I spent some time at Christmas upgrading my home lab in preparation for the new VCAP exams which are due out in the first quarter of 2012. In particular I needed to improve my shared storage and hoped that I could reuse old h/w instead of buying something new. I’ve been using an Iomega IX2-200 for the last year but it’s performance is pretty pitiful so I usually reverted to local storage which rather defeated the purpose.
I started off having a quick look around at my storage options for home labs;
- Hardware appliances from QNAP, Synology, Iomega etc. There’s a great, comprehensive list at SmallNetBuilder.com which includes both performance and cost comparisons.
- Software appliances such as OpenFiler, FreeNAS, Datacore’s SANSymphony/SAN Melody, Starwind’s iSCSI SAN and Nexenta’s Community Edition.
- Virtual appliances such as UberVSA, LeftHand, Netapp’s ONTAP Simulator (Netapp customer’s only and capacity limited)
- Or you can spin your own using a variety of base OSs: Oracle Solaris 11, Oracle Solaris 11 Express (free for non-commercial), FreeBSD (older version of ZFS), OpenIndiana and the upcoming Illumian project which is a fork from the now discontinued OpenSolaris. An interesting project is napp-it.org which shows you how to build your own NAS server using ZFS – well worth a look! Jimmy Dansbo has just published his ‘Poor man’s storage appliance‘ which also looks very interesting and has an .OVA available for quick deployment.
Why pick Nexenta?
I’d used OpenFiler and FreeNAS before (both are very capable) but with so much choice I didn’t have time to evaluate all the other options (Greg Porter has a few comments comparing OpenFiler vs Nexenta). Datacore and Starwind’s solutions rely on Windows rather than being bare metal (which was my preference) and I’ve been hearing positive news about Nexenta more and more recently.
On the technical front the SSD caching and VAAI support make Nexenta stand out from the crowd.