Storage Area Networking SAN NAS Fibre Channel iSCSI

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Monday, January 15, 2007

How To Setup Storage Lab : Simple & Cheap

Motivated by Sarfaraz's comment for this blog asking for a post about Setting up a Scaled down(Home version/Cheap) Storage Lab,here is a an article on the same topic.

NAS ( Network Attached Storage)

Below is a Video of a simple NAS which you can build buying an old IDE hard disk drive along with some equipment like Vantec Nexstar LX NAS.
It looks like an external hard drive(USB based) but this same device can be connected thu Network cable & will actually become a simple NAS device. - Below is a Video detailing how a NAS can be build using software from & using an old PC with some hard disks. This video is quite interesting but the NAS topic starts somewhere in the middle - so be patient & its a huge video file.

Skyers is more than happy to share the saga of building a FC SAN(Fibre Channel - Storage Area Network) at home. The SAN was entirely 1 gigabit per second (Gbps), and all the disks were SCSI(Small Computer System Interface). Skyers said he got most of the half-terabyte system in parts on eBay.

"It's actually funny how cheap these parts are," Skyers said; for example, his FC-connected SCSI array cost $22 on the online auction site. An old Compaq 1 Gbps FC card cost him $4. A newer QLogic FC card was more pricey, at $700, but the complete system, he said, including processors, memory, RAID controllers, and IDE and SATA disks -- tiered storage in the home -- set him back around $5,000.

"I guess I'm obsessive-compulsive in a way," he said. "I need to know as much about what I work with as possible. I can't take it apart and test the limits, much less break stuff, at work."

The initial push, he said, was to learn about FC signaling, how fast it can go, and how to get performance numbers from it. "I didn't want to just read the information off someone's marketing media," Skyers said.

One thing Skyers said he learned quickly about FC was that compatibility issues between different cards can be frustrating.

"They're both running the same protocol," Skyers said. "I don't get why one slightly newer card won't work with the older one."

Wrestling with the FC SAN -- contrasted with the rest of his Ethernet home network and the advent of new high-capacity NAS boxes like Buffalo Technology's new Drivestation Duo, which packs 1 TB of storage into a $500 product -- has made him convinced FC will soon be a thing of the past at work as well as at home. In the enterprise space, Skyers said, he compares Sun Microsystems Inc.'s "Thumper" 24 TB DAS array to the Buffalo box. "If I can have a subsystem in a box like that that's the size of something like Nexsan's ATABeast with about a gazillion drives, and I can hook it up to my IP switch, throw one in another place for disaster recovery (DR), what do I need a SAN for?" he said.

Meanwhile, Skyers said, his home experiments have only deepened his love for VMware, another key component, he said, in consolidating down into a box like Buffalo's. However, he said, through experimentation he has learned that VMware is "very picky" about installing on a SCSI drive in the physical host. "I tried a Linux trick to present a SATA and an IDE drive to it as a SCSI disk, but no dice," Skyers said.

What's next? DR and exploring the WAN -- echoing enterprise trends. "A cousin in Florida and I are going to set up separate islands of storage several hundred miles apart, and then see if we can replicate back and forth to them over low-bandwidth connections," Skyers said.

Frustration with data management -- at work and at home

Jeff Boles, IT manager for the City of Mesa, Ariz., says he thinks home storage is a "canary in the mine" for the enterprise. "What you see at home today will become active in the enterprise tomorrow."

Boles said he uses a NAS device and open-source software Debian for management. He boots the NAS device from a flash drive and mirrors it to another identical box. The clients that connect to it are a variety of laptops.

The problem he wrestles with, Boles said, is similar to one being articulated in the enterprise today -- data management and classification. Boles, an avid photographer, stores around 40 gigabytes (GB) of digital photos at any one time, as well as various versions of those photos that have been touched up. "There's a pressing need there to be able to correlate versions of the same file," he said. "There's really no good versioning system -- and it's made data proliferate. My biggest beef with storage in general, at work and at home, is the absurd gap between how data is structured and how it's physically stored."

Hope you have some idea now on how to setup ur own Storage lab - if anyone of u does some experiments plz do email me & I'll be happy to share with all our readers.

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