iSCSI management/metadata server options on a small scale?


Sep 22, 2016
tl;dr -- I need a user-friendly management system for a homebrewed iSCSI SAN for maybe 12-15 machines, on a budget. Suggestions?

We've got about a dozen machines on a 40GbE network, and have just finished building a new SAN (20x 8TB drives in two RAID6 pools, so I figure about 100TB of usable space, accounting for some space we'll never use to keep from filling up the SATA drives). We have an expansion JBOD that can hold another 16 drives in the future, but it's not set up yet. This is running on CentOS 7, a fairly vanilla install, and most of the volumes will be served up as iSCSI targets, a small handful of low-volume partitions will be SMB shares.

We have about a dozen machines on this network: two film scanners, two color correction systems, a film restoration system, an audio workstation, a couple Mac Pro video capture workstations (cheese graters), a backup server and a few other misc machines.

We need each workstation to have R/W access to at least one drive, and Read-only access on all the others. Not all machines will be connected to all drives all the time, but some will.

Since we rolled our own hardware here, I need to figure out the most cost effective way to handle iSCSI management. My thinking has been to use Studio Network Solutions iSanMP on each machine. That works in a kind of peer-to-peer way without the need for a separate metadata server. But it's $200/seat, plus we'd need to buy three copies of GlobalSan, their Mac initiator, for the three mac workstations. So the initial cost is about $2300, with another $200 for every added workstation. Realistically, we could have 3-4 more by years end.

iSanMP has the advantage of being pretty user friendly. Because mounted drive configurations can change from time to time, I want it to be usable enough that it doesn't require me to go in and do a bunch of command line tweaking. I want the users to be able to self-manage this setup.

At the price point for iSanMP though, it seems worth it to look into something that doesn't have per-seat costs, but maybe requires a server. We have a few extra machines kicking around that would be fine to run something like that, so really it's just the cost of the software.

We have looked a little at Tiger Technology's TigerStore (about a year ago, and I'll be talking to them again in a few weeks at NAB), but their pricing increases with storage size (even if we're providing the hardware). I think they were at around $1200 for the initial 60TB we were thinking we'd start with when we first spec'ed this out last year. But we could be close to 200TB by the end of this year. Still waiting to hear back on current pricing.

Is there anyone else out there with a software-only solution to this problem?
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