Author Topic: Network Shares in Storage Pool  (Read 4358 times)

Offline blackstone

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Network Shares in Storage Pool
« on: October 11, 2011, 04:33:20 pm »
Hi!

I have 3 Windows servers that hold a whole ton of audio, and up until now, we have used DFS to publish each of these in a common 'list', so that our users can 'see' at least the parent folders in one list, rather than having to remember which server name to go to.

It has been bugging me for ages, and I am finally getting around to sorting this situation out, and to that end, I have settled on FlexRaid - because the Storage Pooling seems to be *exactly* what I am looking for, without anything extra.

In short, what I want to be able to do, is have ALL 3 servers 'appear' as if they have ALL the audio on them. So my hope, is that I can create storage pools that mix local and network shares. If that is possible, then I will configure each one with an instance of FlexRaid, then use DFS to redirect clients to any one of the 3 (giving me a sort of load balancing).

I have tested the Local drives using my own PC, and I am very impressed - the configuration is simple, and the access is fast.

But is it possible to do this with network shares in the mix? My tests didn't seem to work (I tried UNC paths, shares symlinked to directories, and shares mapped to drive letters). I am testing the Wiki entry here: http://wiki.flexraid.com/2011/06/09/running-flexraid-under-a-different-user-account-for-network-access/

As an extension to the question - if network shares can work - do the targets obey the clients permissions? i.e. if userA has read only NTFS permissions, and userB has read/write NTFS permission, will the storage pool allow the correct access? or does it enforce the permissions of the account that is used to 'start' the pool?

Many thanks in advance,

Geoff

« Last Edit: October 11, 2011, 04:39:10 pm by blackstone »

Offline xliv

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Re: Network Shares in Storage Pool
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2011, 05:06:01 pm »
FlexRAID does work with a mix of local folders and network shares. No problem with that.
And the permissions can be set for the shares created out of the pool, see:
http://wiki.flexraid.com/2011/04/03/flexraid-preference-settings/

But there is 1 issue.
It seems that you'd like each server to run a FlexRAID instance containing the shares of all servers.
Which means that a folder on a server will be accessed by the local FlexRAID instance, and through share by the instances running on other servers.
I'm not sure FlexRAID can cope with this, you might end up with lock contentions, see:
http://wiki.flexraid.com/2011/06/05/tips-flexraid-storage-pooling-under-windows/

However, it's a bit different in your case, and I'm not sure whether this applies.
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Offline blackstone

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Re: Network Shares in Storage Pool
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2011, 06:31:12 pm »
Thanks for the response xliv,

The Wiki I referenced in my post update worked - I now have Shares in my pool :)

As for the lock contentions - I guess I will 'suck it and see' as they say. For better or for worse, it is necessary for me to set this up in a way that will allow users direct access to the shares AND access through the FlexRaid share, because the users here will not switch over immediately - old habits die hard.

I suspect that what will end up happening, is I will set up a dedicated server to handle the FlexRAID storage pools, and its members will all be shares. I would assume that the windows-level file locking would take effect, and thus would be no different to the normal situation of 2 users opening the same file (one gets forced read-only). It would be an issue if the FlexRAID causes a BSOD, but not so much if it just failed silently.

I will keep you posted as I start to test it.

As a side note - I am *so* glad I found this! It solves a major headache for me, in a clean, simple way. We have hardware raid sets (with the associated redundancy, spares etc) all handled on the servers themselves - I just needed a way to 'conglomerate' the various storages into one logical view! I am really looking formward to the smart-views, as I can think of a few uses already!

Kind regards,

Geoff

Offline blackstone

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Re: Network Shares in Storage Pool
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2011, 10:23:02 pm »
Hello again :)

Having thought more about the File locking issue, I have resolved to create the pools using only shares (including the local ones). That way, I figure that the Windows services will take care of any conflicting locks. In theory, this will give all clients and all FlexRAID instances the same priority, and 'treat' them the same.

But a related question, to which I can guess the answer.... When using network shares as the targets in a storage pool, is all communication to the actual target done 'from' the FlexRAID server, using the user account specified in the FlexRAID Service credentials? i.e. the client transacts with the FlexRAID Share, as if it were local to that machine, but the storage takes place in a kind of 'proxy' fashion, with the files sent by the client get re-written to the target as the Service account user. Or is it more SAN-Frontend like, and the files are written directly to the target 'via' the FlexRAID server?

If the above is correct, just for info, I will also be setting up a dedicated 'storage' network, with dedicated interfaces on the servers.

Offline Brahim

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Re: Network Shares in Storage Pool
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2011, 07:02:27 am »
@blackstone
I am a bit unsure of what nuance you are looking to get clarification on, but when dealing with network shares that are included in the pool, the FlexRAID host essentially acts as a reverse proxy (kind of a router). The data is written to the target under the credential of the user the FlexRAID host is impersonating.

Offline blackstone

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Re: Network Shares in Storage Pool
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2011, 03:18:14 pm »
Hi Brahim,

That is what I expected, thank you for the clarification. I didn't want to assume that was the case :)

Kind regards,

Geoff