Configuring nVidia SATA controllers for use with VMware ESX

October 16, 2008

Part of the beauty of ESX 3.x from a hardware support standpoint was the addition of SATA as a viable install media for the hypervisor and service console.  However, opening up support for SATA also included a few hiccups along the way, most related to the SATA controllers officially supported by VMware.  For folks like myself who spent a lot of time with AMD-based platforms, the only real choices for SATA controllers (onboard the motherboard, not discrete) were offerings from Broadcom and nVidia.  This post will highlight how to configure your ESX 3.x host to use nVidia SATA controllers.

Note: This information is available within the VMware user community as well.  I am indebted to the person(s) in that community who provided this information, albeit in a slightly less “visual” way.

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Search Term Reviews: October 15th Edition

October 15, 2008

It’s been awhile since I last did a review of what people are searching for (July 30th was the last time…wow) so, let’s see what’s new.

Search Term #1: EMC NX4

Not really suprised here.  Honestly, take the Celerra NS-20, cut the price signficantly, allow blended SAS/SATA drive trays, Read the rest of this entry »


Future Storage Systems: Part 4: Operating System – Conceptual Overview

October 13, 2008

In the previous Future Storage System articles, we’ve covered the basic hardware foundation for what I envision to be a powerful future-oriented storage solution for the commercial midrange.  However, as you’re probably aware, hardware is meaningless without software to provide the operational capabilities that are needed to mange information.  In this article, I will focus on a general design for an extensible software layer (an OS) that will provide future-oriented capability expansion as well as robust analytics, capabilities, and integration with business continuity principles.  As always, please reference the diagram below.

Future Storage System - Operating System - Conceptual

Future Storage System - Operating System - Conceptual

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EMC CX4 is ALIVE!

August 6, 2008
Which memory locations can be cached by which ...Image via Wikipedia

Is it just me or have we been waiting for this for a while? 😉  Today is officially the EMC Clariion CX4 public GA (general availability) date.  Good news: they’re shipping TODAY!  No paper launches, folks…this is immediate availability.  The other good news: you get to do more with your storage; faster, cheaper, stronger, more flexible, etc.  Let me rip through some highlights for you:

a.) Cache and SP Processor increases.  Across the board, processor “speeds” and cache sizes have been increased.  Now, this may appear somewhat odd in that the CX4-120, for example, only has two dual core 1.2ghz processors, but, when you consider that the onboard L2 cache is greater in size (and Woodcrest processors were HANDILY more powerful than the older Nocona Xeons), it actually has more innate processing power than the previous generation processors.  Cache sizes, when coupled with the 64 bit FLARE OS for the array, allow for better allocation and utilization within the array. 

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Search Term Tuesday – May 26th Edition

May 27, 2008

This is the second edition of the same post. Evidently, WordPress doesn’t like it when I fat-finger in Firefox 3.0 Beta 5. Grrrrr…..

So, what is “Search Term Tuesday” (or any other day of the week, even)? The principle of it is this: grab some of the focused searches out there that land on this site (i.e Flickerdown) and attempt to respond to them with more data. Deal? Let’s begin, then.

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Why the AX4-5 matters….

April 25, 2008

In my previous post, I discussed the reasons why EMC needed to spent a little more quality time with the SMB market at large. Today, in the course of several back-to-back design calls with various level SMB customers, I was struck by a couple of things.

a.) The Clariion AX4-5, while more of a “baby” Clariion amongst its more “mature” CX3 bretheren, offers something that the other arrays currently don’t: Tiered storage within the same drive tray (i.e. SAS and SATA in the same tray). Why is this important, you say? For one, I can now design tiered storage within the same tray, adding value to a customer who previously had to invest in two discrete trays of disk, one for fibre and one for SATA. Simply put, utilize 750GB/1TB drives for the 3+1 vault R5 group, toss in a good 3+1 R5 based on 10k or 15k SAS for a good baseline performance group, and then mix/match other drives to taste. You’ve got 12 slots (wish it was 15) to play around with and, it just works.
b.) You really have a harder time positioning the CX3-10 and NS-2x series because of it. Yes, the NS-22 offers the most versatility, especially with fibre and IP connectivity in the same box, but, again, with all 3 arrays (AX4-5, CX3-10, NS-22) offering 60 drive max with the same performance and storage capabilities, you need to set the table a little more carefully. Obviously, segmenting the AX4-5 into two product variants (iSCSI and fibre) leads to more “purpose built” environment installations as you only can use one or the other. The CX3-10 offers both fibre and iSCSI in the combo model and the NS-22 takes it up another notch by offering FTP, HTTP, CIFS, NFS, iSCSI, and fibre in the same box.
c.) Everyone should be selling the full version of Navisphere Manager with the AX4-5. Honestly, there’s really no reason not to as it does allow for a bit more feature functionality within the box. As a matter of fact, none of my array designs will leave EMC’s dock without it installed. 😉 You’re not missing much with Navi Express, but, once your business grows and you move to commercial Clariion units (CX3-20 and up), you’ll be able to hit the ground running.
d.) Replication, while not as “complete” as the CX3-10 and NS-22 offerings, still covers a majority of the bases required by customers. Mirrorview, Sancopy (important especially with Replication Manager usage w/SQL, Exchange), and Replistor make a compelling entry level replication solution that most multi-site SMB IT shops should be able to afford. Listen, I’m not the money guy so my anticipation of “affordability” might be scoffed at by the market at large, but seriously…finance it. 😉

All in all, the AX4-5 is a powerful offering for SMB and I look forward to bringing more awareness to it in the days ahead.

cheers,

Dave

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