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Storage Virtualization | FAQs & Discussions

How To Build A High Performance Fibre Channel SAN using HP Servers

A White Paper by Tim Warden

September 10, 2006

In this example, we will configure a high-performance Fibre Channel SAN using an HP ProLiant server. The objective is to create a storage array with at least 1TB of high-performance storage, with at least 2 Fibre Channel ports. The configuration should allow room for growth in capacity and/or features. Date of this configuration: September 10, 2006.

The following server was configured using HP's online store. It consists of an HP ProLiant DL385 with 4GB of RAM (to be used as Storage Server cache).

We load up all disk slots with 6 internal 300GB 15K Ultra320 SCSI drives to be used as SAN storage. The internal Smart Array 6i controller will be used to configure the disks into a RAID group with a few partitions, one small partition for the OS, and another or others to be used in Virtual Storage Pools for our SAN. If we choose RAID-5, this will give us approximately 1.5TB of SAN storage.

The HP FCA2214DC is a dual port Fibre Channel card which we will use in "target" mode to convert the server into a SAN. Your application servers will access their disks over these two Fibre Channel ports.

This ProLiant model also features 2 1Gb Ethernet ports, which we will be able to use as iSCSI targets. Our SAN will offer both Fibre Channel (performance) and iSCSI (economy) connections.

As this is in effect a Single Storage Processor SAN, we should take measures to ensure availability. We'll use the Smart Array 6i controller to protect against individual disk failure. We'll also add in a redundant power supply and fan. I would recommend installing a UPS as well.

Note we've only used one of the three available PCI-X slots, so we have room for expansion: we can later add another Fibre Channel HBA and maybe an HP 6404 to add additional storage using HP MSA-30 JBOD Ultra320 enclosures.

-Configurable-HP ProLiant DL385 Server
HP ProLiant DL385 Server
AMD¨ 254 Opteronª 2.8GHz/1GHz, 1MB processor
4GB REG PC3200 4x1GB Memory
Microsoft¨ Windows¨ Server 2003 R2, Standard Edition + 5 CALS (Pre-Installed)
Integrated Smart Array 6i controller
HP 300GB Pluggable Ultra320 SCSI 15,000 rpm (1") Universal Hard Drive
HP 300GB Pluggable Ultra320 SCSI 15,000 rpm (1") Universal Hard Drive
HP 300GB Pluggable Ultra320 SCSI 15,000 rpm (1") Universal Hard Drive
HP 300GB Pluggable Ultra320 SCSI 15,000 rpm (1") Universal Hard Drive
HP 300GB Pluggable Ultra320 SCSI 15,000 rpm (1") Universal Hard Drive
HP 300GB Pluggable Ultra320 SCSI 15,000 rpm (1") Universal Hard Drive
HP StorageWorks FCA2214DC 2Gb, dual port, 64-Bit/133 MHz PCI-X-to-fibre channel host bus adapter for Windows Server 2003 and Linux
Hot Plug Redundant Power Supply Module (NEMA)
HP Redundant Fan Option Kit (3 fans)
Embedded NC7782 dual-port gigabit
3 years parts, labor and onsite service (3/3/3) standard warranty. Certain restrictions and exclusions apply.
$13,935.00
HP Care Pack, 4 Years, Next Day, Hardware, ProLiant DL380 $415.00
Hardware Total: $14,350.00

So we have configured our SAN hardware. The thing that's missing is the intelligence to turn this ordinary high-power server into a SAN: the SAN volume, caching, and LUN masking management, as well as the drivers to run the Fibre Channel HBAs in "target" mode so they'll behave like a storage array's Fibre Channel ports. For this functionality we will use a unique software package from DataCore Software Corporation called SANmelody™. This software will turn the ProLiant into a storage array far more powerful and performant than HP's own MSA-1500 — but for less money.

Las Solanas Consulting is not a DataCore or HP reseller, and DataCore does not publish their prices on the web. Please contact DataCore™ or a DataCore reseller for pricing information. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the price.

If you want to take a test drive of my recommended SANmelody configuration, you can download a free, no-obligation 30-day evaluation. You'll see for yourself how SANmelody out-performs the traditional storage vendor's SANs or Storage Arrays.