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Build Your Own Affordable SAN - Fibre

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Sebastian SwallowBuild Your Own Affordable SAN - Fibre
by on Feb 5, 2009 at 6:53:10 am

Hello Everybody,

I currently have two Edit systems, both are Apple Mac Pro, one is running OSX 10.5.6 the other is running 10.4.11, I use Final Cut Pro 6.0.5 on both. Each one has it's own Fibrenetix E2-1652-F41-A1 Storage system and are connected by 4Gbit Fibre Channel. Both are also connected to our companies internal server via ethernet.

I need to start sharing the storage!!! I have to wait for someone to get off one before I can work on one project and vice versa for another!

I read Bob Zelin's article, "Build your own affordable SAN -- that works!",

and was wondering if the same thing can be done for Fibrechannel and whether or not it will be affordable. I am in China so Macs are real expensive and a PC can be made for very cheap. Therefore I would rather use a PC as my server and with the current economic climate as it is my boss is not going to want to hand over much cash for this if any at all!

If anyone has any ideas or has done something similar before I would be grateful for any advice you can give.


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Bob ZelinRe: Build Your Own Affordable SAN - Fibre
by on Feb 5, 2009 at 11:46:49 pm

I can't answer your question accurately, becuase I have never done it. Wintel machines don't offer Apple File Sharing, so I dont' know how you will pull this off. If you had a MAC Pro as your server, you could stick your Fibrenetix arrays in your MAC, and these would work beautifully as storage arrays for this project. But how you would get Win XP to act as a simple server for MAC clients - well, this is beyond the scope of my knowlege. You would also need to put in an intel based multi port ethernet card into your Win PC server, link agg the ports, tie them to a managed switch (like a HP ProCurve), link agg these ports as well, enable jumbo frames, and away you go. But will the MAC's see the PC server ? I certainly don't know how to do this. I don't understand how you can afford expensive Fibre arrays, and can't afford a MAC Pro to act as a server.

Bob Zelin

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Sebastian SwallowRe: Build Your Own Affordable SAN - Fibre
by on Feb 6, 2009 at 2:39:10 am

Thanks very much for responding Bob,

I thought it might be possible as you said in your article, "(I should mention that I've set up systems using Macs and FCP, but everything I'm talking about here works with Mac and PC, and often both together.)" so I thought I might be able to get a PC to act as the server. Our company is PC based, Editorial has the only 2 Macs in the building, the two macs our connected to the internal server via ethernet, this is not fast enough to playback the uncompressed quicktimes I work with so I copy everything to the Disc Arrays.

I have no problems getting my hands on a PC, the company has a lot that aren't being used.

So I need to get a mac pro, a multi port fibre channel card, a managed switch, and management software and it should work? As I have never done this myself before and am responsible for it, I want to make sure I get it right with as few headaches as possible, although I understand it will involve some.

I don't know why I have two Fibre Disc Arrays and no server, I don't hold the purse strings.

Thanks Again for your time Bob.

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Bob ZelinRe: Build Your Own Affordable SAN - Fibre
by on Feb 6, 2009 at 2:47:38 am

the article I wrote featured link aggregation that trunks multiple ethernet ports together, not fibre channel ports. If you have the money, you can put a single fibre card in your PC server, bring this up to a fibre switch (like a QLogic SANbox, even the cheap 1400), and have a nice little fibre SAN. However, if you want to use link aggregation with ethernet, you will need a multi port ethernet card, and lock these ports to a managed ethernet switch. Fibre is fast enough that you don't have to do this trick. It all comes down to money.

Bob Zelin

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Chuck McMakinRe: Build Your Own Affordable SAN - Fibre
by on Feb 6, 2009 at 5:36:53 pm

Since it sounds like you've already got fibre infrastructure in place, you might also want to consider a "serverless" SAN management solution like FibreJet.

This permits you to completely sidestep any expenses with a dedicated server.

With FibreJet there simply is no metadata controller nor is there a dedicated Ethernet network. Everything the SAN manager needs is handled directly over the fibre fabric itself.

It's an elegantly simple approach and may work out well for you considering the investment in hardware that you've already made.

Please feel free to contact us at CommandSoft if you need help.

Chuck McMakin
CommandSoft, Inc. /
Phone: (805)730-7772 /

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Sean ONeilRe: Build Your Own Affordable SAN - Fibre
by on Feb 7, 2009 at 3:04:46 am

[Sebastian Swallow] "nd was wondering if the same thing can be done for Fibrechannel and whether or not it will be affordable."

Google "Open-E DSS." It will let you turn a PC server into fibre channel storage using Qlogic HBA cards. It costs $1000 but there is a free demo CD. I had the hardware already available, so I tested the demo months ago and it actually worked really well. However the $1000 price tag it makes more sense to just buy a real fibre channel storage device.

A free option is something called "Comstar" that is part of Opensolaris. Google it. Very, very complicated though. If you have zero budget, tons of time, and already have the hardware, then feel free to experiment.

EDIT: When I said "free option" I meant the software for the storage server is free. You'd still need to buy a license of MetaSAN for each client in order to have shared access to it.


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Matt GeierRe: Build Your Own Affordable SAN - Fibre
by on Feb 12, 2009 at 4:12:09 pm


Matt here from Small Tree.

I read your post and I wanted to give you some input.

Fibre Channel SAN's are starting to move away from what's been the "traditional" SAN installation for people trying to do "shared storage" etc. You can read about this all over the internet.

On another note, what you have now will work for your storage (assuming it's fast enough for the bandwidth requirements that you need to sustain)- Implementing something like Gigabit and/or 10Gb Ethernet for your Editing Clients, and then using Link Aggregation between your server and switch to get the bandwidth you need out of the network.

It's really simple and uncomplicated once you understand what's going on with the network.

We have a saying here at Small Tree: It's either Ethernet, or it's an Ether-not.

Fibre Channel is not Ethernet, which means you're going to have a lot more overhead costs, implementation costs, and other associated costs of maintenance etc.

Ethernet on the other hand is something that you have at your fingertips right now that you can use to do what you want to do as long as you have the right understanding of how to set up your network to meet the bandwidth needs.

If you'd like to discuss more of what I love to talk to you about, feel free to give me a call.

Matt G - 651-209-6509 x 1
Small Tree

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