Upgrading Storage Capacity on Cartman#

So if you didn't get the hint, I'm upgrading the capacity of my servers in my server closet.

Last time I upgraded capacity it was in Cartman, migrating from a 400GB six drive RAID array to a 2TB six drive RAID array. With the new 1TB hard drives, I was ready to move to a 2TB six drive RAID array.

I bought ten Seagate Barracuda ES.2 1TB drives, six for Cartman, and four to go into a different rebuilt server.

So stage 1, actually started back on Friday, was to back everything up... rather than taking the chance of pulling Cartman and pulling into him directly, I hooked up the 1TB drives, one at a time, to my Phillip, one of my workstations, and copied everything off. It took until Sunday to finish the copy across three drives.

Backing up onto 1TB drives.

Here you see one of the drives getting loaded across the network the slow, but low risk way. Even with gigabit ethernet, transferring data from the old array on Cartman through the network, into Phillip and then out via SATA takes a long time.

By the way - they may call them 1TB drives, but they format to 933GB. That whole 1000 bytes vs. 1024 bytes thing is getting out of hand. It was fine when we were dealing with smaller drive, but when you're talking 933GB vs. 1000GB, that's 7% of the capacity of the drive missing. At some point you have to call foul - this is not a 1TB drive.

So I had three drives filled with the contents of the old array, that left me with seven drives empty to build the new array... although I only needed six.

Once the backup was finished, it was time to pull Cartman, which meant opening up the server closet and pulling the rack.

Server rack pulled out

Other half of the rack closet

Here's the server rack pulled, Cartman is near the bottom, just above the 2000VA UPS. The long grey 1U box is an Exabyte 1x10 SCSI tape backup unit. You can also see the power supply of my temporary Exchange rig that has been running some two years as just a power supply, motherboard and hard drive sitting on a towel. I'm tempting fate, I know.

You can see how the rack pulls out on the rails, using folding arms in behind with cables running across the arms.

Beside the server rack, the second shot is the network rack that has the dual internet connections, all the patch bay wiring for network, telephone and cable. The 1U console is pulled out to shut down Cartman, its wired back to the server rack where the KVM switch is. 


Here's a look into Cartman for the first time in a couple of years:

A naked Cartman!

Looks about the same as last time.

That's the end of the photos, because things went downhill from here and I stopped thinking camera and started thinking much meaner thoughts.

I carefully extracted the six 400GB drives that have been the 2TB array for the past couple of years. I figured I could always go back to the original drives. I replaced those drives with six blank 1TB drives. Fired up Cartman and built a new array.

The Adaptec 2810SA controller recognized the drives fine, but wouldn't create an array bigger than 2.1TB. It appears to be a hard limit of the controller. I upgraded firmware on the controller, to no avail. I tried configuring it in Windows 2003 Server and directly in the firmware, hit the same limit either way.

So much for that - now I have to make a choice. I could build two three drive arrays of 2TB each, or replace the controller. I wasn't going to sacrifice an extra drive for this, I needed a new controller.

So now that I admitted I needed new hardware, it was time to revisit my thoughts of hardware migration in general.

The original versions of these servers go all the way back to 2000, with upgrades on the way. One of the issues I've run into again and again is that migrating to new servers is hard, so hard that old servers are tough to retire, they just go on and on until they fail and you're forced to give them up. Cartman, after all, is a dual P3 machine, still going on. I've upgraded the OS, replaced the CPU fans, swapped the drives a couple of time... but its still an old machine.

My new vision of the rack is to go to completely virtualized servers. I want to build a pair of high performance multiple processor servers with lots of RAM and 64 bit operating systems running multiple virtual machines. I need a pair so that I can fail between them - they will back each other up and each should be capable of running the entire server farm itself.

Cartman, obviously, is not qualified for this job. So Cartman will have to go away eventually.

Through a series of unexpected events that I shall not go into in detail, I ended up in possession of a Tyan S2927 motherboard with a pair of AMD dual core processors and a bunch of RAM. This was a motherboard able to take on my virtualization mission - it just needed to find a place to live.

The need for a new RAID controller capable of handling arrays bigger than two terabytes gave me the excuse to make the big move - migrate Cartman out of the 5U case with six drive bays into the 4U case with four drive bays, and move the new Tyan motherboard into the case with a controller able to get me my 5TB array.

However, that meant I had to wait for more parts to arrive, which meant waiting a few days. I'm ordering in more RAM for the S2927 board (might as well fill it) and an Adaptec 3805, which will go into a PCI-e slot and handle the big array.

I ended my day by putting Cartman back in the rack and back online again, although without the drive array. We could live without the big storage for a few days.

Sunday, October 7, 2007 4:09:23 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


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