ESX "SMB" Edition Would Rock

The folks at EMEA TSX had a brainstorming session for ideas for VMware, called “The Next Big Thing.

There were several ideas thrown out there that are good, but I know what I would have voted on: the “ESX SMB Edition.” Hands-down, this would be sweet. A cross between MogileFS and ESX Server would rock.

I talk to a lot of people that just cannot justify the price of a SAN-based VI3 implementation. Yeah, SANs are good for lots of things, but it’s a big chunk of change for a small business. Heck, it’s a big chunk of change for a big business, too, and a major source of IT complexity. SANs add major points of failure to anything they’re attached to, unless you spend a lot of money to make everything redundant, and then you’re trading money and increased complexity for some additional reliability. They also require training, upkeep, monitoring, management, and all sorts of things that are just plain hard for an SMB to get done.

Second reason that a SAN-free ESX would rule: DR. I could truly have an offsite copy of my VMs without the expensive, pain in the duff remote SAN copy stuff that storage vendors want to sell you. In my environment EMC’s MirrorView software has caused a number of outages on our CX600/700s, and even if it wasn’t just taking storage processors out it still means way more complexity. I’d love to not have to use it. Even if the implementation was merely an asynchronous mirror, copied every hour or two, that would cover 98% of my servers.

Yeah, I know it’d be tricky to do, especially to get VMotion working, but VMware has built their business on making tricky things seem like magic. They did it first with VMotion. Now DRS is doing a good job of making resource management brainless. What if the storage & DR could just magically happen, too, and growing your virtual infrastructure just truly meant racking another box?

8 thoughts on “ESX "SMB" Edition Would Rock”

  1. A SAN is definitely an expensive solution for VMware. It is something that I had to struggle with for “re-starting” the virtualization project. In addition, you still have other costs that need to be dealt with such as delivering a robust networking solution for ESX servers (you’ll want to be able to have redundant connections to different switches… blah blah blah blah).

    If only there were a way to combine the two into something enterprise worthy… hmmmmm… maybe InfiniBand. For someone looking to implement a virtualized solution who can start from scratch, it could definitely keeps infrastructure costs down while delivering a high level of performance.

    I’d add InfiniBand to my VMware wishlist.

  2. It took me until more than half way (maybe all the way) through before I figured out that SMB didn’t stand for Server Message Block, but instead for Small or Medium sized Business..


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  4. While a SAN is expensive it’s damn worth the money. I’ve noticed the difference between local disks in servers as apposed to 2GB Fibre Channel disks and it’s amazing. Just installing the OS is so much quicker on the SAN disks.

  5. Couple of quick notes. I agree that this would absolutely rock out to have a SAN-less entry point ESX solution.

    However there’s lots of movement in the entry-level SAN marketspace (especially with iSCSI built-into the VMKernel this looks really nice) right now, and I’ve deployed a number of them that go head to head with the big guys in terms of real functionality, and much better handling of replication and high availability issues than Mirror View et al. Check out and

    Datacore rocks out for SMBs looking to consolidate and looking at getting better use out of existing storage. Compellent goes further on the intelligent management of data blocks and the roadmap is moving towards VMotion type abilities on the storage side. Very cool players, the two of them.

  6. I’ve had a great experience using NetApp FAS3020Cs with AT disk shelves of 500GB SATA disks as my VI3 clusters’ back-end storage using iSCSI as the transport. Things should improve more when VMware eventually updates the iSCSI initiator to support jumbo frames and MPIO.

  7. I’m running at the moment at virtual appliance OpenFiler. This delivers the iSCSI LUN’s in a test enviroment. It’s for free. With SANmelody Light ( cheap 2T datastorage manager is available. Every physical storage can be deployd as an iSCSI LUN to ESX.
    See my simpel running configuration at

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