Monday, September 3, 2012

Citrix XenServer 6, iSCSI and Compellent – Part 2

It’s safe to say after our last experience with Co-Pilot I was pretty disappointed, then I got my quote for 1 year of support, the first time we are paying for support since we purchased them, and I was shocked.  I wasn’t going to pay that much money for that kind of support.  I have been told over and over again that this is not typical for Co-Pilot, however it is typical of my experience with Co-Pilot.  If I get around to it I will blog about my experience with Compellent and SRM 5 last December. Also around the same time that I got the quote for support one of my friends was talking about a new SAN he bought called Nimble.  It sounded interesting and the price was amazing compared to Compellent. Seriously I starting looking at the Nimble just because of the price.

I decided to start looking at other options to see if it was even possible to replace the Compellent.  I never ever thought I would replace the Compellent, even though I was very disappointed with them. I started putting out some feelers on LinkedIn to see if anyone would buy my systems and to see what my support options were. Luckily I found a couple of business partners that are interested in purchasing all my gear and I got a lot of good feedback about my support options.

I even had a regional Compellent sales rep ask why I was considering not renewing support.  He asked if I was having problems with the product or with support. He also asked if my local Compellent team was aware of the problems. I replied with “Yes, I have problems with the product and with support.”  “Yes, my business partner is aware of the problems and so is my local Compellent team and they have done nothing to resolve the problems.”  Well apparently that was the quote that set Compellent off.
Within days of that appearing on LinkedIn I got a call from Compellent Co-Pilot management asking about our issues and they were determined to resolve the issues. Just a little more history on this ticket.  This case was opened on on June 18th, the day we converted to virtual ports was July 21st. So a month between opening a case where servers were locking up and replications failing until they suggested and we could implement a resolution. After the 21st I sent an email to my business partner and local Compellent team. No calls, no contact, no email, nothing.  Then after the LinkedIn postings I got a call on August 2nd. It’s now September 2nd.

Compellent has been all over us since that day.  They have assigned a tier 3 tech to our case, they call us almost every other with suggestions and to check on our progress.  However, they still can’t solve the main problem.  XenServer 6, iSCSI and multi-pathing.

The main problem is this. Compellent says multi-pathing with Xenserver 6 and iSCSI HBA’s works.  However, we can’t get the Qlogic 4062C iSCSI HBA to display both ports in XenServer 6. It works fine in 5.6, just not 6.0.  So we called our Citrix business partner and explain the problem.  They tell us that it is not supported and we are wasting time trying to troubleshoot it.  We tell this to Compellent and they insist it works and to open a ticket with Citrix. We call our Citrix business partner again and have them open a ticket with Citrix.  They call us back and say that card is not supported in XenServer 6, so they can’t help us.  It turns out, NO ISCSI HBA’s ARE CERTIFIED ON XENSERVER 6.0.

In the mean time we had been investigating the Nimble array quite heavily.  The price is right and it all sounds great and looks awesome on paper. Compellent wasn’t making any progress at the time and the Nimble sounds like it will solve our replication issues and improve performance.  Over the next 3 years buying two new Nimble’s was about the same price as paying Compellent support and upgrading my series 30 controllers. We decided to participate in a Nimble proof of concept and it starts next week.  If it works, they will replace the Compellent.  This was all decided and signed before we found the real problem, no iSCSI HBA’s supported on XenServer 6.0.  Since virtual ports doesn’t work with software iSCSI, we are kind of screwed.

Since this problem is with XenServer and not Compellent we have made some decisions.
  1. We are no longer trying to get multi-pathing to work in XenServer
  2. We have decided to flatten our iSCSI network to one subnet on two switches
  3. We have decided the long term solution is to replace XenServer with more Vmware licenses
I plan on blogging about the Nimble install and data conversion as well.  So stay tuned for more posts on that.

No comments: