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I have been looking at Openfiler, and it appears to be a great open-source solution. I haven't seen very much documentation on limitations of OF. We are by no means a Fortune 500 company (yet:) so our current budget is rather minimal, but none the less I would like to hear your opinions!

Our storage server consists of 6TB (12 x 500GB), AMD 2.4 (2x), 8GB RAM and the purpose will be to serve as our VMWare storage. The VMs will consist of web servers, QB servers, and possibly small-scale mail will be run off our blade environment.

Just wanted hear your thoughts since I don't have any experience other than with Dell's SAN management software.

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I vote for spending one million dollars, since it's not my money... –  mfinni Jul 1 '11 at 18:14
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You mentioned VMWare. Most people tend to run VMWare on a SAN, not a NAS. I just want to clarify, are you really looking for a NAS or are you looking for a more generic NAS/SAN/iSCSI storage solution? –  Stefan Lasiewski Jul 1 '11 at 19:13
    
This is a good point above. Could you describe exactly how you're expecting to use this storage. I would agree that running your VMWare installation off of a NAS is not a good idea. –  Tatas Jul 1 '11 at 19:41
    
@Stefan - i wouldn't say 'most people' - plenty of VMware installations have their VMDKs served up by beefy NFS servers, which is NAS. –  mfinni Jul 2 '11 at 20:20
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@Mfinni: I'm sure a NAS will work, and a NAS can be much, much cheaper then a SAN. I've just heard and read alot about a SAN is faster/better for VMs then a NAS. But I suppose this would be a cost/benefit decision. –  Stefan Lasiewski Jul 3 '11 at 14:25
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closed as off topic by Sam Jan 18 '12 at 21:13

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2 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

FreeBSD 8.2, running ZFS. ZFS includes the following out of the box:

  • Supports NFS & iSCSI out of the box.
  • ZFS includes Snapshots, data checksums, multiple copies, filesystem compression
  • RAID-Z - Similar to RAID-5, but without the RAID-5 write hole. All disk writes are atomic copy-on-write transactions, so the on-disk state is never inconsistent (No need to FSCK after a power outage!).
  • Double-parity RAID-Z2 (e.g. RAID-6, but without the write hole)
  • (soon) data deduplication
  • There is no need for an expensive RAID controller, so you can drop that layer of complexity.

Read more about the benefits of ZFS in this short summary at http://hub.opensolaris.org/bin/view/Community+Group+zfs/whatis .

FreeBSD is a very solid operating system, and ZFS is surprisingly easy to learn and use.

This solution is free. There's no cost. There are a couple additional packaged products which are similar:

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What are the benefits of FreeBSD over a Solaris-based ZFS solution like Nexenta? –  ewwhite Jul 1 '11 at 18:13
    
I'm sure that Nexenta is a fine solution. I haven't used it myself, but I've read about it and I've spoken to a few Nexenta employees. I hear that Nexenta is a key player in the OpenIndiana/Illumos projects (which is the fork of OpenSolaris). FreeBSD arguably has a larger user community then Nexenta. FreeBSD is a common operating system used in a wide variety of environments. FreeBSD is always free, no matter what feature set you choose. I believe that Nexenta is a hybrid operating system based off of OpenSolaris, but with Ubuntu-based userland tools. Someone should correct me if I'm wrong. –  Stefan Lasiewski Jul 1 '11 at 19:07
    
While I have no personal issues with FreeBSD, I believe that commercial support is actually a plus in this case as this is for business. Free is great and all, but this is for work and businesses can/should afford technical support just in case. The big bonus for Nexenta is that is free and can have support contracts as well. Again, nothing against FreeBSD but business is business. –  osij2is Jul 6 '11 at 17:35
    
Also, I don't believe that FreeBSD can act as an iSCSI target "out of the box". There is support for this in the ports tree, but it's not in the base system and is not produced by the FreeBSD developers. Nexenta (and other Solaris based solutions) will have substantially better iSCSI support. Whether or this is important in your environment is, of course, entirely up to you. Also, FreeBSD 8.x with ZFS can be tricky to configure and crashy in low-memory situations. –  larsks Jul 6 '11 at 17:38
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FreeNAS 8 is the appliance for ZFS on FreeBSD. Opening an iSCSI target or NFS share as well as other features. There is support available from iXsystems, the lead dev team also. I have used both Nexenta and FreeNAS and they are both solid performers. FreeBSD would take a lot of developement to get to the point where you get great monitoring/alerting, iSCSI, etc. –  Justin Higgins Jul 6 '11 at 19:28
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My current recommendation is NexentaStor, available in a free community-supported edition and as a commercial offering.

Also see:

Anybody have experience with using Nexenta?

NexentaStor CE or Openfiler? Which do you recommend?

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+1 for Nexenta. :) –  osij2is Jul 6 '11 at 17:29
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