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I am trying to convince our sysadmins to upgrade from NFS 3 or NFS 4 because I think that this will result in a dramatically performance improvement, especially when dealing with many small files.

However, my colleagues are afraid that an upgrade will cause severe problems. Currently, our infrastructure consist of both Solaris SPARC and Linux x64. We use a big NetApp Storage system for the most shares which currently provides only NFS 3.

What advantages (and disadvantages) can you see for an upgrade to NFS 4? Which problems may arrise? Do you already have any experiences with such an upgrade?

Any help is appreciated.

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We haven't made an apples-to-apples performance comparison between NFSv3 and v4, so I can't comment on performance. Like you, we've been using a NetApp for NFSv3 (newer versions of ONTAP support v4 in production now, BTW); our NFSv4 deployment has been on ZFS.

(If millions-of-small-files-performance is of critical concern to you, keep in mind that it has historically been one of NetApp's weak spots. I'm told that PAM cache can help alleviate this problem, but have not tested it myself. There are also documents that your NetApp rep can help get you that address tuning for many small files.)

For us, the biggest reason to move to move to v4 was ACLs that weren't possible with v3; the removal of ZFS's aclmode property last year caused us some minor issues. There is a relatively good overview of NetApp NFSv4 ACLs here:

One other note: Depending on the age and specific type of your clients, you may be forced to upgrade to get a more functional NFSv4 client implementation, and some clients lack features that may or may not be important to you, e.g. Linux clients don't support named attributes AFAIK.

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