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Why We Designed Our Own NAS Servers For Use In Our Data Center

Nov 14, 2007
Over the past few years, we at Technetium, Inc. have had the opportunity to deal with Snap because of our model 14000 Snap servers. One day we installed new managed switches and the Snap Web-based management console would no longer operate. It would just hang at gigabit speed. To make a long story short, after exhausting all of my options on the Internet, I sent Snap technical support an email to try and resolve the problem. Here is their response:

Your case, 000000000005476, was updated. Please refer to the information below for our response. Please Click here if you need additional support on this issue.

Please do not reply to this email as it will not be seen by a live representative.

Your Query:

I have 2 snap 12000s and they will not negotiate 1000tx to my Dell Powerconnect 5324 switch. I'm afraid to set the nic in debug to anything other than auto.

It also shows half duplex when the switch shows full duplex.

Thank you in advance,

Todd Foster

Our Response:

Good morning Todd.

Again this is not technical support. We can be reached on a pay-per-incident of $120.00 through our 2 numbers: 408-934-7274 and 321-207-2000.

Sincerely,
Adaptec Customer Service

To my dismay, they wanted $120 just to talk to me, and my bet is they wanted another $1,000 or so to upgrade the software. On their Website I could not find any way to buy support for this model any more. And by the way, to add replication between 2 of their Snap servers, it would cost something like $1,000 per box.

So, here we are, with 2 boxes, no support, and I'll bet that you can't even buy parts for it any more from Snap, much less anywhere else (maybe eBay?).

Off we go to buy new NAS replacements. Originally these 14000's were $10K apiece, for roughly 1TB of storage. All things being equal, I should be able to buy a NAS box for really cheap (yeah right!). What I found was that a high-quality NAS system that would do RAID 5 would cost between $3,500 and 4,500, not to mention that a 1TB Snap 520 would be over $5K. That is when we decided to build our own NAS servers!

With a great backround in PC/server hardware, it was easy for me to pick top-quality hardware and brand name components. I still have Pentium Pro servers that work! I chose the best hardware, put it in a rack mount server case, and voila! I have a NAS server. Here is the list of components:

* FreeNAS redone to work with the hardware that we provide
* Kingwin 4 in 3 Multi-Drive Bay SATA Internal Hot Swap Mobile Rack, w/ Key Lock, LED Indicator & Two 40mm Cooling Fans
* SONY Beige DDU1615 Internal EIDE 16X DVD-ROM Drive
* Enermax ELT500AWT 500W Power Supply
* 4U IPC-4071 Rackmount Chassis Server Case - Beige Color
* Transcend TS256MCF45I-D flash card
* 4 ea. Seagate(ST3500630NS)500GB SATA 3.0Gb/s 7200RPM 16MB Buff Hard drive
* Addonics ADSACFW CF to SATA adapter
* SUPERMICRO|MBD-PDSME+
* 3WARE 9650SE-4LPML SATAII RAID controller
* INTEL XEON 3060 775 2.4G 4M
* 1Gx2|Kingston DII667 KVR667D2N5K2/2G

We need an OS now, and for that I picked FreeNAS (http://www.freenas.org) which runs on FreeBSD. You can't ask for a more stable operating system. And by the way, the FreeNAS OS runs from memory and boots from a CF card (no chance of the hard drive crashing and destroying the config). This custom built NAS system has turned out great, and our client is very pleased with the money we saved them.
About the Author
Todd Foster is Senior Systems Architect at Technetium, Inc. which provides professional project consulting for Fortune 1000 companies. http://www.technetiuminc.com/
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