Fileserver Storage Configuration

A small engineering firm has a budget of $20K to purchase a 3TB fileserver. The server will be used also as a print server, email server (Microsoft Outlook and BlackBerry), and a file server.

Files (GIS, CAD drawing files, and MS Office Files) need to be accessible by at least 30 concurrent Windows PC users (potential growth of 50 users).

Redundancy, performance and reliability are very important requirements.

Availability: the server and its content needs to be available during normal working day hours (M-F 8am-5pm) and no database is required. It's possible that files the might need to be accessible from remote sites over a VPN network.

I've been advised in another question that the best hardware for the fileserver is HP ProLiant ML370. I agree the ML370 is a good choice, expect it's highly configurable. This is a good thing for the future as the firm can add additional resources (such as CPU, RAM or storage disks) as they need without needing to buy a new server. The following are the hardware pieces I picked for the ML370:

• HP ProLiant ML370 G6 Large Form Factor Tower Server
• Dual-Core Intel® Xeon® Processor E5502 (1.86GHz, 4M Cache, 80 Watts, 800MHz)
• HP 4GB PC3-10600E 4x1GB 1Rank Memory
• Embedded P410i (SAS Array Controller)
• HP 6-Bay Drive Cage
• HP 600GB 6G Hot Plug 3.5 SAS 15,000rpm Dual Port Hard Drive
• HP 600GB 6G Hot Plug 3.5 SAS 15,000rpm Dual Port Hard Drive
• HP 600GB 6G Hot Plug 3.5 SAS 15,000rpm Dual Port Hard Drive
• HP 600GB 6G Hot Plug 3.5 SAS 15,000rpm Dual Port Hard Drive
• HP 600GB 6G Hot Plug 3.5 SAS 15,000rpm Dual Port Hard Drive
• RAID 5 drive set with online spare (requires matching 4 hard drives)
• HP NC375i Integrated Quad Port Multifunction Gigabit Server Adapter
• HP 460W HE 12V Hotplug AC Power Supply
• Hot-plug fans standard
• Integrated Lights Out 2 (iLO 2) Standard Management
• 3 years parts, labor and onsite service (3/3/3) standard warranty. Certain restrictions and exclusions apply.

My quesiton is about the storage configuration for the ML370:

Is my selection of storage hardware (4xHP 600GB 6G Hot Plug 3.5 SAS 15,000rpm Dual Port Hard Drive) better than the following avaliable options:

 HP 146GB Hot Plug 3.5 SAS 15,000rpm Dual Port Hard Drive
 HP 450GB Hot Plug 3.5 SAS 15,000rpm Dual Port Hard Drive
 HP 300GB 6G Hot Plug 3.5 SAS 15,000rpm Dual Port Hard Drive
 HP 450GB 6G Hot Plug 3.5 SAS 15,000rpm Dual Port Hard Drive
 HP 600GB 6G Hot Plug 3.5 SAS 15,000rpm Dual Port Hard Drive  
 HP 750GB Hot Plug 3.5 SAS 7200rpm MDL Dual Port Hard Drive
 HP 1TB Hot Plug 3.5 SAS 7200rpm MDL Dual Port Hard Drive
 HP 160GB SATA 7.2K Hot Plug 3.5 ETY Hard Drive
 HP 250GB 3G SATA 7.2K Hot Plug 3.5 MDL Hard Drive
 HP 500GB 3G SATA 7.2K Hot Plug 3.5 MDL Hard Drive
 HP 750GB 3G SATA 7.2K Hot Plug 3.5 MDL Hard Drive
 HP 1TB 3G SATA 7.2K Hot Plug 3.5 MDL Hard Drive
 HP 60GB 3G SATA 3.5 Hot Plug MDL Solid State Drive
 HP 120GB 3G SATA 3.5 Hot Plug MDL Solid State Drive

Is my selection of RAID setting (RAID 5 drive set with online spare, which requires matching 4HD) better than the Advanced Data Guarding (ADG), which requires Smart Array controller and a minimum of 4 matching drives?

What is your recommendation for HP StorageWorks external tape backup option?
TexanLonghornAsked:
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ascitshelpCommented:
If you're looking for lots of speed the 15Krpm drives are the fastest and the 600GB are the largest. You should get great response from these drives.

You should be just fine with using the RAID 5 setup with online spare ... RAID 5 is much faster than ADG and the online spare will accomidate for the redundancy factor. ADG can be very slow at times since it provides double redundancy (which is sort of overkill in my opinion).

We use a tape library but I looked up the external devices on the HP site. It really depends if you want to go with LTO-4 (1.8TB) or LTO-3 (800GB) tapes:

For LTO-4 ... Storageworks 1760

For LTO-3 ... Storageworks 960
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andyalderCommented:
I'd use a few more 450GB disks, about the same price but more spindles means more speed. I'd also stick to 3g rather than 6g disks, again for price. Performance isn't going to be much difference 3g Vs 6g since you have a dedicated 3g lane per disk and that's faster than you can read or write to a single disk anyway.

600GB 15K 6g £736
450GB 15k 6g £521
450GB 15k 3g £334
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exx1976Commented:
I second Andy's recommendation on the 3g vs 6g.  Figure out the transfer rate per spindle, and then multiply that by the number of drives you'll have, and I'm betting it doesn't saturate a 3g link, so why bother?

But - I DO feel the need to caution you about what you're trying to build here, all on one box.  This is the disk configuration I'd go with:

RAID1 - OS
RAID1 - databases for Exchange
RAID1 - logs for Excahnge
RAID5 - file shares

You need to keep the file share I/O separate from Exchange, especially hosting large CAD files, or Exchange is just going to puke all over it's own shoes, especially if you anticipate growing by an additional 50 users (to a total of 80, as I read it?).

Exchange database I/O is lots of random reads/writes.  Log file I/O is sequential writes.  File share I/O for CAD stuff is going to be rather heavy, as well.

Each of those volumes needs to be a hardware RAID, and ideally, each should be on their own RAID controller channel (where possible).  If I had to combine them onto a 2-channel RAID card, I'd put Exchange & the OS on one, and the file shares on the other.

The only problem is that you don't have enough drives listed above to facilitate my recommendation for storage.  So, to stay within your budget, I'd go with 2 146GB drives for the OS, 2 300GB drives for the databases, 2 146GB drives for log files, and then as many 600GB drives as will fit in the remaining empty slots for the file shares.

And stick with SAS.  SATA is attractive by dollars and cents, but it makes no sense when you actually get into the nuts and bolts of it.


Just my $.02.  YMMV.


-exx
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BigSchmuhCommented:
A 2U server with Open-E or Starwind iSCSI software with a mix of 24x2.5" :
- Crucial RealSSD C300 SATA III 256GB 2,5" ($650 $2.54/GB) in RAID 50/60 for IOPS usage (most case)
- Seagate Constellation SAS 6Gbs 500GB ($275) in RAID 50/60 for WORM/Backup/Archive/Sequential usages
...would stay below $20k (with 3y nbd on site service) and will offer a lot more IOPS and space capability.

Of course, it has not dual port (multipath) capability and are exposed to a HBA failure (did you ever seen one?) but the performance will be 10x faster (IOPS usage)
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TexanLonghornAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all of your answers.
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