Storage. Storage. Storage.
I think the biggest thing that could be improved in our server room is the purchase of a decent SAN. (Indeed, this is something I note as a “nice to have” upgrade in many shops teetering between “S” and “M” in the SME acronym.) SANs are expensive. Or rather, they were expensive during our initial datacenter design about two years ago. The prices are coming down on entry level gear, yet like VMWare’s management utilities they are not quite within reasonable reach of the lower-to-middle class of organizations that fit in the “SME” bracket.
At current, we have sever ESXi boxen deployed, all of which were fitted with RAID controllers, and local storage. Had we deployed these all at once, we would never have gone this route, as that money could have been spent on a SAN that would have made life so much easier. Sadly, as with many datacenters, capacity demands grew organically to the point that we now have 25 physical 2-socket servers in 4 cities all with HW raid cards to provide local storage for ESXi.
Now don’t get me wrong, ESXi is grand, and the ability to slice and dice makes life very easy. The dang 20Mbit/sec cap on moving VMs on and off of ESXi 4 using the VI Client is a huge pain the [censored] when one of the VM Servers has a lie down.
If each site had a SAN, this would be far less of a problem, as the actual “processing boxen” would be completely disposable. ESXi-01 ate itself? Okey dokey; remap it’s LUN over ESXi-spare and fire up the VMs.
Larger organizations have this…and better. They can afford the magic software that makes it all work seamlessly. For organizations stuck doing this “by hand,” even a basic SAN is a huge help. (To the pedants: shut it. I do realize that to do this literally “by hand” here I would have to be flipping bits with a magnet.)
You might ask why a company with 25 Virtual Servers, (and far more than that in VMs) can’t afford SANs and VMWare magic crystals and such like. Funny story that, let’s round it up to “CALs” and “the business we work in is horrifically low margin, yet amazingly computer intensive.”
So any SAN vendors out there want to make a huge friend for life, give me 4 SANs, and I’ll fill ‘em with drives. No takers? Well, worth a shot…