I am looking at possibly using Storage Spaces in Server 2012R2 to build a NAS off of. I am looking to build a fairly large unit, 12-14 HDDs, in a "RAID10" like setup (I know storage spaces does not do RAID10, but something similar too it), with a SSD for caching.

And I am looking to maybe hook another external JBOD enclosure to this in the future, for a "RAID5-6" like setup.

I don't plan on doing decompression or de-duplication.

My question is, what kind of hardware would I want for this? Would a small Xeon or Opteron be able to handle it? Or should I shoot for a larger 2.4GHZ+ Xeon 4-core HT, or 12 core Opteron, or even go dual cpus? And how much memory would the system need for optimal performance? I have been searching for hardware guidelines from Microsoft for Storage Spaces setups, but I have been unable to find anything, so if anyone knows of some please point me in the right direction.

I was considering setting these units up with FreeNAS, or another Linux based alternative, but most of the IT professionals in my department, have little to no Linux experience, and in case I get hit by a bus they would prefer a Windows based solution if possible. In that same token, is anyone aware of performance comparisons of FreeNAS or other Linux NAS alternatives, VS. Windows Server 2012R2 Storage Spaces?

  • If your IT professionals have difficulty with a web interface, then FreeNAS probably isn't a good choice. – Michael Hampton Jan 30 '14 at 14:12

CPU and memory requirements are negligible if you're not using dedupe. Any modern CPU and at least 4GB RAM should be sufficient, assuming we're talking about 1GbE. If you're talking about 10GbE, then hardware matters more, but not because of storage spaces.

Obviously the more memory you can add, the more caching can be done, but for low load usage, you don't need a ton.

  • I will probably end up using 2GbE ports, bonded. If I were to put one decent CPU in, do we have any idea what would be better, more speed (Xeon), or more threads (Opteron)? – Litzner Jan 29 '14 at 14:22
  • When it comes to building NAS machines I've found that energy efficiency matters more than the speed of the CPU unless you are doing excessive parity calculations. With that many drives you might want to get a L or EE processor – Andrew T Finnell Nov 6 '14 at 20:13

NexentaStor, QuantaStor, Openfiler, FreeNAS... And of course, the prepackaged NAS appliances from Synology, QNAP, Iomega/Lenovo... (some of which also feature SSD caching)

So many options. But really, Windows Storage Spaces isn't a normal part of the home-brew NAS conversation.

What do you plan to store? Flat files? virtual machines? And how much data do you need to store? I think those are big factors.

Typically, ZFS-based solutions (FreeNAS, QuantaStor, Nexenta, ZFS on Linux) will outperform straight hardware RAID solutions due to their ability to leverage the host CPU and RAM resources in addition to the SSD caching options.

For those builds I typically maximize RAM. A modern CPU (Nehalem or newer) provides more than enough horsepower to support storage applications.

All of these software-based storage approaches hinge on proper presentation of the disks. You'll want to use SAS HBAs and avoid RAID controllers. See: ZFS SAS/SATA controller recommendations

These days, I'm recommending QuantaStor for basic storage. It's pretty flexible, offers support for hardware RAID and SAS controllers, has ZFS, a nice web GUI and is under active development. I know you're primarily a Windows shop, but in practice, how often do you need to interact with the storage system's internals?

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    how can you say with a straight face that storage spaces isn't part of the normal conversation? Windows has been used as a file server forever and storage spaces is new within the last two years. It's no different than your ZFS on Linux suggestion. – MDMarra Jan 29 '14 at 15:32
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    In the Software-Defined Storage world, Windows Storage Spaces doesn't have the traction that the other NAS appliance software offerings do. It's not typically part of that conversation. – ewwhite Jan 29 '14 at 15:34
  • @MDMarra Look at the context of the OP's prior questions. That's why I made the jump to SDS-like systems. – ewwhite Jan 29 '14 at 17:41
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    @Ewwhite It seems many vendors are using Windows Storage Server as their OS. Perhaps this is a newer trend. – Andrew T Finnell Nov 6 '14 at 20:15

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