Build a Rackmount ZFS NAS (part 1)

This post is a draft-in-progress. Needed to share the info so here it is – in unfinished form.

I’m currently starting my own software company and needed fast, reliable storage on the network at an affordable price. I wanted RAID-5 or better, multiple gigabit Ethernet connections, 10,000k SATA or SAS drives, and a linux (or unix) platform. It also had to be rackmount but stylish-looking, preferbly black.I concluded the most economical option was to roll-my-own NAS using Sun Microsystems Solaris and ZFS filesystem with RAID-Z, a software raid solution.

Why Not Buy One?

There is a number of 2-4 drive RAID-0/1  products emerging on the retail scene but I wanted at least RAID-5 reliablity+performance. On the other end, enterprise stoarge starts close to $10,000 and sky-rockets from there… In the middle there is a narrow class of entry-level rack-mount NASs for around $2000. Attractive at first, these boxes offer nothing but compromise when you peal back the layers.

I nearly bought a Linksys-NAS only to discover a forum full of 2-year old unresolved critical firmware bugs. The Buffalo Terrastation Pro looks solid but gets mediocore benchmark-scores. Most such solutions offer a single ethernet-port, proprietary RAID implementations and firmware etc.  Your stuck with whichever operatingsystem the box offers, and locked into the network-protocals it supports. It gets dizzying after awhile.

Sun ZFS and RAID-Z

yadda, yadda, yadda…

The Chassis

2U Rackmount Server Chassis 8-SCSI Hot Swap
(temporary link).

So I ended up with this. By my own error I was expecting somthing with SAS/SATA connects; this has 80-pin SCA-SCSI harddrive connections with 68-pin SCSI to the host-controller. Turns out this is not the end of the world, and may work out better in fact.

Other Components

Component Make / Model Qty Price SubTotal
Chassis ??? 1 $150 $200 *
Motherboard SuperMicro X7SB4 1 $335 $335
CPU Intel Core-2-Duo 1 $145 $145
Cable 5 Plug 68-Pin SCSI 1 $16 $16
HDD for OS 80 Gig, SATA-300 Caviar or Barracuda 2 $44.99 $92
Sub-Total $787
Harddrives Seagate Cheeta 10k.6 147gig 4 $149 $628 *
Total $1427

(*) Some prices include tax or shipping in the sub-total.

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