Two weeks ago the new storage array arrived. We have moved from Fibre Channel to iSCSI almost exclusively because of cost. At the rate at which our existing SAN appears to be growing we are unable to afford to add storage to it. An iSCSI SAN provides a much more affordable solution for our storage needs.

The vendor we went with was Dell, this was not my first choice nor were they within the top three choices that me and my team researched. Our boss felt that since we got everything else from Dell, that we should go with them here as well, and I’m not entirely sold on that idea. It was rather frustrating though as the state is currently in a budget crunch and Dell was the single most expensive vendor to pick from.

The product we chose was an MD3000i filled with 1TB SATA drives. This one enclosure provides nearly double the amount of storage that our four Fibre Channel enclosures provide. The Dell product was not nealrly as flexible as some of the other products we looked at, but its shortcomings are manageable for now.

Basic setup was fairly straightforward, it comes preconfigred on a 192.168.130/24 and 192.168.131/24 network. Once we configured a computer in that range on that network the GUI configuration tool was able to find the enclosure and allow us to get it going. Creating the Raid Groups and LUNs was pretty straightforward as well, the one thing we had a gripe about was terminology.

Disk Group = Raid Group

Virtual Disk = LUN

The GUI itself is effective in presenting the health and configuration of the array good enough, and for basic tasks the GUI is well suited. I have to continue to remind myself that this is designed for small to medium sized businesses and so in that environment everything you need is given to you. But the cool stuff, that is accessed via the CLI.

The CLI can be run in quasi-interactive mode, or for use in batch files you can pass it in all the parameters. If you’ve ever used diskpart in a batch script or netsh it works very much the same way. One of our requirements early on was the ability to dynamically resize a LUN without disrupting any users who may be accessing it at the time. This is possible using the CLI and it’s really intuitive once you have an understanding of the commands available:

set virtualDisk [“Name of Virtual Disk”] addCapacity=1TB;

Provided there is enough capacity on the SAN, this command will instruct the MD3000i to add 1 Terabyte of storage to the given disk. If you don’t know what the name of the disk is:

show allVirtualDisks;