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EMC vs Whitebox

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
No doubt this has been asked before - if so I apologise. I'm curious to know what the likes of EMC and other SAN vendors have, that couldn't be whiteboxed?

Apart from external boxes like switches (SAS/FibreChannel/Ethernet) which you'd have to buy in either case) and the management software, what do they have that whiteboxes don't, in terms of performance and equipment? I know that support is a different matter.

Hard drives are made by a limited number of vendors. Same goes for SAS HBAs, RAID or not. Tyan and Supermicro make good quality server boards. Intel and Broadcom make decent Ethernet NICs, and I don't know any FibreChannel vendors.

Do they implement iSCSI in hardware, or do they use an embedded OS? Does that perform better than say FreeNAS or OpenFiler on comparable hardware?

The basic question is: what exactly am I paying for?
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post #2 of 14
go for Netapp,
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post #3 of 14
you're paying for component compatibility, but mainly for the software features - providing the resiliency and failover options that simply aren't available in no-cost options.
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_beast View Post
you're paying for component compatibility, but mainly for the software features - providing the resiliency and failover options that simply aren't available in no-cost options.
Can you give more detail? I assume EMC systems use RAID of some kind, no doubt a variant of RAID 6 with hot spares. Did they ever license ZFS?

Failover can be achieved with mechanisms like DRBD and redundant connections. The component compatibility and quality of the management software I cannot argue with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VaLMerCs View Post
go for Netapp,
I read an article recently where OpenFiler running on commodity hardware blew NetApp into the weeds. By the way, I'm not focusing on EMC alone, I include all of their ilk in my query.
Edited by parityboy - 1/16/11 at 3:14pm
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post #5 of 14
We use dell equallogics at work, they work AMAZING. Easy to use/install and have not had one issue since we put them in.
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post #6 of 14
Depending on What EMC product you get they have deduplication built into the box. They also support CIFS/NFS/iSCSI and Fiber channel all in one box. Their software with their SANs are highly integrated into VMWare ESXi Server and various others. Mainly you are paying for the software, the hardware is very cheap.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
So in terms of raw performance, is the hardware no faster/no better quality than a whitebox or (for example) Dell R510 running FreeNAS or OpenFiler?
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post #8 of 14
The hardware is essentially the same performance / similar quality.

What you're paying for is:
A) Reliabilty from reputable vendor (warranty plans, on-site service)
B) Compatibility - Take Dell for instance. You can purchase one of their servers and be guaranteed you'll have full compatibility with one of their SANS with minimal configuration.
C) Management - Each vendor has their own management software suite for servers...something that makes management of numerous servers less painful.
D) Support - I cannot reiterate enough that hardware support is the number one selling point. Granted you can buy server grade parts and essentially make a server on par with Dell. But when you compare hardware costs they are similar (assuming all hardware is server grade), but the difference is in the support contract.

Given an IT dependent enterprise, would you like the sole responsibility of a hardware failure falling on your shoulders? Most circumstances I would say probably not, especially if a capital loss occurs.

If this server is for development purposes then there isn't an issue with a white box system, I just stress caution if you plan to use it for a production environment.
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post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rocketman331 View Post
If this server is for development purposes then there isn't an issue with a white box system, I just stress caution if you plan to use it for a production environment.
Oh no, I would not do that in a business environment unless the support expertise was on-site. I'm just canvassing for opinions, and trying to see where the value is. If I'm gonna be paying EMC £10,000 for a storage array I can build using a Dell server + Linux for £3,000 I need the justification.
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post #10 of 14
I think you can build it, but even with the expertise on site it isn't worth doing it from scratch with Linux as there is (often) too much at stake, with the various bits too time consuming to troubleshoot if/when things go wrong. You could go for something like StarWind iSCSI SAN software to build your own setup (which may or may not save you much cash) though, which ends up similar to the EMC setup. The disadvantage again is that you now have 2 people to shout at when things go wrong, and doubtless they will blame each other whenever possible.

With EMC (or similar), if things go wrong you pick up the phone, dial 1 number and it's definitely their job to sort it out, hardware or software-wise.
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