SUMMARY: Using Xserve RAID on SUN

From: Dave Martini <>
Date: Mon Nov 07 2005 - 19:29:53 EST
I received lots of replys and will include them here since it's easier.
 From the replys I got, there are quite a few people using the Xserve 
RAID with SUN and it seems to be working well.

Begin responses.................

Xserve RAID is cheaper than Sun storage because they are made using
ATA drives instead of SCSI. It's like comparing apples to oranges

I don't know of anyone using Xserve RAID on a Sun, but I'd beware.
On their site they tout the compatibility, but this storage is
certified for Windows, various Linux flavors, Novell, but
no mention of Solaris. Personally I wouldn't let this define
my choice of OS for NFS server since I feel that Solaris beats
Linux for NFS hands down (I'm talking about reliability...I've
found that Linux NFS actually performs a bit better in the few
comparisons I've done).

My personal recommendation would be Nexsan, we're using two
ATAboy2 systems and are very happy with them. 2.6TB usable
space on each, with a very nice web-based interface. We have
had exceptional experience with Nexsan support. You're welcome
over if you'd like to see the interface.

Nexsan has some new models that look very nice, in a denser

Dave Foster

Sun OEMs from them with SUn's own firmware.

Fujitsu Siemens S30
Pure fast JBOD, 14 disks Ultra320 (personal experience - fast!!)
Make sure to use Ultra320 controller


It works.  Last year, I was on a contract with the US Dept. of Health
and Human Serivces.  Among our primary responsiblities was the
administration of a Web portal system that was composed of 15 or so
Sun Fire servers using Xserves to RAID their databases.

Completely compatible with NFS.  Boot order is important... that's the
one thing that tripped us up.  If I recall correctly, if you reboot
your Sun systems, or if one of them crashes... reboot the Xserves too.
  Beyond that, I don't remember much else.  Like I said, it worked.

--Greg Chavez

We have 5 XServe/RAID arrays currently all connected to a x86 servers
running Debian Linux.  However, before we purchased the first unit, Apple
kindly loaned us an array, FC PCI adapter and gave us access to an engineer
so we could do our own tests.

We successfully tested this on Linux, Solaris 9 and FreeBSD 5.x.  For
Solaris, all that was required was to download the appropriate driver from
the LSI logic website.  We purchase the FC cards from Apple as they are
cheaper and come with the copper interconnect cables which save you some
money over purchasing fibre transceivers etc.  The copper ones are fine of
you have the array and servers in the save rack.  Apple don't currently
change the PROMs on the FC cards so they are standard LSI logic ones.

One point to remember (which you probably know), is that the RAID array is
effectively two independent arrays, each with up to 7 drives.  If you run
these as RAID5 (like we do) you have one drive out of 7 used for parity.

Hope this helps.

Kind regards, Shaun.

I've fired up a XserveRaid on a Sun machine (v240 sol9) no problems.. 
jsut showed up as a big disk.. well, it was 2 big disks, because 
Xserveraid is 2 7 disk raids, not a single 14 disk.. no controller fault 

I've had some luck with Arena boxes attached with SCSI to our servers, 
but you're not getting realy good performance out of them.  I'd take a 
look at the 3511s from Sun, that's what I'm running now, and they fly, 
and decent price.

Paul Greidanus

See Ben Rockwood's blog (  He did a
three-part review of the Xserve RAID back in March or April.

-- Coy Hile

Promise manufactures SATA to SCSI storage that might fit the bill.

Also, RiadZone and ATABeast are worth looking into.

Yes, I've worked in the field both at Sun and then later Apple...   worked
with customers who wanted to do just that.  It works just fine,  though you
will want to be running a Sun kernel that can address the loads of 
space you
can get from a loaded-up Xserve RAID.

Xserve RAID just looks like plain old fiber channel storage - nothing  too
fancy there.  For the most part (modulo niggling details like the max  LUN
size issues mentioned), it's pretty straightforward.


  We've got several XServ RAID arrays hooked up to various Sun systems 
(V880, SF280).  Works like a charm.  We use the Apple HBA's along with 
the Sun drivers from LSI Logic.  One thing to keep in mind is that Apple 
markets these things primarily for video storage/editing and therefore 
they are optimized for sequential I/O.  While they can and do support 
database type operation, I don't think they would do very well in a 
heavily used environment of this type.  However, they are prefect for 
development work and even for things like standby databases.  Also, 
although they have two controllers, they are NOT redundant.  Each 
controller only has access to the drives on its side of the array.

   I'd be happy to try to answer any other questions you might have.

Best Regards,

Charlie Take a look at: Infortrend or NexSan or Synetic or ACNC products
(if you look for Sata storage).


Rage computers, near me, quoted me a rather attractive rack-mount
solution that, IIRC, would meet those requirements.

"Near me" means S.E. Michigan.


We have three (or four? I telecommute and loose track of machine room 
inventory) Xserve RAIDs and a Sun 3511FC with 42 disks (four chassis).

There are some controller and FC path redundancies in the 3511FC that 
the Xserve raid doesn't have but the bottom line: the 3511FC has been  a 
major headache to setup and manage compared to the Xserve RAID.   The 
extra FC path redundancy in the 3511FC are mostly necessary to 
compensate for the disk scattered over a bunch of separate boxes and 
the cabling gets really complicated really fast.  Also note that the 
3511FC (and some other Sun storage) is just a re-badged Dot-Hill 
Systems RAID.  The same hardware is available under assorted  different 

Even if they were the same price, I'd pick the Xserve RAID and they  are 
VERY FAR from being the same price.

It is handy to have a Mac manage the Xserve RAID, but it isn't  strictly 
necessary.  The Raid Admin application is pure Java...just  grab the jar 
file out of the application bundle and run where ever  you want.  (Well, 
I've never tried it on Windows...)

We have been using them with the Apple branded FC card in Sun 280R, 
V480 and V490.  It didn't with the built-in FC on the 280R.  I don't 
think we ever tried on-board FC on the 480/490.


We use Xserve RAIDs with our V20z servers and it works fine. We even 
use generic Qlogic fc cards rather than the Sun ones. This is with 
Solaris 10. It's been working great so far after about 5 months of 

We also use the Qlogic SANbox 5200 switches that Apple resells (Sun 
resells those too, but for a much higher price)


you may look at the Fujitsu Siemens S80, fiber channel JBOD, 2 controllers,
512M cache.
expandable to 56 disks.
Supported on Solaris running on Fujitsu PrimePowers, Linux and Windows.

We have had a Xserve RAID on a Sun SPARC box for a couple of years and 
yes it
does work and it is much cheaper..

- Check out the site:
- The page we used:
If you have a specific question then please contact me.


We are using one connected to a Sun 280R. It's serving files for our
RealMedia Streaming service. It works, but you need to consider your
needs. It's not in the same class of storage as EMC, Hitachi, etc. If
you're using it as a tier 2/mid-range/workgroup (whatever you call it)
service I think they're OK.

Below is my original question:

Was wondering if anyone has hooked up an Apple Xserve RAID to a SUN box 
and if so does it work and how well?

The Apple Xserve RAID is a LOT cheaper than SUN storage.

Also if anyone can recommend any other non-SUN storage to use
that would be great.

Looking for somethin that can hold at least 12 disks with room to grow
via expansion units or additional unused slots. Price needs to be under 15k.

Dave Martini
sunmanagers mailing list
Received on Mon Nov 7 19:31:14 2005

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