Mountain Lion's new buddy: Redundant Array of Independent Servers

Mountain Lion's new buddy: Redundant Array of Independent Servers

Summary: A DIY project can make Mac mini servers very, very reliable.


A Mac consultant takes the Mac mini and Mountain Lion Server to new places of reliability with Redundant Array of Independent Servers (RAIS) architecture. He's pulled together a DIY package of hardware and third-party software that offer multiple layers of redundancy for Mac servers, now running Mountain Lion.

Redundant Array of Independent Servers using Mac minis appears to have been initially discussed at the Mac IT site AFP548 more than a year ago. As I mentioned in a post at the time, Alex Narvey, co-founder of Precursor Systems, a Winnipeg-based Mac consultancy, was testing Lion-based RAIS setups that took advantage of Thunderbolt and Target Disk Mode built into Mac mini.

Narvey recently moved his RAIS setup to Mountain Lion, which now includes a pair of SSD Mac minis connected via Target Disk Mode and FireWire, primary file storage via ThunderBolt on a 6TB Promise Pegasus Level 6 array, and backup with rotating sets of Thunderbolt backup drives. He has a PDF diagram here.

The pair of Mac mini servers are mirrored over Target Disk Mode using SoftRAID's SoftRAID 4.33.  Navey said that unlike his previous Lion setup, this new package can boot with either Lion or Thunderbolt. But he's using "FireWire to isolate the mirror from the Promise Pegasus RAID array and the backup drives which will all be Thunderbolt interface."

He offers a very straightforward checklist, which includes creating a Recovery Disk on a USB key.

It's all very interesting and a great system for SMBs.

Topics: Apple, Operating Systems, Servers, Storage, SMBs

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  • DRBD?

    Does it offer anything like Linux' DRBD?
  • Summary: A DYI project can make Mac mini servers very, very reliable.

    DYI?? Even my spellchecker picks that one up.
    Tony in TLoTRS
    • Do Yourself In?

      Quite possibly...
  • Maybe you just explained it badly.

    RAIS would imply operator free failover.

    It would appear in this system that if the active server fails, the operator is expected to move plugs around and reboot the other server in a different mode. This supposes the physical presence of an operator to do this.

    How is that R.A.I.S.

    In fact how is that in any way better than simply booting from the raid array, with a spare server sitting in it's box.

    Maybe you just explained it badly.
    Henry 3 Dogg
  • Revial of clustering servers

    I remember a long time ago Apple had Xgrid which I assume this is the extension of this. I hope this version has better granularity in regards to provisioning storage and other parameters which where not in Xgrid.