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Fast Network Disk Access?

I am looking for suggestions to provide very fast network disk access for larger CAD files.  I am wanting to take it away from being depended on any server that may cause some overhead.  

I am am only needing about 3TB and it would have about 20 users mostly being used for CAD files and Office files.  All the systems are either XP or Windows 7 and they are running a SBS2003 Server.

What would you suggest?
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Newellnet
Asked:
Newellnet
3 Solutions
 
arnoldCommented:
You could use/buy an NAS with four hotswap disk which can have the storage capacity with redundancy (RAID) and accessible via the network.

Check openfiler.com for another option.  The issue in your case deals with the size of the storage you are looking at which is what and where your issue is.
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rdhoore108Commented:
If it needs to be really fast, a SAN would be more appropriate, like a Dell Equallogic. Even with normal SATA disks (as opposed to SAS) in RAID6, you will get decent speeds, plus you have 2 controllers and 2 power supplies, so that it is very resilient. There are models with 10Gb ethernet, but for your purpose the 1Gb ethernet will do fine, as you can team up to 4 ethernet interfaces.

Of course, it depends on the available budget, as you will also need a good ethernet switch, with a separate buffer for each port, like a Cisco Catalyst 3750 series (they are pretty costly as well).
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stevaleeleeCommented:
Do you have a picture of the I/O profile?  Is it large reads and writes for a high total throughput or is it weighted more toward transactions?  As rdhoore108 says if you get enough spindles in a raid the speed of the actual disks becomes almost irrelevant for total throughput - but if you are facing a transaction limitation the individual disk RPMs come back into play along with the sophistication of the controller.  Depending on budget (always an issue) a dedicated device (Dell's offerings are very good in this segment but there are cheaper alternatives if needed) will generally handle transaction load better than a high end raid card.

Another thing to think about is the connection protocol.  The windows CIFS protocol is great for throughput but can bind up on transactions.  In that case it can be good to use the Microsoft NFS client.  It allows multithreaded connections better leveraging multicore cpu resources.  This should allow you to saturate a gigE pipe even with a heavy transaction load.

Rdhoore108 is also right on with the bonded ports.  I have a 500+ core cluster accessing files off a role your own file server (inherited from previous admin.)  I've bonded 4 gigE ports going into a cheap netgear 48 port switch.  With a little bit of nfs tuning we've virtually eliminated I/O wait across the cluster.

Hope this helps.
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