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I'm considering storing Active Directory profiles on a ZFS file server.

I ran across these instructions for using ZFS and the native Solaris CIFS protocol to integrate with Active Directory. It seems simple to implement but overly complex to administer.

Is there a benefit to doing it this way, as opposed to sharing using iSCSI? Is there a best practice?

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What about it seems complex to administer? – Kamil Kisiel Jan 30 '10 at 19:16
I guess that wasn't worded so well. What I mean to say is that while it should be easy to set up, it seems like it adds unneeded complexity to have separate user accounts and permissions and LDAP lookups on the server that hosts the ZFS shares. – user17642 Jan 30 '10 at 19:28
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The complexity fear is understandable as I went through the same rational when setting up samba shares at remote sites. For these I had no choice but to use samba though as there was no local Windows servers.

Both of your alternatives have pro's and con's. I'll let you decide weather each point is a pro or con for your circumstances.


  • Setup and testing will be more involved.
  • Files will be accessible from the Solaris server.
  • Once setup, extra permissions and shares can be setup from a Windows machine. (Ie, you only need to go through setup once.)
  • Speed benefit from direct file access via the Solaris machine.
  • Access to CIFS can not be via FQDN, only by hostname (as of oi148)

iSCSI, Shared via Windows mount

  • Increased network traffic.
  • No more file access from the Solaris server.
  • Easier initial setup.
  • Extra shares and permissions are still administered the same way.

Either way you go the most important part is good documentation to ensure the setup is easily reproducible, and backups to your satisfaction. My preference would be to use ZFS + CIFS for speed and native file access. The overhead of the extra permissions and LDAP lookups has been a non issue for me as the lookups are cached for some time and increase traffic far less than the iSCSI overhead.

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This is very helpful. I had assumed ZFS + CIFS would generate more traffic than iSCSI, but obviously that wasn't a good assumption. I'm still on the fence now because local file access from the Solaris machine is a non-issue, and the main tradeoff is speed vs setup complexity. – user17642 Feb 2 '10 at 18:13
Well, I guess your choice would boil down to weather you want to benefit from ZFS features like rollback etc and it's speed. I would recommend attempting to set it up to see how difficult it is. You can always use iSCSI in the end anyway if you find the setup learning curve to steep. Just don't use it for profile storage until you are ready to make the decision. – AgentK Feb 4 '10 at 1:12

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