Mac OS X Server as File Server for 50/50 Mac & PC Workgroup

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by Eddyisgreat, Aug 21, 2011.

  1. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Oct 24, 2007
    Hello all.

    As the title suggest, i'm thinking about using Mac OS X Server as a file server for a 50/50 split mac and pc workgroup.

    Background :
    We can't take the performance hit that comes from having OS X clients use SMB. The target will also be used for time machine.
    ExtremeZ-IP is an ExtremeLast-Resort because of the cost.
    OS X (Lion) Server is already on site.
    Entire Windows infrastructure is virtualized, and because of the way ESXi handles max size of virtual disks, I would have to have four separate volumes per 1 Tb of data, which is not preferable.

    My proposed solution: OS X Lion server that hosts home directories and a giant community directory. All file protocols will be enabled on the server. Any performance problems with OS X implementation of SMB (which I understand has changed)?

    Any commentaries would be great.
  2. speacock macrumors member

    Jul 26, 2011

    There's an earlier post I contributed to that has some possibly useful details on server platforms in mixed environments:

    I'd agree that there's sometimes quite a performance hit for Macs using SMB, but I've found SMB to be only a bit slower than AFP and faster than NFS. Having said that, Our Macs are much faster accessing files over SMB that are shared on Windows 7 and Windows 2008 servers than accessing files shared on other Macs or older Windows versions or our FreeNAS server, in fact I found Windows 7/Windows 2008 generally to be the fastest filesharing option available to the Macs.

    I understand that the old SAMBA stack has been replaced in Lion with a CIFS2 implementation which is apparently a lot faster, though I've not tried it myself. I'm hoping it improves the filesharing performance of out Macs as they are currently pretty slow when accessing files over the network, tough I guess our old G5 has run out of road.

    You'll see from the post above that for us, Windows Server 2008 (in that instance it's WHS 2011, but it's still Server 2008 underneath) was the fastest for Macs and PC clients, but I chose to use FreeNAS as it was only slightly slower and was much easier to manage as well as being free. I can't say I tested OS X Server, but I can say that filesharing from Mac desktops, over both SMB and AFP was slow (I'd hope that Lion improves this with the new CIFS stack).

    I'm not for one minute claiming this is an exhaustive and thorough benchmark, it's just what I observed in my own testing, but broadly:
    Windows 7 PC -> Windows Server 2008 (CIFS/SMB) 100MB/s read 70MB/s
    Mac OS X -> Windows Server (CIFS/SMB) 60MB/s read 30MB/s write
    Windows 7 PC -> FreeNAS (CIFS/SMB) 80MB/s read 60MB/s write
    Mac OS X -> FreeNAS (CIFS/SMB) 20MB read 10MB/s write
    Mac OS X -> FreeNAS (AFP) 30MB/s read and write
    Mac OS X -> FreeNAS (NFS) 10MB/s read 2(yes 2)MB/s write
    Mac OS X -> Mac OS X (AFP, client version not server) 20MB/s read and write

    With regard to your ESX issue, I believe that vSphere 5 has a maximum guest virtual disk size of 2TB, so by upgrading you'd be able to have 1 virtual disk per 2TB rather and 1 per 256GB.

    Having said that, I can't see a reason why you couldn't aggregate virtual disks into a single volume under Windows Server so that you could present several VHDs as a single Windows volume, as long as your underlying infrastructure has suitable resilience you should be OK.

    Alternatively, I believe ESX supports iSCSI, so you could mount external iSCSI LUNs in the Windows VMs and then you can use 256TB volumes I think.
  3. Mattie Num Nums macrumors 68030

    Mattie Num Nums

    Mar 5, 2009
    I would high recommend staying away from hosting on the OSX sever if you have a 50/50 mix. I won't go on a long rant as to why however, integration of Macs into the PC world is much easier than the other way around. ExtremeZI-P is a great products with incredible support, getting support from Apple if something isn't working on your PC's will be close to impossible. Apple doesn't even support Servers at an enterprise level as it is. I know it costs more but you get more for your money!

    For the VM's you will need to use iSCSI unfortunately and front end the storage with W2K8R2. Kind of sucks but hey its a proven, solid, and supported method of getting real 50/50 support.
  4. Eddyisgreat thread starter macrumors 601

    Oct 24, 2007
    hmmm thank you both for the hints.

    That's some pretty compelling evidence. Speacock the benches you posted are downright startling. Mattie NN you aren't the first to recommend ExtremeZI-P so I guess I really should take another look at it. Was trying to avoid it lol but it looks like i'm stuck at this point.

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