SAN or NAS for small business solution?

Hi all,

just after some opinions on whether it would be worth getting a san for our main office

we have the following which could utilise:-

Exchange 2010
File Server

ive seeen some HP disk array kits they call them, where we get the fibre swtich and the san for about 3k

do you guys think its worth it to get a san or to just use a NAS for the file server and leave sql and exchange where they are?

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andyalderConnect With a Mentor Commented:
>i have those hp G6 rack servers can they support sas disks if i get some for exchange improvements?i have those hp G6 rack servers can they support sas disks if i get some for exchange improvements?

Yes, assuming it's 300 series ProLiant, may not be so with 100 series.
SHBStorage Network SpecialistCommented:
EMC VNXe 3100 or 3300 would be an ideal solution for you

I am running a 3300 for all the mentioned applications
SHBStorage Network SpecialistCommented:
This is a unified storage. You can make use of a NAS for file server and a SAN for exchange and SQL in this single box
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Apart from SAN fiber u can use iscsi with gigabit swtich tgo make a vlan fo all device..

lower cost and not bad perforamcne
Unless you're intending to build a cluster that needs shared storage you would be better off without a SAN. Direct attached storage is cheaper than a SAN for the same performance/capacity and you don't have to learn how to use an additional product.

A new 8 port fibre channel switch costs about $3000, so you won't get storage plus switch for that price unless it's second hand.

If you need a new fileserver because you're out of space then that's a different matter, you could buy a Windows Storage Server based box and then use it for iSCSI target should Exchange or SQL need more capacity but that's only because you had to buy the fileserver anyway, if you just wanted more space for xhange it would be better to add a disk or two to that assuming you have free disk bays.
Using a basic server box filled with SSD and manage by OpenFiler ($3000 allows for about 1 small server with 4-6 250GB SSD for about 1TB RAID 5), you should move your data volumes to an iSCSI volume and forget any performance problem for the next 5 years...
What are you looking to do?




awilderbeastAuthor Commented:
so mostly you guys are suggesting to go iscsi?

you mean something like this?

well im going to do a few things really
i think im going to get a tape deck for my backups, if you guys could recommend any?

Then for redundancy and/or consolidation i was thinking NAS/SAN now iscsi in the mix too

does isci connect at the hardware level like san? could i plug it into multiple servers?
iSCSI allows some virtualization at the physical storage level
Distributed filesystem allows some virtualization at the logical storage level
==> Combining both of those allows to manage smoothly the storage needs
I think you can get a SAN if you want to implement high availability in SQL and/or Exchange, using a cluster (and therefore, you will need additional servers). So if you only want a file server, a SAN is not needed.

If you need a file server for a small company (I don't know how small it is), I recommend a NAS box, like the buffalo you suggest. My suggestion is the Synology DS1511+ (with 5 drives). You can plug SATA or SSD disks if you want, you could find a lot of interesting functionality in the OS DSM 4.0 (like CloudStation, a kind of local "dropbox", or VPN, or the backup tool, or the option to access the files through HTTP/HTTPS, or the AV module...). It also contains a replication software, so if you later purchase a second unit, you can implement a DR strategy easily. And of course, it is NAS and also it is SAN (iSCSI), so you can use one of the gigabit ports for the built-in file server through the LAN, and the other gigabit interface for iSCSI if you want. And it costs 800$:,2817,2380053,00.asp
awilderbeastAuthor Commented:
well currenly i have a dedicated file server - its a 2008 R2 box with one HDD in running DFS R

which to me is now a waste - i was thinking of moving it somewhere useful installing dfsr on amy managment server and letting a NAS hold multiple disks

then i found about the SAN way and thought i could put my files/SQL/Exchange all on that at the hardware level, have it consolidated, reliable and easy to backup

but sans need a fibre switch and an expensive bit of kit itself yes?
what about this, this can connect to two machines at the hardware level and looks like it can expand 2 more?

so these other san/nas hybrids you speak of, should i really just use as a nas and get some more HDDS for my exchange/SQL?

I'd get more disks for your SQL + Exchange, if you use a cheap iSCSI solution then if either the SQL server or the iSCSI target fails then SQL is down, in effect halving the reliability.

It's all very dependant on your environment though, how many IOPS you need, what type of downtime you can put up with, how much more space you need etc.
SAN can be accessed mainly through FC or iSCSI. It depends on your performance needs and the number of simultaneous access to the SAN, and IOPS expected.... but at a first sight, the recommendation would be iSCSI, easier and cheaper than fibre.

So you are running out of space in Exchange and SQL servers. And at the same time, you need a file server... then yes, the SAN/NAS box is a good option for everything. The SAN space is much more scalable, but again: if you don't plan to replicate or add high availability to SQL and Exchange, and you have space internally in your servers, you can add local disk to your servers and continue just in the way you are working now.
awilderbeastAuthor Commented:
well i recently found out exchange requires a disk of 1500rpm and im running plain sata 7200rpms in them

i have those hp G6 rack servers can they support sas disks if i get some for exchange improvements?

i like the idea of the san so i might present it, most likely the boss will say cheap option though

anyone recommend a few ISCSI Sans for me to spec up

is there nas/san hybrids out there?

would you reecommend a san and a nas?
OpenFiler opensource solution is a NAS/SAN product that allows MPIO on an active/passive cluster
awilderbeastAuthor Commented:
im quite new to hard drive talk so youll have to bare with me, that openfiler sounds good, but surely cannot be as powerful as a hardware device?

do iscsi and sas have different connections than sata, my servers have hot swap sata ports built into them, so was wondering if the other faster disc types will go in there too?
BigSchmuhConnect With a Mentor Commented:
SATA, SAS and FC are all different drive INTERFACE.
SATA features are a subset of SAS features, so you can plug SATA drives on a SAS controller but you can't plug SAS drives in a SATA controller.
I would say that the most important difference is that SAS allows 2 ports per drive which enable a drive to be controlled by 2 controllers at the same time ... for a spofless storage subsystem (MPIO OS feature allows to redirect "live" the io commands when a controller failed)

OpenFiler needs hw device as well to operate at expected performance level.
If you fill you server with good hw (branded hw raid controller, good PSU, good capacity drives - Large "Enterprise class" SATA drive - and good IOPS drive - SSD usually -), you get a very performing storage system...way better than any SAN/NAS for the money.

If you have SATA hw, you can enhance your IOPS capability by adding SSD or your capacity by adding large Enterprise class low rpm (less energy) drives. Enterprise class drives has a better UBE than traditionnal desktop's drives.
CarlosDominguezConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Openfiler is an storage operating system, like FreeNAS or Nexentastor. You need to install it in a compatible hardware (may be a reused PC or server). I recommend hot-plug hard drives and a good RAID controller.

SATA, SCSI, SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) and FC are different disk drive interfaces. So you can find them in SAN boxes, or the first three types in servers, or basically the first type for PCs and laptops...

And then you have iSCSI, FC (and other protocols like FCOE) for storage networks. If you have the typical ethernet or gigabit network interfaces in your hardware, then you can communicate server - SAN box using iSCSI.
awilderbeastAuthor Commented:
thanks for all the advice guys
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