SUMMARY: Network storage

From: Dpk <>
Date: Mon Oct 14 2002 - 13:25:54 EDT
Thanks again for the help... this list is invaluable.

Dennis Kelly
Network Administrator
College of Engineering
Michigan State University

Original Post

We are currently looking at 655 GB - 1 TB network storage solution.
The solution must be Gigabit Ethernet attached, providing NFS version
3 (and hopefully in the near future version 4) over TCP/IP.  We also
hope to expand to 2-3 TB within 1.5 - 2 years in a attempt to
consolidate and provide further resources.

We are concerned with performance; reliability and single points of
failure; limiting factors in the filesystems and storage
units/hardware that effect expanding/shrinking filesystems; and
scaling multiple units in the future.  We have been looking at the Sun
StorEdge 3900 series with a SunBlade 1000 providing NFS, and due to
EDU pricing, a Netapp F820 filer.

My primary role has only been network-based until recent, and what
really need to do in the end is simple -- provide software and data
access over NFS -- hence, the Netapp really makes sense to me.
However, we run a software package Cadence which requires a locking
daemon running on the NFS server.  Netapp does have a proxy solution
in this case because big-guns like GM and Ford use this software on a
filer, but it does raise concern... will we confront a problem in the
future that we will have to live with because we are small/edu?  We
have a good working relationship with Sun, but I'm not convinced
adding complexity (and less features from what I have seen) for our
simple needs will bring us much benefit.

I'm interested in people's experience (and limitations they have hit)
with these products, pointers to sites, and possible other solutions I
should look at.


Pro NetApp/Filer

Five responses indicated no problems using a filer.  Two were quite
enthusiastic about the NetApp 800 series filer and excellent
support/service from the company.  Performance and price are both
significantly better than Sun's T3 (which is used in the Sun StorEdge
3900).  Others mentioned Auspex and Raidzone as less-expensive, but
comparable alternatives.  If an application that couldn't run on the
NetApp presented itself and no solution from the vendor was provided,
direct-attached storage is cheap for the one or two instances that may
ever happen.  Definately not a show stopper for what you get otherwise
with the filer.

Pro Sun
One response indicated the Sun T3 has worked well for them.  The
performance was not as good as the NetApp, but the price was much

Another indicated having the flexibility of a general-purpose server
as an NFS appliance is a much better choice -- being able to
fix/change things yourself is a big plus.  Additionally, a SunFire
280R is a much better choice than a SunBlade 1000 for the server.

My thanks to:

David Foster
Gert-Jan Hagenaars
Henry D. Reynolds
Tim Chipman
Jay Lessert
Jeff Kennedy
Stephen D. B. Wolthusen

I was also forwarded a previous summary on the same subject... I'm
including excerpts from it:


1) Very easy to set up and configure. Simple maintenance.

2) Very easy to upgrade firmware or OS

3) Very reliable. Calculated uptime is 99.994%

4) Very robust, through drive failure, power-supply failure, and
   lusers pulling the plug!

5) Great service! This was mentioned repeatedly. You can have status
   reports emailed automatically, and they will warn you of
   problems. One person said they were sent a replacement drive before
   they even knew there were problems.

6) The snapshot feature is invaluable. And quite ingenious. Allows for
   very fast and easy restores of user-deleted data.

7) Interoperability. They speak NFS and CIFS, so they are happy with
   NT systems, and will be much faster than the Sun solution which
   will depend on something like Samba or TotalNet. Of course they
   will like the new Mac OS X systems as well.


1) Quite expensive (example: $200k for 160G...I'm going to verify that
   figure as it seems extremely high).

2) A general comment that backup software for it can be very
   expensive, and in general there is no real good backup solution
   right now. Veritas was recommended. Possible to use NDMP, and
   Legato does have a module but it's "there are issues ... and it's
   not fun at times".

3) Not recommended for use with Oracle, use EMC instead.

Previous summary thanks to:

Mark I.
McDonough, Tim
Chris O'Malley
Caleb A Warner
Dan Penrod
Walter Reed
Jeff Kennedy
Darren Chan
Thomas Vincent
Steve Widup
Brett Morgan
Jim Johnson
Damir Delija
Richard Bond
Neal Curran
Ramji Venkateswaran
Kevin Ying
Matt Reynolds
John Stoffel
sunmanagers mailing list
Received on Mon Oct 14 13:29:46 2002

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