Las Solanas Consulting

Storage Virtualization | FAQs & Discussions

How To Build A High Performance Fibre Channel/iSCSI SAN using an HP DL380 G5 Server

A White Paper by Tim Warden

In this white paper, we will configure a high-performance Fibre Channel SAN using an HP DL380 G5 server. The objective is to create a scalable appliance with at least 3TB usable high-performance storage. The configuration should allow room for growth in capacity and/or features.


The following server was configured using HP's online store. Date of this configuration: February 24, 2008.

We select an HP ProLiant DL380 G5 with a dual core processor and 4GB of RAM. The RAM will be employed as storage processor cache.

We load all 8 of the internal SFF disk slots with SAS drives. We configure a P800 RAID controller and attach the internal drives to its internal connectors. We'll build a RAID 1 set with the first two 72GB disks and create a 12GB boot/system soft partition for the OS. We can use the rest of the space for any purpose... file shares (NAS storage) or provisioned as SAN storage. We choose 146GB 10K drives to fill the remaining 6 slots. We can create RAID groups as we like and use the resulting logical volumes in Thin Provisioned storage pools.

The P800 RAID controller can attach up to 4 external MSA shelves to its two external connectors. This controller and the MSA product line give us a great deal of latitude in configuring for capacity (750GB 7200 RPM SATA in RAID 5) and performance (15K RPM SAS, RAID 10).

For this example, we attach an MSA60 shelf fully populated with 300GB 15K SAS drives. While we can configure the drives in any combination of RAID we choose, going with RAID-5 and allowing for a hot spare will yield approximately 3.7TB of usable SAN storage between the MSA60 JBOD and the server's internal drives.

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 two 1Gb Ethernet ports, which we will be able to use as iSCSI targets. Our SAN will offer both native Fibre Channel (performance) and native iSCSI (economy) connections.

It is worth noting that the Broadcom NICs typically used with the DL series can be teamed; our iSCSI target drivers will attach to IP stacks, so you can use NIC teaming to maximize the iSCSI throughput.

This G5 model features 5 PCI Express slots: 2 low profile slots and 3 full-size slots. The low profile FC HBA will be installed in slot 1 (x4). The P800 RAID controller installs in one of the x8 full size slots (slot 4 or slot 5). We will use it to attach the internal drives and more importantly for adding external shelves. This leaves us one half-height and two full size slots (an x8 and an x4) available for future expansion. We can later add additional Fibre Channel HBAs or multi-port NICs for additional iSCSI channels, and another P800, allowing us to expand up to 8 MSA shelves: scalability.

-Configurable- HP ProLiant DL380 G5 - Rack Server
HP ProLiant DL380 G5 Server
Dual Core Intel® Xeon® 5130 (2.0GHz, 1333 FSB) Processor
HP 4GB Fully Buffered DIMM PC2-5300 4X1GB Memory
Microsoft® Windows® Server 2003 R2, Standard Edition + 5 CALS (Not Installed)
Slim Line CD-RW/DVD-ROM 24X Combo Drive Option Kit
HP Smart Array P800 Controller
HP 72GB Hot Plug 2.5 SAS 10,000 rpm Hard Drive
HP 72GB Hot Plug 2.5 SAS 10,000 rpm Hard Drive
HP 146GB Hot Plug 2.5 SAS 10,000 rpm Hard Drive
HP 146GB Hot Plug 2.5 SAS 10,000 rpm Hard Drive
HP 146GB Hot Plug 2.5 SAS 10,000 rpm Hard Drive
HP 146GB Hot Plug 2.5 SAS 10,000 rpm Hard Drive
HP 146GB Hot Plug 2.5 SAS 10,000 rpm Hard Drive
HP 146GB Hot Plug 2.5 SAS 10,000 rpm Hard Drive
HP 1000-W Hot-Plug Power Supply
HP 1000-W Redundant Hot-Plug Power Supply (NEMA)
HP Redundant Hot-Plug Fans
Embedded NC373i Multifunction Gigabit Network Adapter
HP Fibre Channel 2242SR 4GB PCI-e HBA - Low Profile
Integrated Lights Out 2 (iLO 2) Standard Management
HP Standard Limited Warranty - 3 Years Parts and on-site Labor, Next Business Day
$8947.00 1 $8947.00
HP Care Pack, 3 Years, 4 Hours, 24x7, Hardware, ProLiant DL380 $919.00 1 $919.00
HP StorageWorks MSA60 Modular Smart Array $2,999.00 1 $2,999.00
HP 300GB Hot Plug 3.5 SAS 15,000 rpm Hard Drive $829.00 12 $9,948.00
Hardware Total: $22,813.00


So we have configured our SAN hardware. What's missing is the intelligence to turn this ordinary high-power server with direct attached storage into a SAN: the volume provisioning, caching, and LUN masking management, as well as the drivers to run the Fibre Channel HBAs and NICs in "target" mode so they'll behave like a storage array's 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-2000.

SANmelody™ software converts ordinary x86 servers into cost-effective storage arrays, often called "SANs". SANmelody™ implements in software the so-called "firmware" that is commonly found in the traditional storage array.

With SANmelody, any PC can become an iSCSI storage server. The server's built-in Ethernet ports become "iSCSI" targets, allowing you to create an inexpensive SAN infrastructure using common IP switches and NICs. By adding in industry standard Fibre Channel HBAs, SANmelody turns the server into a Fibre Channel SAN, thus offering both native FC and native iSCSI functionality.

The server's free disk space can be carved up and / or pooled, from which SANmelody creates virtual volumes (commonly called LUNs) that can be assigned or mapped to other servers. The other servers see these LUNs as local disks to be formatted and used like any other disk.

SANmelody uses the server RAM for its sophisticated caching engine, resulting in impressive "Tier-1" performance.

We purchase a "VMS Plus" license for SANmelody™ which supports up to 4TB of usable backend storage, Storage Pooling with Thin Provisioning and Over-Subscription (which means you can present as much storage as you want to your SAN clients), Snapshots, and up to four iSCSI and FC targets. SANmelody™ is software and its features and capacity are license based. The license can easily be upgraded as your storage requirements evolve. If you need to evolve beyond the DL380 G5, the software can be reinstalled on any other server platform — a DL500 series, or even a server from another vendor. True scalability.


Las Solanas Consulting is not a DataCore nor an HP reseller, and DataCore does not publish their prices on the web. Suffice it to say that the total cost of this solution (configured hardware, software and support and maintenance) will be far less than $30,000.

Please contact DataCore™ or a DataCore reseller for pricing information.

If you want to take a test drive of SANmelody, 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.