ISCSI Freenas setup

Hi I have a similar question to question ID:24338247, I have a small office with 12 users, producing cad drawings / architectural images / renders etc. I am after finding out about iscsi and the best way to set this up.

My idea is to put all my large images / renders onto the freenas box and allow all my users access. my current server is poweredge 2800 with SBS2003 which is getting short on room, i was planning on linking the server to the freenas with ISCSI, formatting the drive with NTFS then allowing the server to share the drive. My question is whether this is the best way to set up this kind of system?
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nociConnect With a Mentor Software EngineerCommented:
I have no experience with your suggested setup, but at least look into
as I have no windows systems.

having the NAS & SBS server on their OWN network adapter (1 Gbit),
not mixing the data with normal network traffic (i.e. use a wildly different IP address range for connection between the two, use a separate Gbit switch).

See that all equipment on that net allows for and is configured to use JUMBO frames (~10K ethernet packets) network interfaces of SBS server, NAS  and SWITCH.

A network disk like you suggest would only give access the ISCSI disk to 1 system (it is just like a disk).

If you want to give more systems access to the storage then use a SMB/CIFS share on the storage appliance, that would allow for multiple systems access the info through a mapped drive.
So it depends on your exact requirements.

(Sharing a disk between two or more independent systems requires some kind of coordination schema, there are only few systems that implement such a system:
OpenVMS Clustering and GFS clustering, both depening on a distributed lock manager to "Get It Right", coordinated random access of multiple systems to one shared resource (like a multipath accessible disk).
Kerem ERSOYConnect With a Mentor PresidentCommented:

With FreeNAS you have only one drive per volume. This volume could  create a hardware (if you have supported hardware) or software RAID. But as I told you FreeNAS allows only one volume per drive. how to prepare the volume is:
- Create the volume and format it with GFS (Frrenas and underlying FreeBSD allow only the formatting with GFS for iSCSI volumes.
- You then enable iSCSI
- You'll assign the volume as iSCSI source.
- Download and install iSCIS initiator from Microsoft site (Server 2008 comes default with iSCSI but for 2003 you need to download and install)
- configure the volume with iSCSI configuration and you're done.

But if you ask my advice about FreeNAS I won't suggest it strongly. First of all current x32 version is a bit old and a bit more unstable than the x86_64 version which is never. Furthermore I don't think the iSCSI implementation is free from bugs and problems. I had problems with automatically mounting the drive over reboots. Also Software RAID had problems with synchronization.

x32 Version has another problem in that if you try to boot it with more than 2 GB of memory the startup stalls ans system reboots repeatedly and it was not easy for me to understand this was because of extra memory.

As I told above FreeNAS does not allow you to create multiple partitions over the volume. If you chose iSCSI as the access method you can not access the drive with SMB.

In fact the use with SMB is not very well either. It allows for only user names but not groups and though it has supposed to have Active Directory integration it only allows the user names to be obtained from the AD and nothing else.

As a result I won't be suggesting the use of FreeNAS at all. I myself have solved all my problems by switching to Openfiler. Openfiler allows the creation of multiple volumes, iSCSI works like cherm everytime any system whether you reboot the NAS or the Server. It is very stable and also iSCSI is very fast since OpenFiler uses XFS for volume formatting instead of the default ext3 and the performance is very high even when compared to FreeNAS. It offers full AD support including kerberos and LDAP.

The only problem is though OpenFiler is free it is not true for the Administration manual!!! But the forums are good for solving a problem.

I'll strongly recommend the use of OpenFiler instead of FreeNAS. It is CentOS based and has its own upgrade system which is accessible over the management gui. You can also ssh to the volume but as it is usual with iSCSI volumes are not accessible over the OS (for obvious reasons).

I'll suggest you to take care for noci's suggestions which points out to some good points on using a NAS devices while CIFS advices are not fully applies in the case of FreeNAS and OpenFiler. It is not a good idea to allow access of multiple systems over CIFS is not a good idea furthermore it is not always possible to manage filesystems as this is not really a windows OS.

I hope this helps.


mckguyAuthor Commented:
Thanks both for the good answers it has given me quite alot to think about, i am now exploring openfiler as well

so which one is supports in presenting NTFS over iSCSI ?
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