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how do NAS devices show up to your hosts?

Posted on 2004-10-03
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i.e. if i have a 3 server network load balancing cluster running windows server 2k3 web edition and i want them to use a NAS device as the storage.... how does this work?

how do my webservers "see" the NAS server?  with DAS i have a scsi controller adn the drives in teh external enclosures show up as local drives.  What about NAS?

Do I have to map network drives to the drives in the NAS box?

Is there a way of connecting the NAS boxes to my webservers with more than one ethernet line to increase the speed between my NAS boxes and my webservers?
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Question by:kenshaw
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IgnoredEmail earned 500 total points
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The answer is going to depend on the type of NAS device you are using.  With NetApp Filers or EMC Celerra NAS devices, you are going to use CIFS servers to export file systems or volumes to your network.

NAS devices are nothing more than machines designed to optimize file sharing.  In terms of host integration, they work no differently than any other server on your network.  

So you going to end up mapping network drives to the CIFS shares on the NAS device.  Unfortunately, there isn't currently a way to increase throughput from a single host to the NAS device to increase the speed for a single host.

However, if you have multiple web servers that work to serve the same content there are a couple methods you could use to increase overall performance.

A)  Create a trunk network device using multiple ethernet ports on your NAS box.  That way the different clients can be serviced by different physical ports and increase overall speed.  You may have to play with different trunking protocols (PaGP, LACP, Etherchannel 'hard') and different trunk load balancing policies to find the best distribution of data.  I would work with your switch and network group to determine the policy and protocol best for you.

B) Create multiple CIFS servers (Virtual Windows Servers) on your NAS device and have each of your web servers map a drive to the same share but hosted on different CIFS servers.  This way the web servers will be forced to get and send data through a different interface.  (In effect, manually load balancing it.)
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by:alanclos
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agree that we need to know the type of NAS you are using, but you can team NICS as well to get tremendous throughput and if that is not enough and you want to stick with this scenario, you may want to look at TOE network cards
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by:IgnoredEmail
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A NIC team is simply a trunked device of some sort.  Trunked devices do not increase the throughput to any single host.  In this case, your NAS device, and your server are going to be a single pair of hosts.  So trunking on either end will not increase throughput between the two.

TOE network cards will benefit you if you need help in packet handling on the server level.  Primarily they are offered for iSCSI implementations where you want to offload the packet handling because of the increased I/O response time you need.  However, TOE cards currently are only showing a significan benefit when the packet / MTU size setting on the server is the default of 1500.  EMC has done testing with TOE cards on their NAS devices and have seen no really benefit of the TOE card when jumbo frames (packet / MTU size of 9000) is used.  So if you are looking for a cheaper solution that buying TOE cards, if you network supports it you may want to go with jumbo frames.
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by:alanclos
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Not completely true on previous post.  It depends on whose "teaming" hardware and software you use.  I have seen 75% better throughput from A to B server in my environment with teaming nics over 10/100 network.  Nothing done on the switch side!

TOE cards are a little pricy, but you can pick up an Alacritech NIC fairly inexpensive on Ebay!  Jumbo frames may also help.  HP's windows based NAS boxes all recommend the Alacritech NIC and see 2-6x the performace.  Windows does a horrible job at unbundling the TCP stack...
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