Student Home Areas
The sizes of files being created by students for our lessons now is growing, there is a lot of video and podcast creation going on and things along those lines.
This is making file access quite slow at times and also space is starting to run a bit low now.
The point of telling you this, is to find out how most people host their student home drives? Is it just on a standard file server (like ours is at the moment) or do you have another solution, like NAS for instance?
Would a NAS box speed up access to files over a windows server with the file server role?
We use a Poweredge 2650 for this role, U320 SCSI discs at U160 in RAID 5, 3GB of RAM, 2 x 2.8GHz HT Xeons. Performance is still good, fast network backbone into this. The server has no other roles. 900 or so users.
What are you using currently? I'd say a NAS box would be significantly slower in many cases, unless your file server is old or doing many tasks.
Depends on the NAS, number of users etc. Not all NAS boxes are the same and you do have to pay quite a lot for something decent, but the decent ones are far superior to Windows file servers.
We moved from 7 windows file servers to a Sun 7310 unified storage device. This has sped up access considerably, is much easier to maintain, gives us much greater storage capacity and more features. It will now do de-dupe on the fly, so multiple copies of the same file are only stored once. Yes, it did cost rather a lot, but it take far less time to maintain (get's touched about once every 3 months for a software update) and as we were going to have to replace most of our file servers and add some extra ones, it was for us the cheaper option.
Edit: the 7310 handles all of our file shares, not just the home drives.
At the moment, we have our user areas split over 2 server 2003 machines (3Ghz Xeon, 4Gb RAM, RAID 5 with 1Tb useable space). File serving is it's only role. We have 1700 users in total though....
We're about 1600 users, very media intensive now, which is why we looked at this type of solution a year or so ago now. We're up to 3.7Tb of space used now in total for file shares, home drives etc, but we have 14Tb of storage on the 7310 so we're good for a while yet :D
If you're up t'North and want to see one of these bad boys in action you're quite welcome to come and have a look.
We have 2600 users spread across three SAN attached servers. FSRM is used on Server 2008 R2 for limiting file types and sizes.
EDIT: three servers across three campuses.
I've almost finished a full data migration over to a Hitachi Data Systems SMS-100 as we had similar problems to yourself.
I've made two LUNS so far - both 900GB each and all personal data [ staff and student ] is on that.
The other LUN is for other shared data etc.
Maybe one day I'll get round to setting up some VMs on it - or maybe not as my list of tasks gets ever larger and I certainly won't be busting a gut to get it all done. I have more important things to do - like having a life and quite frankly ICT is just soooooooooo bleeding boring.
/rant over - sorry about that - got a bit carried away.
Windows server 2003 based box with FSRM on to manage quotas etc. It has 1.8TB of storage in 8 x 300GB SCSI 320 drives setup in RAID 5+1 and 4 spare slots still. Linked to our network with 2x1gb link that are bridged. Generally very reliable, although server 2003 is showing its age now and there are much better solutions out there. It works thou, and is quite quick.