Re: Raid san help
You're right, I've never seen a SATA backplane for a server either, I think that this is likely because when you are looking at the kind of disks that front mount in a server you're usually looking at hot swappable SCSI disks, I've never really seen a big market for SATA disks in servers, though that is changing a bit now and you;re starting to get dedicated SANs that have SATA disks in them, though usually they are over priced for what they are!
Anyway, for your original question/suggestion, there is no reason that you couldn't make/adapt your own enclosure for housing Sata disks, all you really need is a power supply for the disks in the external enclosure, all the disks connected and the appropriate connection on the outside of the box to connect it to a computer.
A quick search on a site like dabs.com will let you find some 4 port SATA cards, though these will likely all be designed for mounting the disks internally, so you'll have to use very long cables, (which I'm not sure even exist) to get to your external disk enclosure.
to set up the raid, I think that you'll have two options, a good controller card, (that is actually a raid controller card) will let you specify the raid levels actually on the card, and perform hardware raid, again I don't think I've ever actually seen a SATA RAID controller, most are sold as raid controllers as a kind of description rather than because they can actually do raid, leaving your options down to just software raid.
I'm not a big fan of software raid, but I'd say that windows does a good job of performing software raid on it's own.
I've never really fully appreciated the JBOD raid level, it seems like it's actually just raid 0, to create one very large disk.
(and raid 0 isn't real raid since it's not redundant! more like just AID).
so I guess that's pretty much the answer that I have.
yes, you'll probably have to build your own enclosure, (though you could use an ordinary PC case and this will look terrible, but mean that you don't have to mess about trying to make a box).
no, I don't think it's possible to get a sata back plane, (certainly never seen one for this server).
if you're keeping costs down, software raid should be fine.
If you didn't mind spending a bit of money then you could get a NAS box, you can get some pretty good units that take four of five disks and have network ports in the back already built in for network access of ISCSI disk access to make it behave more like a SAN.
some of these also have USB ports on them so that you can hang USB disks off of them as well to further increase the storage space.
these boxes can be obtained for around a grand (GBP) complete with disks. (up to 1TB). to get 4TB you're going to have to spend a little more.
I suppose that you could offset the cost of that by selling your existing server for what would end up a semi professional solution since you're trying to make the server into one of these boxes anyway.
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