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Thread: Affordable SAN for Zimbra

  1. #1
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    Question Affordable SAN for Zimbra

    Does anyone know of an affordable SAN that I could use for Zimbra? I need to have fault-tolerance after last week's week-long crisis when the old Zimbra mail server died and there wasn't any easy answers for users as a backup. We were going to outsource our Zimbra hosting but with as many users as we have (50 now, 75 soon) it just doesn't make sense money-wise.

    I read that Zimbra recommends I NOT use a NAS for storage but I just need something that doesn't cost as much as a car for shared storage between the two Zimbra servers. I want them both to do everything for redundancy.

    Suggestions appreciated :-)

    Ryan from Portland

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    Or to ask another question; would iSCSI over GigE be fast enough or would I have to use iSCSI over 10 GigE or fibre channel? I'm not seeing any cost-effective entrypoints to 10 GigE or fibre currently.. Would bonded (2 x GigE) be fast enough?

    thanks again

    Quote Originally Posted by ryandball View Post
    Does anyone know of an affordable SAN that I could use for Zimbra? I need to have fault-tolerance after last week's week-long crisis when the old Zimbra mail server died and there wasn't any easy answers for users as a backup. We were going to outsource our Zimbra hosting but with as many users as we have (50 now, 75 soon) it just doesn't make sense money-wise.

    I read that Zimbra recommends I NOT use a NAS for storage but I just need something that doesn't cost as much as a car for shared storage between the two Zimbra servers. I want them both to do everything for redundancy.

    Suggestions appreciated :-)

    Ryan from Portland
    Last edited by ryandball; 12-09-2008 at 04:26 PM.

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    Buying a failover SAN (and handling the whole thing) won't be cheaper than going the SaaS way with an HSP that runs his servers with a nice SAN.

    However, considering the number of users you have, I think an iSCSI SAN will fit perfectly.

    I wouldn't go the "hardware way" (buying an expensive closet that does iSCSI by itself) but rather look at alternative such as Open-E or OpenFiler.

    With Open-E, you can transform a server (CPU + RAM + disk controler + disks) into an iSCSI appliance, with all the needed features (synchronous replication, shapshots, etc).
    You can also easily mix SAS and SATA disks in order to create both "fast and expensive" and "slower but cheaper" volumes (that's not possible with most iSCSI hardware stuff).

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    Klug, have you had experience of both Open-E and OpenFiler ? If so your thoughts on each would be valuable to us all

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    Phoenix has a lot of experience with OpenFiler.

    We're starting with Open-E, should be in production (for our VirtualIron infrastructure) soon. I'm very happy with the tests until now.

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    Are you using hardware/software initiators within VirtualIron ?

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    I'm using iSCSI with software initiators as HW ones are not supported (yet)

    Actually, both Open-E and VirtualIron are able to work with FC (and hardware HBA obviously).

    Open-E provides synchronous replication and HA (failover) and MPIO using iSCSI...
    Last edited by Klug; 12-10-2008 at 05:03 AM.

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    Does anyone happen to know of a vendor that is isn't 10 grand that has a basic SAN appliance and supports the hardware AND software? I've seen some awesome open source SAN stuff but that all assumes you build your own hardware but bosses don't like the home brew stuff as much when people rely on it...

    Part of it, too is that with a decent SAN I could use it for some other things as well, such as the network file server for failover on the domain controllers.... being that until last year our domain controller was a dual Pentium Pro 200 with 512 RAM I'd say the disk usage isn't great but 100 people go down if it goes down... that's my thinking anyway. But I'm probably overtaxing it doing that.

    Open source SAN sure sounds good though....
    Last edited by ryandball; 12-10-2008 at 10:44 AM.

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    I just had a look at Dell's website (replace Dell by HP or any other brand you like).

    PowerEdge 2970 with quadcore Opteron and 4 GB RAM
    PERC 5i RAID controler card
    8 x 146 GB SAS drives (10K RPM, 2.5", hotplug)
    Redundant hotplug PSU (Energy Smart)
    2 additionnal 2 ports Intel gigabit NIC
    3 years Pro Support (4 hours, 24/7)
    That's less than 6300 USD and should be arround 7000 USD with Open-E (and it's "public" price, you'll never pay that).

    You can add a PERC6/E to add an external enclosure (MD1000) with SATA disks if you wish (Zimbra HSM, Zimbra and other stuff backup, NAS, etc)...
    You can also add a FC HBA if you wish.

    That's a lot less money than the Dell MD3000i, that has much less features.

    Anyway, I think in the US you can find a lot more competitors on the iSCSI market than here (in France). So you might be able to find solutions costing less.
    However, what will cost money whoever you buy from is :
    . disks (fast SAS is expensive, NearLine SAS is cheaper, SATA is even cheaper)
    . support (4 hours 24/7 or even better than that)

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    Default Klug's advice.

    I would go with building a PC using SAS or Ultra SCSI drives as opposed to a SAN appliance. You will save big money in my opinion.

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