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How to build cheap iSCSI storage?

Hello,
I have 14 Ultra 320 15000 RPM SCSI drives from HP Modullar Smart Array (MSA). Because HP could not fix the controller/chassis issue, I plan to give it up and re-use the disks to build my own iSCSI SAN. Can you please recommend some solutions?
Q#1. What enclosure to use?
Q#2. What software (free or cheap) to use?
Q#3. What are the requirements for the hosting hardware? e.g. NIC, CPU, memory, etc.
Q#4. Any hot spare capability? (optional)
Q#5. Any alert/report capability? e.g. alert if any disk fails. (optional)


Thanks,
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richtree
Asked:
richtree
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6 Solutions
 
DavidCommented:
look into freenas or nexenta.   or you could do this with just installing intel-based solaris or even LINUX on pretty much any PC.   You will get all these things you ask for.  But if you use a solaris-based O/S, then you need to go with the native software-based RAID for better reliability and performance.

The more sturdy and solid the enclosure, the better for performance & data integrity, but only up to a point.  Lots of used SCSI JBODs out there.  You can even get a HP enclosure for probably $100 or less on EBAY that will accept the drives in HP carriers.
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richtreeAuthor Commented:
I do not have much Linux/Unix experience. Can you please recommend a few that's easy to set up?
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DavidCommented:
Nexenta is profoundly painless.  100% GUI, you don't even know UNIX is running under the covers. BUT ... you had better have a supported configuration, or it won't install.  It is free unless you want support or you have more than I think 4TB usable.  
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richtreeAuthor Commented:
What is the CPU, memory, NIC requirements for the host of Nextenda?
I still need to buy a box that has Ultra 320 SCSI adapter, right?
Can you recommend any iSCSI enclosure that is built for Ultra 320 SCSI disks?
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DavidCommented:
You can go to the nexenta site to see recommendations.  It is much more efficient then using a windows-based system.  But the necessary hardware config is a function of the amount of work and connections on the SAN, not how much disk space you have.
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richtreeAuthor Commented:
You mention JBOD box. How to make use of it? Here is what I imagine.

I buy a computer box with external SCSI RAID adapter;
I install my SCSI drives in JBOD box,
connect this JBOD box to my computer;
I install some iSCSI software on my computer to present JBOD storage as LUNs to other hosts such as ESX.

Can you confirm if my understanding is right?

Thanks.
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DavidCommented:
yes.
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DavidCommented:
But for Nexenta, you need and want to get a NON-RAID SCSI adapter.  This is important.  The O/S is actually designed and tuned to provide significantly better performance and data integrity and even availability/functionality if you let the CPU + Solaris O/S do the RAID.  Google zfs file system and look at the benefits.  You will be impressed.  Not a RAID controller on the planet can compete except for some external RAID subsystems such as EMC, NetApp, etc.
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richtreeAuthor Commented:
Can Nexenta work on most computer hardware?
Does it mean that I will be better off if I buy a computer that can host my SCSI drives and install Nexenta on it directly?
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DavidCommented:
Nexenta bundles Solaris with NAS appliance software and systems management software to make it easy.  They have a HCL list of what works. You need to have the right equipment, like supported controllers.   You have the most expensive part of it, the storage.   Most people buy an industrial class server used for $500 bucks or so (which typically went for 10X that a few years ago) and use external JBOD for storage.    At this point you need to invest the time looking at their website, forums, knowledgebase to see if this is a good match for you, and if you have an appropriate configuration already.

As you have a smartarray, you probably have a HP server, so probably have everything you need.  No matter what, you can always just download an image and see if it works, but best to read up first.  
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richtreeAuthor Commented:
Thanks a lot for your advices.
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DavidCommented:
For what it is worth, this is what I use for my company's primary server.
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