Upgrading a NAS to fibre channel

Posted on 2009-04-14
Last Modified: 2013-11-14
I have a rather nice NAS server.  I'd like to be able to process exremesly large amounts of data via workstations that are mounted in the same rack as the NAS.  Unfortunately, NAS is simply too slow.   My initial thought was to upgrade the NAS and the workstations to fibre channel network cards and that we would increase the bandwidth by doing that.  I have found fibre channel cards that will work with all the machines involved, but our sales rep is telling me that we would get no better than 1 gbps across this network, even with a fibre channel switch.  My obvious desire is to increase the bandwidth so that mutliple machines can access this server with much better performance than what we get over copper.  If block level SAN technology is the only approach that will work, what is the most cost effective way to upgrade and convert and will the workstations leverage the increased bandwidth?
Question by:scorellis
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Expert Comment

ID: 24140802
SAN and NAS are not Interchangeable, they are not in competition between them.
NAS is not a cheaper solution than a SAN, it is a different solution, cheaper.

You build a SAN when you have many server with much storage need, then you centralize disks,
and furthermore it is flexible: you create a new 100 GB disk for a server in one minute, after you have bought 10TB of unassigned disk, last month. A cheaper solution for these aplication is iSCSI.

NAS is a fileserver, a server specialized in disk sharing: if you have to share disk across many clients,
you can choose to have a Server (also that has SAN disks) tha shares file, or better a NAS, that has own redoundant power, RAID, but you cannot install SQL Server on it.

Returning to your situation, you say have workstation in the rack; a special application ?

SAN shares a disk, (virtual disk): two or more workstation cannot access the same LUN (how is called a shared piece of disk): this is possible just in Cluster environment or Virtualize one. Each lun can be seen from just a workstation: to see it from 2 of them you need an OS that shares it: server or NAS,
or your NTFS partition (or what it is) will be corrupted.

LVL 55

Accepted Solution

andyalder earned 500 total points
ID: 24141725
Sounds like a job for infiniband.

Are you sure the 1Gb LAN is too slow, you can change to 10Gb but you'd hard pushed to find a workstation that can cope with it. Normally the bottleneck is the NAS server's disk subsystem, not the LAN.

Author Comment

ID: 24180632
I've heard this before, that only one machine can connect to one LUN,
But I'm assuming that you could then subsequently "share" the disk on the network so that if another machine did need to access it, it could.  Just like I share out the drives from an external scsi attached RAID I have on a workstation in the lab.

I've read a couple of interesting articles on iSCSI, and TOE, and would like to know more.  In particular, it would be nice to hear from someone who has built a SAN from scratch using older technology - if it is even possible.  I would like to take one of the NAS boxes and convert it, I need better, faster, attached storage.
LVL 55

Expert Comment

ID: 24180742
Take the disks out of the NAS, put them in an enclosure attached to the workstation of your choice. Direct attached (SAS or SCSI) is the fastest you'll get.

Try to describe this NAS box you currently have a bit better than "rather nice", it is most liiikely that it can't keep up with gigabit speeds anyway.

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