New server/RAID in the post Xserve era

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by yadmonkey, Feb 16, 2016.

  1. yadmonkey macrumors 65816

    yadmonkey

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2002
    Location:
    Western Spiral
    #1
    We currently run a 2008 Xserve with a Promise e610f RAID and they have both covered us very well so far. However I am starting to think about how to replace them when our luck runs out. This is purely a file-server for five concurrent busy graphics artists and a handful of other users.

    There are no new Macs that can take a fiber channel card. Is there such a thing as an enterprise-class Thunderbolt RAID? If so, I have yet to find one. My experience with the Promise non-enterprise RAIDs on single stations does not inspire confidence in scaling one up to multiple users. Also, they use poorly-rated consumer-class hard drives and don't officially support much else.

    Looking down the pipeline, I know that Thunderbolt 3 is coming in the not-too-distant and its friendly USB type-C connector has me hopeful that we will see more TB RAID options. Is that something worth holding out for?

    And if our equipment doesn't make it that long, what should I be looking at now? Has anybody used the Promise Thunderbolt to fiber channel adapter with success?

    Thanks for your input!
     
  2. sevoneone, Feb 16, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2016

    sevoneone macrumors 6502

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    #2
    Thunderbolt is really just PCI-E, most of these adapters are going to just be the card you used to put in the computer in a compact external case. Thunderbolt 2 has plenty of bandwidth for 8 or 16 GB/s FC. What exactly is it that you are worried about?
     
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #3
    The big question and data-bottleneck is how the user desktop computer connects to the server. The server to disk connection can be a very fast thunderbolt or whatever but your ethernet network then might be "only" 1GB/S 1000 BaseT
     
  4. yadmonkey thread starter macrumors 65816

    yadmonkey

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    #4
    I'm not worried about bandwidth so much as I am worried about finding an enterprise class RAID and a Mac that I can connect it to. Obviously there's no longer an enterprise-class Mac option, but the RAID is the most crucial bit.
     
  5. ptrondsen macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    #5
    --- Post Merged, Feb 16, 2016 ---
    It's a tough choice for you Mac Server Admin's out there.
    Sonnet makes a Mac Pro 4U rack mountable server, using a new Mac Pro.
    http://www.macrumors.com/2014/03/26/mac-pro-racmount/

    Going UNIX, isn't a bad idea, Isilion, and others have some decent choices, but nothing is the same....
     
  6. sevoneone macrumors 6502

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    May 16, 2010
    #6
    That is the sad part to me. If Apple can make a great workstation In-A-Tube™, they could build a 1U or 2U rack mount system that would make both IT admins and creative pros very happy. Both types of pros have one thing in common in that they usually have some rack mounted equipment that a rack mounted Mac could conveniently hang out with. Don't get me wrong, the design of the new MacPro is beautiful, but a lot of Pros have to choose function over form. Let's face it, if desk space is a premium, you're going to choose the rack mount vs. putting shiny tube on the desk no matter how good it looks.

    They wouldn't even have to change much, just unroll the components in the tube and put 4-6 drive bays along the front that will accept standard 2.5" SATA SSDs, or additional PCIe storage in a special caddy that makes it hot-swap capable. Thunderbolt would be killer as an interconnect for a rack mounted system.

    As far as enterprise grade peripherals, Apple is the granddaddy of "If you build it, they will come." If they built a serious rack mount Mac, 3rd parties would jump all over that and build all types and ranges of gear to stack with it. Apple must realize this. They are just choosing not to do it.
     
  7. yadmonkey thread starter macrumors 65816

    yadmonkey

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    #7
    That was my dream when Thunderbolt started rolling out. Surely this would fill that hole in my heart (and server rack cabinets).

    Exactly. Obviously Xserve didn't make Apple a lot of money, but I can't imagine it takes a lot of R&D and engineering to make a rack-able server. No tiny/sexy form factor to fit into, no need for many of the components that go into laptops, desktops, and all-in-ones. Most of the usual constraints are gone. And did you ever see an Xserve that wasn't surrounded by 10-20 Macs? I have this weird notion that despite it not moving Apple's profit needle, Xserve strengthened the all important ecosystem.
     
  8. chevelleguy3 macrumors regular

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    Apr 24, 2013
    Location:
    Mckinney, TX
    #8
    You have a couple of options.

    LaCie makes an 8Big Rackmount Thunderbolt 2 setup which can be configured with dual power supplies 12TB, 24TB, 48TB.

    Promise makes a SanLink2 FC adapter to be able to connect Fiber channel storage to the new Mac Pro's (or anything with Thunderbolt).

    I run both of these setups in my environment and they both work very well.
     
  9. yadmonkey thread starter macrumors 65816

    yadmonkey

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    #9
    Thanks for bringing up the SanLink2 - it's so rare to hear any feedback on it, but it does open up more possibilities. The LaCie units look promising, although I have heard mixed things about their support. Promise has been solid supporting their e-class stuff, but horrible (in my experience) for the prosumer stuff.

    Has anyone used the Synology products? I could be understanding this wrong, but it looks like they offer RAIDs with built-in file servers, which really is all I need.
     
  10. ChrisA, Feb 17, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016

    ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #10
    So you want "enterprise class RAID"?

    Have you seen FreeNAS? It is a NAS system based on BSD UNIX and Sun's ZFS. It is about as "Enterprise Class" as it gets. You have the option to build it yourself or to buy it turn-key. It does require some resources. A FreeNAS server Should have a higher-end CPU and maybe 16GB RAM. You will want a few Intel brand Ethernet cards. It can run iSCSI to the desktops and can connect to your switch with paralleled 1000 BaseT. ZFS is a great file system and you can guess from the name the software is free.

    One of the other god features address the problem if backing up a large RAID. What you do is buy another (or more) identical system place the redundant servers in some other building or some other city. The software can push changes over a network or internet to keep the remote servers in sync. the ZFS file system is "copy on write" (COW) so changes yo make never overwrite old data, you have version histories of all your data. COW is used to make "snapshots" of the file system that don't take up any disk space. It also allows a CONSISTENT snap shot to be taken while the server is in use by many clients.

    This is not really well suited to home use for a few reasons (1) the hardware requirements are to high, so a minimum system build costs more than some others. (2) you need to know a little bit about computers to get it set up and running. It's not a consumer level product.

    More info here: http://www.freenas.org/about/features.html
     
  11. Shamgar macrumors regular

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    Jun 28, 2015
    #11
    If you're just looking to serve files in a small office, then a dedicated NAS device is probably your most effective solution. Synology makes good gear for that task, and their software is fairly powerful and quite easy to use.
     
  12. Silencio macrumors 68020

    Silencio

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    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    NYC
    #12
    An Isilon cluster would be just a wee bit overkill for 5 graphic artists, no? Unless they're video editors or After Effects artists working in 4K+ directly over the network or something. What applications / tasks are your designers working with over your network?

    FreeNAS isn't too shabby at all, but yes — the CPU/RAM requirements for running ZFS are pretty steep.

    I wouldn't touch anything LaCie for a file server installation. Direct attach for a workstation? OK. Not for a server.

    I like Synology's stuff, though I don't have experience with any of their higher end products.

    Have you outgrown the storage / performance of your existing RAID? Like others have said, there are ways to connect Fiber Channel via Thunderbolt.

    There is the Netstor 16-bay Thunderbolt RAID unit:

    http://www.netstor.com.tw/_03/03_02.php?MTA4
    http://www.maxxdigital.com/16-bay-thunderbolt2-raid-array.html

    I don't have experience with these units, either. Just saying someone is making them.
     
  13. NotTheOne macrumors newbie

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    Smiths, Bermuda
    #13
    A dedicated SMB or enterprise NAS is the way to go, especially with link aggregation and even the option go 10G network connections if needed to speed up access to the users.
     
  14. yadmonkey thread starter macrumors 65816

    yadmonkey

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2002
    Location:
    Western Spiral
    #14
    Mostly Creative Suite stuff. Our video editors have direct attach RAIDs at their workstations. That's where I have my experience with Pegasus2 RAIDs, which are a far cry from their e-class Promise cousins.

    That's the impression I got. LaCie's Thunderbolt rack unit seems to be in a funny place above prosumer but not quite at enterprise standards, from what I've read.

    They are probably at the top of my list right now. Their high end stuff seems really well designed and unlike most other brands, there is a ton of positive feedback to be found. Great price points too. As I learn more about their products and others I'm starting to see a little more clearly why Apple abandoned this arena. How could they compete on price or features?

    Yes and no. We have plenty of room for growth data-wise, but would like better performance. With 4 ethernet ports and link aggregation, it looks like those high-end Synology boxes could theoretically provide significantly better performance on our existing network infrastructure.

    From what I've read, their high end NAS (I'm looking at the RS2416+ and RS2416RP+) are really fast. Also I like the idea of a modern file system that protects against corruption and comes with other benefits.

    I wasn't aware of these, but will check them out for sure. Thanks so much for taking the time to respond!
     

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