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Suggestions: Building a NAS

Posted on 2014-03-24
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Hello Experts,

I am evaluating the possibility to build a NAS appliance from existing hardware we have in our company. I need some advice and input on what to evaluate further and what caveats to keep in mind. Also, though I am firm with handling Linux, I am not that far with UNIX (FreeBSD, OmniOS, OpenIndiana, Solaris).

The appliance would mainly be used as backing iSCSI storage for a few VM hosts/nodes (2-4). Also, it might be possible that we provision some classical network shares with it.

Here are scope statements, 'must have':
- Cut costs (as an alternative to a new QNAP)
- iSCSI, 10GbE
- Thin Provisioning
- LUN Backup and snapshotting (via API / shell script)

'Nice to have':
- Hierarchical storage
- Compression
- Dedup
- Replication
- High Availability

From the specs, I really like to use ZFS, which I am somewhat familiar with and can do all this.

This in mind, I came across two distros:
FreeNAS: http://www.freenas.org/
napp-it on OmniOS: http://www.napp-it.org/downloads/omnios.html

I already have FreeNAS running in a VM and from what I can do it looks promising.

Special Questions:
- From what I read Oracle pulled ZFS from Open Source, so the FreeBSD port is not very up to date any more. Is it therefore better to use a Solaris fork like OmniOS / OpenIndiana?

- What matters the most to me is the iSCSI performance. I read the whole iSCSI layer is not such a good performance in FreeBSD then the other distros I mentioned?

- Can you suggest more distros / appliances or even whole different approaches which make better sense?

Thanks in advance,
Daniel
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Question by:Daniel Helgenberger
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Assisted Solution

by:Aaron Tomosky
Aaron Tomosky earned 225 total points
ID: 39952214
Personally I use zfsguru.com and love it. It's FreeBSD based but I had almost no Linux/unix experience when I started with it and got along just fine. I use Nfs vs iscsi but I easily added samba shares and even tied to active directory. The best thing about this setup is you make a second and use zfs snapshot send to the second one.

If you really want, you can use zfs on Linux but I don't think there are any easy distros like you have for FreeBSD/Solaris
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by:arnold
arnold earned 75 total points
ID: 39952332
Openfiler.com might be another option to consider it has a HA configuration using drbd as the means by which data is replicated from one node to the other.
Complexity lies in configuring drbd in such a way that when the nodes change status that the drbd replication direction transitions as well.

I'm aware that Openfiler development seems to have .........
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by:Daniel Helgenberger
ID: 39952760
Hello, thank you for your input so far!
Personally I use zfsguru.com and love it.
Right! I read about zfsguru. It is still beta? Any problems? What is your usecase? I know it is about the GUI; zfs as basis is considered stable.

I'm aware that Openfiler development seems to have .........
Hello arnold, your comment seems to be truncated? I know about openfiler. I dropped it from my list though because it is Linux, and ZFS support in Linux is experimental. Also, I would need the advanced iSCSI license I think. In this case, I rather by a QNAP.

Can anyone tell me something about the general performance of the FreeBSD ports of ZFS and COMSTAR compared to Solaris (clones like OmniOS, OpenIndiana)?

Also, I now have a second VM with Napp-It. I consider FreeNAS more comfortable and with a larger user base, but it seems to be very powerful as well as it features the latest ZFS. Also, I was able to create a thin provisioned iSCSI LUN in almost the same time as in FreeNAS; usability is ok for me I suppose. Does anyone here use Napp it?
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by:arnold
ID: 39952920
Not sure what license are you talking about, FC based connection?
Think that openfiler indicated no further development beyond version 2.99
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Author Comment

by:Daniel Helgenberger
ID: 39952993
Hello arnold,
I mean this:
https://store.openfiler.com/index.php/advanced-iscsi-target-plugin-14.html?___store=default

As I understand it, it is some advanced GUI settings. Since I expect to use this feature a lot, I rather use the GUI than command line.
Its 1000 Euro. I do not need the FC target licence; I would only deploy iSCSI luns. Also, I think I would need a commercial license?
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by:arnold
ID: 39953032
Since you will mainly use this setup for backup purposes, why do you think you need the plugin?

I could understand the need for the plugin if you use this storage for continuous and time sensitive IO such as a storage for a database.

Try the VM version of openfiler, and see if it meets your needs.
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by:Aaron Tomosky
Aaron Tomosky earned 225 total points
ID: 39953629
My last setup was 8 drives in a raid 10 (zfs calls this mirrored pools) with an intel 320 slog, samsung 840 l2arc and 24gb ram on a workstation I decommissioned, first gen i7. This was starting to slow down with more than 20 vms on 5 low power hosts. I had two 1gb nics, one for Esxi Nfs and one for samba over the LAN.

So you can do quite a bit without a lot of horsepower. The problem running vms becomes iops way before throughput. For My new setup it was easier to just get 4 samsung evo 1tb ssd for my vm pool. More iops on less drives.
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kevinhsieh earned 200 total points
ID: 39953636
Since you are looking at options without anyway, take a look at Nexenta Community Edition which is good for 18 TB.

I am having problems with copying the url but just do a search for Nexenta Community Edition and you will find it. It is based on ZFS and is under active commercial development.
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Author Comment

by:Daniel Helgenberger
ID: 39955221
Thank you, I did not know that Nexenta has a community edition. I will def. give it a try.

Apart from support and the 18TB cap, are there any restrictions worth noting? I briefly looked over their site and did not find anything.
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by:kevinhsieh
ID: 39955821
I haven't used Nexenta as we have always decided that we would rather pay a vendor to do the integration rather than have separate hardware and software vendors with us stuck in the middle. For what it is worth, the paid version is pretty inexpensive.
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by:Daniel Helgenberger
ID: 39956809
True, this is how I like it best, too.
For what it is worth, the paid version is pretty inexpensive.
Before I get a quote, can you tell me what that means? And is it licensed per raw storrage or net storage? The net storage I need in the beginning would be little more than 5TB - but mirrored.

Thanks!
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Expert Comment

by:Aaron Tomosky
ID: 39956834
last I checked it's licensed as raw. So if you have 4 3tb drives in a raid 10, you get 6tb but licensed for 12tb
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by:Daniel Helgenberger
ID: 39956864
Has any of you an estimate on how much they charge?
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Author Closing Comment

by:Daniel Helgenberger
ID: 40029028
Hi.

thanks for all the input on that matter. In the end I decided for NexentaStor. I also want to thank smckeown777 for the insight:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Servers/Q_28194467.html#a39957246

If anyone is interested, a 18TB commercial license for NexentaStor is about 1.800.00 Euro atm.
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by:Aaron Tomosky
ID: 41460905
Remember it's raw storage for cost purposes. So with raid 10 18tb is 9tb...
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