Have you encountered capacity issues with CD-ROM servers? Is your network growing so fast you’re running out of room for all the server boxes? I’ve used CD-ROM servers for years to host numerous research applications at my company. In the beginning, I purchased a CD-ROM server I thought would fit my company’s needs for a long time. I ran out of space two years after the implementation, as workgroups added more applications. I then purchased an additional server that could hold up to 28 CD-ROMs. With a total of 35 discs mounted on the network at any given time, I expected this set of resources would satisfy their needs. However, in another two years, I would reach capacity once again. I evaluated several ideas, but none fit my needs as well as network attached storage (NAS).
An expensive alternative
My company was unwilling to spend the money to purchase a high-capacity CD-ROM server. I found that running a CD from disk—i.e., copying the disc to a network drive and running it from there—enabled better performance than a CD-ROM server.
The idea of hosting the discs on the server sounded great. However, I felt uncomfortable allocating 600 MB of file server drive space for each CD-ROM disc. Situations such as RAID configurations, online spare drives, the cost of the network operating system, and high-end SCSI controllers can send the cost of hosting simple applications very high. Colleagues had offered solutions like putting up a Linux server with a huge hard drive. However, I didn’t want to add additional layers of complexity to a network with a new OS.
NAS to the rescue
After considering all the alternatives, I decided to host the discs on a NAS device. I found this model worked better because:
- The NAS devices are more stable compared to a “white-box” or Linux server.
- The $:GB ratio (see note below) was between $9 and $20 (prices varied between NAS devices with RAID and those without).
- NAS devices can be configured for fault tolerance.
- NAS devices can connect directly to a Windows NT/2000 network for rights and securities.
- Connectivity is easy.
- Backup strategy was not affected (as long as only CD-ROM disc contents occupy the NAS device).
- NAS devices take up less space than a CD-ROM server.
|Calculating the dollar to gigabyte ratio|
Setting a standard within the organization
The appliance model is a good choice because it can help control costs and make for smoother upgrades. Although a CD-ROM server is also considered an appliance, its span of functionality is smaller than that of a NAS device. As DVD media will eventually become a standard for software, I think this strategy will offer a more robust solution. After all, size and scalability do matter in planning decisions for your infrastructure.
If you'd like to share your opinion, start a discussion below or send the editor an e-mail.
Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.