Saturday, December 01, 2007

Shoveling Data

Because the 'zoo keeps many operations such as Graphic Design and Marketing in-house it generates a considerable amount of data on a day-to-day basis. It's a challenge to keep all this centralised and backed up. What I have done to achieve ample storage with basic redundancy is use a 'front end' NAS (Network Attached Storage) combined with a 'back end' NAS located elsewhere from the front end serving as the primary backup/archive.

The users access the front end NAS directly and generally work from its shares. This will change in future as I intend to access it as a iSCSI mount on a server. This NAS is a standard box housing JBOD and runs OpenFiler - you have probably read about it here earlier. The performance of this NAS is fairly ordinary but since its the network that presents the bottleneck its not something to be concerned about at this stage.

The back end NAS is a purpose built NAS from a company called Thecus, the N5200. It houses up to 5 SATA disks and supports RAIDs 0 thru to 10. I've set up this particular one with 5 x 750GB disks with RAID5. This provides enough space to backup the front end NAS at maximum capacity - about 2.5TB total.

I'm currently backing up the front end NAS via rsync to the Thecus. I had to find the rsync 'module' to install on the Thecus first as it doesn't support it by default however it wasn't a difficult process.

I will consider a Thecus 1U4500 NAS to go with a future Novell OES2 server - mounting it as an iSCSI volume for localised e-mail/data archiving. This will probably use another 5200 for backups.

Overall this provides us with a sizable storage pool at a very reasonable cost. I would like to implement a proper SAN however our needs aren't that great at this stage and a single form of redundancy appears to be acceptable to management. I'll always plan for the upgrade though.