External enclosure for RAID hard disks

We have an IBM server (low end one) that has a limited number of hard drive bays. On top of it, I've just learnt that IBM servers will not "allow" you to use non IBM-sourced hard drives. It is not to say that regular hdd won't work with my IBM server, but I cannot attach it to the casing because they need a bracket, which IBM doesnt sell (not here anyways).
So basically it forces us to use their hdd, which comes with bracket.

My question is:
I would like to use a RAID card (such as Areca) that has an external connection.
I am guessing that there are such things as external enclosures specifically for hard drives (does not need motherboard though). The hdd in the enclosure should be controlled by the raid card attached to the IBM. The connection will use an SFF connection.

But I am having difficulty finding such item.
I've come across an enclosure that uses "JBOD" system. But I dont know yet what JBOD is. All I'm looking for is an enclosure for putting additional hdd in RAID10, controlled by by raid card.

Can someone please advise and provide a link?
Personal experience and review of such configuration will be appreciated.
Thank you
SW111Asked:
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DavidPresidentCommented:
Well, enclosures are profoundly different.  Best way to move forward is to consider the physical interface.  First, I'll assume SAS-2.  Then # of bays, and also SES support (for monitoring the health of fans, temp, power, and ability to light the LEDs on bad drives).

How many disks, max?  Vibration is a killer, and if you need 6+ disks then you need to spend money on getting the heaviest enclosure you can afford due to rigidity.  Believe it or not, a cheap enclosure with same electronics can easily sap over 50% of your throughput due to vibration.

JBOD acronym means just a Bunch Of Disks.  It is a dumb enclosure w/o an internal RAID.  But you will need an expander, one that supports dual porting, and a dual ported controller unless you only have a small number of disks.

You should work with a vendor who sells both the Areca & enclosures.   That way you will not have to deal with cabling and nasty surprises like incompatibility.   Also don't let them talk you into SATA disks.  

Plenty of companies in this space that guide you through the process.   Neweggbusiness.com, pc-pitstop.com, scsi4me.com  are good starts.
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SW111Author Commented:
Diethe, Thanks for your reply.
The explanation is detailed but I'm having difficulty understanding the new terms. So please allow me to clarify.

1. I will be using an Areca PCI card on the IBM machine, which has run out of hdd slots.
2. I would like to connect the PCI card to an external box containing only hdd (no motherboard, etc)
3. This connection will be using an SFF connection (not sure which one, as the box is in the office).
4. So to my understanding the box need only hdd and power supply. It doesnt need additional raid card/electronics inside (which means I'm looking for a JBOD box?)
5. I was aiming for about 8-12 hdd because the raid card has 2 sff slot. And each slot is connected to a splitter cable (expander?) that connects to 4 sas hdd each.

6. I am in fact looking at neweggbusiness and norco technologies. The problem is I dont know which one to chose because I get confused over the ones with built in raid (which I dont need) and the JBOD. Some of the jbod case seems to also have built in LSI card?

7. Working with the ideal vendor is a stretch over here where I live. So I hope to be able to tell them the exact part number that I need. Otherwise, they'll get as confused as I do over jbods and raids and so on.

So to conclude:
Is it correcct that I actually am looking for a JBOD case with SFF connection with 8-12 bays and SES (sounds nice...) function ?
A link would be nice, just to confirm that I didnt misunderstand.

Thanks again
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SW111Author Commented:
Take for example:
http://www.areca.com.tw/products/6gsasjbod.htm

what is an expander board connector?
Is this the jbod chasis we're talking about? why does it have a jbod controller module? (I'm thinking the areca raid card is the controller?
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pgm554Commented:
What's yer budget?

I would go SAN / NAS  before I would start to plugin drives and cards.

WD has a nice product for under a grand that has Windows storage server and is a no brainer to install.

http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=610
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SW111Author Commented:
pgm554, roundabout a grand sounds about right.
I might not add all the hdd to capacity to begin with though.
The areca card I actually already have.

I've never been fond of SAN/NAS because I like the simplicity of controlling folder privilege in active domain under windows. Besides these hdds are for running virtual computers under windows. So probably not ideal for NAS?
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pgm554Commented:
It can join an AD and you can share the disk and folders anyway you want.

It is running Windows storage server and would be transparent to the users.

http://www.infoworld.com/t/microsoft-windows/what-windows-storage-server-213357

You can also use iSCSI which looks like a local disk on the file server and share it that way.

The WD uses enterprise RE disks and is pretty reliable.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
Let's just save a whole lot of time.  For all any of us know you can't possibly afford or even need some of these suggestions.

1. What is your TOTAL budget?
2. How many GB usable do you need?
3. Please quantify desired performance.   What configuration do you currently have (RAID level, types of disks, RAID config, and controller ... and is that too fast, slow, or just right).
4. Any special availability, reliability requirements?  (If the hardware goes offline then how much money will that cost if it is off for a few minutes, hours, or days)

Remember, you have cost, performance, and reliability.   Pick two ;)
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SW111Author Commented:
1. I think I really just need to buy a casing. So the budget is about $1,500
2. Shouldnt need too much. about 2Tb should be enough for now. I have already about 1TB anyways.
3. Performance is not very important here. The function of the virtual computers running on these disks are to be used as an RDP client by remote users to access internal database. The virtual pcs will then be clones of each other. So redundancy is not important.
4. Availability is not important either. As these are just clones of virtual pcs, I can simply move it to another machine temporarily.

So I pick cost and performance.

But really, I think I just need a case that will do this.
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andyalderSaggar maker's bottom knockerCommented:
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SW111Author Commented:
Andyalder
I am in Indonesia. They dont sell just the caddies here. They sell the caddies with hdd as a set. And its about 2x the price of wd, seagate and so on
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DavidPresidentCommented:
You're better off buying caddies.  It isn't as if you live in North Korea.   You can buy from one of those links andy supplied and get them shipped internationally.
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SW111Author Commented:
Diethe:
a number of reason:
1. expensive shipments & customs.
2. there are only 1 slot left. With the solution I wanted, I can add about 8 more hdd.
3. I dont want to rely on a particular brand

If we were to stay in the required solution, can we get back to the question:
"Can someone please advise and provide a link?
Personal experience and review of such configuration will be appreciated."

Thank you
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DavidPresidentCommented:
So $1500 for a SAS-2 enclosure with 8+ bays, expander, cabling, and shipping?  You really need to work with somebody who can sell you a bundle to make sure everything is compatible.  

Try newegg.com.
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SW111Author Commented:
Diethe,
Going back to your post above, which casing would you recommend that has the least vibration? Thanks
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DavidPresidentCommented:
The least vibration is easy.  Seriously .. just look at the shipping weight.  The bigger and heaver the box, the better.  More metal means greater rigidity and less vibration. Find something made by xyratex on Ebay.  

They make the high-end enclosures that companies like NetApp put their names on.
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