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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Storage?

    We currently have a Dell MD1000 DAS array with 15 x 1TB SAS drives in it, connected to a Perc 5/E controller in our file server, and it is now 3 years old, and therefore out of warranty.

    We have 2 options - extend the warranty for 2 years, at a cost of about £3k or come up with something else which is more cost effective.

    My thinking here would be to start my way down the SAN route.

    Problem is, our core switch is very short on capacity and we won't be upgrading that for some time, so I was thinking of a Fibre Channel array, direct connected to an FC controller in the storage server for now, then in the future expanding that to more devices via an FC switch.

    If I were to suggest this route, what devices should I be looking at? Or do others have a more suitable suggestion?

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    What work will the SAN doing? How many LUNS to how many devices and what are they doing? Given the probable cost - if the MD1000 is doing the job, then £3K for another two years sounds pretty reasonable.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    To start, it will be a drop in replacement for our file server and that's it. However, in the future, I plan to use it for virtualisation of our servers (we currently have 12 servers, but 4 of them are DCs and are very poorly utilised).

    A new MD1000 is about £7k, so paying nearly half the price of a device for 2 more years for warranty seems steep to me. Or an Overland Storage SAN with 24TB raw space, 3 year warranty and FC card would come to about £8k.
    Last edited by localzuk; 27th October 2011 at 10:39 AM.

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    I'd be inclined to extend the warranty unless you need to use it for something else, eg backups. Replacing a storage array after just 3 yrs isn't cost effective.

    for alternatives, we have a DS34000 with 4GBs FC which is quite nice, and expandable

    IBM System Storage DS3400: Overview - IBM System Storage

    you'd still need a FC switch which isn't so cheap, so it might be worth considering upgrading the core ethernet switch and moving it out to the near edge.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    From what I've read and been told, an FC switch is not needed for a single device - you can direct connect 2 FC cards together, output to input on each.

    Even for more than one device, you can use do things like 'Arbitrated Loop' etc... but that is complex and not the best way of doing things.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    If you are just after a SAN that offers storage to your servers then look at SAS connectivity, depending on how many servers need a direct conection. Its very quick and way cheaper than FC. You then offer out your data from the servers that it is conected to. If you want all stations to conect to your storage solution directly over the network then you will need a SAN/NAS hybrid which is a different beast, more expencive and more prone to issues given their increased complexity.

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    8K for 3 years, is £2.6K per year, compared to £1.5K to extend the warranty. Seems reasonable to me if the device is doing the job you want it to. The market for SAN/NAS devices seems to be moving along at a fairly rapid pace at the moment. I'd hope that in a couple of years we will be seeing many more (cheap) iSCSI devices with High Availability built in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    The market for SAN/NAS devices seems to be moving along at a fairly rapid pace at the moment. I'd hope that in a couple of years we will be seeing many more (cheap) iSCSI devices with High Availability built in.
    yes. I'm thinking along the lines of Fibre Channel over Ethernet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia using 10GB/s core switches will be the way forwards, utilising network infrastructure rather than separate FC switches or the overhead of iscsi

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    yes. I'm thinking along the lines of Fibre Channel over Ethernet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia using 10GB/s core switches will be the way forwards, utilising network infrastructure rather than separate FC switches or the overhead of iscsi
    Is FCoE better than iSCSI when it comes to overhead? Speaking personally we have a single windows 2008 VM acting as a file server which is attached through iSCSI to a lump of storage on a Thecus 8800 Pro using SATA II discs with two 1GB nics aggregated using 802.3ad. That serves as the primary network areas for 2500 students and 400 staff - with peak demand of maybe 1000 concurrent devices accessing files. I see people here specifying up 15K SAS drives on dedicated fibre channel blah-de-blah and spending much more money to do the same job for smaller schools. Maybe I'm doing it wrong?

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    Is FCoE better than iSCSI when it comes to overhead?
    I assumed it was as it isn't running over TCP/IP but it probably has its own overhead.
    FCoE would make sense for us as were already using FC so integration is possible- were mostly using FC for virtual machines but also for storage. FC SAN was within our budget so it made sense to buy the best we could afford.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    Is FCoE better than iSCSI when it comes to overhead? Speaking personally we have a single windows 2008 VM acting as a file server which is attached through iSCSI to a lump of storage on a Thecus 8800 Pro using SATA II discs with two 1GB nics aggregated using 802.3ad. That serves as the primary network areas for 2500 students and 400 staff - with peak demand of maybe 1000 concurrent devices accessing files. I see people here specifying up 15K SAS drives on dedicated fibre channel blah-de-blah and spending much more money to do the same job for smaller schools. Maybe I'm doing it wrong?
    Please can you download and run HDTune (not Pro) on your VM and tell me what the Min/Max/Average Transfer Rates are, and the Access Time/Burst Rate?

    So I have something to compare with.

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    @localzuk - I'm not very keen on installing any unnecessary software on our file server - sorry. There is a utility called HD_Speed which is a standalone .exe and is what I tend to use. Between a replication server and an 8800Pro I get transfers peaking at 85MBs (Bytes per second) averaging 70MBs over a couple of minutes. The storage network itself is not uncontended and is currently copying off some VM's to some smaller i4500's (I've had these show 120MBS on a good day).

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    hdparm shows (when everything is in use)

    /dev/mapper/Web_VLE-Web_VLE_LogVol00:
    Timing cached reads: 9358 MB in 2.00 seconds = 4685.95 MB/sec
    Timing buffered disk reads: 752 MB in 3.00 seconds = 250.29 MB/sec

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    @localzuk - I'm not very keen on installing any unnecessary software on our file server - sorry. There is a utility called HD_Speed which is a standalone .exe and is what I tend to use. Between a replication server and an 8800Pro I get transfers peaking at 85MBs (Bytes per second) averaging 70MBs over a couple of minutes. The storage network itself is not uncontended and is currently copying off some VM's to some smaller i4500's (I've had these show 120MBS on a good day).
    That's fine, same results. Those speeds are really quite low. We get 122MB/s average (200MB/s peak) on our MD1000, and I wouldn't want to go any slower, as this directly affects log in times, video editing storage, Photoshop file editing etc...

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    That's fine, same results. Those speeds are really quite low. We get 122MB/s average (200MB/s peak) on our MD1000, and I wouldn't want to go any slower, as this directly affects log in times, video editing storage, Photoshop file editing etc...
    Sure that may affect the times - but if logon is 2 seconds slower or a large avi takes 8 seconds to copy rather than 12, then is the cost justified? It also may not affect end user times at all at some points if they are on 100Mbs links and there is little contention for the storage. My perception is that some schools are spending tens of thousands on storage that sure is fast, but is then underutilised and poor value. Contention for funds generally more demanding than contention for 100MBs resources. "We bought the best we could afford" is poor value if the best that you could afford is much more than you ever needed.

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