Moving on from the more general VMware storage topics, I think it is good, since I work for HP, and since I spend much of my day designing HP storage solutions for virtual environments, to talk a little about the different models, where they fit, and why it is good to have more than one storage system to look at when designing for a VMware environment.
The HP P2000 family is now in it’s 4th Generation. This is HP’s entry level SAN, solid performance, a standard modular design, and an easily learned interface that is quite intuitive. This is an excellent platform, and not just for small businesses. The simplicity of design scales out very well for users with a middle ware layer, such as VMware to manage the multiple arrays.
The biggest draw of this device is the variance between connectivity methods. The P2000 allows for SAS connectivity, either direct connected or using a small sas switch, 1GbE iSCSI, 10GbE iSCSI, and FC. There is also a combination controller allowing for iSCSI and FC in the same system. This level of flexibility enables environments to be designed around multiple protocols, or in smaller environments to take advantage of less costly protocols.
The user interface on the P2000 is very simple and functional. Provided the user understands some basic server terminology, the P2000 can be configured, and even snapshotting and replication are easily provisioned. The concepts around this are a pay per array system. If you want snapshots, or replicaiton, you license the array rather than a per TB charge. The system can be administered through a user friendly web GUI, a robust CLI, or by using plugins in VMware vCenter.
The only real downsides to this system is the small amount of Cache, and the limited feature set. For the most demanding of applications and users, this might not be the best fit simply because they are going to want to leverage the larger amount of more expensive DRAM in higher end arrays. This can be mitigated by I/O accelerators on the server side, or by scaling out with multiple systems, so it is not a huge problem. The limited feature set, again is not always a bad thing. It is critical to understand what is needed from the array, and to plan accordingly. For example, if thin provisioning is a critical success factor, this might not give you the same level as a 3Par for example. On the otherhand, if cost is the biggest factor, and you have a constraint of using a 1GbE iSCSI network, this is a perfect fit.
Another option not often considered with the P2000 is, while it is a block only array, it can be paired with the HP Storeasy File Gateway, to provide file services with built in deduplication, and a familiar windows interface. What does this have to do with a VMware environment?!?!?! It has been my experience that many VMware environments run primarily Microsoft Windows. This means that windows file shares are quite important, and overlooked.
In a VMware environment, this is a great shared storage system. It is easy to administer, it is a good value for the price, and it does enable many of the VAAI features available with VMware. Additionally this is one of the most flexible systems on the market. When you absolutely need SAS or 1GbE iSCSI connectivity, this is always a great fit. At the end of the day, there is a reason why companies like HP have multiple storage offerings, and this one is exceptional in it’s space.