 2U high FX2 chassis offering great density. This configuration allows a total of 8 drives per FC430 via the ‘split’ FD332.

  • 1x FX2 chassis
  • Blade/CPU/RAM : 4x FC430 blades each with 256GB RAM and 2x Intel Xeon E5-2670 v3 2.3GHz, 30M Cache, 9.60GT/s QPI, Turbo, HT, 12C/24T CPU
  • Storage Controllers: 2x FD332.
  • Network : 4x QLogic 57810 Dual Port 10Gb Direct Attach/SFP+ Low Profile Network Adapter
  • Cache layer: 8x 400GB Solid State Drive SAS Mix Use MLC 12Gpbs 2.5in Hot-plug Drive (2x per FC430)
  • Capacity layer: 24x 1.6TB Solid State Drive SAS Read Intensive MLC 12Gpbs 2.5in Hot-plug Drive (6x per FC430)
  • Boot Device: 2x 16GB SD Card For IDSDM for each FC430

Dell PowerEdge FX2s rack server chassis populated with 4x Dell PowerEdge FC430 (Grapple) blade servers with 2x 1.8-inch hard drives, and 2x PowerEdge FD332 (Stash) storage modules.

 FC630 AF-6 Ready Node Configuration (up to 9.6 raw storage capacity)

This is a 3 node all flash VSAN in 2 x FX2 chassis taking up 4 Rack Units. A 4th node can be added without the overhead of an extra chassis. This allows enough expansion to double the raw capacity and disk groups. Alternatively the disk groups could be split across the two ‘legs’ of each FD332.

  • 2x FX2 chassis
  • Blade/CPU/RAM : 3x FC630 blades each with 256GB RAM and 2x Intel Xeon E5-2670 v3 2.3GHz, 30M Cache, 9.60GT/s QPI,Turbo,HT,12C/24T
  • Storage controllers: 3x FD332
  • Network : 3x QLogic 57810-k Dual port 10Gb KR Blade Network Daughter Card
  • Cache layer : 6x 400GB Solid State Drive SAS Mix Use MLC 12Gpbs 2.5in Hot-plug Drive (2x per FC630)
  • Capacity layer : 18x 1.6TB Solid State Drive SAS Read Intensive MLC 12Gpbs 2.5in Hot-plug Drive (6x per FC630)
  • Boot Device: 6x 16GB SD Card For IDSDM (2 for each FC630)

FX2-FC630x3-FD332

FC630 AF-8 Ready Node Configuration (up to 19.2 raw storage capacity)

This is a 3 node all flash VSAN in 2x FX2 chassis and uses 4 Rack Units. Again, a 4th node can be added without the overhead of an extra chassis. This configuration builds one disk group per ‘leg’ of the FD332 controller (using dual PERCs) which should offer significant performance.

  • 2x FX2 chassis
  • Blade/CPU/RAM : 3x FC630 blades each with 384 GB RAM and 2x Intel Xeon E5-2670 v3 2.3GHz, 30M Cache, 9.60GT/s QPI, Turbo, HT, 12C/24T
  • Storage controllers: 3x FD332
  • Network : 3x QLogic 57810-k Dual port 10Gb KR Blade Network Daughter Card
  • Cache layer : 6x 400GB Solid State Drive SAS Mix Use MLC 12Gpbs 2.5in Hot-plug Drive (2x per FC630)
  • Capacity layer : 36x 1.6TB Solid State Drive SAS Read Intensive MLC 12Gpbs 2.5in Hot-plug Drive (12 per FC630)
  • Boot Device: 6x 16GB SD Card For IDSDM. 2x for each FC630.

FX2-FC630x3-FD332

 

FC830 AF-6 Ready Node Configuration (up to 9.6 raw storage capacity)

This blade is 4 socket, but only 2 are used for the initial configuration. It uses the Dell PowerEdge H730 storage controller to load 8 drives directly onto the blade, rather than using an external controller like the FD332. This is ideal for compute/memory intensive applications that don’t need a huge amount of storage. Again, this is a 2x chassis configuration that can have another identical node added without chassis cost.

  • 2x FX2 chassis
  • Blade/CPU/RAM : 3x FC830 blades each with 256 GB RAM and 2x Intel Xeon E5-4660 v3 2.1GHz, 35M Cache, 9.60GT/s QPI, Turbo, HT, 14C/28T
  • Storage controllers : 3x PERC H730 (1x per FC830)
  • Network : 3x QLogic 57810-k Dual port 10Gb KR Blade Network Daughter Card
  • Cache layer : 2x 800GB Solid State Drive SAS Mix Use MLC 12Gpbs 2.5in Hot-plug Drive (2x per FC830)
  • Capacity layer : 18x 1.6TB Solid State Drive SAS Read Intensive MLC 12Gpbs 2.5in Hot-plug Drive (6x per FC830)
  • Boot Device: 6x 16GB SD Card For IDSDM (2x for each FC830

3xFC830

FC830 AF-8 Ready Node Configuration (up to 19.2 raw storage capacity)

This configuration takes up 6 Rack Units.  Each node is configured with one FD332, but a second could be added without any other chassis.   Future CPU capacity can be doubled as well as the RAM.

  • 3x FX2 chassis
  • Blade/CPU/RAM : 3x FC830 blades each with 384 GB RAM and 2x Intel Xeon E5-4660 v3 2.1GHz, 35M Cache, 9.60GT/s QPI, Turbo, HT, 14C/28T
  • Storage controllers : 3x FD332 (1x per FC830)
  • Network : 3x QLogic 57810-k Dual port 10Gb KR Blade Network Daughter Card
  • Cache layer : 6x 400GB Solid State Drive SAS Mix Use MLC 12Gpbs 2.5in Hot-plug Drive (2x per FC830)
  • Capacity layer : 36 x 1.6TB Solid State Drive SAS Read Intensive MLC 12Gpbs 2.5in Hot-plug Drive (12x per FC830)
  • Boot Device: 6x 16GB SD Card For IDSDM. 2x for each FC830)

3 x FC830-FD332

UPDATED 7.22.2016
Some people have asked what solution we went with for my customer.  We chose to go with the first one (all in 1 chassis.)  It offers great density with up to 84 compute nodes and 201TB in a single 42U rack.

I’d be curious to know which of the above you think would work best for your environments.  Leave me a comment below and let me know.

 

Kevin Houston - Founder, BladesMadeSimple.comKevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com.  He has over 18 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace.  Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization.  Kevin has worked at Dell as a Server Sales Engineer covering the Global Enterprise market since August 2011.

 

Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are personal views and may or may not reflect any of the contributors’ employer’s positions. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any employer.

 

 

 

 

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