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We are planning to set up 3 VMware nodes and move our infrastructure from physical servers to virtual machines. I haven't decided which NAS to get yet, but I know I need to get one that supports iSCSI in order for things like VMware live migration to work.

Right now, we have a file server running Windows 2008 in an Active Directory environment. We have several shares that need to be secured by Active Directory permissions. Since we are making a large change in our infrastructure, it made me rethink the need for a dedicated Windows 2008 server just to host files if we are using a NAS.

The NAS will be used to store the VM images for the VMware servers. So would it be a good idea to also use the NAS as a file server, or should we do what we do now and use a Windows 2008 (virtual) server to serve the files? I'm thinking about this mostly from a performance perspective. Our current (physical) set up is kind of slow.

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From a performance perspective, I'd recommand you to go with a NAS, they are designed specifically for data storage. Instead of starting with a general-purpose computer(or virtual machine) and configuring or removing features from that base, NAS designs begin with the bare-bones components necessary to support file transfers and add features "from the bottom up."

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I'm pretty sure you can actually use all of the advanced features (like vmotion) even if you use NFS to host your VMWare datastores instead of iSCSI. Knowing this, you're freed up to choose among a wider array of storage boxes. That said, if you want to do CIFS and NFS at the same time on the same NAS, you need to make sure your box supports that. Off the top of my head, I know Netapp does these things, and support thin provisioning and deduplication at the same time.

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