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Hardware Thread, Unified Storage Systems in Technical; Right, we are currently looking at replacing our file servers with a more resilient and flexible solution. Currently looking at ...
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    teejay's Avatar
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    Unified Storage Systems

    Right, we are currently looking at replacing our file servers with a more resilient and flexible solution.

    Currently looking at EMC Celerra NX4 or Sun 7210. Also waiting for solutions from Dell, NetApp and Hitachi.

    Anyone used any of this kit?

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    I am planning on getting a couple of Sun 7110s. I had a look at the 7210 and it didn't seem worth the extra money. If you go for the bottom-end 7210 you are only getting SATA disks and would have to add the SSD-module-thingy to increase the performance. Basically you're talking big money.

    The next release of the 7110 firmware allows you to whack a JBOD enclosure on the bottom and increase the storage capacity indefinately. Sun also have some mad offers on at the moment.

    The latest issue of PC Pro raves about the 7110 (and the whole Amber Road thing genreally). Andy at the Cutter Project will rave too... but he's a Sun fanboy like me

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    teejay (12th February 2009)

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    teejay's Avatar
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    Yes have been speaking to Andy, very nice chap.
    TBH, I'm hedging towards the Sun option but really trying to keep my options open at the moment. Yes there are some cracking offers on them at the moment
    Interesting what you say about the 7110, will look into that option.

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    We got a quote for an EMC system.

    I am also looking at trying to Unify the storage as well.

    What with moodle, student storage, streaming media, mail, etc.... we are beginning to use a lot of storage on one loads of different servers.

    So I am trying to understand the technology behind these unified servers as well, so any explanations would be much appreciated, or usefull links for research e.g. buzz words

    iSCSI, NAS, SAN etc,

    Other considerations such as how to connect these devices into the network in a sane manner, which connections to use.

    Do you partition areas of the storage devices, how are they managed, are they expandable, I've got loads of questions.

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    @budgester

    I'm still in the early stages of this one, but here goes on my opinion so far!

    Generally I'm looking at the larger companies rather than unknowns as this is such a core part of the network that I need that added assurance. We've had bad experience of smaller brand kit, especially servers, so I don't want to go down that route. Getting the performance and rock solid reliability in these devices requires a lot of R&D an experience. Put it this way, even Dell decided they were better off buying Equalogic and forming a partnership with EMC than developing there own devices.

    The big advantage of the Sun system is that is uses the ZFS file system which is absolutely stunning. I won't go into details here, all the info can be found on
    [ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZFS]ZFS - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

    Unified Storage combines the benefits of NAS and SAN together. NAS is suited to your file shares, profiles and My Documents areas, SAN is used for providing server storage for running your virtual machines etc.

    For the network shares, for Windows clients you get CIFS support which basically operates the same as a windows server file share and for Unix/Linux clients you get NFS which is the Unix/Linux equivalent of CIFS. Some also offer Webdav which allows you to access the data through a web browser.

    For the SAN part you can have two options, iSCSI and Fibre Channel. iSCSI provides a device similar to a SCSI hard drive array but uses IP protocol over the network. This should be run on seperate switches to your main infrastructure switches, or if you have very good capacity on your core switches you can use VLANS on them.

    Fibre Channel is the next level up from iSCSI, giving better performance but does require special Fibre Channel equipment and interface cards in your servers.

    As for provisioning, they are really easy. EMC and Sun(just about to release this I understand) have facilities where you just point the device to one of your network shares and it syncs with it, lets you know when its fully synced an then you can remove the share from the old server and everything starts pointing to the new box.

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