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Our little snowboarding company currently has three NetGear ReadyNAS units that I am ready to put through a wall.

Every few months I start looking into the possibility of consolidating down to one unit that doesn't suck and that can also work as an iSCSI SAN. We have a few minor one-off VMs on ESX that I'd like to move onto a SAN as opposed to local storage.

It seems like the pay to play price on SAN is prohibitively expensive for dabbling purposes. Other than graphical files for our online catalog and some purchase orders, we don't shuffle a lot of hard files. Therefore, I'm on the fence about whether or not this is something we should look at dropping serious coin for.

Can anyone make any recommendations that might help me drop in something that would help me better make my decision...without the overhead of say, selling my soul to a vendor who will call me every other day?

Thanks!

PS: I'm totally game for rolling my own, but FreeNAS and OpenFiler have not been kind to me in the past.

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FreeNAS has gone through some major revisions in the last year; if you disliked it before, you may like it now. –  Chris S May 18 '11 at 19:26

5 Answers 5

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Check out this dude's well thought out post: http://jasonnash.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/vsphere-home-lab-part-1-storage/

He chose a Synology DS1010+. Granted it was for a lab but probably would meet your needs.

Cheers

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The guys at PogoStorage have been quite helpful in this area. They build and NexentaStor-based solutions that are well-equipped to outperform other vendor's offerings in the same price ranges.

See: http://www.pogostorage.com/products/nexenta/overview/index.php

Depending on your space requirements, I'd recommend one of the 2U or 3U appliances. The technology is solid, and you're not locked-in like some of the other players in the market.

You can also build your own storage unit using hardware of your choice and NexentaStor or one of the other NAS-type distributions (FreeNAS, Openfiler, etc.).

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Being a Nexenta employee, I may be biased, but generally, Pogo's customers are very happy with their builds and their service. The product will do a lot for you, and it is far superior to anything else, i.e. OpenFiler, FreeNAS, etc. But, there are support costs. We do however offer a community edition, which does not really have commercial support. –  slashdot May 20 '11 at 2:25

Have a look at the Microsoft iSCSI Target (free). This allows you to use a standard Windows Server 2008 R2 machine as a SAN. Jose Baretto (Principal Program Manager with the File Server Foundation team at Microsoft) gives a lot of useful information on setup and configuration on his blog. Depending on your needs, this may be a good solution.

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The Iomega IX4 little storage cubes are VMware certified. They seem to do okay, I think the RAID controller is underpowered IMHO. I ran mine in RAID10 and got some pretty decent performance out of it. Rebuilds took a while, a lot longer than I would have expected. It can double as both a NAS and an iSCSI target.

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I would take a standard server, connect it to a Norco disk enclosure (such as the DS-24E) to pack it full of storage space, then install FreeNAS on it. I would not use OpenFiler because the snapshots cause a huge performance penalty.

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