Recommendations on NAS device for a Small Business ( >50 users)


-we are a small business company with around 35 users
-we currently have files around (250GB) scatter across 3-4 servers (windows, Novell)
- we are planning to buy a NAS device and move all of our files in to the NAS device
- we will be getting rid of the Novell server + old windows server(2000)
- we are planning to get Microsoft SBS 2008 server (domain+exchange)

For the file storage we are planning to get a NAS device and looked at couple of them and need some recommendations, here is something which we looking for in the NAS device:

1. Needs to have good raid 5 capability(which I guess most of them have)
2. should seamlessly integrate with Windows active directory user accounts
3. Needs to have good through put ports, since we are planning to attach an external drive
    to this NAS for nightly backups ( USB 3.0 or anything which is faster, to cut down our  
    backup time)
4. Needs to be reliable and stable
5. Should have good hard drives which are fast and reliable.


The one we have looked at is "Seagate BlackArmor 440" .

Please give your suggestions and recommendations, it can be any NAS device. Price is not a factor
OCUBEAsked:
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Question:  WHY NAS device?  Why not just get more storage for a server?

I don't recommend NAS devices especially for such small amounts of data.  Two good SAS drives will cost you $500-800.  A good NAS device will cost you double that.  And then you may have to upgrade the NAS device (one client had a snap server... 30 GB.  Went from an old NT4 domain to Active Directory.  Wanted to upgrade the NAS device to work with AD... cost was $200.  At the time, I could get 10x the space in a single larger drive or 2x160 GB drives for that price... NAS in many cases does not make sense.  A Windows Server can support RAID 5 (through software - or you get a controller (preferable) - but I prefer RAID 1 over RAID 5 - too many unwarranted RAID 5 failures over the years).  A Windows Server clearly integrates with Active Directory.  A Windows server can have its NICs teamed and gives you one LESS device to backup.  The vast majority of Windows servers I've worked with over the years are VERY reliable and very stable.  The drives are easily upgraded to newer, faster drives as they are released - not so with many NAS devices.
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Arabia_vnCommented:
Since price is not a factor, then forget BlackArmor, it's weak. Then i recommed Qnap SS-839 Pro (http://www.qnap.com/pro_detail_hardware.asp?p_id=124) with SSDs . SSD is much more faster and reliable than normal HardDisk. There hasn't been any NAS with USB 3.0 yet, but that doesn't matter because SS-839 has two e-sata ports that provides more than enough bandwidth for your backup SATA HDDs to reach their maximum speed. Check it out
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andyalderSaggar maker's bottom knockerCommented:
If you plan to upgrade your Exchange and domain controller why not buy a server for that and then ask how to add more disks to it to make it a powerful fileserver as well?

You've only got 35 users, MS SBS on a single server will do that job, why do you want a seperate fileserver?
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OCUBEAuthor Commented:
@leew   @ andyalder


 The reason why we wanted to seperate the file server from the SBS 2008 box is , I have seen that it takes too much time for virus scan and backup time if its in one box.

And having AD,exchange(email),file server on one box , and it fails everything is down.

Thats the main reason we wanted to have a NAS and put all the files on it, rather than a server.

Let me know your inputs
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OCUBEAuthor Commented:
@Arabia_vn:

You recommendation of Qnap NAS with  SSD (solid state drives), are these SSD reliable
and fast.

I know there are new and expensive, but when it comes to reliability are they good ?

Will they crash as a regular jump/flash drives ?
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Disk is the slowest major part of a system.  Putting in SEPARATE disks for the file shares should improve performance of file sharing and virus scanning.  The virus scanning product can also impact this.  Plus, most NAS devices are proprietary Operating Systems - you CANNOT install antivirus on them.  So if you don't want to use Antivirus on the file shares, then don't - exclude them in your AV product.  

From a resource standpoint, file sharing is a MINIMAL issue.  Offline files can mitigate the problem of a down server, but strictly speaking, if you are willing to spend $1000 or more on a SAN, then I would get a second server and setup a DFS between the two.  Then make the second server a DC as well.  This should provide you redundancy for DNS, Active Directory logins, and your file shares.  (NOTE: it's a popular misconception that SBS cannot have other servers or DCs.  It can.  The restriction is one SBS server because the SBS server must be the FSMO master DC.  You cannot have more than one FSMO master DC therefore only one SBS per domain is possible.
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Arabia_vnCommented:
@OCUBE : Yes, they will. Everything has a chance of failure and life time. But talking about life expectancy, they are better than HDDs.

@leew: i partially agree with you but using NAS costs less and much lower power consumption.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
@Arabia_vn

How does using a NAS cost less than two additional disks in an existing server?  You CANNOT use less power than two additional disks in a mirror in a server.  A NAS device has additional overhead that would use MORE power.

If you went the second server route, then you are providing ADDITIONAL redundancies that make comparing the options a bit like apples and oranges, not apples to apples.

NAS devices simply DON'T MAKE SENSE in my professional opinion EXCEPT under the following circumstances:
1.  NO DOMAIN Exists.  Then a NAS with it's own user accounts and permissions structure can make sense as you would not want the files living on one person's workstation, especially if that workstation did not have any kind of RAID.
2.  You have a domain and a HUGE storage requirement making an expandable (more than 2-4 disk capable) NAS unit with high performance capabilities a useful thing.  These NAS devices and circumstances I'm talking about usually fill a 42U cabinet with dozens of disks (or the capacity for dozens of disks and multi-terabytes of data.

In virtually any other circumstance I can think of, adding disks to the server is a more economical, more manageable, more reliable, less administrative and less costly in both the long term and short term solution.

If people disagree, PLEASE DO - but please provide an argument as to why I'm mistaken.  I have changed my mind in the past (I used to think SBS and the wizards were irritating and useless beyond the discount - then I learned more about and got experience with it - in large part due to experts here.

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Arabia_vnCommented:
@leew: I think you are right. If it were me, i will simply add additional disks till running out of space. The second server is a good idea, too. But since OCUBE asked about NAS ...
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OCUBEAuthor Commented:

We were using SBS (AD,Exchange,File Server,Printers) doing all of them in one server.

And one time we had SBS go down and because of that we planned on moving the file server out of SBS. Instead of dedicating one server for files , we planned on getting a NAS where we can store all the files in one place.

One more thing we have noticed is when we have all the files on the SBS server, running a
virus scan on the server is an overhead(apart from managing AD,exchange,backups,printers)

We might be wrong too, all your  inputs are good.



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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Many NAS systems use linux based OR proprietary file systems.  If the NAS fails you may have significant difficulty in recoverying the data.

As I inquired before, Are you planning on running a virus scan on the NAS?  A LOCAL virus scan is going to perform better than a network based scan (scanning from a workstation to the files on a NAS).  Very few NAS systems can support Virus Scanning since they generally run a proprietary OS.  If they can do a scan, they are likely very limited on what kind of scanning software they use.  So, as I asked, if you are resigned not scanning the files (as you would likely be with a NAS), why not simply EXCLUDE virus scanning on the file sharing drives?

Perhaps I'm not making myself clear.

You should understand, by having a second set of spindles (additional disks), a scan of the file share spindles should not slow down the rest of the system because the rest of the system runs off the other set of spindles.  Likewise, if configured properly, a second set of disks could speed things like snapshots, paging, and increase the recoverability of Exchange.
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OCUBEAuthor Commented:

@leew:

 Is excluding the virus scan on the files sharing drive safe ? (NAS or internal drives)




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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Before I answer that (and I will try in another comment):

If you use a NAS device, how do you plan on scanning for viruses on the NAS device?  Do you expect the clients to do the scanning on the network drives?  This is generally ill-advised as it can create serious network and disk performance issues, having up to 35 clients all trying to scan at the same time...

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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Is it safe?  No.  not really.  But my point is, given your options for scanning a file share, what kind of file share would be MORE LIKELY to handle the scanning well and use a method that would be least problematic?

Step back and look at it:
On a SERVER file share, only one system is potentially scanning that files for viruses - and you KNOW you CAN scan the files for viruses.

On a NAS, the NAS may not support virus scanning... if it does, it will likely be limited, and if it doesn't, the work involved in scanning could result in serious performance issues (as detailed in my previous comment).  

If you were not planning on virus scanning with the NAS, then LOGICALLY, what happens if you exclude the file sharing drives added to the server?  You have the same net effect - they aren't scanned.  Only the drives are cheaper, you have more control over them, easier recovery, and less management and setup.
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OCUBEAuthor Commented:
@leew:

We have a workstation that no one uses and we are planning to use this PC as our
NAS gateway.  This PC will have full access to NAS and from this PC we will do a full
virus scan of NAS(instead of individual PC's doing there shared drives on NAS )
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Ok... so why not have that PC do the same thing with the server?  What's the difference doing that from the workstation to the NAS or to the server?
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OCUBEAuthor Commented:

 We were under the assumption that the SBS server will have more overhead of doing
 a virus scan 150GB data every day.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Why?  Again, why would the SBS server be running the scan?  Don't you plan on running the scan from the workstation?  If so, how, exactly do you envision that putting a load on the server by scanning for viruses?  The network traffic?  How would that be any different if it were on the NAS?  Besides, you're running a scan - you're not using an On-Access scanner.  So why wouldn't you schedule the scan off-hours?

Of course, how does running a scan off hours really help you - on a NAS or a server?  
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
A little devils advocate on my part, just trying to make sure you are properly accounting for all variables (and even if you account for all the ones I bring up, I may miss a few).
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OCUBEAuthor Commented:
Thanks
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