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  1. #1

    Should I get a NAS?

    The situation:

    * website with 150k uniques, 3 million page views
    * 3 web servers + 1 db server
    * 50,000 MP3's available on demand
    * the MP3 fiels are in the db box on a SCSI 5

    The assumption:

    * traffic will grow rapidly

    The question:

    Would it be best to offload the MP3 files from the db server and onto a NAS? (like a Dell PowerVault 745N)

    I don't understand the specs on these NAS's. They come with beefy Pentium chips (some dual Xeons) and support up to 4 GB's of RAM. Is simply serving files over HTTP really that intensive? Am I missing something?

    Last thing, if I do decide to get a NAS should I go for SCSI drives or will SATA suffice?

  2. #2
    When you say the MP3s are 'in the DB box', do you mean they're stored within the database itself (as blobs presumably) or are they just flat files that happen to be stored on the DB box?

    Assuming they're just flat files, putting them on a NAS device isn't too bad an idea, all the CPU-intensive work can be done by the web servers, and all the disk-io intensive operations can be done by the NAS. You can then easily add extra web servers to scale up your operation as need be. The NAS will also give you more flexibility in terms of adding disk shelves and backups.

    I've never used a SATA NAS device, but they tend to be at the lower end of the market. I suspect you're not constantly adding MP3 files (ie there aren't writes all the time), so you may well be able to get away with a lower end device - pure reads are much easier to optimise for than many read/write operations.

    If you're pretty confident that traffic will grow rapidly it's worth investing in a decent NAS device, it will make things much, much easier when you need to scale up.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    The low-end NAS are just x86 boxes with limited software -- there's no reason the DB server can't handle the file serving. You may want to use a quality (3ware) RAID-1, which gives you two shots at every block, for the best read performance. Your traffic level doesn't give a time frame (per day?), or GB transferred, so it doesn't explain much.
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  4. #4
    Yes, the mp3's are flat files stored on the db box, not in the actual database. Some users will be allowed to upload mp3s so perhaps SCSI would be better.

    Traffic level is small at 100GB right now because we are not yet serving the files. We expect it to jump by a lot.

    Another solution I was thinking is leaving the db alone and instead of getting a NAS/file server, I can distribute the files throughout the web servers. Then, in addition to the regular file details, the db would also store a byte indicating in which web server the file is located.

    Will that be too messy?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Chicago, IL
    I would get a DR / Backup box, use rsync to keep it up to date, every 4 hours, so if the DB box fails, there will be little impact to the users.
    Ben Lenard, MS, MBA
    TechMinds 4 Hire, Inc - (866) 214-1285 x 2001

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