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Why should I choose an Enterprise Storage Vendor?

I have been basically psyched out by some of the sales consultants from enterprise vendors such as EMC and NetApp.

We have a new requirement to store around 30 TB of unstructured data, and around 100-200 GB of structured data (mostly MySQL). I am considering setting up couple of JBODs which are custom built running FreeNAS, OpenFiler or OpenSolaris for the unstructured Data. The total cost with redundancy and backup is coming to less than 10,000 USD for me.

For the latter, I am planning to use a standard HP DL-180 G6 Server RAID 1 ( 2 SAS Drives), with an incremental backup to a backup system.

The entire cost is working out less 12,000 USD.

The files inside the JBOD are often accessed by a web application used by some of our mobile workforce. Presently the data size of files are less than 1 TB, but this should increase to 20-22 TB in next 2 years time. Also the number of users accessing may also go up. That means this would be accessed very often. Something like 20-25 concurrent users at any point of time, and during peak may be about 250.

Sales consultants from the so-called enterprise vendors have been asking us to move the infrastructure to their boxes, which with all licensing will cost us 50,000-55,000 USD ( 32 TB Storage Array).

Spending 40,000 USD extra is a lot of money, and we would like to save.

However I would like to take more opinions on the right strategy. What more should I do to make data more secure and not compromise on performance

You don't pick a storage vendor (enterprise or otherwise) to keep your data secure. For the most part, you can get the same RAID resilience with an EMC SAN as you can with direct-attached storage, and many times performance can be equal as well. The reason you should pick an "enterprise storage vendor" is if (and only if) your application needs the features they provide. Think snapshots, replication, shared storage, etc. If you don't need those advanced features, then it's not worth your money.

If you do end up going with the non-"enterprise storage" route, be sure to do yourself a favor and don't use SATA disks. At the very least, stick with the midline SAS drives. They'll perform much better and are much more reliable.

You haven't gone into great detail about your environment, but my guess is that you would be able to get by just fine using direct-attached storage.

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    • Don't forget performance, reliability, accountability, and support. Features are nice like you say, but the others are also very important to most businesses.
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    • @Chris S - totally agreed. You can get all of those by using, say, an HP direct-attached SAS array for instance. Say an MSA70 or the like. With one of those full of 2.5" drives, it's wicked fast, and fully supported by HP with pretty much any OS you'd want to run on it.

The reason you use an enterprise solution is when you have enterprise needs, like uptime and replacement SLAs, performance, and integrity solutions (like multi-tray raid). I wholeheartedly disagree with the idea that you can somehow build your own level of reliability and performance without spending at least as much money for hardware, and (as important if not more) software to manage the whole thing. Performance of the controller heads alone will crush anything you can build, and there is a reason HP, Dell (the 2 I know do this) cherry pick thru pallets of drives lookng for ones that meet their specs.

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    • Agreed that if performance and reliability are tantamount, nothing can approach a high-end SAN. That's clearly not the case here though - the OP quoted $50-55k from the "enterprise vendors". That's not high end. It's probably a single controller with slowish (probably) SATA disk. The systems you're talking about are not even in the same ballpark as the systems the OP is looking at.
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    • no you can get into netapps at around 30k with fibre channel drives (FAS2050) it all depends on what the reseller is wiling to do. 3par and compellant are in the same ballpark (although the compellant pricing should be cheaper since you would mix sata and FC or SSD drives)

Everyone seemed to forget the main reason to choose enterprise solution: to cover your *ss. "Nobody was ever fired for buying IBM". If you go the EMC or NetApp way, and something goes wrong, nobody will accuse you of choosing a shoddy solution (even if some EMC or NetApp solutions are actually quite shoddy).

OTOH, if you build your own solution and there's the slightest hiccup, it's entirely your fault.

So that's about your company's policy in the end. There are places where using "non standard" solutions is banned, plain and simple. It may even be for regulatory reasons; maybe your data is worth so much that you need an insurance for it, and the insurance won't work if your solution isn't certified end-to-end (yes, that means IBM/Oracle/EMC/... all the way down).

But if you can avoid the "enterprise" stuff, of course you can save lots of money and/or get much more bang for the buck.

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Go with NexentaStor. All the features of "big iron" & none of the costs. Plus you get ZFS, which is, IMO, superior to current "big iron" filesystems. You have to pay over 18TB, but it's a marginal fee which I think is worth it because you get good support (so I've heard), and you're supporting an open source cause.

If you're dead set on "free", look at NappIT on top of Solaris Express or OpenIndiana. But, your support is limited to the community.

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