Building a SAN (Storage Area Network) from an old server

Posted on 2007-10-20
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-14
I have an old poweredge sever that I want to make into a SAN.  However, I don't really now what OS to use.  This is only for education/play but I want it to have the best performance possible at the cheapest price as possible, preferrably free and/or open-source.  I also know that I can use iSCSI but I would like to know what other alternatives are available.  The key goal here is to just become famliar the working of an as close to production class SAN as possible (EMC CX maybe - budget permiting) and run a couple of test clusters on it.  Any help or direction is very much appreciated.
Question by:CeLLuS
LVL 97

Accepted Solution

Lee W, MVP earned 500 total points
ID: 20115563
SAN equipment tends to be VERY specialized... The exception being something like iSCSI.  But iSCSI requires software that will let the system act as an iSCSI target.  I believe such software exists for free on Linux, but I'm not aware of any currently free Windows solutions.

You can familiarize yourself with NAS technology using something like FreeNAS - a linux based system designed to act as a NAS.  But otherwise, I don't know that you'll be able to do what you want without spending some money or at least knowing linux.  

Once you have an iSCSI target setup, the iSCSI initiator for Windows is free, so you should be able to connect to it from as many windows systems as you like.

Some possible options/articles

Assisted Solution

kkrans earned 500 total points
ID: 20116567

Get one of thiese with iSCSI license. Must be among the cheapest iSCSI targets around.

LVL 30

Assisted Solution

by:Duncan Meyers
Duncan Meyers earned 500 total points
ID: 20120719
Have a look at FreeNAS (http://www.freenas.org/) which includes an iSCSI target. This will give you a good opportunity to have a bit of a play with iSCSI - but it is not the same a a true SAN system. Enterprise class SAN systems tend to run there own OS, and the code is proprietary. The best way to get familiar with an EMC CLARiiON is to go to EMC's web site (http://www.emc.com/techlib) and read through some of the whitepapers there. The document entitled "Introduction to Fibre Channel Storage" is a good place to start.

One thing worth looking at is NetApp's simulator - register at http://now.netapp.com. The sim runs on a Linux system and looks and feels like a NetApp filer/SAN system.

Expert Comment

ID: 20134301
Yeah, fibre SAN is different than a iSCSI IP SAN but the principle is the same.

Unfortunately it will swallow loads of funds to invest in a FC SAN just to play around.

If you wanna do the fibre way i'd say the MSA 1000 box (old) by HP is nice one and also Sun ST2540 is bang for the buck. You should get a FC switch and some HBA cards to get a proper system and it will swallow quite some funds.

Configuration for IP SAN is very easy and everybody can learn that quite quick. FC stuff is more complicated but can be very rewarding as a learning experience.

Good luck!
LVL 14

Assisted Solution

arthurjb earned 500 total points
ID: 20149668
The newest version of Solaris 10 which is a free download at http://www.sun.com has the ability to do iSCSI target and initiator, so you could use a system as a san.  This means that it can be a client or a server.

Most other OS's just have the ability to accept drives as clients, but not send drive as servers.

Like kkrans said fibre stuff is really expensive for the average home user, since a controller alone can cost more than a decent laptop...

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