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How To Build A Scalable Feature-Packed iSCSI SAN using an HP ProLiant DL380 G5 Server

A White Paper by Tim Warden

In this white paper, we will configure a feature-rich, high-performance iSCSI SAN using an HP DL380 G5 server. The objective is to create a scalable appliance with 3TB usable high-performance storage, and a Tier-1 SAN feature set. The SAN should be capable of performing both synchronous mirroring for Business Continuity and asynchronous replication for implementing a Disaster Recovery site. The configuration should be scalable, providing for growth in capacity.


The following server was configured using HP's online store. Date of this configuration: February 23, 2008.

We select an HP ProLiant DL380 G5 with a dual core processor and 4GB of RAM. The RAM will be employed as Storage Server 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), asynchronous replication buffer space, 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 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. This will yield approximately 4.6TB of raw SAN storage between the MSA60 JBOD and the server's internal drives.

We configure four of the 15K drives in RAID 10 for 600 GB of high-performance storage. We reserve one of the drives as a Hot Spare, and use RAID-5 on the remaining 7 x 15K spindles for 1.8TB of usable space. If we place the 6 internal drives 10K into a RAID 5 group, this will yield roughly 3TB of tiered storage.

This ProLiant model also features two integrated 1Gb Ethernet ports. We configure two additional dual-port Gigabit cards, giving us a total of 6 NICs.

We reserve one of the NICs for use as our Asynchronous Replication channel for sending our change data to the DR site.

The remaining NICs will be configured as iSCSI targets. We can configure them as independent iSCSI target ports or team them any way we choose.

Note this G5 model features 5 PCI Express slots: 2 low profile slots and 3 full-size slots. We populate slots 1 (x4) & 2 (x4) with the low profile dual-port Gig-E cards. The P800 RAID controller installs in one of the x8 full size slots (slot 4 or slot 5) for adding external shelves. This leaves us two full size slots (an x8 and an x4) for future expansion: we can later add another multi-port NIC for additional iSCSI channels, or even a Fibre Channel HBA to create a hybrid native FC / native iSCSI SAN. We can also add 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 NC360T PCI Express Dual Port Gigabit Server Adapter - Low Profile
HP NC360T PCI Express Dual Port Gigabit Server Adapter - Low Profile
Integrated Lights Out 2 (iLO 2) Standard Management
HP Standard Limited Warranty - 3 Years Parts and on-site Labor, Next Business Day
$7605.00 1 $7605.00
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: $21,471.00


DataCore SANmelody

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 NICs as iSCSI "targets" 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 traditional storage arrays.

With SANmelody, any x86 platform 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.

SANmelody also offers optional support for native Fibre Channel — by adding in industry standard Fibre Channel HBAs such as those from QLogic or Emulex, SANmelody offers both native FC and native iSCSI functionality.

The server's 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. Want more cache? It's just inexpensive server RAM — and SANmelody will support up to 20GB worth for caching.

We purchase a "VS1 Package" license for SANmelody™ which supports up to 3TB 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). The license also features Snapshots, Synchronous Data Mirroring, Asynchronous Replication and up to eight iSCSI targets. SANmelody™ is software and its features and capacity are license based — the license can easily be upgraded as your storage capacity requirements evolve. If you need to evolve beyond the DL380 G5, the software can be reinstalled on any other server platform #151; a DL500 series, or even a server from another vendor. True scalability.

The VS1 license satisfies our objectives for implementing our Business Continuity solution as well as creating a DR site.

By installing a second SAN array with the same software configuration we've created here, the two SANmelody servers can be paired to mirror any or all of their volumes in an active / active manner. The mirroring of the writes takes place over iSCSI and creating a mirror channel is as simple as connecting a crossover cable between the two SANmelody servers. The two partners can actively failover and fail-back, providing the highest level of data availability — an ideal solution for a highly-available virtual server environment.

The VS1 license also includes AIM, the Asynchronous IP Mirroring feature, which we can use between any two SANmelody servers to replicate our SAN volumes over standard IP.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery


In summary, each SANmelody node will will comprise the following:

  • 4.6TB raw SAS capacity, including 3.6TB of 15K RPM SAS
  • Complete SCSI-3 recommendation, ideal for stretch clusters
  • Six Gigabit Ethernet / iSCSI ports
  • Storage Pooling for convenience and flexibility
  • Thin Provisioning & Over-Subscription
  • Thin Provisioned Snapshots
  • Snapshot Volume Cloning
  • Synchronous Data Mirroring ready
  • Automatic Failover & Fail-back
  • Asynchronous Replication ready over standard IP
  • Scalable in both capacity and ports
  • Fibre Channel available as an option
  • Software license can be installed on any hardware


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 per SANmelody server (configured hardware, software and support and maintenance) will be 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.

Attend A Live Online Demo of SANmelody

Want to see a live of demo of SANmelody? Every Monday at 2pm Eastern, DataCore hosts a no-obligation, no-hassle online demo of the SANmelody product. The author of this paper is frequently one of the presenters. The presentation shows the various product features in the form of a demo of the installed product. Following the demo the presenter opens the floor to questions.   [Click here to Register...]