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Mar 31

FC@Home

A couple of years ago, I picked up an old Clariiion FC5300 wholesale (free) from a junk-pile at one of my customers.  I played with it, it was nice, but I couldn’t figure out why I should use it when I had 73+G drives available to me.

I started the FC@Home project then.  Because I thought it would be cool to have fibrechannel running in my home system.

Well I got rid of the FC5300 because the 30 x 18G Full-Height drives were just too much to power and cool.

A few weeks ago I decided that I needed to do it again.  (I posted something of it earlier)  Got an old EMC/Brocade DS16B2 switch, a PowerVault 224F JBOD, and started playing.

Well the first thing I found is that I could never use JBOD for the purposes I wanted to.  I wanted to put together some redundant shared storage for my VMWare servers so I could play with VMotion and Clustering.  While I could share individual disks, RAID wasn’t an option and I refuse to use unprotected storage.

So I scoured Ebay and found a PowerVault 660F to add to the 224F.  Now the 224F came with 14x 18G drives, the 660F came with 14x36G drives.  I paid under $200 (not including shipping) for each of the two racks.  They are 3U units, don’t pull a tremendous amount of power, and are as difficult to cool as any drive array (it’s the drives that cause the heat, not the array)

Another $100 or so in cables (The HSSDC->HSSDC jumpers that were required for between the units) and I was good to go.  I already had some DB-9 FC –> SC-Duplex converts, as well as some SC–>LC cables, so that part was easy.  I found someone who off-loaded a bunch of old Qlogic QLA2200 HBA’s (9 for $50) and the whole things was done.

I initially had issues getting it recognized, but on a whim I called Dell support.  The tech informed me that this was so far out of support he really couldn’t help me, then proceeded to spend about an hour helping me out.  Turns out that the Array Manager software that you use to manage the thing doesn’t work with the latest / greatest QLogic drivers.  I had to back-rev them to v8.x and suddenly it worked perfectly.  (He also told me it was never ever going to work on Win2k3 – a fact I’ve happily disproven.)

I just got it carved, and all but one of my VM’s are moved over to it.  I have about 500G of Raid-5 Storage available with 2 Hot-Spares (Since I don’t know the history of the drives, I figured better safe than sorry).

So far so good.  Performance is great, though I’m only going through one switch I have redundant RAID controllers, so that’s at least something.  As soon as I find someone dumping a second DS16B2 I’ll probably incorporate that into the mix as well.

So I set up the 2-node VMWare cluster, and set it for DRS just to see if it works the way they say it will.  (I’m also curious because I have less memory in the second node than the first, if it will be aware of that.)  I have a third 2650 I got here because some newbie on Ebay didn’t realize that the particular error message he got on boot meant simply that there was no operating system on the disks.  As soon as I get the rail-kit I’m going to mount this puppy up and make it a 3-node cluster.

I’m such a geek.

2 comments

  1. Very cool, at one point I too had CISCO routers, switches, a NetApp 810 at home. Unfortunately I had to get rid of it all because I didn’t have much time to play with it a lot and it was sucking up too much power.

    I’m thinking about setting up a home lab again…would love to see a pic or two of your setup!!

  2. Jesse

    I’ve found that even new you can get an AX150 for about $6,500 through Dell. I also know that no-one in their right mind pays retail – especially knowing that end-of-quarter is coming up.

    I’m still looking at options – I have the switch, I have a couple of fibre arrays that I am either going to list on Ebay or try and make use of again – but if I do I’m going to replace all of the drives, because I had too much trouble with failures in the used drives I had aquired.

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