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Costs Associated with the Storage of Terabytes? 161

Posted by Cliff
from the massive-online-storage-in-$s-per-10e12 dept.
NetworkAttached asks: "I know of a company that has large online storage requirements - on the order of 50TB - for a new data-warehousing oriented application they are developing. I was astonished to hear that the pricing for this storage (disk, frames, management software, etc...) was nearly $20 million dollars. I've tried to research the actual costs myself, but that information seems all but impossible to find online. For those of you out there with real world experience in this area, is $20 million really accurate? What are the set of viable alternatives out there for storage requirements of this size?"
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Costs Associated with the Storage of Terabytes?

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  • At about 1$/G of storage, 50TB comes out to around $50,000.

    Not sure if this is what you're looking for, but I couldn't help noticing the timing after the last article.
    • To blow that out into more detail: 50TB / 320 GB = 156 / 4 IDE drives per box = 40 Boxes

      Add to that switches, routers, T1s, building, cooling, etc. Now if you need that to be robust you would build RAID units and that could double the cost.

      • 320 GB = 156 / 4 IDE drives per box = 40 Boxes

        I recently picked up a Promise Supertrak 6000. I droped an email to Promise and found out that one machine should be able to run two supertrack (hardware raid) cards. With 6 IDE buses (12 drives) and two cards per machine. You could setup each machine with linear raid and 24 320 meg hard drives. If you did that you would only need seven machines!

        Realistically though you would need redundancy in this kind of system which means some lost storage. With raid 5 it would be more like 14 machines for 40+ terrabytes.

        Now figure about 1000 bucks for a MB case processor gig of ram etc, and 300 for each card and $350 for each drive * 12. That comes to $5800 a piece. $3500*14=$81,200. If you want hot swap it would be +130 for the card Hot swap package, plus 9 more drives at $80 a pop is $720 per machine, multiply that by 14 and hot swap capibility will cost you an aditional $10080 dollars. That is a hot swap, raid 5 total of 91,280 dollars.

        With a few top notch megabit switches with channel bonding, you're looking at $100,000. Can you hire me for the additional $19,900,000? I would like to continue to work in NY.

        • My bad, you said 50 TB so it would be $112,500 and $125,000 respectively. Also you could setup an exact duplicate network (lets say hot swap), and fall over based on a heartbeat to rsynced to within seconds on a seperate network, (add another $20,000 for net equiptment) and you would be looking at $270,000 dollars for the twice redundant 50TB bad ass disk array from hell.

          I gladly take the $170,000 pay cut for my foolish exuberance to 19,730,000. :)

          I love Linux. :)

        • 3ware Escalade 7500-12.

          Twelve drives per card, multiple cards allowed.(I've heard of 5 controllers in a machine being used, however, PCI bus speed is an issue long before even the second controller goes in)

          The Promise 6000 is a 6 drive controller. You can't do that doubled up of master and slave on each controller that you planned on doing.

          • Is this through parctical experiance or documentation?

            The documentation clearly states as many as 12 drives. I could have sworn there were cables with two connectors with the card. I'll check tonight.

            Same basic idea. What experiance do you have with the Escalade, I heard it was undiscontinued due to demand.

            • It's generally accepted practice AND documentation.

              If one of your drives dies on the chain, sometimes it'll take the other drive on the chain offline with it. As well, you can't hotswap in a drive if there's another one on the chain. AND, it makes cabling more difficult when you have to put the two drives near enough to reach for the cable.

              And the escalade is generally accepted as one of the best cards out there. They were discontinued, yes. But now they're back, they have 4,8, and 12 port models. As well, they have Serial ATA cards.
      • and don't forget the big honkin' UPS to keep these things going long enough to shut down if power goes out. UPS' this size don't come cheap.
    • In raw disk storage, maybe. But you're forgetting actually putting those drives into a useable state with disaster recovery plans.

      In other words, someone dealing with 50TB and who wants backups of that data will be spending many, many times the amount it would cost to just purchase enough hard drives to get the bragging rights of 50TB. And a backup located in the same room/floor/rackspace/whatever as the source data will be pointless in the event of fire, floods, nuclear fallout, etc. So, they would also need a way to transfer all that data to offsite backups in a timely manner (waiting five weeks for a full backup to transfer over a 100Mb/s pipe would probably not be acceptable).

      Aside from backups, how would the drives be accessible? Even as JBOD, you're talking 40 IDE/ATA controllers (assuming 320GB drives and 4 ports per controller), or 20 SCSI channels (assuming 160GB per drive and 15 non-host devices per channel) to support that many disks. You could also use Fibre Channel and get away with only a couple arbitrated loops. Physically, you're talking about hundreds of disks that need to be mounted somewhere, so you would also need dozens of chassis to hold the drives.

      But, hundreds of disks in a JBOD configuration means you'll have hundreds of partitions, each separate from the others. Hell, if the clients are Windows machines, they won't even be able to access more than a couple dozen at a time. And even for operating systems with better partition/mount-point addressing, it would be unmanageable.

      So, now you get in to needing a RAID solution that can tie hundreds of disks together. If you're talking about hooking these up to standard servers through PCI RAID cards, you'll need several of those machines to be able to host all the controllers necessary (especially if all the disks are not 160GB or larger each).

      The only realistic solution for this much storage, at least until we have 5TB hard drives, is a SAN-like setup. Specialized hardware designed to house hundreds of disks in stand-alone cabinets and provide advanced RAID and partitioning features. SANs don't come cheap.

      Add to the SAN the various service plans, installation, freight, configuration, management and the occasional drive swapping as individual disks fail and you've already multiplied that $50K several times, as a bare minimum (and you still haven't priced out the backup solution).

      There's a lot more to it than just having a pile of hard drives on the floor. I wouldn't even be surprised if the drives are the cheapest component.
  • Metacomment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by twoflower (24166) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @11:40AM (#4228536)
    Why is it that 90% of "Ask Slashdot" pieces seem to boil down to "I have no real world experience, and I'm just wondering how I can solve problem X for Y dollars when twenty different vendors all sell solutions for 100 * Y dollars?"?
    • Because it makes a nice change from the "I'm stuck, somebody tell me what to do!" pieces.
    • Why is it that 90% of "Ask Slashdot" pieces seem to boil down to "I have no real world experience, and I'm just wondering how I can solve problem X for Y dollars when twenty different vendors all sell solutions for 100 * Y dollars?"?

      It makes readers feel superior, and keeps them coming back.

    • Because in this case, it's pretty obvious that the prices are overly inflated. He's paying almost a thousand times what the raw drives go for.

      I think it's pretty reasonable to feel that you could put something like this together for under $100K.
      • by Neck_of_the_Woods (305788) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @03:16PM (#4230748) Journal
        That 100k was a joke right? We have 4 2tb SANS where I am and I can tell you that any 2 of them would eclipse your guess. Lets not get into the shelf disks, the extract fabrics, the Raid eating some of your space. Opss did I forget the support contract, the ups the size of a cubical, and a libert air conditioner to cool this room full of spinning drives? Wait minute, your going to need full redundant backups for all this shit, the Gbic switches to controll access, the rack space, and all the fiber hba cards for the servers.(unless you go coper).

        Then you want to back this up? Break out your checkbook again for a Compaq minilibary if your lucky, that is only 10 tapes x 80gig a tape...800gig..and that is if your really doing well. So put that on top of it all 10x10X80 gives you 8 TB of backup at around 30k each for the minilibs, the price just keeps on jumpin!

        No way, no how, not today or tomorrow. 100k will get you a floor full of 120gig maxtor drives and that is about it.

        • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @04:38PM (#4231484) Journal
          ...I realize that accepted pricing is well above the price I mentioned. And yes, obviously I left out the maintenance.

          The problem is that I find that corporate spending on IT purchases has gotten ridiculous. Let's buy a TEMPEST array! Let's buy something with a Sun nametag because the name sounds good! Let's buy a $2k piece of software for each workstation even though there's a free alternative!

          I'm not saying that anyone *provides* something in the price range I was talking about. No one is crazy enough to do so, if companies are willing to pay much, much more. I'm saying that, if you're asking whether it's possible to *build* something like this for the price range I mentioned, off the cuff it doesn't sound so unreasonable.

          Yes, a seasoned IT person who works with high-end systems like this will laugh. Why? Because they're used to paying huge amounts of money. Because it's an accepted part of the culture to throw down this much cash. What I want to know is -- how often do people question these basics? How often has someone said "Wait a minute...this is wrong."

          Are you telling me that if you were in a third world country without the exorbant amount of funding that we USians enjoy, and someone asked you to put together a 50TB storage system for under $1M, you'd simply say "It can't be done"? No consideration, nothing?

          I mean, when I look at the fact that the *case* on, say, a Sun high end system costs more than a whole cluster of workstations, I start to wonder just how much excess is going on here.

          Say we take the bare-metal, dirt cheap approach. Grab a bunch of Linux boxes. Throw RAID on them configured so that 1/3 of your data is overhead for reliability, and a 100Mbps Ethernet card in each. The figure used earlier was $1 per gig. Put 6 200 GB drives in each. Throw down $250 for the non-drive cost of each system. You have 800GB of data on each system, 400GB of overhead. That's 63 systems. $16K for the systems, $75K for the drives, and we come in to $91K. I left out switches -- you'd need a couple, but certainly not $9K worth.

          You'd need some software work done -- an efficient, hierarchical distributed filesystem. I didn't factor this in, which you could consider not fair, but there may be something like this already, and if not, it's a one time cost for the whole world.

          Maybe another few systems up near the head of the array to do caching and speed things up, and you still aren't even up to $150K, and you have failover (at least for each one-drive-in-three) group.

          I haven't looked at this -- it might be smarter, since you'd want to do this hierarchically, to have caches existing within the hierarchy, or maybe Gbit Ethernet at the top level of the hierarchy. And obviously, this may not meet your needs. But as for whether it's possible to build something like this for that much money? Sure, I'd say so.

          Finally, existing SANS or any sort of network-attached storage are overpriced, no two ways about it. Very, very healthy profit margins there. Sooner or later, someone is going to start underselling the big IT "corporate solution providers" and is going to kill them unless they trim margins by quite a bit.
          • by Anonymous Coward
            You have the right idea. We have built a 5 TB using the same aproach and saved a ton of money. The disks hold up just fine. One problem though, is you need to add ram for speed, and good UPS. Finally, it is not as fast as a nice SANS, but SANS are not 10x the speed, yet cost 10x the amount.
            Also, go with KNOWN drives. The new 300+ GB drives sound nice on paper. But remember the case of IBM; great solid drives and then on a whole new line, it became a nightmare. Like stepping back to MS.
          • What you do is you take his spec list and start finding out which can go. Can the system tolerate a 1 hour outage once every 3 years (very few systems in real life can't). Cuts the price in 1/2. Can large parts of this data be write once so you can use lots of cheap mirrors? Cuts the price in 1/2 again..

            You can bring the cost down.
          • The problem is that I find that corporate spending on IT purchases has gotten ridiculous.

            I find it's gotten too spendthrift, myself. We just got a Blade 2000 (anniversary edition) with only a single system disk. Why the OS of a 30,000 dollar machine is not mirrored is beyond comprehension, to me.

            Let's buy a TEMPEST array! Let's buy something with a Sun nametag because the name sounds good!

            No, let's buy those things because, if something in them breaks, the production payroll machine doesn't go offline. Or let's buy those things because, if something does break, I can have a tech on-site in 4 hours with a hot-swappable replacement part. Let's buy them because my customers (my users) won't notice the downtime while I pull a CPU module, PCI card, or disk and replace it without powering the server down.

            Let's buy a $2k piece of software for each workstation even though there's a free alternative!

            No, let's buy a $90,000 piece of software because it allows us to precision-machine aerospace parts more efficiently than hand-drawing the same models in two dimensions on a drafting board, or because we can run simulation testing on our airframe to see how much stress it can take before it destroys itself. Let's spend our money smartly to produce more revenue and profit.

            Say we take the bare-metal, dirt cheap approach. Grab a bunch of Linux boxes.

            I've seen horror novels with better beginnings...

            Throw RAID on them

            Apparently "throwing RAID" on something is good enough for enterprise-level.

            and a 100Mbps Ethernet card in each.

            This will work great on a network where every client is connected at 100/full, and the normal servers have fiber or gigabit uplinks. You may have gotten away with this in 1995, but it's 2002.

            The figure used earlier was $1 per gig. Put 6 200 GB drives in each. Throw down $250 for the non-drive cost of each system.

            $250 for the rest of the system? Motherboard, RAM, CPU, power supply (dual? Hah!), and case? Our AIX NFS servers have RAIDed MEMORY, not to mention at least triple the amount they'll ever need of that, CPUs, local disk, power supplies, and PCI expansion chassis.

            You have 800GB of data on each system, 400GB of overhead. That's 63 systems. $16K for the systems, $75K for the drives, and we come in to $91K. I left out switches -- you'd need a couple, but certainly not $9K worth.

            Yeah, you could just go down to CompUSA and pick up a few Netgear 8-ports. Nobody will ever need a VLAN. (The modules in our 6509s cost more than $9k.)

            You'd need some software work done -- an efficient, hierarchical distributed filesystem. I didn't factor this in, which you could consider not fair, but there may be something like this already, and if not, it's a one time cost for the whole world.

            Yeah, you could hack something together. Let us know how that goes.

            Meanwhile, I'll be enjoying another day of outage-free administration, at least on the machines we built the right way.

            - A.P.
            • No, let's buy those things because, if something in them breaks, the production payroll machine doesn't go offline.


              Bullshit. Expensive Sun servers crash all the time due to memory and CPU failures. The more CPUs and the more memory, the more chances for failure. These boxes do not have redundant CPUs and memory until you get into absolutely isnane price levels. If you care about reliability, it is better to have truly independent machines, and let the software handle the redundancy. Sure, mirror the storage, because you know hard drives fail, and have redundant network interfaces to protect against a witch failure. But don't forget that a "high availability" E6500 is 22 times more likely to crash than a "workstation class" ultra 1.

              • Expensive Sun servers crash all the time due to memory and CPU failures.

                Really? Hadn't noticed. If by "all the time", you mean our E420 with an ecache parity problem (yes, this is a known issue with that series of CPU) which used to go down once a week until I took the faulty CPU offline from the command line, then, yeah, it crashed all the time.

                The more CPUs and the more memory, the more chances for failure.

                You obviously haven't heard about things like ChipKill and ELIZA fault-tolerance initiatives.

                You can run a machine with a bad CPU for months without worrying about it, and bad memory modules can now be cycled out of use without even causing memory access violations.

                don't forget that a "high availability" E6500 is 22 times more likely to crash than a "workstation class" ultra 1.

                What are you smoking, and where can I get some?

                - A.P.
                • You obviously haven't heard about things like ChipKill and ELIZA fault-tolerance initiatives.

                  You know that I am talking about commonly available multi-CPU systems, and not exotic (and insanely expensive) systems with redundant CPUs and memory.

                  What are you smoking, and where can I get some?

                  Do you seriously believe that an E6500 or similar system will not crash if there is a faulty CPU? Despite your impressively low slashdot UID, if you believe this, you have virtually no experience with such systems.

            • Why the OS of a 30,000 dollar machine is not mirrored is beyond comprehension to me

              This is part of what I'm complaining about. Hardware vendors have sold users on expensive, heavily hot-swappable systems where they make huge profit margins. They work very hard to steer clients away from consumer-level stuff, where their profit margins are nearly nonexistent. If you're willing to make a system the fundamental unit of failure here, you can easily buy a $3K system with a second failover $3K system. Why pay five times as much so that you can swap out a CPU instead of just swapping out a whole system?

              The whole measure-system-capabilities-by-dollar-value thing is what I'm objecting to -- your first response was "This is a $30K system".

              No, let's buy those things because, if something in them breaks, the production payrool machine doesn't go offline.

              I severely doubt that more than 10% of the people with TEMPEST systems actually need them. I was looking at one cluster of very overpriced and very underused set of TEMPEST workstations at a company a while ago. They would have been better off with some stock x86 machines.

              hot-swappable replacement part

              See above. It's much cheaper at this point to buy two consumer-level systems and let failover take over for one system than to buy a single high-end system.

              No, let's buy a $90,000 piece of software because it allows us to precisions-machine aerospace parts more efficiently...

              The price I quoted was $2k. You're listing $90K, which is well into the vertical application market. There -- yes, you don't have much of an option. You need an airfoil simulator that does foo, baz, and bar, and there's only one vendor with it -- you pay for it.

              I'm talking about buying horizontal market things like commercial variants of CVS, compilers, or other systems where there are very good free alternatives, yet companies persist on evaluating things based on price.

              Apparently "throwing RAID" on something is good enough for enterprise-level

              Who's to say that this approach is fundamentally flawed? Sun? IBM? Of course they're going to scoff -- they've got machines and service contracts to sell. A high-level IT person? They've been suffused in the "spend lots more to get decent quality" propoganda from said companies for so long that it'd be hard to get an objective viewpoint.

              and a 100Mbps Ethernet card in each

              This will work great on a network where every client is connected at 100/full, and the normal servers have fiber or gigabit uplinks

              Notice that I mentioned having the front-end systems, the ones doing caching, have faster interfaces.

              $250 for the rest of the system

              For a file server, very little is needed in terms of CPU juice, or RAM (before you start screaming about caching, as mentioned above, I want a systemwide cache sitting at the front of this). Make the cache able to cache anything on the SAN, so that you're efficiently using your resources. Why would I need PCI expansions chassis or RAIDed memory? I've already listed everything every box needs, and I'm willing to bet that the number of RAM chips you've had suddenly and unexpectedly fail (for God's sake, this is solid state storage) is right up there with numbers of servers hit by lightning.

              Nobody will ever need a VLAN. The modules in our 6509s cost more than $9k.

              Why would I want a VLAN within my storage system? To the outside world, this is a single entity. For that matter, Cisco systems definitely fall into my "overpriced because IT will buy it because it sounds sexy" category unless you really need the few systems that they do that *no one else* can duplicate in functionality. You can run VLANs off a Linux box.

              Meanwhile, I'll be enjoying another day of outage-free administration, at least on the machines we built the right way

              As I said earlier, I never claimed that this is available out of box right now -- just that you can build something like this. And neither did I say that your systems are outage-prone. I do think that name brand systems are oversold on vague reliability promises. Is my RAM going to suddenly fail? No.

              I've found that the primary reason that purchases will spend their employer's money is the ASHF (Avoid Shit if it Hits Fans) syndrom. IT personnel are willing to make suboptimal purchasing decisions so that they have someone *else* to point to if something goes wrong. "Sun's supposed to fix that, not us." "This is a best-of-class component that failed."

              Now to some extent, the corporate culture fosters this, but I just want to point out that every time I hear people bragging about the cost of the systems they administer, I wince and think about this.

              My guess is that this is going to die over the next five years or so. At the moment, there's a glut of secondhand networking and serving systems available from dying dot-coms. Once that's over, though, you have companies in India and Eastern Asia that can't afford to waste the kind of money that US companies do on systems. So you get manufacturers (probably non-US) springing up to create low-cost systems that fill their needs, without the exorbant profit margins. Eventually, as reputations become established, they'll start selling to US corporations trying to bring down costs and compete with those foreign competitors, and overpriced IT purchases will be a thing of the past.

              Linux is part of the advance front of this -- it's cheap to set up, runs on cheap commodity hardware (who's manufacturers make very little profit per unit), and you can build fancy things on top of it. As a matter of fact, that's most of the reason Linux has been propelled into the business market at all -- not because a bunch of geeks think it's sexy to use (though it sure would be neat if that *were* the reason), but because the profit margins are in a more sane range.

              Almost all products follow a process of starting out very expensive, becoming more common and understood, commoditization, and eventual drop of profits to near zero. And once a product has reached the end of this process, bringing the price back up is very, very hard.
              • The whole measure-system-capabilities-by-dollar-value thing is what I'm objecting to -- your first response was "This is a $30K system".

                The system is a workstation anyway. And an extra $1200 would've gotten us the redundancy I like, in the form of a second 72GB Fiber Channel drive.

                I severely doubt that more than 10% of the people with TEMPEST systems actually need them. I was looking at one cluster of very overpriced and very underused set of TEMPEST workstations at a company a while ago. They would have been better off with some stock x86 machines.

                What were they doing with them? If they would have lost more than the value of the TEMPEST system for every day of downtime (spread out your outages over a few years -- the average life of the system), versus the extended downtime a lesser system would have given them, it was worth the money spent.

                It's much cheaper at this point to buy two consumer-level systems and let failover take over for one system than to buy a single high-end system.

                What do you do when your cheap consumer systems both lose their single power supplies because of a voltage spike that makes it past the UPS (would you even buy one of those?)

                I'm talking about buying horizontal market things like commercial variants of CVS, compilers, or other systems where there are very good free alternatives, yet companies persist on evaluating things based on price.

                Side note: You would use g++ as a compiler for your product? The code it produces is about as efficient as a fully-loaded Excursion full of fat chicks.

                Companies evaluate products based upon the availability of the following:

                Support.

                Features

                Support

                Accountability/Liability

                Support

                Compatibility - not only with existing and future hardware and software, but with existing employee skillsets

                Companies also like a well-supported product, not a "well, supported..." product like most Open Source Software is. You can tell me that Open Source is better-supported than its commercial counterpart, but I say bullshit. For a show-stopper security bug, that argument may hold water, but it leaks like a sieve when you get into specialized cases.

                Case in point: we broke IBM AIX 5.1 a few months ago. There's a major bug in 64-bit mode involving extended file attributes (ACLs) over NFS using JFS2. That this would affect anyone at all came as a surprise to IBM (as it would have to anyone, probably, who hadn't tested their software absolutely and completely), but we kept them on our problem 24/7 for a week until a patch was issued. I'm willing to bet the problem would've gone unresolved for weeks in Linux as a more pressing issue was ironed out, since 2.4 has suddenly become a development branch. This is what money buys you in terms of support, and it's not something the Open Source community has the capability of providing.

                "This will work great on a network where every client is connected at 100/full, and the normal servers have fiber or gigabit uplinks."

                Notice that I mentioned having the front-end systems, the ones doing caching, have faster interfaces.


                So the front-end systems will have gigabit interfaces, but the smaller machines will still be limited by the 100 megabit bottleneck? Most hard drives, even the cheap piece-of-garbage IDE cans you want us to use, can push 30 megs per second today. They'll meet the ethernet card full-on and be very disappointed at what they see.

                Cisco systems definitely fall into my "overpriced because IT will buy it because it sounds sexy" category unless you really need the few systems that they do that *no one else* can duplicate in functionality. You can run VLANs off a Linux box.

                Yeah, and I can run them off an iPaq too, probably. But why the hell would I want to? I honestly don't understand why I would want to give up hours spent aggrivated and frustrated over Linux's lack of a feature here and there, simply because it can do one or two of the things a real piece of networking gear can do.

                I've found that the primary reason that purchases will spend their employer's money is the ASHF (Avoid Shit if it Hits Fans) syndrom. IT personnel are willing to make suboptimal purchasing decisions so that they have someone *else* to point to if something goes wrong. "Sun's supposed to fix that, not us." "This is a best-of-class component that failed."

                I've found they spend more in the short term to save more in the long term. If you think doing something the right way is expensive, try doing it the wrong way.

                - A.P.

                • What were they doing with them?

                  Basic numerical analysis.

                  voltage spike that makes it past the UPS

                  I've yet to see a spike damage even a system on a cheap surge protector, much less a nice UPS. I *have* seen surges over POTS lines damage equipment, though. Come to think of it, my neighbor's house was hit by lightning at one point, knocking out her modem...yet leaving her computer intact.

                  Side note: You would use g++ as a compiler for your product? The code it produces is about as efficient as a fully-loaded Excursion full of fat chicks

                  Not anymore. Take a look at the code that a gcc-3.2 build puts out...It's light years beyond the 2.7 and earlier era, the time that built gcc such a bad rep. It's competitive with the better compilers out there now (at least in generated code...Sun's C++ compiler compiles more quickly). Oh, and the good code generation is on the x86 -- never tried comparing recent builds on SPARC or PPC.

                  Case in point: we broke IBM AIX 5.1 a few months ago

                  So you're asking me both to believe that this had to be fixed immediately (as in, whatever you were doing before you broke AIX 5.1 was no longer an option) and that Linux wouldn't have been fixed quickly (and while there probably are issues that have taken a while to fix, I tend to see patch times that beat competing OSes).

                  They'll meet the ethernet card full-on and be very disappointed at what they see

                  You're talking raw streaming of a huge sequential series of reads, which may or may not be an issue here -- but that's besides the point. You're leaving out the possibility that data could be interleaved across different machines to avoid exactly this issue. Do it in software, I say -- it's cheaper.

                  simply because it can do one or two of the things a real piece of networking gear can do

                  Okay, I'll bite. Short of sheer mass bandwidth that you absolutely require custom hardware for, like a backbone provider, what specific features are you complaining about the lack of?

                  I've found they spend more in the short term to save more in the long term. If you think doing something the right way is expensive, try doing it the wrong way.

                  I agree that doing something the wrong way can be more expensive -- I'm just not sure that saving money necessitates "doing it the wrong way".
                  • So you're asking me both to believe that this had to be fixed immediately (as in, whatever you were doing before you broke AIX 5.1 was no longer an option)

                    Yes, What is so hard to believe about that?

                    Do you think people don't upgrade their systems or implement new ones? Where do you work that you never install new equipment?

                    and that Linux wouldn't have been fixed quickly (and while there probably are issues that have taken a while to fix, I tend to see patch times that beat competing OSes).

                    Like I said, it would only have been fixed quickly if it were a major problem affecting every (or most) Linux user. This was a very specific problem that we were the first to run into.

                    Okay, I'll bite. Short of sheer mass bandwidth that you absolutely require custom hardware for, like a backbone provider, what specific features are you complaining about the lack of?

                    The ability to handle several hundred ports. Please do not tell me I should buy dozens of shitty $250 Linux boxes full of quad-port ethernet cards to do this.

                    I am beginning to wonder if you have ever worked in a company with more than 100 employees.

                    - A.P.

                    • Don't you think people don't upgrade their systems or implement new ones?

                      We aren't talking about SANs any more? There isn't a lot of reason to be dropping new OSes or new servers on components of the SAN.

                      Just as I agreed that there *is* a justification for vertical-market applications, I'm not saying that every copy of AIX should be purged. I just think that items like these are frequently sold in situations where they are not needed. That doesn't mean that they're never needed. I don't claim that Linux is the best alternative if you're using, say, oh, a system that needs to dump process info from the kernel very frequently -- Linux's /proc is inefficient. However, there's also a silly perception that unless something costs excessive amounts of money, it must not be up to par with the competition.

                      I am beginning to wonder if you have ever worked in a company with more than 100 employees.

                      Well, you're definitely wrong in the literal sense. :-) However, I suspect what you meant was "I don't think you've ever been in IT handling thousands of users", which you would be correct about -- I'm an engineer, not an IT person.

                      Which would explain some of the different focus here -- you're complaining that given a list of options from different providers, no one currently gives you what I'm talking about. My interest is in adding another option to that list -- whether it's possible to create a new option for the prices being talked about.
    • I've read a lot of books in my day, but quite frankly, most of what little knowledge I have comes from the kindness of people who have helped me to learn.

      I don't think there's any excuse for asking a question without first doing a little basic research, but here we have somebody who has legitimately never had any experience with terabyte storage asking if there's a cheaper way. It's a legitimate question, and one that probably could not be answered by looking in a book. So the person here is right to ask, and has already gotten some very good answers.

      I have a somewhat similar problem: how do I make sure that on the order of a terabyte of audio and video data survives the next hundred years? This given that the disk on which the first 80 gig of this data were delivered to me has two errors that have corrupted two of the files already, and the data isn't even a year old.

      What I've been doing is asking other people how they've solved the problem, and also thinking about it on my own. It's how problems get solved. I've gotten some very good and thoughtful answers to my questions already.
    • You are probably trolling, but I'll respond anyways.

      These sorts of things are not taught in any school. They are learnt by asking around. At this level of storage (several TB) companies (like EMC, Hitachi, IBM) have high-power sales people who will try to bamboozle and schmooze their way into the sale. Often, you need impartial advice from different sources to make sense of the marketing-speak. This is where the expertise of some of the people (not like you, of course) here at /. can be helpful.

      It is no secret that margins are pretty high with such "enterprise-class" storage solutions. The sales people from each of the companies have done their homework well, and know what the competitors products cost, and are sure to charge you as much as they can (it is called collusion, and most vendors do it, thats why noone complains). Therefore, if you are quoted $20M for the whole solution, and you read here at /. that Jane Geek somewhere paid $12M for a similar solution from Hitachi Lightning with options XYZ, you can take that information to the vendors and knock them down a little.

      The alternative is to use the services of a professional "shopping" company, like GAPCON [gapcon.com] (I don't have anything to do with GAPCON, I just heard about them recently, thats all).

  • We are looking at something similar but smaller 20TB and the price we are looking at is around $2,000,000 Canadian. The price sounds a little steep to me.
    • I think you're $2 million price tag is low personally, for 20 TB. I have architected several data marts and data warehouses. The price for small to medium SAN's (say up to 5 TB) is about $150/GB, giving a price for a 1 TB SAN of $153,600, or just under $800,000 for 5 TB. Once you get over 5 TB the technology changes dramatically. Things that are part of the SAN cost:
      • Disk Arrays
      • Fiber Channel infrastructure (i.e. switches, HBA's, etc.)
      • Tape Libraries
      • Tapes
      • Storage Management Software
      • Backup/Recovery Software
      • Disaster Recovery
      • Ethernet and Fiber network management tools
      • Raised Floor space, power, air
      • People costs, including consultants
      IF you use Tivoli Storage Manager for your backup/recovery solution (it uses the least tapes per GB backed up of any solution) you will need about 500 LTO tapes, at an average cost per tape of $110. That is $55,000. A tape library that can handle that many tapes online will cost you about $400,000. The software will cost you over $100,000. You see how the numbers start adding up? Throw in consultants at $300/hour (this isn't a skill set you pick up over night). 16 port fiber switches with GBIC's will cost you $25,000 each, how many of those will you need? Or do you need Director Class switches (likely), better quadruple that price for the switches. HBA's are $1500 a pop, you need two in every server, minimum, for redundancy. Your disk arrays have to extremely fast to keep up with the demand for data from the servers, or you will be I/O bound. We aren't talking about MaxAttach NAS here.

      You get the point I hope. $20 million is probably reasonable actually.

  • If you take (Score:4, Funny)

    by Apreche (239272) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @11:48AM (#4228607) Homepage Journal
    the new 320 gigabyte harddrives previously mentioned. And you divide 50000 (50TB) gigs by 320. you get an approximate cost of having 50TB by multiplying that by 350$ the appoximate cost of the drive. However, with that much data a RAID is certaintly in order. So multiply the number of drives by 1.5 or 1.75 to get the number of drives needed for a RAID. Then multiply that by 350. This comes out to a little over 80000 dollars. The only cost left is the cost of all the raid controllers (expensive) and networking all the drives together. So for the raw storage of 50 terabytes it costs about $80,000. If you were to buy ultrafast scsi drives instead of the 320GB drives the price will be multiplied by about 3 since a 100MB super fast scsi drive is also about 300$ with 1/3 of the space. So that brings it to $240,000. Add to that the cost of labor and all the other hardware and I don't see how it could come out to more than 1 million dollars. I'm not an expert, but just doing the math it seems that more than that is too much.
    • OK smarty pants. Why aren't you out there selling these systems? You apparently would be making $19M a pop, unless you have no clue what you are talking about, then it might be a bit risky.

      Joe
      • OK smarty pants. Why aren't you out there selling these systems?

        Because of managers who think like you.

        • Re:If you take (Score:3, Insightful)

          by battjt (9342)
          What's this have to do with managers? Why don't you sell these systems? I don't, because I don't know what is takes to build them.

          How do you even strap 50 TB together? Is it one huge array, or arrays of arrays?

          What do you use at the head end that can handle this sort of throughput? How do you back it up? How do you search it?

          What filesystems do you use that support 50TB?

          How do you manage the hot swap aspects?

          There are so many questions that you leave unanswered, that you might spend $19 mil to answer before you spend $1 mil on hardware.

          Joe
          • What's this have to do with managers?

            Managers are the ones who make the purchase decisions. They tend to buy from large name companies with big marketing budgets regardless of the quality or cost of the solution.

            Why don't you sell these systems?

            I don't have enough money to market them.

            How do you even strap 50 TB together? Is it one huge array, or arrays of arrays?

            As with all your questions, depends on the needs of the customer. If you're interested in buying a solution from me, let me know, and we'll talk further.

            There are so many questions that you leave unanswered, that you might spend $19 mil to answer before you spend $1 mil on hardware.

            No, I won't spend $19 million answering a few simple questions.

            • Managers are the ones who make the purchase decisions. They tend to buy from large name companies with big marketing budgets regardless of the quality or cost of the solution.

              Sorry, I assumed that you meant people managers. If people managers are building systems for your then your company need fixing. What do you call the people that manage people? (Unless I am mistaken and we are both talking about people managers, in which case, what do the rest of you do, if you aren't doing the work?)

              As with all your questions, depends on the needs of the customer. If you're interested in buying a solution from me, let me know, and we'll talk further.

              Actaully, you have already stated that you could build a 50TB system for $1M, so what more information would you need?

              On a more serious side, I am interested in building a dual processor Linux workstation. I do Java/web programming, run VMWare with an instance of W2K connecting to clients via VPN software and and possibly other VMWare instances with Linux as test clients. I constantly have Mozilla, StarOffice, emacs and a couple xterms running. I want to use video conferencing and instance messaging. Can you help me spec a system? Last time I tried I ended up with junk hardware.
      • Lack of capital, plain and simple... that's my answer to this sort of question
        • I have access to the capital. What do you need?

          Explain your customer needs and how you are going to satisfy them and why you need the money now. If it all adds up, I can find you the money.

          Capital is never a problem, it is an excuse.

          Joe
    • Your math was a bit off on one point. 100MB SCSI drives are 1/3000th the size of 300G IDE drives, not 1/3.

      That would leave you with a price tag of... $240 million, yikes. Maybe you could get some sort of savings for buying in bulk :)
    • You've made a number of assumptions none of them good. One assumption is that the performance of a 5400 rpm ide drive (thats all the 320Gb drives are) would be acceptable for an application like this. It won't. You'd want 15000 rpm scsi-3 drives at a minimum, and you'd want them hotswappable. Figure a grand each for 140Gb drives.. in bulk Then there are a large number of other factors mentioned by others here. Raid controllers, servers to house it all, switching, cabling, racks etc.

      What about power? and cooling? Ever cost out one of those huge liebert internal cooling systems? Don't forget you need 2 of them? What about the power.. you'll need huge UPS's for something like this.

      How about backups? You'll need to be able to back this all up.. and transport the data offsite in a timely manner. Thats ALOT of DLT tapes, not to mention the costs of the tape libraries, drives, off-site storage facilities (perhaps you'd like to keep all of thos tapes in a locker at the space place? ) etc involved .

      Now.. how are you going to access this? with 500 partitions? or perhaps you want some more sophisticated storage management software?

      What about support? Are you going to accept responsibility for mainting this thing? or are you.. like most businesses going to want 24x7x4 support? Since support on products like this often involves flying an engineer in from out of state.. on almost no notice.. its not cheap.

      The reality of this is that for that kind of storage you need a SAN and that means big dollars. The 2 most commons SANS are EMC (which I'd bet was what this estimate was for) and Compaq storage works. EMC is the more mature solution, but also MUCH more expensive. They often outpace Compaq and the other vendors who make similar products by %300 or more.

      Is $20M too much?.. probably. Is any solution involving a room full of servers loaded with commodity IDE drives acceptible.. absolutely not.
      Better to shop other EMC vendors, and other SAN solutions and make the best deal on the right product.

  • 1 terabyte = 1024 gigabytes so you need 50,000 GB.

    From an earlier slashdot story, you can get 300GB hard drives for around $1 a GB. So you are looking at spending $50,000 on hard drives. Figure 4 IDE drives per computer and you need about 50 computers. That would run you maybe $15,000 at around $300 per computer.

    I'd say it would need 10 employees to set it up including a couple programmers, a couple sysadmins, and some techs, would probably cost you $200,000 if it took them four months.

    I'd say you could do it for less than half a million. Throw in $150,000 a year for facilities and maintence and you have no worries.

    Google does something like this. They have tons of cheap computers with cheap hard drives.

    • by duffbeer703 (177751) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @12:07PM (#4228780)
      Get a clue man.

      Where is your failover?

      How are you going to connect this disks together? NFS? Samba? That kind of speed (or lack of) is not an enterprise storage solution.

      How do you replace disks as they fail without taking stuff offline?
      • I know, IDE? Who the hell is using IDE/PC hardware for production data warehousing?
        • Re:Sounds reasonable (Score:3, Informative)

          by aminorex (141494)
          The trend is to use iSCSI on the network side and IDE on the hardware side. Since a network file
          server only has FS daemons doing I/O, and the drives
          are always hot, there is no SCSI advantage as there
          is in a multitasking workstation environment.

        • Oh, and I might also add the SerialATA, with it's
          tagged command queueing, is very shortly about to
          render the 300% SCSI price premium obsolete in all
          but a few narrow verticals.
    • Google does something like this. They have tons of cheap computers with cheap hard drives.
      Your logic is sound, but Google is a bad example. As I understand it, they mainly rely on keeping their indexes in RAM. There was a good Slashdot story on this a while back, but I can't seem to find it: "Google" is not useful search term!
    • Ok, lets try running some harder numbers. Lets say we RAID a set of RAID arrays. Not terribly efficient, but we're going on the cheap here. A Promise Ultratrak RM8000 8-CHANNEL External Raid with a SCSI interface [promise.com] is priced at [nextag.com] $2400 ea and can handle 8 drives. For this I'll assume the cheap configuration of 6 data drives, a raid 5 parity drive, and a hot spare. I'll also assume that we'll use the yet-to-be-released 320 GB IDE HDD at $300/ea. Given that, we'll need 26 arrays (for a total of 49.9TB). Add in a pair of spare arrays, and we have 28 arrays. (Hot spares in the raid configuration, though I'm not setting up a parity array in this case. The arrays should be sufficiently stable already.) That said, we have 28*8=224 drives @ $300 ea for a total of $67,200. 28 arrays is, oddly enough $67,200 as well.

      Now, those 28 drives will need to be attached to something. Maybe an Adaptec SCSI RAID 5400S [adaptec.com], which is a four channel card that can accept up to 60 drives and is priced [nextag.com] at about $900. Add to that a machine to put the RAID card in with at least GB ethernet, at around $6000, 3 40U racks at $2000 each and a UPS for each rack at $2500 each.

      All told, that's $67,200 each for drives and arrays, $900 for the SCSI RAID, $6000 for a single box, $6000 for racks, $7500 for UPS's, at a sum total of $154,800 for a single 50TB array. Primary point of failure is the single box running it. For a backup system, running a full second array as redundancy would cost a net $309,600. All of this is not inclusive of labor, which for setup might run easily $100k. Thus, a redundant reliable RAID solution would run you $400,000. All that's once the 320GB IDE drive is released by maxtor.

      Does that answer your question?

      Please note, this won't be the best array money can buy, just a large array on the cheap. (what RAID was intended for)

  • I don't think it still costs $400,000 per terabyte for a 50 terabyte system when my server has a terabyte of storage for about $3000 total. I think to get a good pricing structure, you need to give the speed and size requirments.
  • From experience, I know that around 30TB is about $1M. I can't see how 50TB is more than that...

    (The 30TB came from IBM.)
  • Hmmmm... (Score:3, Funny)

    by jo42 (227475) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @11:52AM (#4228652) Homepage
    Imagine how long FORMAT C: would take...
  • more input needed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tchdab1 (164848) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @11:53AM (#4228662) Homepage
    It's more involved that how many bytes you need to store, of course. How fast do they come in and go out? How often do the bits turn over? How reliable does the data need to be, and how fresh the reliability (do you need to mirror it real-time at a remote, hardened site, or back it up once a month)? What systems does the data need to feed and be fed from? What are your labor costs (tape changers, administrators, etc.)? How much wood do you need to buy for office furniture ?

  • by aderusha (32235) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @12:01PM (#4228741) Homepage
    sorry for sounding a bit trollish, but the current replies here seem to follow the formula of checking the biggest ide drive on pricewatch and multipying that out to give you a number.

    forget all that.

    if all you wanted was a pile of ide hard drives, maybe this would be ok, but anybody looking for 50TB of storage is not just looking for some disk to hold the pr0n they downloaded last week. large scale storage systems need to manage multiple host access to high speed (15krpm U3SCSI) drives in flexible raid configurations with maximum redundancy, high speed caching (with GBs of RAM to do it), fiber channel switching, cross platform capability, high end management and monitoring, HSM backup and data migration, offsite vaulting of disaster recovery data, power and air conditioning, and a fat service contract from the vendor. none of the above are going to be found at pricewatch.com.

    your best bet is to talk to multiple storage vendors about your needs. call up EMC, Hitachi, IBM, and Fujitsu to start, them let them see each other's numbers. With the amount of money that you are going to spend (and it almost certainly will exceed $10 mil - but maybe not $20), each of these vendors will do backflips to get your business (and EMC is particularly good at junkets - take them for all they're worth :)
    • ...but anybody looking for 50TB of storage is not just looking for some disk to hold the pr0n they downloaded last week. [clipped list of buzzwords]

      Yeah, but there's also a tendancy to try to sell ridiculously overpriced products with vague promises of reliability or quality. Name brand vendors do it all the time. If the vendor is really so sure that this stuff isn't going to fail, will they pay damages if something does fail in the next seven years? Mmm? I'd assume that such a guarantee, since they're so certain, should cost you a *nominal* amount. If they expect one in ten systems to violate their guarantees (which seems pretty egregious to me), they should only be jacking the price by 10% at most for that guarantee.

      • vague promises of reliabilty or quality is what you will get from knock-off vendors selling you IDE RAID packs. IBM, EMC, et. al. will monitor your systems 24/7, replace parts before you know they are broken, send techs on site at the drop of a hat, and generally hold your nuts - which makes sense given the amount of money you're spending on their storage.
    • and if they really wanna get "user friendly" a.k.a. LAZY =D they could go through dell...they marked a nice line of EMC products that both dell and EMC support...they have a new toy called the CX600 I think...it looks like a dell server, but acts like a nice little 17.5Tb SAN component...buy a nice rack, 3 of these, and something to manage your SAN, and you'd be set. probably not cheap, but easy and reliable.
    • I work at a bank. I understand about reliability and failover etc.

      What we need is some university/some poor souls with money to invest, to build this as a "test case" for linux distributed systems.

      =============
      Requirements:
      -- 50 TB Data storage
      -- 100% availability (I don't mean 99.99_)
      -- Data must be accessible worldwide
      -- Data must be safe in these events:
      -----War or terrorist act (building blows up)
      -----Earthquake (building falls down flat)
      -----Fire (building burns to foundation)
      -----Flood (building full of muddy fishy water)
      --Data must be online in the event of a disaster in 48 hours.
      --Data must survive:
      ----Server failure
      ----Storage medium failure
      ----telecommunication failure (junk through the pipes)
      ----Unauthorized access (r0x4H 31g00G)
      ----Vandalism (maintenance guy with baseball bat or axe)
      ----Theft of equipment
      Furthermore:
      --Data must always be in a non-corrupt state
      --Data must be fully auditable
      --Data transaction must always be fully reversible
      Also:
      --All procedures (ALL) must be written down on electronic document and on paper and must be available to ONLY the proper personnel.
      --All personnel must be correctly trained (development of training material, testing, evaluations, etc)
      --System architecture must allow for connectivity to any known server system, any database system, and any client systems.

      ===
      Oh, and under 20 million dollars.
      ===

      However which way that solution should be implemented is left as an exercise to the reader
      • I think you forgot read / write specs. Allow the data to be pullable slowly enough and you could do this real cheap.

  • by Twylite (234238) <twylite AT crypt DOT co DOT za> on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @12:02PM (#4228747) Homepage

    I am not an expert in this field, but Google was willing to tell me lots.

    RaidWeb [raidweb.com] sells rack mountable RAID units that take IDE drives and have SCSI or fibre connectivity. A 12-bay 4U SCSI (with 12x 120Gb IDE drives) system comes in at just under $8000, giving over 1Tb fault tolerant storage. There are several other companies that have units like this.

    Rackmount Solutions [rackmountsolutions.net] sells rackmount cabinets. A 44U cabinet with fans, doors, etc. will come in at around $3000.

    In theory, a single cabinet could house 11Tb of data, and cost around $91000. This still doesn't consider cabling, cooling, power distribution, networking, a proper server room (air con, false floor for cables, access control), and in all likelihood one or more controlling servers.

    More practically, depending on how they are going to make this data accessible, you could be looking at 9 raid units per cabinet plus 3 2U servers and a switch in the remaining space. Each server can support multiple SCSI cards and gigabyte networking. Such rackmount computers will set you back in the region of $6000 (incl. network and SCSI adapters, excl. software).

    So you can call it $100,000 for 9 Tb storage ... $600,000 for 54Tb. That doesn't answer the management software question, and may not be a suitable solution. But it sure is a lot cheaper than $20 mil ;)

  • Search terms: IDE Raid Chassis

    Sponsered link: raidzone.com

    Their 4U 2T system goes for $25K, so 50T would be about $750K and fit in 2 1/2 racks. They claim that they will be doing iSCSI soon, but right now it's just NAS. Still, this is a far cry from $20M. If budget is a concern, you can figure out how to use an array of NAS in place of a SAN.

    If you are hell-bent on SCSI or FC, you are going to be into serious dough as SCSI drives are almost 10X the price of IDE at this time, and don't come with as large of capacity (which means that you will need more rackspace, chassis, power, etc.) $20M is probably not too far off. Modern IDE drives with dedicated smart controllers are really not too bad. Just keep a pile of them to swap out bad ones as you are going to be going through drives pretty quick.

    With the size of your drive array, backup is going to be a serious issue. You are going to need a multi-drive robotic array of good size. Those are not cheap either.

  • real world (Score:2, Insightful)

    i think that probably works out about right. of course, 50% of /. geeks will say "well i could through a big old RAID together in my basement for $50,000" -- but in the real world you'll need people who know what they're doing to design it, you'll need to purchase all the disparate equipment from different vendors, assemble, test, repeat. you'll need a place the put the thing, whether it be colo or onsite. after all that you'll need people to maintain it.

    i don't know nearly enough to put such a thing together, but i do know enough to know that every real-world project probably costs 50x what a geek-fantasy basement equivalent would cost.

  • by speedy1161 (47255) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @12:15PM (#4228851)
    From experience (with EMC - Sun) your price tag sounds a bit on the high side, but not by very much. Considering that EMC storage (after all mission critical data should be stored on EMC/Hitachi/StorageTek, NOT on consumer IDE) costs much more than consumer IDE/SCSI (25 - 75x) and that's only the disks.

    If you're going with EMC, you'll need to put those disks in something, like a frame (cabinet), and for your size, more like 5 cabinets. With that many cabinets, you'll need some sort of SAN switch and associated fibre cables (not cheap). That gets your disks into cabinets and all hooked together.

    You wanted to access the data? Then you'll need EMC fibre channel cards ($15k a pop for the Sun 64bit PCI high end jobs). But you'll more than likely be serving data from a cluster of machines, so count on buying three ($45k) per machine (so each card is on a different I/O board hitting the SAN switch, redundancy)

    Who's going to set this up? For that kind of coin, EMC (or whomever you go with) will more than likely set the thing up and burn it in for you on site. The price probably also includes some kind of maintenance contract with turn around time fitting the criticality of the system.

    Yes, my 'big ass storage' experience may be limited , but I think that 20Million for 50TB installed/supported/tested by a big storage vendor is in the ballpark.

    Good luck.
    • The above post is clueful and correct -- read it -- also -- the firm that gave you a ballpark quote for 20 million should be able to give you a breakdown and information on vendors and such -- it should be very possible to track down the prices they are getting the product for -- and how much they are marking it up.

      They have to make a living too ya know.
    • by Wanker (17907) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @02:10PM (#4230133)
      My "big-ass storage" experience is not so limited, and speedy1161 has hit the nail right on the head.

      For enterprise-class storage (i.e. this is NOT just a pile of Maxtor IDE drives duct-taped together) paying 20M for 50TB is on the high side, but not by much. (I would have given a range of 10M-20M for the whole thing depending on the exact trade-offs made.)

      3 HBAs per host is overkill for most applications (but certainly not all). I've found that two is generally sufficient. Never rely on just one, even for a non-critical system. I'm often amazed at just how critical non-critical servers become when down for several hours in the middle of a busy day.

      Don't discount the significant setup and debugging costs at the beginning. This will cost not only in hardware/software/consulting but in time lost for your own admins to spend working with the vendor, going to classes, learning new methods of adding storage, accidently messing up the systems, cleaning up those messes, etc.

      Get the best monitoring/management software you can. EMC is famous for gouging people on software costs so you'll need to use your best judgement. (HINT: PowerPath == Veritas DMP at up to 20x the cost. SRDF == Veritas Volume Replicator at up to 20x the price. TimeFinder == Mirroring at up to an infinite multiple of the price. You get the idea-- just use your best judgement and be cautious.) Under extreme single-host disk loads the otherwise minor performance hit for host volume management can become a problem, making that 20x price worth it. Maybe.

      If possible, press them for management software that makes adding/removing/changing filesystems a one-step operation, complete with error checking. It really sucks to put that new database on the same disks as another host's old database and software can be really good at checking for stupid human mistakes.
      • As long as you're here, I've got a question: Why do people buy systems like this?

        I design and build software for a living, including stuff for banks, and I've been trying to imagine a system where I really need 50 TB in one place. Email for 10 million? Customer records for 50 million? A search engine for the entire web? For all of these, my designs would end up like Google: an array of cheap, commodity boxes that each are responsible for a portion of the data.

        So is it that there are applications that really require this? Is it that some architects are used to drawing the one single "storage" icon and a $20 million bill isn't enough to make them say, "Gosh, is there a better way to do it?"

        Or is it that the sysadmin costs and pain associated with maintaining 25 racks of gear make it worth coughing up for the centralized system in the long run?
        • I'm sure there are quite a few implementations out there that exist simply because the architects thought it would be neat to use the latest SAN technology even though a directly-attached storage scenario probably would have been cheaper and easier. However, most of them are done this way to save on management/maintenance costs (just as you suspected.)

          The main use for such huge storage implementations are data warehouses. In short, companies dump truckloads of data into one spot, then figure out clever ways to extract the data. These are hugely expensive, and the only reason a company would want to spend $20M on it would be either:

          a) They think they'll easily make that $20M back and more based on the information they glean. Or
          b) They're having a good time pissing away all that venture capital

          I suspect that the majority (though by no means all) of the companies doing b) have been elimiated through the viciously Darwinian process that is the world economy. Which leaves a) as the most common reason these days.

          Why create a data warehouse?

          Probably the best online example of data warehousing in common use is Amazon. Did you ever wonder how they come up with recommendations that seem so eerily accurate? How can they show so many correlations between items? (i.e. not only also bought, but amazingly "also browsed for.") What kind of data do they collect and store to do that?

          I bet it's immense. (I.e. store all clickstream data from everyone who has visisted and has a cookie set. How long were they on each page? Which links did they follow? What were the properties of that link (color, screen position, etc.) ) The possibilities are endless.

          Now that all this data has been collected, they need to index all this data for easier retrieval, store summaries for quick searches, details for thorough searches, and add in a couple of development/test environments with their own storage.

          Now do the same thing, only it's dozens or hundreds of different reports to sell back to their suppliers and advertisers about what was sold quickly and why. Anyone selling a product will pay very handsomely for information about how they can sell more of them.

          You get the idea. It takes a huge amount of data, but it can generate huge amounts of revenue.

          Since the actual reports run on a data warehouse are so unpredictable (finding what's valuable is largely trial and error), it's easier in the long run to just stick with widely used tools and infrastructure. (I.e. Oracle on UNIX.) Rather than having to support an entire development staff to build the infrastructure, a company can spend a bit more and have it done for them. (This is pretty counter to the whole hacker mentality, but this is how most companies work. ;-) The other advantage is implementation time-- not only is the company spending money to implement something that might have lower up-front costs, but they're losing potential revenue while they wait for it to be ready.

          So while it may seem expensive, sometimes it's worth it.
          • Thanks for posting! That's very interesting.

            I guess the factor I was forgetting is that most large companies have terrible records developing software. Ergo, what seems obvious to me (that doing it Google-style will save money and get better results) must seem awfully scary to them.

  • Figure you get two IBM Sharks with two expansion frames, maximum cache and 36GB disk eighpacks.

    That's like $6MM for most customers.

    Fibre channel directors and switches ... about $500k

    Tape robot... $1 MM

    Storage Mgmt software like TSM... $400,000

    The extra $10MM is probaly for full-time consultants, a more expensive solution like EMC or a more fault-tolerant solution.
    • You could buy IBM if you want to loose your data all over the floor. Why do people always reduce these conversations to price...data is priceless...would you send fine china in a paper bag across country and no insurance(IBM Shark, Hitachi), or in a double wall cardboard box with bubble wrap(EMC Symmetrix/Clariion)...if that data gets lost its gone history...hasta la bye bye...its not all about cost people, don't get burned buy the right tool for the right Job...
  • What they've prob got is a massive SAN (storage Area Network) running over 2 or more sites. If one site goes down you can run on the other and at 30 miles apart.

    Also accessing this amount of data at reasonable high rates is expensive, think Storagetek silos, HDS SAN's etc etc. All this is highend very very fast stuff.

    If you've got 50 TB of data running in an OLAP cube you've got to have massive IO capability to properly load and spin the cube around. Ie the cost ain't in the actual storage media, but the IO (esp if you've got a split system requiring multi-site system).

    There should be plenty of examples of this sort of data storage now - telcos to web logs. Pricing, well depends on the deal you can get at the time...
  • You pay for support. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by molo (94384) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @12:23PM (#4228943) Journal
    When you get a Symmetrix frame from EMC, you also get a support contract. EMC will send multiple people to your installation for maintenance. EMC will remtoely monitor your Symm via modem. They will help you plan your storage needs (including what kind of backup and reliability you need). EMC will provide 24x7 support for everything you need. Then there's management software, etc.

    Don't forget that the hardware isn't cheap: Frame, multiple redundant hot swappable power supplies (requires specialty power connection), dozens of scsi drives, dozens of scsi controllers, 10-20 fibre channel connections, an interconnection network between FC and SCSI controllers that includes fiber and copper ethernet, hubs, etc., and a management x86 laptop integrated into the frame.

    $20 mil for this is a fair price in my opinion. Anyone who rolls their own is just insane. There are hundreds of engineers behind each of these boxes, and it shows.

    No, I don't work for EMC.
  • I know how. (Score:4, Funny)

    by one9nine (526521) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @12:23PM (#4228949) Journal

    Floppies. Lots and lots of floppies. They are so cheap right now! And the come in pretty colors too.
  • ...but not yet

    IDE-RAID with 3ware 7500-12 controllers and 3U 14-bay cases (available from rackmountpro, and probably others) could be one possibility, but I don't think you would get a 'flat' storage-space from it, probably have to be segmented instead. As others have pointed out NFS/Samba aren't really manageable ways to handle a filesystem spread amongst multiple machines. People who do this, like archive.org and google, have custom software to access the data stored on their machines. But it doesn't have to be that way forever...

    I think iSCSI could give very interesting possibilities for open-source SANs using this type of hardware...maybe front-end servers which map requests as necessary to back-end servers holding the storage, you could have a rather nice fully-resilient highly-scalable system that way, which would just appear as another drive to a client machine, no NFS/SMB etc...

  • 150GB * 334 drives = 50TB = ~$100,000
    add $19,900,000 for consulting fees and you've got your 20 million. Speaking as a consultant, that seems reasonable to me.
  • by getagrip (86081) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @12:46PM (#4229244) Homepage
    Ok, Lets see. 50 Terabytes divided by 600 megs per CD means you will need 83334 CDs (rounded up.) At about 20 cents each (retail) that should only set you back about $17k. Add in $100 for some of those heavy duty shelving units from Home Depot and a wintel box to read and write them, and you are looking at well under 20k for total hardware cost. At this point, just go hire someone away from their McJob for a reasonable amount to swap the CDs and you are in business.
  • Searching eBay for EMC provided some interesting results (these are mostly "buy it now" prices):

    EMC Symmetrix 3930 w/ 12 TeraBytes [ebay.com] = $57K
    (With the proper drive configuration, this unit should [emc.com] be able to deliver up to 70TB in a single system).
    This one comes with 12TB of storage (256x50GB HD's). If you throw out all 256 of those 50GB HD's (or just give them to me as a consulting fee for saving your company over $19.5 million) and buy 256X181 GB HD's, you're just short of you 50 TB mark (~46,336 GB).

    On Pricewatch [pricewatch.com] those drives come out at $999 ea x 256=$255,744.00 add the initial $57K and you've got a machine that meets your specification significantly less than $20mil

    Here are some other EMC machines for sale on eBay:
    EMC Symmetrix 3830-36 With 3 TB No Reserve! [ebay.com] = $59K

    EMC Symmetrix 3700 6TB w/Install & 1YR Mnt! [ebay.com] = $48K

    EMC Symmetrix 5700 3TB Storage System [ebay.com] = $9K

    This is what I found by doing minimal research. I'm not 100% sure that the Symmetrix 3930 can handle that configuration (its not my money) so before you go down this road -- do your research (better than I did).

    --Turkey
    • Re:Try EMC on eBay (Score:3, Insightful)

      by haplo21112 (184264)
      Yep your a "--Turkey" all right got about the same size brain if you think thats a viable solution...

      The EMC boxes(or anyone else for that matter) have a significant amount of configuration associated with connecting the drives. You cant just open the Box up and start sticking in drives and expect it to work. For that matter, in many cases if the drives are not the ones rated for use in the box you can destroy the backplane of the machine. The power supplies, the drives themselves, etc...Power and heat are huge issues in these boxes...think of the heat the average hard drive throws off now put 100+ in a box the size of the average home refrigerator...

      Then there are configuration issues, you need the software and the technical know how to write the configuration files these machine use to tell the multiple drives to act as one or many logical drives.
      Then how do you connect the system(s) that will use the box up. These are all delicate issues.

      If you buy a box off Ebay you will absolutely need someone working for you who knows the product inside and out(or at least on a retainer contract with 24x7 support clauses)...and you should immediately make a phone call to the proper support phone number to get the thing on a support contract...Trained EMC professionals don't come cheap, but they are worth every penny, I would assume that other companies its the same story, but I only use EMC so I don't know...

      Buy EMC its really the only long term option, I have seen one of these boxes get knocked over on its side(no small task) while it was running, and just keep going with out a hitch...thats a well engineered product....
      • Yep your a "--Turkey" all right got about the same size brain if you think thats a viable solution...

        Turkeybrain, maybe, but you're coming off as an arrogant prick! But I'll extend you the courtesy that you didn't bother to extend to me by giving you the benefit of the doubt.

        Did you bother reading my entire post? Did you read the part where I stated that this was undisputable fact and that anyone with a problem with it is just plain wrong? That's right -- I didn't say that. In fact, I said that I did minimal research.

        As far as finding a tech who knows EMC -- it shouldn't be more than $100-125K/yr full time-- and in this economy, they're out there for the hiring. Add in an extra $200 premium ea for those being EMC friendly drives, and you're up $51K or so. Am I getting any warmer? Still a hair under $20,000,000, right?

        BTW -- why is it that because you're on slashdot you think you can get away with talking to me like that? If you walked up to me on the street and pulled that, I'd pop you right in the nose. Thanks for your extensive EMC knowledge, Junior.

        --Turkey
  • I'm not sure what the prices are running these days, but back in 1999 I put together a 6TB system running RAID 5 on an all fibre-channel system using (at the time FC hubs -- switch fabric was too immature) StorageTek (aka Clariion) arrays for right around $2.5M.

    Keep in mind, that's just for the disks, array controllers/cabinets, hubs, and Sun FC cards. No servers are included in that price.

    There are so many variables that you didn't go into that it's hard to give you an educated answer to your question, but it seems feasible to get to around 50TB today for that kind of money taking into account the increased storage density that we've gotten in the last couple of years.
  • $20MM sounds very high. The Sun StorEdge 9980 System costs $2.3MM for 20T, upgradeable to 70T. So say between $5MM and $6MM for 50T. The system is a fully racked SAN - just plug it in and go. http://store.sun.com/catalog/doc/BrowsePage.jhtml? cid=82215&parentId=75082
  • by austad (22163)
    Does this stuff have to be online for immediate access, or would ti tbe acceptable for it to be online in a very slow filesystem and be available within 1 minute?

    I built a system using spectralogic Bullfrog AIT changers, and LSCI's SamFS system. It sticks metadata for the files on your actual disk, but when you request one of the files, it goes to tape and gets it for you. For 50TB (uncompressed), you would be able to get by for under $500,000. However, that's without mirroring tapes. Trust me, you want to mirror your tapes. I've had them fail before. Figure double the price if you are going to mirror. Also, I'm not sure if the new AIT drives are out yet that will hold 100G uncompressed. If so, this will bring the cost down.

    I know, the system sounds sketchy, but it works quite well. Seek time is definitely slow, but once it finds it on tape, the actual transfer is quite fast.

  • The big factors in storage cost, breifly:

    r) Reliability
    s) Speed
    c) Cost

    In rough terms, c=s*r, meaning the cost will rise dramatically for high speed reliable storage versus low speed crap storage.

    In addition, how the storage is designed (and how much more it can cost) depends a lot on data access patterns as well (read-mostly vs write-mostly, oltp vs dss vs datawarehouse vs ...., etc).

    Maxtor has 0.3TB IDE for $1/GB. If you built a huge array of IDE controllers for these, your disk cost for 50TB would be around $50k. If some vendor actually built a beast with the requisute number of IDE busses and whatnot, the chassis might run you another $100k. All in all, real cheap storage. But it would suck on performance and reliability, put out too much heat and noise probably, etc, etc.

    Highly available disk arrays with extreme disk platter performance and large amounts of caching can easily run $20 million for 50TB, if not more. There are middle of the road solutions though, it doesn't have to be that expensive unless you're going all out for huge concurrency and speed in an OLTP environment that requires 99.999999% uptime.

    • Re:Depends (Score:3, Funny)

      by wfrp01 (82831)
      If you're using Depends, you should always opt for the high speed reliable storage over the low speed crap storage.
  • Is HSM a solution? We rarely access very old data but we still like it to be easily available. With HSM we can move data to tape or some other cheaper storage while it still appears to be on the local filesystem. Applications don't know the difference other than they have to wait about 45 seconds as the data is fetched to local storage. In the end it depends on how you access your data. http://searchstorage.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0, ,sid5_gci214001,00.html [techtarget.com]
  • Ok, so the hardware costs are less than 5%, if you use IDE, but then the performance is a dog (or so they would have you believe). If you could put the modules together, 12,500 * 4Gb modules would round out to about $20,000,000. If you're conservative in your designs, and use 100 * 4Gb modules per storage node, each node should be able to dish out at least 400 Mbyte/sec. Paralleling only 10 of these is 4Gbyte/sec. You'd still need 3.47 HOURS to read all of it sequentially.

    So, would IDE really be that bad? Wouldn't it be better to put together a Beowolf cluster of smaller databases, each tasked with a portion of a search? Intelligent distributed processing is a much faster way to do a query of a database. If you have some large (but not unmanagable) number of notes, lets say 50 (one per terabyte), with backup nodes extending it to 64, any few failures would be correctable at full load.

    I know that I don't have the skillset to put together the 50 Terabyte database right now, but I really believe that I could do it in less than 1 year, with half the budget, assuming free telecom to backup sites.

    --Mike--

  • It seems that this question is extremely dependent upon the kind of application.

    Are you mostly reading, or also frequently writing this data? Are you searching or doing indexed lookups? Is this a nasty bandwidth hog or a trickle? Is this a zillion parallel transactions or only a few users? What kind of latencies are expected? What reliability is required? What access is needed to historical data?

    Consider some concrete examples that are *very* different from each other yet could each total 50TB and would have very different solutions:

    - Video-on-demand system for a Hollywood studio deciding that peer-to-peer pirate systems can only be beaten by a legitimate system that is better.

    - Online credit card transaction system for, say, Visa.

    - SETI data that needs to be collected and searched for messages from extraterrestrials.

    - Particle accelerator data that needs to be collected at truly horrendous rates.

    - Lexis/Nexis database.

    - Google database.

    - Echelon data.

    - IRS data.

    - "Dictionary attack" database for a lone cryto-analyst.

    The possibilities go on and on. At the minimum a 50 TB database might be a small number of equipment racks with a single computer attached to them, all totaling maybe $100,000.

    And on the other end, I can easily imagine a system where $200,000 of a much larger total might be spent for, say, a terabyte of DRAM.

    I can easily imagine a system with less than $5,000 of battery backed up power supplies, and I can imagine a system with hundreds of throusands in generators.

    This question has enormous dynamic range.

    -kb, the Kent who would enjoy working out solutions for specific instances of this question.
  • I know that, being on slashdot a lot, you see a lot of people making cheap, shoddy, unreliable, and definitely not enterprise-class "solutions" out of string and tinfoil, but for a data warehouse application, that kind of cost is not unreasonable at all.

    We have a somewhat-smaller situation at work, with a single Hitachi Lightning SAN providing our data warehouse nodes (two IBM p-series 680 servers) with a terabyte or so of fully-redundant fiber-connected disk. A single terabyte cost us nearly $750,000, and Hitachi bid competitively.

    Enterprise-class solutions call for enterprise-sized wallets. Do not expect to slap together a few IDE drives and call it a day, unless you enjoy being fired.

    - A.P.

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