In this video, explore secure methods to save and access data on a network device.
- When it's time for serious file and just general data storage, we have to take a look at more robust methodologies. And that's what this episode's all about. In this episode I wanna talk about network-attached storage and it's big brother, storage area networking. So both of these technologies are designed to store data, however they do in very different ways. Now, anybody who's ever used a computer is probably right clicked auto folder and shared it and that type of stuff.
And that's great, but what I'm talking about is having dedicated systems, dedicated systems that only share data, that's their only job. So, sure I could take a Windows laptop and have it share all my critical company data, but there's reasons I don't wanna do that. I wanna use something that's more robust. So I wanna be able to do stuff like put in a good RAID array, and put in solid backup methodologies, and all that type of stuff. And that's really what we're talking about here.
So, let's go ahead and get started with the smaller of the two, network attached storage. NAS is a file based sharing protocol. So an NAS box itself is gonna look something like this. So they tend to be a smaller box, and inside this box could be a bunch of RAIDed drives, whatever you might wanna do, you might wanna set that up. And it's also usually running some type of very tight operating system.
Linux is not at all uncommon for these types of boxes. Okay, so if we've got this box set up, and if it's working at a file level, that means that we will have to access this NAS box, we will have to create the partitions, or set it up however it might be, we're gonna have to format all the drives, and then we're gonna have to set up the NAS to share it via whatever protocol we wanna share. So, if it's Samba, we're gonna have to set up a Samba share. If it's an Apple protocol, we're gonna have to set up an Apple share, whatever it might be.
The important thing that you need to get in your head, is that an NAS, first of all, it's gonna run over your regular network, so they run over ethernet just great. They're gonna be using TCP/IP, the whole shebang. But they're gonna be using well known protocols and they will manifest as shares in your network just like anything else. So everything is done on the box. Now, luckily for you, I have a wonderful tool right here in front of me called FreeNAS. I've went ahead and I got a system built up, and I have a two terabyte hard drive that I'm currently sharing.
So, this is a FreeNAS, you'll see it actually has a web interface so that's very convenient. And this guy is on my network. And what you'll see right now is I have created what they call a pool and this pool consists of exactly one hard drive, and then I've taken that hard drive and I split it up into two volumes. An NASvolume and a SANvolume. Now if you look at this, you'll see 1.9 tebibytes and 900 gibibytes, hey wait a minutes, isn't that more than two? That's right, these guys take advantage of compression tools and things like that, so that they'll actually manifest larger capacity than the physical capacity of the drive itself, so that's convenient.
Is FreeNAS is called FreeN-A-S but it's actually kind of like FreeNAS and SAN, so we're gonna hang onto the SAN part for a minute, so even though it's called FreeNAS, it can really do both just fine. So, it makes these volumes, or I actually made these volumes, pre-made them, ready to go. Now, what I need to do is then go about sharing them. So on this particular system, I wanna make a Windows share, so I'm gonna come down here, and let's take a look what the shares I have, and I don't have any right now, so I'm gonna add one.
So, first off I'm gonna say what do I wanna share, and the way I've configured this NASvolume, it knows that I wanna share it that way, so I'm gonna go ahead and say yes, I wanna share that. And hit okay, whoop... And I have to give it a share name, there we go. So this is the volume, and then this is the actual Samba share name that'll show up on the network.
Cool, so you can see that I have this share right now, ready to rock and roll. So the best thing I can do is actually show it to you, and I'm gonna do that simply by opening up my File Explorer on my system, my messy, messy File Explorer, I'm gonna go down to network here, and we're gonna give him a second, 'cause he's gonna be scanning my network, and let's see what he finds.
Ah, cool right here, do you see it? So heres TESTNAS, so that's actually my NAS box, so I'm gonna double click on that, and there's the share that I just made. Now, right now this is empty, but I could go ahead and start putting stuff in, taking stuff out. It's up to the FreeNAS tool to create proper permissions, anything that I want for that. In this case I left it wide open just so you can see it. But it works exactly like that. It just shows up as a share on my network.
Now, NASs are very, very popular, especially for smaller networks, for work groups, that type of stuff. It gives you a simple box, it works on top of your existing network. They're relatively easy to use, and they're very, very powerful. However, sometimes you need to take it up a click. And in that case, we go to storage area networks. Now if you wanna get cool when it comes to data storage, your best buddy is storage area networks, or SANs.
Now SANs are big deals. A SAN relies on some kind of technology to transfer data, between your system and the storage itself. SANs work at the block-level. When we get this all set up, you're not gonna be seeing network shares, folks, you're gonna be going into dis-management, and you're gonna see new hard drives that weren't there before. So SANs are very powerful for brut functionality, for storing data, all kinds of things like that. SANs have been around for quite awhile, and the best SANs arguably, ran on a type of technology called Fibre Channel.
Now Fibre Channel is it's own little network but not for the TCP/IP stuff. It was just to move data around. Fibre Channel is still out there, it's still pretty popular, and it's wildly expensive. So, to make Fibre Channel work, the first thing you'd have to do is plug a host bus adapter into your computer. Yeah, you still keep your neck, you would need an HBA. Now I don't have one on me, here's a picture of one right here. So these HBAs, I mean they look like a fiber optic network card, and they pretty much are, but they're not running ethernet.
They're running their own language called Fibre Channel. So all these guys would run into a Fibre Channel switch, and then the Fibre Channel switch would run to a Fibre Channel controller in the server room, and then you'd have zillions and zillions of hard drives in there all under the control of all this. So, a SANs set up can and will easily cost you in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range. It's very, very expensive, but boy-oh-boy is it powerful. It is absolutely amazing. So I've just pulled up here on...
I did a little Google search on Fibre Channel and so you can get an idea of the prices. These are just little host adapters individually, and there's a switch right there for ya, for only about $12000. Now what I want you to look here, is you see where it says like 16 gigabyte, eight gigabyte, those are the actual speeds that Fibre Channel runs at. So Fibre Channel came out originally like one gigabit per second, which years ago, was pretty fast. The cool part now is that we have a lot of ethernet networks that can be running at around 10 gigs or something like that.
So while Fibre Channel is still popular, in fact Fibre Channel goes up to like 128 gigs now, what we're seeing is a poor man's version of SAN, Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait one sec. Yes, I am right now about to talk about 10 gigabit ethernet solutions, in particular, a very, very cool solution called iSCSI however even Fibre Channel, which we just finished talking about now has a Fibre Channel over ethernet solution. So you don't have to buy those expensive host bus adapters, you could just use a regular ethernet.
Technology called iSCSI. ISCSI basically uses your existing network, and allows you to inner-connect to different devices, on top of your existing network, and it allows you to work at an iSCSI block-level. So it's pretty powerful. So what I wanna do right now, is let's go back to FreeNAS and actually set up a quick iSCSI. Okay, so here we are back in FreeNAS, and you'll see right here, I've created what's called a SANvolume.
Now that's a little bit of a misnomer here, because one of the most powerful aspects of a SAN, and something you cannot do with an NAS, is let's say I've got a big pile of drives in my storage area all under the control of a SAN. What I can do is I can just cut a chunk of it out. Doesn't matter, I can adjust the size, whatever I want. I'm gonna go ehh, I'm gonna give this one four terabytes, or whatever it might be, it could be under RAID and beneath that everything's running, but I can create what's known as an extent, which basically says I'm gonna cut this chunk o'data storage out of my SAN and then I'm gonna give it to somebody else who will make it one of their hard drives.
So I really created a SANvolume. You'll see it says 1.9 tibibytes available. But this guy I just happen to cut that much out of the hard drive. So what I'm gonna do now, is I'm gonna go into FreeNAS and I'm gonna go ahead and connect it. Now before I do that, what you have in any iSCSI network is what we call a initiator and a target. So what we're gonna do on the FreeNAS site, is we're gonna create a target.
We're gonna take that volume I created, and we're gonna make it a target. That target will get basically a very specific iSCSI type name. And then I'm gonna go into my Windows system right on this computer right here, and built into pretty much every operating system is what we call an iSCSI initiator. The iSCSI initiator will go out, look for targets and then go ahead and make it one of their hard drives. So let's start off by making our target. So, just as a reminder, we have our pre-made volume called the SANvolume, alright.
Now, what we need to do is first of all, we're gonna have to go through a couple of steps here. First of all we're have to go to make what's we call the extent. So we're gonna take a chunk of the SANvolume, in fact I'm gonna just go ahead and take the whole thing, and I'm going to create an extent with some type of name. Then I'm gonna create some type of target. So the target is going to in essence, set up a lot of authentication issues, in my setup there really is no authentication. So I'm gonna have the target, and then I'm gonna have the extent, and I'm gonna put them together as a group.
And once that happens, they'll be offered up for anybody to access that has the right kind of permissions. Alright, so to get all this happening, we're gonna have to head down here to iSCSI. So the first thing I wanna do, is let's take a look at our targets. Okay, right now we don't have any targets, so I'm gonna add a target, and I'm gonna call the target share. And this is just authentication information that I had set up earlier. And I can do all kinds of authentication stuff within iSCSI, but that's made.
Alright, so the next thing I wanna do is I wanna go down to my extents. So let's take a look at our extents, we don't have anything. So what I'm gonna do now is I'm gonna grab a chunk of that SANvolume I made, and I'm gonna call him SANextant, and you'll see that FreeNAS is already seeing that he's gonna grab from that. And I could change that if I wanted to. And really there's nothing else to do here, other than just hit okay.
So I've got my extent made, and I got my target, I gotta put 'em together. So views my targets through extents, I don't have any combinations right now. So I'm gonna pick my target, which was share. I'm gonna pick my extent, which is my SANextent, and I'm going to hit okay. Fantastic, I think I've got everything set up right. Notice there's no partitioning or formatting here. That's gonna be done by the individual users once it connects to their systems.
So let's go ahead and now we're gonna try to open up the iSCSI initiator on my system here, and see if I can connect to it. So pretty much all operating systems have some form of iSCSI initiator. And what I'm gonna do first of all is I am going to look around and see if I can discover if there anybody out there doing iSCSI. Now I happen to know the IP address of my system, and you'll notice it's running on port 3260.
And that filled in. I didn't get any errors. That's telling me I did a good job (laughing). So now I'm gonna go over to targets, and here is a iSCSI target. You'll see this is actually the nomenclature that's generated by iSCSI, colon, and then whatever I've decided to call the shared cell. So I'm gonna connect to it. And if I've done everything right, we should be able to see something really cool in device manager.
Sorry, not device manager, disk management. And there it is, right there. That is the extent on my iSCSI server that I've connected to. So you'll see that it's un-formatted, unpartitioned, so I would have to go through all these processes of getting it formatted and partitioned, and all that stuff.
And this guy is pretty much ready to rock and roll. So, for the exam, the most important thing I want you to remember is that network attached storage is going to be file level. It's going to be some system running Linux or something like that. You go ahead, you set up your RAID arrays, you do your partitioning, you do whatever you wanna do, format it, and then they just treat everybody as network shares. So it's gonna be running Samba more than anything else. SANs are a different animal. SANs run at the block-level.
They're either gonna be using Fibre Channel, or they're gonna be using iSCSI, and it's up to the individual targets to set themselves up and to partition and format as they deem themselves necessary. Oh and remember one more thing. SANs are really, really expensive, and NASs tend to be very, very cheap.
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