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Sort of two issues but one objective, To share a combined NAS storage with multiple servers.

The way I'm thinking about doing it is to combine (n) NAS(es) into one logical unit or drive then have my servers mount that drive to share the total aggregate space. (the servers are running Linux)

I'm trying to find out if this is possible, and roughly how.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

NAS devices export filesystems. Aggregating multiple filesystems together is a non-trivial operation under most operating systems.

Assuming you can find a tool to do this, because the aggregation is at a filesystem level rather than at, say, a block level, you're going to have to contend with free space concerns in each "member" filesystem.

You might want to have a look at Dan Carley's answer re: the difference between NAS, SAN, and DAS. If you're looking at aggregation of multiple volumes into a single larger volume SAN or DAS is really the way to go for a painless process.

(I suppose, if you really wanted to do something ugly you could put some large files representing volumes on the NAS device and use Linux software RAID to stripe across the files. That's an unspeakably ugly hack... A freakish layer stack like ext3 over Linux software RAID over NFS over UDP over IP over Ethernet over the NAS devices' native filesystems and their internal RAID... ick!)

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I'm in awe at the terror describe in your last paragraph. – QueueHammer Jan 8 '10 at 21:15
yeah and hope you never have to fsck that mess :) – 3dinfluence Jan 8 '10 at 21:16
I kinda wanna do that now, just for fun. Software RAID-5 over twenty files exported by some Windows 98 machines with IDE hard drives... heh heh. I think I have an educational Customer with a lab of old PCs that could arrange that. >giggle< – Evan Anderson Jan 8 '10 at 21:27

This is entirely possible with GlusterFS. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it so far. If you look at the distribute connector, it does exactly what you describe.

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I thought about GlusterFS but wasn't 100% certain that it would work in this case. – 3dinfluence Jan 9 '10 at 2:44

I don't know of any way to do this easily. Are you just trying to make really big storage available? If so, this would be a complicated way to achieve it, and in most tasks for IT complication is bad down the road.

Your best bet with trends in pricing is to just buy really big hard disks for the NAS to create the desired storage space. Attempting to combine separate NAS device storage will be hindered by network speed or interconnect speed as well as increase failure probability as if any component in the NAS device dies, you lose part of the volume.

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Good point about the combined probability of failure – QueueHammer Jan 8 '10 at 21:21

One portion of your question troubles me - why do you want a certain storage volume (whether it's on one NAS or somehow on multiple NAS units), why do multiple servers need access to the same volume? The easy answer is "use NFS" - does that not meet your needs?

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