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Hardware Thread, Replace server disks or buy/build NAS? in Technical; ...
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    broc's Avatar
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    Replace server disks or buy/build NAS?

    We have a 4 year old DELL Poweredge 4600 that has a RAID5 array consisting of 5x 36gb U320 15000 RPM disks (plus hot spare). This server used to be our main file server & DC but nowadays its primary role is just as a DC, however we still use this RAID5 array as 'in flight' backup for staff & student data copied from our main file server twice a day.

    My problem is the array (135gb) is no longer big enough to hold the data so I need to find a solution.

    The simplest & easiest & possibly quickest would be to replace all of the drives with 146gb U320 10000 rpm drives, this would cost around £800-900 and would give me a 4x increase in capacity that should handle a couple of years growth.

    I could also buy a cheap & cheerful NAS device, such as a Terastation Pro II or similar, or I could set up a FREENAS system based upon SATA disks, both of these would potentially offer more capacity for the future but rely upon less robust technology than the PE4600.

    What would you do?

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    fooby's Avatar
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    it shouldnt cost £900 for just disks :-S

    and i wouldnt trust a "cheap cheerful" nas box as i dont trust them to scale to 600+ (the network here) users accessing them at any one time

    i can find disks at about £150 doing a google product search.

    i can also point you towards a pretty good dell reseller?

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    broc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fooby View Post
    it shouldnt cost £900 for just disks :-S

    and i wouldnt trust a "cheap cheerful" nas box as i dont trust them to scale to 600+ (the network here) users accessing them at any one time

    i can find disks at about £150 doing a google product search.

    i can also point you towards a pretty good dell reseller?
    Thanks fooby for your comments about not trusting cheap & cheerful NAS boxes, I have my doubts too, hence the question

    I can find Seagate U320 146gb 10k drives for £137.50 ex vat, 4 data + 1 parity + 1 hot spare = 6 drives @ &137.50 I make that £825. If anyone can better that I would be happy to hear from them.

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    fooby's Avatar
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    I personally buy Dell servers and parts from ICTechnology - my contact is Simon Bayley 01235 816405 maybe he can help? i have always got competitive pricing from him.

    hth


    p.s the other thing i have seen recently - is a fe large HP nas boxes with loads of storage, these might be quite good - i decided recently to upgrade the storage here to a Dell MD1000 storage enclosure - holds 15 hard disks and can cascade to attach to another md unit to have up to 45 disks. should scale ok
    Last edited by fooby; 20th March 2008 at 10:46 AM. Reason: added ps section

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    How about something like the Snap Server 110? http://www.exactive.co.uk/products.a...tno=5325301979

    Or the 220? 1TB http://www.rapideshop.co.uk/products...tno=5325301981

    They are designed for business rather than home users. Personally, I have a Snap Server 520 and it is flawless, but it is 3TB and cost us £4k.

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    broc's Avatar
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    I wondered about the MD1000, it would be a very sensible purchase but I would need to buy an adapter too as the server in question has no external SAS connectors and buying both would jack up the price a lot. Good idea though.

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    ICT_GUY's Avatar
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    I would buy a cheap new server, dabs to an HP one for £380ex vat and populate it with cheap sata drives, even raptors if you want to be flash with you cash. This will be cheaper and have the bonus of a three year on site warranty.

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    Quote Originally Posted by broc View Post
    We have a 4 year old DELL Poweredge 4600 that has a RAID5 array consisting of 5x 36gb U320 15000 RPM disks (plus hot spare). This server used to be our main file server & DC but nowadays its primary role is just as a DC, however we still use this RAID5 array as 'in flight' backup for staff & student data copied from our main file server twice a day.
    If that server is trundling along okay then you could use that as a small-and-fast file storage area and and a second larger, slower (cheap server with a couple of SATA drives in) machine for larger files that you don't need so often. This is the approach I'm going for - we don't have enough money to buy big, snazzy, fast servers, but we did just manage to get a server for £99 from Dell which will take three 500GB SATA drives at £65 or so each. Should do nicely for our 1TB RAID-5 photo archive server.

    both of these would potentially offer more capacity for the future but rely upon less robust technology than the PE4600.
    I figure that's what RAID was invented for - to make cheap kit more robust. You simply get the fastest/biggest harddrives you can afford and if one conks out you chuck it out and replace it.

    If you have the money (around £2000), you can build your own RAID server - I was aiming for a machine consisting of an Antec 900 case, decent motherboard and 2 4-slot front-loading harddrive bays loaded with 500GB SATA drives. With a quad-port gigabit ethernet card in, I figured we could use it as a stand-alone RAID array or a SAN device if we wanted (still not convinced by SANS - aiming to have a look at distributed file systems over Easter). I would look at Coraid's AoE-based stuff for similar hardware if you're not keen on putting bits together yourself.

    --
    David Hicks

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    I agree with dhicks and ict_guy...buy a cheap dell/hp server and whack a load of hard drives in it. Upgrade the ram to 2Gb or more and you've got a capable server of running other services such as WSUS as perhaps even an anti-virus server.

    I was just looking at dabs today and noticed a HP (ML110 I think) for £130...bargain!

    James

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    torledo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by james1990 View Post
    I agree with dhicks and ict_guy...buy a cheap dell/hp server and whack a load of hard drives in it. Upgrade the ram to 2Gb or more and you've got a capable server of running other services such as WSUS as perhaps even an anti-virus server.

    I was just looking at dabs today and noticed a HP (ML110 I think) for £130...bargain!

    James

    The whole point of a NAS filer whether it be proprietary such as a storevault or an open solution with off-the-shelf hardware such as freenas is that they are dedicated NAS boxes fufilling no other purpose and running no other services, except maybe an AV app depending on the OS being used by the filer.

    i'm a proponent of building you're own NAS when money is tight rather than go for the terrastations just because they come in under budget.

    But building you're own doesn't buy the main feature required of more expensive filers. No redundant RAID controllers with the hardware. Therefore SPoF. Plus support would be restricted to the hardware if the ML110 or similar was bought. Also scalability and performance is another concern, how many hot swap disks can you put in a 5U server......maximum of 10 perhaps ?. What if out of those 8 are being used for RAID6, 1 is a hot spare and you now want to mirror the whole lot to another set of disks on another controller or you need more spindles for another raid set. Whooops no second controller and no way to fit more disks into the chassis. You're then looking for a second bit of hardware to get that extra capacity or rsync to another similarly configured box.

    This is why these types of solutions i believe have a limit in terms of size of deployment. You can use 2.5 inch disk caddies to get more disks and and capacity with SATA disks, the most expensive PCIe raid controllers with tons of onboard cache, but at some point from a TCO perspective you'll outgrow it or you'll need that controller redundancy and that's when you have to look at the more expensive solutions.

    It's a similar argument to that between

    Cisco routers or diy linux router.
    Cisco firewall or diy linux firewall.

    Sure you can accomplish what the more expensive cisco devices do at a fraction of the cost, but at some point it's just easier all round from a support and ease of use perspective to go with the Cisco kit. That's certainly the case now with routers as i haven't heard about anyone trying to build they're own linux routers with off the shelf hardware for years....

    whereas linux iptables firewalls are still tremendously popular.
    Last edited by torledo; 21st March 2008 at 07:22 AM.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by torledo View Post
    But building you're own doesn't buy the main feature required of more expensive filers. No redundant RAID controllers with the hardware.
    What is it that specialised RAID controllers do that can't be done with a standard CPU? You can a build a "storage unit" out of a motherboard, case and couple of disks for a couple of hundred pounds these days. Spend a few hundred more and you get a motherboard with on-board quad-gigabit ports and 10,000RPM SATA disks. Attach a bunch of those to a decent switch and run them either as SAN devices with mirroring between devices or as a distributed file system. If one breaks, chuck it out and get a new one.

    --
    David Hicks

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    torledo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    What is it that specialised RAID controllers do that can't be done with a standard CPU? You can a build a "storage unit" out of a motherboard, case and couple of disks for a couple of hundred pounds these days. Spend a few hundred more and you get a motherboard with on-board quad-gigabit ports and 10,000RPM SATA disks. Attach a bunch of those to a decent switch and run them either as SAN devices with mirroring between devices or as a distributed file system. If one breaks, chuck it out and get a new one.

    --
    David Hicks
    Yes, it's a nice little setup you describe, and i might have a play with setting one up at some point....but if i had a few thousand for a storage solution i wouldn't go the diy route....i'd want component redundancy and i'd want it to scale. And i'd want multiprotocol all in the same box with a robust filesystem and replication options.

    Some of that can be achieved on budget but the performance won't match an emc or storevault solution. There is a case for saying the big NAS and SAN storage vendors do overprice at the low end of the market compared to what can be achived with an open solution. It's something Sun are trying to highlight with their litigation skirmeshes with netapp. But as always you can negotiate significant discount off list with the vendors and it's a wise investment if the funds are available. FreeNAS i'd do for fun. Not saying it can't be used as a serious solution but i'm not inclined.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=torledo;171113]i'd want component redundancy and i'd want it to scale. And i'd want multiprotocol all in the same box with a robust filesystem and replication options./QUOTE]

    I figure go for hardware with as much raw power as possible (RPM speed of the harddrives, front-side bus speeds of the motherboard, speed of RAM (CPU speed probably not as important), network bandwidth available) and take care of the rest in software. It works for Google! You're probably right, though - by the time you start getting up to 15,000RPM SAS disks and 10Gbps network fibre-channel networking you're probably best off buying ready-made hardware.

    There is a case for saying the big NAS and SAN storage vendors do overprice at the low end of the market compared to what can be achived with an open solution.
    Hmm - thanks for that, something to bear in mind when negotiating for new hardware.

    --
    David Hicks

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    @ localzuk: i'm quite interested in the snap server do they integrate into a windows environment?

    Can you created windows shares on it and use NTFS permissions?

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cookie_monster View Post
    @ localzuk: i'm quite interested in the snap server do they integrate into a windows environment?

    Can you created windows shares on it and use NTFS permissions?
    The one I have, the 520, has iSCSI so I have it set up as a disk on our file server.

    However, it supposedly can have full domain integration without having to use iSCSI. So that'd be a yes to windows shares and NTFS permissions.

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