I’ve dabbled with FreeNAS in the past and had such a great experience with pfSense (a similar FreeBSD-based project) that I jumped in with both feet on my home office server build. But my initial impressions were, frankly, terrible. I’ve got the system running and stable now, but I’m finding it difficult to recommend FreeNAS at this point.
I like ZFS Send and Receive, but I’m not totally sold on it. I’ve used rsync for decades, so I’m not giving it up anytime soon. Even so, I can see the value of ZFS Send and Receive for local migration and data management tasks as well as the backup and replication tasks that are typically talked about.
Today I’m going to dive into the hardware I selected for FreeNAS, starting with the motherboard, CPU, and memory. FreeNAS runs on any PC hardware, but building a reliable and scalable storage solution means picking higher-end components. I selected a Supermicro X10SL7 server-class motherboard with 14 (!) SAS/SATA ports paired with an Intel Xeon E3-1231v3 (Haswell) CPU and ECC memory from Crucial.
Although not discussed in today’s keynote, Apple is adding a new “universal” filesystem to iOS and macOS. Apple File System (APFS) will likely replace HFS+ as the default filesystem for Macintosh computers, iPads, and iPhones and brings a wealth of modern features. But judging from the initial developer documentation, that’s not going to happen for a few more years. And there’s still much confusion about how APFS and CoreStorage, introduced in Mac OS X 10.7, will interact.
Hard disk drives keep getting bigger, meaning capacity just keeps getting cheaper. But storage capacity is like money: The more you have, the more you use. And this growth in capacity means that data is at risk from a very old nemesis: Unrecoverable Read Errors (URE).
GreenBytes has evolved from software company to storage array company and proven itself able to survive in the cutthroat storage market. It remains to be seen whether the they can convince customers to take Solidarity seriously, but the introduction of this product was the right move for the company. We will be watching and hoping that they will add VMware compatibility and more capacity.
I’ve been quite busy lately recording webinars, writing articles, and setting up speaking events. This week, I’m in Boston and New York for private speaking engagements. I’ll also be recording a webinar with an exciting new storage/virtualization company, Nutanix, and I urge you to tune in to that one!
Mac OS X was majorly deficient in that it lacked a volume manager. This wouldn’t seem like a big deal to the average user, but held back the operating system in so many ways. A volume manager brings storage virtualization to an operating system, allowing storage capacity efficiently to be managed and manipulated. But all this has changed in Mac OS X 10.7 â€œLionâ€ with CoreStorage.
Apple is not in enterprise storage company to be sure, and news from WWDC dashes any hopes we had for ZFS and iSCSI support. USB 3.0 seems a foregone conclusion, but Apple seems intent on ignoring it as long as possible. Although I welcome the new storage features included in Lion, it is disappointing that these were left out.
Storage protocols continue to mimic direct attached storage, with the concepts of block and file at its core. No amount of virtualization, and no new protocol, will fix this – we need a storage revolution.