DFS or Suresync alternative for a 4 site, 6 server network?

Posted on 2012-09-06
Last Modified: 2012-10-13
I know this is a long one but PLEASE read. If I can get the right solution, you will truly be doing my team a huge, real-life favor. My IT department’s jobs are on the line, and there is nothing we can do because all of our end-user complaints about our file replication software is due to bugs, not configuration. I have become their personal bug finder and now all I do is perform daily patches, and then cry myself to sleep.

The company I work for is essentially 2 different companies, a manufacturing company and a n engineering company. The primary site for each company has a file server and an SBS server, and each company's secondary site has one file server that is also an SDC. Each company has 2 physicals sites, all of them are 1-10ish miles away from each other (none of the sites are even close to having line of site by the way, wireless was my first thought). Each site is connect together using SonicallWall NSA site-to-site VPNs. Each site has a business class, 20ish down 3ish up cable connection, except that one out of the four sites also has  a 3 down 1 up DSL connection for failover/load balance (this site has the most users out of all sites). These are all static IPs also. Each primary site has roughly 50 user and each secondary site has about 20 users.

We map 2 drives for all users, L: Drive Company A and T: Drive Company B. The drives are about 300GB big each, and the files size are totally random. Also, every user uses the drives randomly all day, some only a few times, and others just pound on it all day. The file structures behind these shares are replicated to each site using SureSync with File locking. We had to use this over DFS because DFS doesn't have native file locking (I know about Peerlock but that's not our only issue), and DFS can only use 1 thread or process one file at a time, something like that I can't exactly remember while Suresync can use 4 true threads (I know I don't know the terminology.) Any way it messes up in everyway possible, all the time.

What I really want is to say screw file replication, and get fiber lines run to all of the sites and not even host the secondary file servers, just have the drives map straight to the primary file servers at the primary sites. But, we had it quoted it out and it's going to be about $500-$700 per line. I already know if I bring it up, the execs are going to laugh me out of the building at the price tag. They are always so quick to assume that there is a just right solution for what they want, that costs next to nothing and that we must be ignorant on the subject, or lazy. Also, they are going to give me the, “Oh what if the fiber goes down? They will be completely cut off!” To which I reply, “We probably lose an hour A DAY to the sync, as opposed to 2 hours a year with fiber!”

Anyway, I need a new plan, and fast. I thought about maybe setting up additional VPNs that only host file server traffic and buying big, big residential internet packages, which are probably much cheaper than the fiber, but I don't even know if you can set up the site to site VPNs with dynamic IPs.I was also thinking about clouding, but that is internet based too, and our upload is terrible.

I’m scared because even if I find a new solution, I have to sell the pitch to the execs, test it, implement it, work out the bugs then roll it out. Could it be too late at the point and the execs have had it with us? I fear that might be the case.

Any ideas? I'm falling apart! It has to be real time replication to all sites, there has to be file/folder locking, and with very minimal delay on syncing. Plus, I can’t have files/folder magically reappear, disappear, have file’s data change for no reason…etc.
Question by:sagetechit
    LVL 41

    Expert Comment

    You can take a look at a WAN optimization solution such as Riverbed, Silver Peak, etc. Silver Peak has a free solution for two sites, so you could do that for each company. You could then theoretically consolidate each site to a single server. Increasing your upstream bandwidth will help.
    LVL 35

    Expert Comment

    OK, what I can read is, that you have a bandwith problem...
    As kevin posted, Riverbed or similar solution mybe a try, nevertheless as it relies on compression, it also has its limits. Nevertheless it can make a good job as long as the data is compressable.

    As I could understand, your locations are between 1 and 10 miles away, what is about a point to point radio link? This needs of course a visible connection between the locations, so maybe nothing if you have hills around, and of course some investment.

    You can realize GBit up to 1 KM with optical laser connection or up to 800 MBit and up to 50 KM with radio micro wave.

    The other idea I have in my mind is a multiport WAN connection, where you bundle several external lines together to increase the total bandwith.

    Keep in mind that asymetric lines in a site to site environmen onlöy can use the upload speed, as download un the one site means upload on the other. That means a 20/3 line only can communicate with 3 mbps.
    LVL 36

    Expert Comment

    Fiber is probably the answer.

    You could also look at Windows Branch Cache

    I would also think about rationalising your file shares and see if it possible to have site only shares and shared site shares, then you might be able to reduce your synchronisation overhead.
    LVL 41

    Expert Comment

    Bandwidth and latency can both be issues. WAN optimization doesn't rely on compression. If you are still running XP, latency can kill you even if you have enough bandwidth. A WAN optimization solution can  mitigate latency for XP clients. If you are one Windows Vista or hi
    LVL 41

    Accepted Solution

    If you are on Vista or higher the problem can be solved with just bandwidth, even if latency is high. This assumes your servers are also 2008 or higher. Of course, the remaining lifespan of XP is only until April 2014, which isn't too far off. At least Microsoft is offering upgrades to Windows 8 Pro for $40 each, and you can downgrade to Windows 7 with that license. :-)

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