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iSCSI storage

by edman545


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This box is sitting in the basement serving as an iscsi target for two clustered hyper-v servers. It's not much to look at, but it's sitting down in the basement so I rarely have to look at it. This box has about 12 virtual machines stored on it, and the performance is better than expected. It is filling the role of a cheap NAS in my test lab at home.

The case had 4 external 5.25" bays, so I put four of the hard drives in removable trays. The six 500 gb drives are in raid 10, which gives me redundancy and better performance. The SAS controller has no on-board cache, so RAID-5 performance stinks. It does however handle the RAID, so the cpu load is very small. The single core sempron handles this just fine, and at 45 watts it always stays cool with the stock HSF.

I have the storage network connected to the on-board NIC, which surprisingly supports 9k jumbo frames. The add-on nic is just for remote management. The driver is terrible, so I would not recommend this NIC for any sort of important job, but it fits my needs for the price.

I'm using Starwind iSCSI Free edition running on top of windows server 2008r2. If you're not familiar with it, it uses system ram as disk cache for Iscsi hosts. This makes write speeds incredibly fast, up to a point. This is also the reason for 8 gb of ram.

The PSU and RAM are not exactly the same as what I bought, but close enough. The RAM, 40 gb HDD and case came from spare parts.

If you are looking for the two servers, their current status is in my saved parts list. I'll publish them once I get photos and finalize the configuration.

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lenoz 2 Builds 1 point 42 months ago

I like the idea of listing some builds you simply wouldn't think of. If PCPP ever starts listing NAS bodies I'll set my Diskstation DS413 up as a completed build :)

th3m4dh4tt3r 1 Build 1 point 42 months ago

Sweet! How's your cluster set up? With an MPI? I have a few old servers running ubuntu server with an MPI all clustered up.

edman545 submitter 10 Builds 1 point 42 months ago

Just windows server failover clustering. Works really well with starwind iscsi. I had a proxmox cluster for a while, but I didn't like the performance of the windows virtual machines that I needed.

th3m4dh4tt3r 1 Build 1 point 42 months ago

Oh, that's awesome! Have you ever used a linux cluster with an MPI, if so, how does it compare to a windows server cluster?

edman545 submitter 10 Builds 2 points 41 months ago

I have not used MPI before. Windows clustering is a little different though. Basically it allows for automatic failover and live migration of the virtual computers if the physical computer goes down for some reason. It works well for this purpose, but my main gripe is that it requires a health Active Directory Domain that exists outside the cluster in order to function. Because of this, you can't be entirely virtual.

th3m4dh4tt3r 1 Build 1 point 41 months ago

Oooh, I see. That's kind of annoying. Would it be possible to create an entirely virtual cluster, based on two virtual machines?

edman545 submitter 10 Builds 1 point 41 months ago

Windows Server failover clustering requires a healthy active directory to function. If your active directory servers are virtual, then you are stuck in a catch22. Can't start the cluster because your domain controllers are down. You can't bring the domain controllers up because the cluster is down. you CAN still run a virtual domain controller on the same server though, it just can't be part of the cluster. So I have a virtual domain controller running on each of the physical Hyper-V servers that is not part of the cluster.

edman545 submitter 10 Builds 1 point 40 months ago

First drive failure! Pulled the wrong drive! Total data loss! Kept a daily backup to an external USB disk though. 1.2 tb of data takes a while on usb 2.0.

edman545 submitter 10 Builds 1 point 36 months ago

Second hard drive failure!. I would not recommend these removable trays. The drives get far too hot. There is a fan on it, but it isn't enough apparently.

ItsJxzza 1 point 25 months ago

How do things like these work and why would you need them? Sorry, I'm new to this.

edman545 submitter 10 Builds 1 point 22 months ago

Basically this server is acting as the local hard drive for three other servers. The benefit is that any workload is not constrained to one piece of physical hardware. I have a minecraft server running on one physical computer, and the PSU blows up, the server will automagically fail over to another piece of hardware and players aren't even disconnected.