Paul L. Snyder on 10 Nov 2014 11:43:30 -0800

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[PLUG] Restructuring home network and building a storage server

So, the machine I've been using as my storage server has died, and I'd like
to use this as an opportunity to rationalize my home network setup.  At the
moment, it's an accretion of various requirements and bits of functionality
that were slapped together based on what I had available.

                       [A external router/wifi]
          |                       |                       |
  [B workstation]           [C server/VPN]          <D Roku, etc.>
                        [E internal router/wifi]
                          <F private network>

I use a third-party VPN provider due to my ISP's habit of building
marketing profiles of its users based on browsing activity and DNS queries.
Unforunately, the performance of this VPN cannot keep up with the speed of
my connection, so some nodes have to live in the DMZ.

(A), the external router, connects directly to my ISP, and provides Wifi
  that is not routed through the VPN.

(B) is my most powerful machine. It is too inconvenient to keep it behind
  the VPN server. When booted into Linux, it opens its own connection to the
  VPN provider. When booted into Windows (for gaming purposes), goes straight
  to the Internet. (Steam downloads are way too slow, otherwise.)

  It also runs my Plex backend, as it can easily handle the transcoding.
  Unfortunately, that means that I can't be playing a game while someone
  else is wants to watch something off of Plex.

(C) is the server that just died. It kept up a connection to the VPN
  provider. As the only system in the environment that could be relied on to
  be up, it also acted as the storage server. It has four or five drives
  crammed into it that need to be rehomed into a new server.

(D) Are various streaming clients and video game consoles (Roku, XBox,
  Android tablets while watching video) that need a full-speed connection
  to the Internet.

(E) Provides wifi (and wired connections) routed through the VPN.

(F) Are various nodes that go through the VPN...a workstation, and tablets
  when they aren't streaming Netflix.

As can be seen, this is a pretty cruddy design, and the death of (C) is the
excuse needed to finally get things in order.  [(C) was also a pretty
annoying box...loud, high power-consumption, and after a fan died the mobo
wouldn't detect the new fan as actually present, so I had to find a
keyboard to connect to the box just to hit 'F1' every time it rebooted.
Good riddance.]

I'd really like to get the Plex server off of (B). I need a new storage
server to replace (C).  When I was first cobbling this setup together I was
going to put (C) behind (E), but (E) is a commodity wifi router, and
there's no way its CPU can keep up with high-bandwidth VPN.  And, of
course, devices like <D> would like to stream data from internal as well as
external sources.  Letting them access <C> directly is kind of cruddy from
a design perspective, but it got things working fast at a time when I didn't
have many cycles available to spend on non-dissertation-related tech

So, my primary immediate goal is to get a new storage server built. I'd
like to be able to drop the four or five drives I have directly into it
right now, with the ability to put in as many as possible further down the
road. It would also be excellent if I could get the Plex server moved off
of (B) and onto this new box.

My secondary goal is to sort out the VPN stuff. Ideally, I'd like a small,
dedicated box of some sort that can actually push though traffic that'll
keep up with my ISP connection, so I can move more devices behind it and
actually change the pseudo-DMZ into a setup where it only has a tiny box
or two for hosting things that I really want to be able to access
externally, with everything else behind the internal server/firewall. 

Hardware recommendations (and architectural thoughts) will be appreciated.
I'm also interesting in best practices for the software and configuration
aspects building a flexible, high-capacity server for home storage.

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