bdomann
Contributor
Contributor

NFS or ISCSI

Hi all,

I want to connect my ESXi server to my filer NepApp 2050. I can use NFS or Iscsi protocol.

Which is the best practice ?

Best regards,

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6 Replies
mittim12
Immortal
Immortal

I don't know if there is a best practice for which type of storage to use. It really depends on what you are comfortable with and what works best for your enviornment. We currently use iSCSI with our EMC equipment but everytime I speak with our local NetApp people they are pushing NFS. Here is a whitepaper VMware did not to long ago comparing different types of storage.

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RParker
Immortal
Immortal

Since you use Netapp the best practice is to use NFS

2 Good reasons.

1) snapshots. you can take snapshots of your entire lun at the Netapp level, and restore individual VM's that way, Netapp wants everyone to start using their built in configuration for this.

2) de-dupe. They have software that can utilize de-dupeing (duplicated data within files) to reduce your overall size of your volumes. so if you have 20 VM's on a particular volume, you don't need 20 VM's @ 20Gb each. They are de-duped to where the first one is 20Gb and any subsequent VM't that are cloned (or that are similar) will be 6080% smaller in size, and you don't see this difference inside the VM. So the VM's still have their full compliment of data (whatever size you have), but on the SAN side the data is much smaller footprint.

NFS is the way to go if you are using Netapp.

With LUNS (iSCSI / Fiber) they utilize a very large block of data. NO SAN can see inside the LUN, to the SAN they just look like pre-allocated files of whatever size you have them set to, and they can't do anything with that LUN, so you can't take advantage of features on the SAN. EMC, Clarion, Netapp, etc..ALL have new tools that if you use a volume they create (with no special LUNS) they will better optimize your space and configuration.

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PhilipArnason
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I mimick RParker's thoughts. If the question is iSCSI vs NFS, I would definitely choose NFS. The only reason to go iSCSI is if you already have a significant iSCSI base and you don't want to manage two datastores or protocols. Restoring a VM from an iSCSI connection is crap. You need to use the command line and mount a snapshot*. With NFS you can just drag and drop from the snapshot directory. MUCH EASIER!!

Philip Arnason

  • Unless you have SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure---I would imagine then it's all done from the GUI

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mittim12
Immortal
Immortal

I haven't had the opportunity to use de-dupe since we don't have NetApp equipment but everything I have seen and read suggest it's worth the price of admission alone. Maybe it's time to start looking at setting one of their V-series in front of the EMC equipment Smiley Happy

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PhilipArnason
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

We haven't had our Netapp equipment not even a month and Dedupe has been very good to us so far. You'll have to do some experimentation on how best it will fit into your environment. As with any technology, deduplication addresses just a narrow slice of your overall storage picture. If you are maxxing out your IOPS on a shelf, it doesn't matter how much free space you have on the shelf, you probably don't want to add any more data to it. We've always run out of disk space before we've reached any IOPS limit, but nevertheless it is important to keep in mind especially when the new 2TB SATA drives come out. I should also add that with Netapp

Philip Arnason

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jsykora
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

We use NetApp with iSCSI, however I wish I had NFS instead (ordered our filers before I had read up on NFS vs iSCSI in a NetApp enviroment). If I were placing the order now I'd have included an NFS license. When I get another filer for a branch location next spring I'll be including NFS licensing for the new box and my current ones. Here's an analysis from Virtual Optics blog of why to use VMware on NetApp NFS: There's quite a few other analysises of this out there on the 'net.

I did want to point out that you can utilize dedupe with iSCSI on NetApp. Basically in order to get the benefits you need to thin provision your LUNs and enable ASIS on the volume. I'm seeing an average of 75% savings with dedupe using this method. Of course, NFS on NetApp thin provisions by default without the extra configuration or attempts to see into the future when sizing your LUNS necesary when doing it with iSCSI.

But for recovery purposes NFS is far away better than iSCSI in a NetApp enviroment. You can even do file level recovery from within a VMDK backup with NFS/NetApp:

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