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NAS device for Autodesk Civil 3d 2012 users. Recommendation on brand and Raid level

I work for a shop that has 6 Autodesk Civil3d users and they need more storage space. I'm looking for a recommendation as far as brand/model and recommended Raid level. So far I've looked at the NetGear ReadyNas 2100 and it's price/specs seem pretty good.
I like the fact that it has 2 Gigabit ethernet ports, integrates with Windows AD, drives are hot-swappable, 5yr warranty and the price is pretty reasonable. I'm just not sure of what to look for in regards to performance and the Civil3d users. Currently there are 6 but that number could jump to around 10 or 12.

Thanks
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bwierzbicki
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bwierzbicki
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3 Solutions
 
silverkornCommented:
I would recommend using RAID 5 as your preferred method. As a general rule of thumb I try to have at least 5 drives for a RAID 5 setup, but you can still get away with only using 3, 4 to have a hot spare drive waiting.

as for the ReadyNas 2100, this appears to be a nice unit but only supports the use of 4 drives, which is good for RAID 5 but your only effectively using 3 of those drives, minus the area need for the striping of those drives. Here is a great tool for calculating RAID array size: http://www.ibeast.com/content/tools/RaidCalc/RaidCalc.asp

I do not think the additional gigabit ethernet connection will make much difference, especially when using Civil 3D as the program only communicates with the server with a open and save command. Once the user is in the drawing the files is copied to that local workstation and work is then done from there. So even with 12 users attempting to save their 30MB file at the same time onto the server it would only take about 3 seconds for the task to complete for each user, without taking into account traffic collisions and such.
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Robberbaron (robr)Commented:
1/ I concur with silverkorn in that a RAID5 with hotspare is desirable.  So min 4 drives reqd.  Efficiency rises with each additional drive added.

2/ Speed of transfer is rarely an issue.

3/ If this is for business critical storage, you should consider "enterprise" level drives, which are noticeably more expensive but supposedly less error prone. It is a tradeoff that I doubt has been really explored due to number of reads required to make a drive fail, and also the impact of such a failure.  Buy the largest drives you can now, because when you may need to replace one in a year's time, you can be sure they wont be making 500Gb drives any more. (talking from experience with 18Gb SCSI3 drives !)

3/ But you need to consider how much data you will be storing and how you will back it up.
3.1/ RAID5+1 using 2Tb drives gives 4Tb = 4000Gb of storage.  This is an incredible amount.  The design office I work in has 50 staff and we have 1.5Tb of live data.  This has risen in a linear fashion for the last 5 years, so we expect to have about 2Tb (of live project data, after archiving old jobs) in 12months time.
3.2/ So currently we use 2Tb eSATA drives for our weekly offsite backups ( 4 of), with our old 750G , 1Tb & 1.5Tb drives of past years as our  daily backups. And will have to buy new ones next year!
3.3/ We used to use external USB drives (and still do for dailies) but have had to change to eSATA for full backup to improve speed, takes about 6hrs at the moment I think, via eSATA.

4/ So I think the internal backup software quality and eSATA connections are critical items.

5/ We have ReadyNAS Pro enclosures ( 6 drives). Their performance is ok, but we have had problems with the firmware.  I have recently purchased a 2 bay Synology for home use and am very impressed with the software and performance but this is a different situation.   this is an interesting general read on data expansion http://www.synology.com/us/resources/whitepapers/Growth_Solutions_for_Data_Storage.pdf

6/ For AD integration, you may want to get a trial machine as it is not always as good as the adverts will say. (We dont use the RedyNAS as Ad integrated so cant comment on those, but an older NAS we have does not automatically update its AD-link. Simple matter to force an update once a week as this is just archived data, but is a manual operation none the less)

hope my rambling helps.
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bwierzbickiAuthor Commented:
Thanks for both of your comments.
What kind of firmware problems did you have robberbaron?
I'm actually now looking at this Iomega StorCenter px4-300r 8TB 1U RM NAS, iSCSI/NFS, Dual GbE & Replication.
Looks like I can get it for around 2k
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Robberbaron (robr)Commented:
there was an initial issue that connectivity was lost occasionally, fixed by a firmware update direct from NetGear support.
second was a failure during an online expansion that crashed the entire array and took about a week to fully recover our system from backup. We lost about 30min of data and a weekend of downtime until we could work from a temp setup. (online expansion is always a tricky time but is supposedly fully supported)

I note the Iomega only has USB2 direct attach connectivity. The use of EMC lifeline software may be an advantage as EMC has been in enterprise storage for a while.
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bwierzbickiAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your comments gentlemen.
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