NexentaStor Server – Part 1 – The Build

Racking / Insallation

With that out of the way, it’s time to add the remaining add-on cards (in this case an Intel PRO/1000VT quad NIC and a Dell H200 external HBA). It is important to use the Riser 2 on the R710 since only Riser 2 contains X8 PCIe slots. Riser 1 only has X4 PCIe slots.

With that out of the way, it’s time to rack up the server. The server is connected to the MD1000 Disk Shelf via two 4x SAS cables. I’m using the quad NIC for iSCSI/NFS ports and a single on-board Broadcom NIC for management, even though technically the Broadcom is not on the supported devices list (HCL). Which apparently means nothing as I’ll find out later.

With the server all racked up, time to install NexentaStor. Since, I’ve removed the internal DVD drive and replaced it with a hard drive hot-swap bay. I’m using a USB DVD Drive to boot and install NexentaStor. I’ve been using NexentaStor for a a few years now. NexentaStor is an awesome filer, it’s one of the best software offerings out there. It’s still a bit rough around the edges as I’ll show later in the blog.

While NexentaStor is installing. I’ve decided to add the L2ARC Cache SSD drive to the array. With NexentaStor the SSD is used as a block-level cache for the array. The end result is that for the most commonly used data blocks the performance in both IOPS and raw Throughput is significantly faster than with the just the drives. This of course only AFTER the internal RAM is already used up.
In this case I’m using an OCZ Vertex 4 128GB drive. Even though this is an MLC SSD with limited life-span, the premature failure of the drive will not affect the array as the cached data is always checksummed against the storage array.

The SSD Drive will end up in the MD1000 slot so I need to adapt the 2.5″ drive to the hot-swap tray. This is another example where the Western Digital Icepack from the WD Veliociraptor comes in handy. These things are cheaper to buy on eBay with a 73GB 10K SATA drive attached than brand new without the drive. Incidentally, I have a lot of 73GB 10K SATA drives.

Part 2 – Configuration Coming Soon…

2 thoughts on “NexentaStor Server – Part 1 – The Build

  1. 1) Are you using Dell H200 external to replace PERC 6/E that connects MD1000?
    What is the model?
    2) Do you have an update on how the setup is going and performance?

    • Yes. I’m using the H200 to connect to the MD1000.

      I’ve been very happy with NexentaStor performance in general. On the R710 the thing absolutely flies, especially if you combine with it 4 Lane iSCSI Round Robin MPIO. With the caching system of Nexenta, VM’s on the ESXi host absolutely fly. It’s actually funny watching VM’s reboot because it happens almost instantaneously. I do have a 10Gbe project brewing as I want to switch to NFS and get an additional boot in random performance and simplify my network setup. Right now I have 4 NIC ports going to every host just for iSCSI traffic.

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