Posted on 2004-10-16
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-15
I am currently debating whether to implement a SAN or NAS  as the primary  storage system in our new offices.  I have the advantage of starting from scratch so there is no current infrastructure to worry about. My biggest issue is we are a small company ( about 50 people)  but we are storing alot of data ( ~1.2tb)  We are also merging with another  firm  with-in the next 3 months. they currently have about 450gb of data.  I have been looking at using the HP MSA1500 solution  with  SATA drives for our back ups and 15k SCSI drives as the main storage drives.  we run serveral databases  (SQL, as well as a few home grown ones)  and we will have  atleast one (or maybe even two  by 1st Qtr next year) satellite offices which will be running all of our custom financial apps  via win 2k3 terminal services. at this point we are strictly a widows shop 2k3 and 2k.  Assuming we continue to grow at a healthy rate, i can see us having to scale to over 2tb  by next Oct.  Is a SAN solution justifiable  in this case, or should i build out a seperate high speed network for NAS purposes?  I was orginally sold on the SAN idea until i started reading alot of the responses here on EE concerning SAN VS NAS issues.  Are Sans  really that much more  Labor intensive?  While i realize that it is not an Apples to Apples conparision,  is there a NAS solution that  I am overlooking that would be more cost effective and give me the functionality i've described.  I've sent an email to EMC describing  my situation and still have yet to hear back from them.  My total  hardware budget for the SAN or Nas buildout is about 35k.  Thank you for any and all help, please let me know if i need to give more information to help you form your answers.
Question by:quietflght

Assisted Solution

prof666 earned 400 total points
ID: 12326496
If you are looking for good storage and low cost, yet decent speed, then take a look at NetApps Filers (NAS). For 35K you are unlikely to get a SAn beyond the fibre storage (certainly not a good number of ports on switches). To have good resilence in a SAN you need dual HBA's in the servers and dual switches etc... It all adds up and I'm afraid your budget will not stretch to that. With that much data one major concern should be backup. The advantage of the NetApps (and all modern NAS) is that they employ NDMP backup which is extremely fast and streams directly from the backend of the NAS to tape. This cuts you backup window and also allows image backup creation. The performace of NetApps is sufficient enough to give you good performance, hell Oracle run their entire infrastructure off them, including all the databases!! Ask them for a quote and I'm sure they will oblige (it never hurts to ask). Another advantage is that gigbit switches are coming down in price and so should be affordable to most businesses.

Best of Luck

Da Proff

Expert Comment

ID: 12326730
hi, there

1. A Dell 22x/221 with 2TB of storage is going to be above your budget 50.000$

2. Dell | EMC AX100 Array Single Processor DAS (Fibre Channel)
3. Dell EMC CX700 Series "call the local Dell" for price (Fibre Channel)
LVL 57

Accepted Solution

andyalder earned 1200 total points
ID: 12327298
It all depends on whether you need block level or file level access to the data. SQL needs block level access, it has to either be direct attached or on SAN, you can offload some tables to NAS but not the real database. 2TB of SATA disks thrown in for free with the MSA1500 sounds atractive. Block level access isn't much use to the users though, you're hardly likely to run fibrechannel to the desktop.

You can always have the best of both worlds, a SAN with a NAS header, say the MSA1500 plus a NAS 4000s, then the SQL server can go into the fibrechannel switch and the users shares can be presented onto the LAN by the header. Since the NAS header runs Windows Storage Server you can hang a tape library off it as well instead of having a seperate backup server.

There's very little labour involved once the SAN is in place, you use the same Array Configuration Utility that you use to manage internal Proliant storage, you can expand arrays and create new logical drives on the fly, and selective storage presentation makes sure you don't let two servers see the same disk and corrupt each others data.

You can also impliment it the other way around, buy a NAS box and use iSCSI for the database block level access. HP have just brought out their iSCSI feature pack so you could use a NAS 2000s and hang SQL off it, they support the Alacritech Accelerators - TCP Offload Engine (TOE) NICs although you have to buy them seperately from Alacritech. You'd need one in each SQL box as well as in the NAS box. You could get away with cheap NICs instead of TOE cards but your CPU would get hammered processing the TCP packets.

Look at the 'buy online' for the MSA1500 if you want a laugh, the prices are right but you can only select one of each item, not much use buying a RAID box with only 1 hard disk!
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Author Comment

ID: 12328036
Iv'e raise the point value  becuase i'd added a couple of  new twists to the original question

1)The Netapps solution intrigues me,  you say oracle is able to run all of there DB's directly off of it? does it allow for Storage as tape solutions?

2) Id' like to hear more about the Mixed  enviroment method (having both a NAS and a SAN).  Has any one used this solution in production? do you think it is attainable given my current budget? ( my bugdet is actually some what flexable, but i'd like to keep it with in reason).

3) My  current  design calls for Five servers (most likely loaded DL380s)  This could consolidated down to three servers if i upgrade one to a 580 with 4 procs.  the pure san idea was to run  a msa 1500 with 2 msa 30s and 1 msa 25  connected by 2  2/8  san switchs. with the five servers i would need 10 HBAS. according to the Manual for the san switchs 1 port is internal, and the other 7 are external this gives me 14 ports, 10 of which i'd be filling with the current server connections 2 of which would be used for switch to switch connections  would this solution limit my future expansion having only 2 ports left available. Should i consider using 4 ports to connect the san switchs or even upgrading to a 2/16  SAN switch.

4) Does booting off of the SAN give me any advantages?  ( i've often heard of it refered to as a "poor-man's  cluster)  Does it have any major caveats?

Thanks again guys.

Expert Comment

ID: 12328077
Aberdeen has several nice NAS systems that can grow to your needs.


I am currently using a 1.2TB system purchased from them a little over a year ago.
LVL 57

Assisted Solution

andyalder earned 1200 total points
ID: 12328632
I had assumed you meant Microsoft SQL, if you use Oracle you can put it on NAS, if you use Microsoft you can't. Someone else will have to help you with the netapps question. If it's MS SQL then what is the split between SQL data and user data?

2) We don't have NAS or SAN, being a Compaq/HP dealer we still have old Compaqs with DAS. It's a bit like the car mechanic driving a beaten up banger, our own servers are junk. We've sold a few 4000s's, so some of our customers use NAS/SAN integration and they don't complain, but that was when HP were throwing in a free NAS head with the MSA1000 instead of free disks in a promotion. Personally I can't see the justification in it - might as well hang any NAS data off direct attached storage rather than use up  fibrechannel switch ports. Sure the option to dymanically migrate and snapshot storage from the LAN to the SAN is nice but it's a lot of money. Can't see much sense in SAN for MS SQL either unless it's clustered, DAS is faster and there's less to go wrong. Less flexible but you can always share a MSA30 DB between two servers.

3) If you're using redundant paths you have to throw in the cost of 5 (or 3) securepath workgroup edition licenses. You don't normally connect the switches together in a redundant solution, however you do connect each switch to the redundant controller in the MSA1500 so it's still max 6 servers. Don't think the internal SAN switch is supported in the 1500, that's for the 1000.

4) Saves buying disks for the servers but slows them down, do you really want the pagefile on the SAN? Not the easiest thing to set up either. Generally have a mirrored pair for the OS and a mirrored pair for the transaction logs internally and the data on SAN unless clustering where the logs have to go on the SAN as well.

Expert Comment

ID: 12330830
You may want to iSCSI  it can do ever thing a SAN can but very low low cost.

iSCSI is connect up by to a computer by ethernet.

What I did in my office is  took a windows system with 8 gig hot swap sata drive bay load the win target software and I got 2 terra byte san very fast and low cost.  

You can also mirror or raid them and works with cluster.  

Assisted Solution

rwweyers earned 400 total points
ID: 12331013
The answer to the Question about NetApp is abosolutly you can drive a tape device but I would recommend you use their fibre option and A good backup server.  You can contact NetApp at  http://www.netapp.com/. They have solution reps that will come and help you develop the best storage systems for you.....

Also another option is buying EMC products at DELL they sell the EMC storage like the AX100 with the capability of 2 TB  and up to 129 TB at a lesser cost. They also have NAS products that can support up to 6 TB if you need it .... With the EMC products you can have Point in time Backup of your database and backup even when in live prodution.. I recomend EMC to my Clients as they also own Legato.... You can get any and all of your Storage Products at  http://www.Dell.com. They are willing to design the entire system for you if you wish and can even have it installed... Their GOLD support option gets you an Experienced TECH in america.  

Remember he larger the storage system the more spindles. You can achieve faster seek times with Fibre San than NAS but Nas has great cost advantages. Either way you need a great backup system to go with it because drives Fail...

Author Comment

ID: 12479934
Just an update after Many, Many hours of talking with both HP and EMC/Dell  SE's  i decided to go with the EMC CX300  with 2tb's of fibre drives

Thanks again for all your help.

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