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What iSCSI Target RAID Array would your recommended for MacOS X? I would prefer one that has official MacOS X iSCSI support, but if you have ones that you have used and know that work well that could do as well.

We're looking at SyneRAID and HP's LeftHand SAN series, but would like more options. Something with say 16 bays for SAS/SATA drives with RAID 0,1,5,6,10 etc and support snapshots and asynchronous replication.

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How many client macs do you have and which models are they? the reason I ask is that I'm not a big fan of any of the mac iSCSI initiators available - they're all a bit immature compared to the windows versions, smaller userbase I guess - I'd go FC if you have few mac pros. – Chopper3 Jun 19 '09 at 7:32
We're looking at about 10 XServes so we were hoping to avoid buying FC HBA's as we already have 4 x 1000B-T for each XServe already – tegbains Jun 19 '09 at 21:24
up vote 2 down vote accepted

We've been using a LeftHand iSCSI SAN for over two years now. We have 3 XServes that access the SAN, as well as about 10 Linux servers, some of which form a Xen cluster. The SAN consists of a pair of HP DL320s in a mirrored failover configuration.

On OS X we use GlobalSAN as the iSCSI initiator and it works extremely well. We only had a few crashes with earlier versions but the latest builds have been rock solid. They handle the Virtual IP handoff of the SAN very well in a failover scenario.

The LefHand units we have are configured in RAID 5, I don't know if the newer ones support RAID 6 or not but quite frankly I don't think we would use it even if they did. By having two, the setup effectively becomes a RAID 1+5.

The LeftHand SAN/iQ software supports asynchronous replication as well as snapshots, and does both quite well. They also have a neat feature in that you can set up a virtual SAN appliance in a VMWare host and use it to migrate data between SANs without purchasing any special additional hardware.

SAN/iQ 8 also supports forking of snapshots, and is a huge improvement< over the previous version. My one big qualm with it is that it still has pretty crappy scripting support and we had to write our own Python wrapper over their scripting interface to make it work for our purposes.

The other downside is that the units are pretty much a black box. Other than using their management console or the scripting interface you can't really have any idea as to what is going on inside. There's no way to SSH in to the unit unless you have the special keys that the techs do.

Also, if you expect to get technical support (which, by the way, is excellent) you should probably have a Windows machine handy with Putty available as it seems to be the only thing the first tier support guys are familiar with. This may change now that HP has acquired them. That being said, even the first tier guys are very knowledgeable about their products and have always been able to give me good support. For bigger problems I've been able to work my way all the way up to the engineers who work on the product.

Overall the experience has been extremely positive, and our entire office network uses this SAN for pretty much everything that involves storing data. It integrates very well with our backup and virtualization strategy. I don't know what your intended use case is, but for something like our scenario I would highly recommend the LeftHand products.

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HP lists MacOS X support on the LeftHand support site, but I can't seem to get anyone at HP to find out who the MacOS X people are. Do you find their MacOS X knowledge to be good? – tegbains Jun 19 '09 at 6:48
There's not really anything that's MacOS X specific in the product, and they don't have anyone that seems specifically knowledgeable in the platform but that hasn't really seemed to cause any pain for us. I believe the globalSAN initiator has been certified to work with the LeftHand products. – Kamil Kisiel Jun 19 '09 at 16:26

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