[CentOS] Slightly OT: which hardware for CentOS file server (Samba, 2 To storage, 50 users)?

Mon Apr 12 19:43:21 UTC 2010
Simon Billis <simon at houxou.com>

John R Pierce sent a missive on 2010-04-12:

> Niki Kovacs wrote:
>> Hi,
>> The language lab from the local university has contacted me. They'd
>> like to have a low-cost file server for storing all their language
>> video files. They have a mix of Windows, Mac OS X and even Linux
>> clients, roughly 50 machines. The files are quite big, and they
>> calculated a total amount of 2 To of storage.
> I'd look at using 1TB drives rather than 2TB, the 2TB seem to be too
> bleeding edge and have been too many anecdotal reports of problems.
> for sure you want to use server rated SATA drives for an application
> like this, such as the WDC RE series, or the Seagate ES series (this
> has more to do with write buffering and consistent error reporting
> than it does to do with performance).

There are some array providers that are currently using 2TB drives (rorke
data for one) - but I would always suggest that you use enterprise quality

> if this system is going to have 50 clients constantly playing videos
> on it, then I'd look at 450gb or 600gb SAS drives, and a lot more of them.

I would look at the performance of the disk subsystem, make sure that the
sustained read of the system is able to keep up with the demands of
streaming video - you'll need to have 10K of 15K rpm disks for realtime
video if you're streaming to a lot of users. It may be that their
expectations are that the video isn't realtime and therefore you will be
able to use slower disks and subsystem.

> If this is to be a rack mounted system in a data center, I'd probably
> look at a box like a HP DL370, which can hold quite a lot of drives.
> http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF05a/15351-15351-3328412-
> 241644-241475-3890172.html

Depending on the number of disks you need (the IO profile will determine the
speed/size/interface) you may have to go to an external array.

> put the lowest end single CPU they offer in it, but get the better raid
> controller and a reasonable amount of memory, and redundant PSU.   get 2
> hot spare drives.   if initial requirements are 2TB usable storage,
> thats 4 x 1TB raid10 plus 2 x 1TB spares.  also get two small drives
> (like 72gb sas) for those left-side slots, mirrored for the OS and
> software.   6gb ram is probably fine.   the base model of this system is
> $3300 with a 4-core 2.4ghz, 6gb ram and 4 gigE ethernet ports (you could
> gang these to the switch if their network infrastructure supports ether
> bonding aka ipmp).
If it's only files that your sharing then this is fine, but if you intend to
change the video quality on the fly then you may need to have something
beefier... but the disk subsystem is the key to fast file/video streaming.

> OSX should be happy with NFS, Linux clients certainly are, and Samba
> can serve files for Windows clients.

You may also be looking at http web services with flash encoding or
quicktime - Apple used to have a free version of their quicktime video
streaming platform which may work for you.

Good luck with this, if it is as you suggest in your post just a file store
and not a video streamer platform, then your life is simple. As soon as you
enter the world of video streaming, life becomes harder and more expensive.