My SAN, let me show it to you…

I HAVE A SAN! Wait, I have 2 SANs, 3 Data servers, 2 Metadata servers, and 2 load balancers! BWAH HAH HAH!

First off, this is an Apple setup which will be running Parallels Server for Mac from which I will be hosting MANY A SERVER! Now, this is important, because Apple just rocks out loud when it comes to product presentation and packaging.

You have probably dealt with many a server packaging. The dull cardboard box; the bland foam packing; more dull cardboard for the various accessories and mounting components; the little plastic bags holding manuals and discs; and the big plastic bag wrapped around the server 2 or 3 times, making it a complete pain in the ass to get the server out of.

Now Apple looked at this sad state of affairs and said “fuck that,” or at least something to that extent.

Here is the Apple box.

Now, open it up, and what do you see.

Wow. Look at that. The accessories box and mounting hardware box sit beautifully, and the small black package is the installation manual, discs, and license keys. Take those out, and you have the server underneath.

You may notice two things: the bag the server is in opens across the top of the server, meaning you do not have to take the server out of the box, and carefully balance it while you remove the bag. You may also notice that there is a white plastic cover on the front of the server.

This white plastic piece protects the front of the server from… hell, I don’t know. But at least they take the time to add a little extra protection to the server, especially since these things are not handled with kid gloves by the shipping companies.

Once the server is out of the box, I just had to open it and take a peek inside.

Look at that. That is neat, clean, and there is not a pile of cables streched all over the place blocking air flow. This my friends is a well designed server. I think they can put that much time and focus into the internal design, because they only make one physical size server, the 1U. They are not busy trying to design variations of 1U, 2U, 3U, 4U, even 8U servers with all kinds of hard drive layouts. Just the single 1U with up to 3 drives.

However, I noticed a long metal rod going from the front left of the server, in about 8 inches, to a large metal plate. Here is a closer look.

Looking from another angle shows where the rod comes from.

Yes, that is the rod for the security mechanism. When engaged, this lock keeps the drives from coming out, and disables the system from accepting local mouse and keyboard commands. When I saw this, I thought to myself “anyone else would have used some shitty baby plastic gear for this. These guys but a damn metal rod with a large gear!”

Pretty much everything they do is top-notch.

I know, I have gotten this far, and all you have seen is one server getting pulled out and displayed like some admin porn. Well, yeah. However, now we get to the system in place.

Here is the full system from the front.

The top is the 2 load balancers, followed by the 2 Metadata controllers, then the 3 data servers, 2 SAN systems, and the various Fibre Channel and network switches that connect them all together. I guess I need to put in the “money shot” now.

Yeah baby!

You may have been too distracted by the beauty of the hardware to notice the cabling, so lets take a closer look.

Look at the color coding! Look at how neat they are, and how organized everything is. I swear, if some mother fucker comes in here and screws with my cabling, I will go all Herbert Kornfield on their ass!

Now, don’t think the love stops there.

Look at that! Well, you can’t see at the load balancers, because they are short servers, and don’t reach all the way back. However, you can see the 5 servers, 2 SANS, and where the switches are in the front, are the power distribution units (PDUs). This makes more efficient use of our space. Before I go into details, lets get the “money shot” for this out of the way.

Oh yeah! Look at that cabling. Color coded. Labeled

To let you know, the green cables are going to a network switch that connects the 5 servers and the 2 SANs together, and is the network Xsan uses for Metadata communication. The orange cabling connects the 3 data servers to the 2 load balancers. This allows any of the three physical servers to host the virtualized web servers. The black cabling connects the servers to our in-house network.

Now, I want to show an under-appreciated aspect of rack mounting, the power cabling.

Normally, these PDUs get mounted facing the other way. That means that if you want to plug something in, or unplug something, you have to move any servers from above or below the PDU, then reach around and hope you are not pulling on the wrong cable. I have used Rackmount Solution’s Standoff Rack Extender Brackets to give an extra 4 inches of space. That way, I could mount the PDUs facing outward, and not have problems with power cabling hitting the door. Also, I used another set to recess the switches in the front.

Well, that is my SAN. Later, I will post some performance numbers from the testing I have been doing over the last couple of days.


One Response

  1. You are such a geek and LOVE it!

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