VMware vSphere and NFS – Some Links

Most of my experience with vSphere storage has revolved around various block storage technologies, such as DAS, FC and iSCSI. I recently began an evaluation of one of those fresh new storage startups running an NVMe-based system. We didn’t have the infrastructure to support NVMe-oF in our lab, so we’ve used NFS to connect the datastores to our vSphere environment. Obviously, at this point, it is less about maximum performance and more about basic functionality. In any case, I thought it might be useful to include a series of links regarding NFS and vSphere that I’ve been using to both get up and running, and troubleshoot some minor issues we had getting everything running. Note that most of these links cover vSphere 6.5, as our lab is currently running that version.

Basics

Create an NFS Datastore

How to add NFS export to VMware ESXi 6.5

NFS Protocols and ESXi

Best Practice

Best Practices for running VMware vSphere on Network Attached Storage

Troubleshooting

Maximum supported volumes reached (1020652)

Increasing the default value that defines the maximum number of NFS mounts on an ESXi/ESX host (2239)

Troubleshooting connectivity issues to an NFS datastore on ESX and ESXi hosts (1003967)

Caringo Announces SwarmNFS

Caringo recently announced SwarmNFS, and I recently had the opportunity to be briefed by Caringo’s Adrian J Herrera (VP Marketing). If you’re not familiar with Caringo, their main platform is Swarm, which “provides a platform for data protection, management, organization and search at massive scale”. You can read an overview of Swarm here, and there’s also a technical overview here.

 

So what is it?

SwarmNFS is a “stateless Linux process that integrates directly with Caringo Swarm. It delivers a global namespace across NFSv4, HTTP, SCSP (Caring’s protocol), S3, and HDFS, delivering data distribution and data management at scale”.

SwarmNFS is basically an NFS server modified with proprietary code. It is:

  • Stateless and lightweight;
  • Has no caching or spooling;
  • Supports parallel data streaming; and
  • Has no single point of failure, with built-in high availability.

Caringo tell me this makes it a whole lot easier to centralise, distribute and manage data, while using a bunch less resources than a traditional file gateway. You can run it as either a Linux process, an appliance or via a VM. Caringo also tell me that, since they connect directly into Swarm, there are less bottlenecks than the traditional approach using gateways, FUSE and proxies.

Caringo_001

Everything in the UI can be done via the API as well, and it has support for multi-tenancy. As I mentioned before, there’s a global namespace with “Universal Access”, meaning that files can be written, read and edited through any interface (NFSv4, SCSP/HTTP, S3, HDFS). Having been a protocol prisoner in previous roles it’s nice to think the there’s a different way to do things.

 

What do I use it for?

You can use this for all kinds of stuff Adrian ran me through some use cases, including:

  • Media and entertainment (think media streaming / content delivery); and
  • Street view type image storage.

One of the key things here is that, because the platform uses NFS, a lot of application re-work doesn’t necessarily need to occur to take advantage of the object storage platform. In my opinion this is a pretty cool feature of the platform, and one that should definitely see people look at SwarmNFS fairly seriously when evaluating their object storage options.

 

Conclusion

Caringo are doing some really cool stuff. If you haven’t checked out FileFly before, it’s also worth a look. The capabilities of the Swarm platform are growing at a rapid place. And the storage world is becoming more object and less block and file as each day passes. Enrico‘s been telling me that for ages now, and everything I’m seeing supports that. Caringo’s approach to metadata – storing metadata with the object itself – also means you can do a bunch of cool stuff with it fairly easily, like replicating it, applying erasure coding to it, and so forth. The upshot is that now the data’s truly portable. So, if you’re object-curious but still hang out with file types, maybe SwarmNFS might be a nice compromise for everyone.

Caringo_002