My CCIE Storage Lab

Update: I did in fact sell my storage lab after I successfully passed my CCIE.  I have left this page up for reference as it provides great information on building a lab.

To study for my CCIE Storage I have built a pretty good lab.  I based it off of the equipment described at iementor.com.  They are really good over there, and have excellent racks you can rent.  Their study material is of very good quality, professionally printed and very thorough.  I purchased their complete lab book set, and would recommend it to anyone.  This document will get updated, I will try to include pictures of the lab and some other noteworthy information, right now I am just trying to get some pages banged out.

My lab currently has the following equipment:

Storage Switches

Cisco MDS 9216A with IPS-8 module
Cisco MDS 9216A with IPS-8 module
Cisco MDS 9216A with IPS-8 module
Cisco MDS 9216A with SSM module
Brocade Silkworm 2400
McData ES-4500 (aka EMC DS-24M2)

Storage Arrays

JMR Fortra 6-bay JBOD (public loop)
JMR Fortra 6-bay JBOD (public loop)
Xyratex RS-1600-FC JBOD (public loop)
Sun A5200 JBOD (public loop)

Servers

HP DL360G3 (management server) and iLO
HP DL360G3 with Qlogic 2 x QLA2212F/66 HBA and iLO
HP DL360G3 with Qlogic 1 x QLA2212F/66 HBA and iLO
HP DL360G2 with Qlogic 1 x QLA2212F/66 HBA and iLO

Network Switch

Cisco Catalyst 3750G

Terminal Server

Cisco 2511

Miscellaneous

Approximately 80 GBICs and Fiber Cables
Cisco PAA-2 Fiber Channel Analyzer
3 APC network managed power strips

Notes:
For the GBICs I did not use Cisco “approved” GBICs, as that would be too expensive.  I used some Finisars I believe, and they turned out to be triple-mode GBICs, meaning they could do 1GB Ethernet, 1GB Fibre Channel or 2GB Fibre Channel. They were very flexible to use since I had a bunch of IPS-8 modules to use for iSCSI and FCIP studies.   I already had the rack itself, which I used two B-Line 84″ 2-post style relay racks with a 4-post conversion “pan” kit from Chatsworth.  The decision to buy a storage lab was pretty straight forward for me.  I tried to shop as best as I could, so that in the end, if I do sell the equipment I am able to break even or even make some money on it, as it takes considerable time to actually assemble all the parts you need, deal with any broken equipment or missing pieces, and numerous other aggravations that are part of the process.

The 9216A was a clear choice for me on which type of switch to go with.  When you look at all the hardware that is available, each affordable option has various limitations.  I say “affordable” because obviously if you could afford to go with all director class switches and actually had a place to put it all and cool it, you may not have to compromise, but it would be very expensive.  The 9216A has a nice price point, is readily available, and its supports alot of different features.  I added IPS-8 modules, as IP Services seems to be a very large part of the CCIE Storage lab blueprint.  There are other modules that I could have added instead, but IPS modules seemed like the best choice.  Some things are just a bit expensive to put into a lab, at least for me.  For example, I did not buy any SSM modules, because one could just rent time on one or borrow one rather than need to learn day in and day out the limited amount of functionality these modules could potentially be tested on.  I also did not get any switches for NPV/NPIV, once again, its not that much in configuring those technologies, so not much benefit in buying a switch just for it.  I found it much cheaper to buy a 9216A with IPS modules than to buy say a 9222i, which has built in IP ports. As I said earlier, there are all kinds of limitations depending on the hardware you choose, and one thing about the 9222i’s IP ports is you cannot use them for port channel.  Also you don’t just want to have one switch with IP services on it, you want several, because you are going to want to configure Port Channels, iSCSI, etc. all simultaneously on many switches.

I am very familiar with all of the hardware, so if anyone has any questions regarding hardware feel free to drop me a line.