FreeNAS latest beta (9.3 release) brings some features that VMware admins shall be happy with – VAAI.
VAAI allows to offload many heavy tasks usually done by the hypervisor, to the array. For example copying or cloning. It means than in reality those tasks will finish much quicker than without VAAI and will also use much less CPU resources.
Those VAAI primitives are now supported:
- Atomic Test and Set (ATS) — COMPARE AND WRITE command
- Extended Copy (Clone)
- SPC-3 subset of XCOPY commands
- Write Same (Zero) — set of WRITE SAME commands
- Dead Space Reclamation (Delete) — UNMAP command.
What's new in FreeNAS?
- New simplified UI – no more tabs, more fluidity and ease of use.
- Configuration wizard after install – walks through the initial configuration straight after install (create volume, share …)
- FreeNAS 9.3 now NFSv4 support, including Kerberos integration, and allows configuration of NFSv4 from the UI
- Boot drive uses GRUB and is formatted as ZFS (previously only UFS) supporting multi boot environments (for recovery after bad patch for example)
- New more performant iSCSI – in-kernel Cam Target Layer (CTL).
- Simpler patching –
FreeNAS is good for filesharing – SMB/CIFS (Windows file shares), NFS (Unix file shares) and AFP (Apple File Shares) as well as FTP, iSCSI, but also the volume management has been improved over the years featuring now a slider allowing to drag to increase/decrease the size of the volume.
Quote from the release:
This FreeNAS update is a significant evolutionary step from previous FreeNAS releases. It features a simplified and reorganized Web User Interface, support for Windows 2012 clustering, better integration with VMWare, a new and more secure update system with roll-back functionality, and hundreds of other technology enhancements.
And concerning VMware VAAI:
Kernel iSCSI (CTL) has completely replaced the old iSCSI code, adding support for VMWare VAAI (all 7 primitives), MS ODX and Windows 2012 Clustering as well as much higher performance and space efficiency (zero'd blocks can now be reclaimed). Support for STUN and pool storage thresholds also makes VMWare behavior far more robust when ZFS pools fill up.
The VAAI support with XCOPY commands is currently limited only to iSCSI disks
With many free appliances offering storage management, FreeNAS is certainly one of the ones going forward with features targeting not only home lab users but also enterprise customers with commodity hardware willing to be on paid support via iXsystems.
It's good to know that you can also upgrade from FreeNAS 9.3 BETA install to FreeNAS 9.3 RELEASE when it become available without problem.
Check full release notes here or on Github here