Enterprise Servers - Stepping up to the big boys

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Skippman
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Enterprise Servers - Stepping up to the big boys

Post by Skippman » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:44 pm

Ok, I need some advice and this has been the best place I've found for such.

Right now I have a Core2Duo E6600 based server running Windows Vista. This drives a 3Ware 8 Port PCIX SATA RAID card. I've never been able to get my hands on a PCIX board to really take advantage of the card and honestly, I'm getting tired of looking.

I'm planning on building a house in the next 4-5 years and would like to use a centralized media server for it. Basically all I want it to do is serve DVD and BD ISO files, MP3's, and be used as a NAS for my home network. I want to be able to use it to rip these discs. I also want it to be an expandable RAID server.

I'm considering finally moving up to an enterprise class server for all of this, all be it a used one. I'm considering a 3-4U Opteron or Xeon based server with 4-8 GB of RAM and as many hotswap bays as I can find, preferably at least 6. Do you think this is overkill for my application? Do you think buying a used or lease returned server is a bad idea? Or should I try to build my own. I don't really expect I could built something like this for the same price as I'd pay on a lease return.

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Re: Enterprise Servers - Stepping up to the big boys

Post by Apoptosis » Sat Jun 09, 2012 6:03 am

I think it's a bit overkill... I also think a high-end NAS has all the features you need besides the burner part.
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Enterprise Servers - Stepping up to the big boys

Post by Skippman » Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:32 am

Well, I can possibly do the ripping on my desktop. I considered having an "all in one" solution the ideal. What kind of NAS did you have in mind? I was under the impression most NAS devices were little more than glorified external hard drives with an occasional managed user interface.

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Re: Enterprise Servers - Stepping up to the big boys

Post by egloeckle » Sat Jun 09, 2012 5:24 pm

Way overkill.

Remember "Enterprise" typically means things like SCSI/SAS drives (smaller drives), and very loud fans (that push a ton of air) as in a rack noise doesnt really matter. If it is a tower formfactor, the fans may not be so loud, but the thing will be HUGE (I have an HP ML350 sitting in my closet currently for work, I had to angle it to be able to close the door so it ends up taking a ton of space in there).

A good NAS will do what you want, take far less space/power and make a ton less noise. Almost all current generation ones have a DLNA server built in, and most allow for 3rd party modules/software to run on them. It may seem nice to have it all in one, but the drawbacks outweigh the benefits and with a NAS you can just stick it in a closet on a small UPS (along with your router/firewall/switch(es)) and forget about it.

As for recommendations, it depends on space needed and budget. Netgear's ReadyNAS line isnt bad, though their support can be hit or miss, I have had a few support calls on some units go OK while another go really badly (an iSCSI issue that I went back and forth with them for months on). Qnap makes very good units, their support is decent, but the one I will be going with in the near future (when drive prices drop and enterprise sata drives become more available) is a Synology unit. The nice thing about the Synology's is you can add on modules that allow for more drives to be connected later on, unless I missed something recently Qnap does not have anything similar. The Qnap's are nice as you can get into 10Gb ethernet on lower end models, though for your case this probably is not necessary (2 1Gb interfaces with link aggregation should be overkill for what you are looking to do).

Just remember, if you are running RAID 5/6, dont use standard SATA drives. Save yourself the possibility for data loss and headache and go with enterprise SATA at the least. Standard SATA drives have very low IOPS, and on RAID-5 there are 4 operations per write needed on top of the parity calculation. Add to that the possibility for a timeout problem (standard SATA drives typically lack TLER/CCTL/etc which can cause a drive to be incorrectly flagged as bad in the array triggering a rebuild) and a badly timed power outage and you can wind up losing data. This is the same for a NAS or a 'normal' server (standard SATA is bad juju). I can go into more detail if you want, but that would end up being a whole article I think ](*,)

Edit: While it is possible to set enable some error correction via SMART on some drives, it is not something I would rely on. Reboots will reset values and depending on your setup, you may not even be able to adjust the value without jumping through hoops. No matter how diligent you tell yourself that you will be now, in a year or two you may not be (most people wouldn't be) especially after not having to really do any admin work on the unit in a year.

With more specifics on disk space, budget and any other specific requirements I could probably quickly give you a few specific models to take a look at.

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Enterprise Servers - Stepping up to the big boys

Post by Skippman » Sun Jun 10, 2012 1:05 pm

My problem is that most 2-3U NAS appliances cost more than a used server. This will be going on a AV equipment rack. I suppose I can just shove a shelf in there or get a 4U case to transfer my equipment into and shove it in here.

Right now I have 3 WD 1TB Green SATA drives in a RAID5 array. I know it's not enough for a reliable array which is why I'm wanting to add drives. I also know they're not "enterprise" caliber drives. These are running off a 3Ware PCIX controller that in a PCI lot. All of this is in a Corsair 800D case. The RAID drives are in the hot swap bays and those are also backed up to external hard drives that are kept in a vault.

I'm just trying to consolidate everything into a more standardized platform with better performance.

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Re: Enterprise Servers - Stepping up to the big boys

Post by egloeckle » Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:44 pm

FYI, AV racks are typically not server depth. You may want to check, rack mount servers are really deep (an HP DL 350 for example is about 28-30").

As for reliability, the number of drives does not make it more reliable, in fact it in a way makes the array less reliable though that is an entirely too long of a topic to try to get into for the sake of your question.

If you are just looking to go as cheap as possible, are willing to accept the risk of everything going wrong (and relying on your backups) and dont need very good write performance, I guess you could just get some form of case that fits where you want it, hook up a bunch of drives (dont worry about a hardware raid controller, you really arent accomplishing much using one in your case) and run something like freenas or openfiler. As you are looking to be able to expand in the future possibly, Freenas would probably be best using ZFS though this wont be the easiest thing to learn.

As I said in my previous post, you wont improve performance with standard SATA drives. No RAID controller or fast CPU's will do anything as your bottleneck is the abysmal iops of the drives and the fact that raid-5 has a ton of write overhead. As for read performance, the more drives in the array the faster it will be, but also the higher risk of failure.

Fast, Good (in this case reliable), Cheap. Pick 2.

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Enterprise Servers - Stepping up to the big boys

Post by Skippman » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:44 am

I take your point. So far nothing about this project has received one positive word, either in the media server side or on the home automation side I'm discussing on another forum. There seems to be no middle ground between overkill and cheap.

Maybe I'm not asking the right questions or maybe I'm just going about it the wrong way.

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Re: Enterprise Servers - Stepping up to the big boys

Post by bubba » Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:32 am

Don't think what you are wanting is too out of line, but what you are wanting to do it with...

Image
See if I can explain. I feed my place with a Thecus N5500 NAS. It feeds my phone, my boy's Xbox, and two PC's. And it doesn't flinch. Its setup with 5x 1TB drives in RAID5. If I want more space I would have to back it all up to a drive, replace them all with five 2 or 3TB drives (not cheap) even then thats the cap for the box. Its powered by a slow celeron M, and 1GB ram.


Now you really want some space, like in the 45TB range, build up something like this guy did http://www.eyespytechnologies.net/?p=67

If you have a lot, and I mean a LOT of p0rn... http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/nas/nas- ... -revisited :lol:

If you dont want to build, then there are rack mount NAS options like my box that are stackable http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6822102035
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Re: Enterprise Servers - Stepping up to the big boys

Post by Skippman » Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:51 am

$1,600 is double, and almost tripple what I can get a used Operton/Xeon based server for, so it get into a question of budget at that point. Maybe I'll just stick with what I have and try to find a rack mount case. I was wanting to do this the best way possible while keeping it fairly "future proof" for the time being. I guess maybe I'm just way overshooting what I'm aiming for. I was looking at things more from a cost perspective than a footprint one as this is going to go in the mechanical room of my future house.

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Re: Enterprise Servers - Stepping up to the big boys

Post by bubba » Mon Jun 11, 2012 12:46 pm

Find a new board for your E6600 that has a couple PCie slots on it, pair of nice RAID cards in 4U 20 slot case. The $$$ part at that point will be filling it with drives.
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Re: Enterprise Servers - Stepping up to the big boys

Post by Skippman » Mon Jun 11, 2012 1:54 pm

bubba wrote:Find a new board for your E6600 that has a couple PCie slots on it, pair of nice RAID cards in 4U 20 slot case. The $$$ part at that point will be filling it with drives.
What are you recommending card wise? I know I'm hung up on this 3Ware card and I really shouldn't be.

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