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Looking for File Sharing / Storage Hardware Recommendations

Posted on 2006-06-24
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Last Modified: 2013-11-15
Greetings,

We are looking to implement Client Backup software, we have a mix of 50 Windows XP and 50 OS X desktops with some laptops.  Probably going for Retrospect 7.5 on a Windows Server.  

My question is what kind of storage server or SAS or NAS solution should i use for the hardware? We currently have a dell 830 Poweredge also anothe dell 2650 both running raid 5.  

Mostly the users will be storing Documents and Images, we were thinking 1 TB of storage should be plenty to use? Or do we need more? I would like to have th option of scalibility.. but the SAS and NAS solutions are quite expensive.. our budget is 10k including the Retrospect software.

Could this be done?

Thanks

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Question by:kinji5
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by:NYtechGuy
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kinji5-

It certainly could be done.  The first step is to get the hardware.

For that price range, I would recommend you look at Apple's solutions - especially since you are 50% apple on your network.

You would need to purchase an Apple Server (Xserve G5) and then the additonal drive bay solution (Xserve RAID).

Apple XServe G5:    http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/wo/6.RSLID?mco=81FFD127&nclm=Xserve
Apple XServe RAID: http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/wo/6.RSLID?mco=15559A3&nclm=XserveRAID

You can get something that fits in your budget, and has expandibility for future proofing.  You will also gain alot of control over your Mac client machines with the OS X Server operating system if you so choose - allowing you to do updates to all client machines, set policies, etc.

I would also recommend the product called Apple Remote Desktop 3.0 - http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/1094000/wo/hL6u8q48HVfN2XjXDy71InSLDJW/11.0.19.1.0.8.25.7.11.1.3

This doesn't require the server - but gives you remote control and software deployment capabilities for all your macs - great stuff!

Thanks,

Justin
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by:wingatesl
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I can first warn you to stay away from retrospect. We have moved many many people off of it to symantec veritas solutions. With a budget of 10k I would look at another dell(yuck) or HP storage solution runing storage server 03 r2. This will allow you to use nfs shares for your macs and netbios for the windows machines. You have the ability to control policies on the mac through active directory from your windows machines and keep yourself in a much more "supported" realm as for backing up the pcs have a look at www.ahsay.com we use there software as an offsite backup solution but it can be implemented "in house" to backup any OS. I love macs and own several, but I am also a realist and know that if I need supported equipment and supported solutions the windows system is the way to go.
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by:kinji5
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Thanks NYtechGuy and wingatesl,

we have a XServe G5 and was looking into getting the XServe RAID but if I were to run the Retrospect 7.5 it would have to run on Windows unless we run it on the XServe.  I heard 7.5 has more options than the 6.0 for Mac since they update the windows side alot more.  Would getting a XServe RAID hooked up to the Dell Server via Fiber work? It should right? all XServe RAID does is storage?

also the Remote Desktop 3.0 is great! We are running that and it saves us alot of walking.. or guessing what people actually mean when they are on the phone.

wingatesl, would the symantec veritas solution support Mac? i will go to their site after i post here. We are part of education so we also have the Tivoli backup system offered here, we were thinking of having a Storage for File sharing and Client backup locally and then use the Tivoli to backup the server and all the full backups of clients located on the server.

Please everyone keep the suggestions coming! Thanks
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by:wingatesl
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I do not believe veritas supports the mac platform, sorry.
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by:kinji5
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What version of Retrospect did move off of? I've heard retrospect is one of the better programs out there for cross platform clients.. that and bru.

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by:scrathcyboy
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Retrospect is about the only one written from MACS that will get the entire bootable MAC configuration, I have never heard of Symantec doing this ... hell, they can hardly get a PC right, let alone clone a MAC.  I would like to hear how/why Symantec beats out Retrospect for MACs, I find it hard to believe.

Second, if you have only 1 TB, that gives you only 10 MB per PC or MAC (100 PCs + MAC x 10GB = 1 TB).

That is nowhere near enough storage, as I see it.  It seems to me you would need at least 50GB per user for the full backup, and another 20GB at least for incrementals of diffs -- so I see you needing about 10 TB.  This is not at all unusual for a SAN disk array, it will cost you maybe $20K, which is pricey.  However, to cut costs, you could keep a full latest backup of each persons system (total 2 TB array), and save the incrementals and history files to DVD, that is a very workable solution.  All you need is a weekly event at burning all the updates, changes and archives to DVD, for 100 users, that is not too difficult, not any more hassle than dealing with outdated and buggy tape technology.
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by:kinji5
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Hello scrathcyboy,

We are looking just to backup documents and some images, not the images for MAC and PCs, so I was thinking 1 GB per user would be plenty.

Mainly use the storage as secondary backup, users should back up their own files.. but as we know.. they never do.  
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scrathcyboy earned 400 total points
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I disagree -- unless you have a complete backup of each PC-MAC in the event of their system failure, it is not worth investing ANY significant money in a SAN array.  If the workstations are fairly stripped, you can get by with 1 TB (10 GB each, that will just get the average (simple XP) setup or MAC setup, and leave you a little for images -- but 2 TB would be better.  Face it, the logins, passwords and user specific stuff is such a hassle to recover, that unless your backup can save this data for later recovery, you are investing in an overpriced setup that is not worth the images.  Images are fixed and can be burned to DVD once they are done, and later revisions burned again.  The users setup is the dynamic quantity and a pain in the neck to recover.  That is what I would shoot for, and 2 TB (which is only 4 500GB hard drives) can do it.  You could set them up on a backup server for that matter and save the cost of the SAN array.  SO retrospect, 4 drives and 1 basic, cheap backup server will do the job, no?  That comes to a lot less than $10K, goodness, I could build that kind of RAID server for $4K tops !!
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by:kinji5
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I hear what you are saying, but it seems unlikely that each machine will average out to be 10GB each, most machines have full office and Adobe packages.  Plus Years or email and attachments, documents etc.. I dont think it is far from the 10 TB you suggested earlier.. I dont think $10k will be enough.

What if 2 TB is just a start for files, and next year we'll purchasse more drives and capacity to backup images.
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by:scrathcyboy
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Each 500 GB drive is about $250, so for 2 TB, you are only looking at $1K.  You can add as much as you want, but the problem you will run across is IDE/SATA channels to hold them all.  A fully configured normal server with a 4 SATA disk RAID5 for the OS and 4 x 250GB IDE storage drives maxes out a normal motherboard, even server boards.  You can add controllers, but a 2-3 TB size is a realistic limit for current system architectures.  That is why the expensive SAN, SAS etc array, use a big controller setup to coordinate a dozen drives or so.  

I would consider an inexpensive 2 TB system now, and realize it is close to maxed out, but at $2000 (my $4K above is only if you want to pay for dual PSs and total fault tolerance which really racks up the price), you can get just a plain server, and see how your needs go.  All you have to do is 2 things --

1.  do yourself a favour any only buy Hitachi IBM drives for both the SATA array and the IDE storage drives, they are the MOST reliable of all, and they are no more expensive than the ones that fail.
2.  Use 4 drives for a RAID 5, one with failover, do not rely on 3 drives, too prone to failure.  If fact a raid 10 or 15 s even better, it has the striping of raid 0 or 5, but the redundancy of RAID1.  

And yes, you should jump in and get started, you might find that your users setups are rather static, and you can burn a fairly static (basic) system image to DVD, and put that away, then setup backups to just backup the system changes and image files -- and 2 TB will do you fine for years to come.
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by:mutley69
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Infotrend solutions (or OEM solutions à la Transtec ttec.de e.g.) that attach to a scsi-channel are cheap to buy - and contain a raid-5 controller inside the cabinet.

You should be able to find a 2TB box (8 drives 250GB - there are 750GB drives from seagate on the market!!!) for around 4000USD - incl. a LSI-scsi controller.

Just attach it to the backup-server and you'll have tons of cheap, rather fast, storage for your backups.

There may exist some cheaper backup clients - i cannot give some good recommendation on that issue - what i know is that the offline data solution from MSFT included in W2K/XP doesn't work with all kind of files (mdb e.g. doesn't sync).

Hope you'll be able to find your way in this crowded market!
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by:scrathcyboy
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The problem is, they have too small a drive size in these, if they sold them bare and you could put in your own drive size and model -- THAT would be the ticket.  750 GB drives are available in many brands, but the price point right now is best for 500s -- at $225 a piece, it is the bargain of the year.  So if you can find a bare controller tower, like noted above, and add your own drives, it would be ideal.
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by:kinji5
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After discussing it some more with co-workers and people here on campus.  Most people agreed that if we werent goign to do client image backup then a NAS or Raid Storage would probably be over budget.  I think we may go with 2 separate systems, Servers for each Platform.  PC server and Mac Server each running the best software for their own platform.  Each server will probably have Raid 5 setup with 1 TB of storage space.  That should at least get us started for File sharing and storage, from here we can expand and add to this the next fiscal year with additional storage space if we are growing too fast.

Sounds good?
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by:scrathcyboy
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Yes, and that will fit into your budget.  Make sure you do a real MAC and PC fail, and a restore, just to test the software before buying it.  Never leave a restore to when you need it, always test it right at the outset (on a dispensible setup of course).  Back it up format the PC drive (initialize the MAC HD) and now try to restore the whole setup.  It is the ONLY acid test of backup software.  Good luck.
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