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Advice on a Mac server

Posted on 2006-06-14
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Last Modified: 2013-11-17
I need to price and spec up an apple mac server. Space wise it needs to store around 2TB and have its own tape backup system.

I was thinking of the Xserve and preferably the Intel version when it is released which is rumoured for sometime next month I believe.
I dont suppose there are any leaked specs about? :)

The current Xserve can support only 1TB (if using RAID 5) so I guess we will need the X-serve RAID and I might aswell spec the 3TB (7*500GB) enclosure as the lower one is only 750GB (4*250GB).
If I use the raid enclosure I will need a fibre channel interface in one of the slots.

I assume I wont also need a RAID card aswell?
I am guessing this is to do hardware raid with internal drives only?

Next comes the tape backup system. Originally I saw the Exabyte VXA-2 (http://www.clubmac.com/clubmac/shop/detail~dpno~432846.asp) but this wont be big enough now. So perhaps the VXA-320 (http://www.clubmac.com/clubmac/shop/detail~dpno~627773.asp) which will give 1.6TB of native capacity which should be fine. This appears to be SCSI only so I will need the other PCI slot fitted with a SCSI card.

This means that there is no spare slot to fit a video card. I know these servers are designed to be run with no video cards but the IT deaprtment does not use macs so it makes it a bit more of a pain to manage. Perhaps we can get a mac mini for it management.

What would you recomend for use as backup software?

Any alternative suggestions?
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Question by:grblades
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by:slyong
slyong earned 150 total points
ID: 16901801
Hi,

I would respect your choice of hardware configuration because every company has their own requirement and I don't think I know enough to comment on it.  However, it seems a sensible choice.

I would like to just see if I can help you on the backup software and management part.  BRU from Tolis Group (http://www.tolisgroup.com/) works very well with Exabyte.  They are a natural fit.

I am not sure what are the Xserve used for.  Normally you can run most things headless, otherwise, as you had already suggested, get a MacMini.  I would personally a bit worry about new hardware releases.  If you are going for Xserve Intel (to be released sometime in the future), the BRU might not work well with Intel or the SCSI card might need new drivers, etc, etc.  So personally I would rather use the current hardware which is well tested.
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by:grblades
ID: 16901877
Thanks. Have you heard much about the Exabyte drives?
One supplier I spoke to said they were not particularly reliable and recomended LTO instead.
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brettmjohnson earned 350 total points
ID: 16904444
> I assume I wont also need a RAID card aswell?
> I am guessing this is to do hardware raid with internal drives only?

No, you don't need a RAID card.  The XServe RAID enclosure has built-in hardware RAID.  [When creating a RAID from the XServe's own internal 3 drives, it uses software RAID.]


> Originally I saw the Exabyte VXA-2 ....  This appears to be SCSI only so
> I will need the other PCI slot fitted with a SCSI card.

Consider and Exabyte 221L LTO tape backup system.  It is designed for the Xserve RAID and attaches via Fiber Channel.  Not only would you not need the SCSI card, but the sustained throughput between FC devices should allow you to back up the full 2TB in under a day.

However, the fastest way to backup the data would be to disks.  Since the XServe RAID system can hold up to 7TB of storage, consider getting 4TB of disk space and backing up disk-to-disk.  [Granted this doesn't give you off-site storage, but it is fast and may be cheaper than the tape backup route.]


> This means that there is no spare slot to fit a video card. I know these servers are
> designed to be run with no video cards but the IT deaprtment does not use macs
> so it makes it a bit more of a pain to manage. Perhaps we can get a mac mini for it
> management.

It is much easier to do the initial setup of these machines with directly attached KVM.  So avoid situations where you can't just hook up a display.  There have been at least 2 occasions where we had to hook up keyboard and video to see what the heck was going on with the XServe.  Or machine room has a cart with CRT keyboard mouse for hooking up to the various servers for diagnosis, configuration, etc.  The only annoying thing about the XServe is it needs USB keyboard and mouse.

It is much easier to do the ongoing system management using Apple's Server Admin tools from a client Mac.
Definitely consider getting a client Mac to administer the XServe.  A mini would be OK.  But an iMac or a MacBook/PowerBook/iBook would be better.   If you are like me, you will end up using the Mac as your primary system.

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by:grblades
ID: 16904917
The Exabyte 221L looks very nice but is way too expensive.

To be honest having a mac server is overkill really. Do you know of any network attached storage devices (with built in RAID) which are mac compatible?
I am considering getting one of these instead and backing up the data to separate discs or something.

We have Linux servers and the macs do work with them but with the mac (unix underneath) talming windows networking to the server which is just emulating it itself does introduce the windows filename limits and has caused file locking issues in the past aswell.
What do the macs use for file sharing?
I assume they now use a form of NFS rather than appletalk?
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by:brettmjohnson
ID: 16905082
> What do the macs use for file sharing?
> I assume they now use a form of NFS rather than appletalk?

Mac OS X supports NFS (Unix), AFP (Apple), or SMB (Windows) file sharing protocols.
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