FreeNAS & ZFS
ZFS is an open source storage technology that not only meets common storage needs, but then exceeds them by providing features, performance and flexibility not available in traditional storage systems. FreeNAS is a storage operating system that leverages ZFS, and further extends access to your data in many different ways, that is convenient, fast and reliable. LANified! IT Services implements and supports FreeNAS and ZFS technologies to Calgary & International clients, in addition to ourselves!
But why should you care?
ZFS has many valuable features, some of which you may already care about. These are some of the more notworthy ones.
ZFS leverages a series of checksum mechanisms to ensure data you store is accurate. As you interact with your data, ZFS automatically determines if any corruption exists in that data, and immediately corrects any corruption that is found. The data integrity capabilities in ZFS is not available in alternative storage methods such as Hardware RAID Arrays.
ZFS compresses your data as you write it, with no negative performance penalties. This compression not only helps you store more data, but it actually increases performance drastically compared to turning compression off. Yes, this includes reading AND writing of data. ZFS also offers statistics for how effective the compression is in different ways.
ZFS snapshots offer an extremely flexible way to guard against data loss and ransomware. These snapshots typically have zero performance cost, and only take up as much storage as what has changed. You can also snapshot the same data many different ways, providing tiers of protection. These snapshots can enable you to restore files and folders to specific points in time, be it some or all of them.
ZFS is designed from square one to scale available storage to an incredible level, more than even exists on planet Earth as of 2017. To be specific, a single zpool is rated for a maximum of 256 quadrillion zebibytes. Chances are, it is improbable you will see this much data in your lifetime. ZFS zpools can expand their available storage in many different ways, depending on your needs.
ZFS zpools can be configured in many different ways to offer varied levels of disk failure tolerance. This includes single disk, double disk and even triple disk failure tolerance in a single vdev, as well as mirrors. This failure tolerance can also scale up in different ways depending on how you need to scale up your available storage.
Data stored on parts, or all, of ZFS zpools can be replicated to other ZFS storage systems and/or physical sites. Replications after the first one are differential, only sending the data that has actually changed, drastically reducing networking utilization in the process. These replications are extremely efficient and reliable.
ZFS leverages tiered storage mechanisms to provide extreme levels of performance. When correctly configured, ZFS storage systems can serve data rapidly to performance sensitive service such as databases and virtual machines, while still storing data on spinning disk. ZFS performance also increases as you scale up with adding more disks. ZFS storage systems also scream performance when using all-flash disk.
ZFS is very efficient with usage of hardware, typically resulting in lower Total Cost of Ownership. ZFS can safely operate with more affordable SATA disks, and do not require more expensive SAS disks. Additionally ZFS demands very little of CPU resources and requires SAS HBAs over drastically more expensive Hardware RAID Controllers. In total you will be spending less, and getting so much more.
Should your environment warrant it, ZFS has deduplication built-in. This feature is typically best enabled in very large environments. Most environments will not benefit from this feature, but if your environment is large enough, it can drastically save you storage space.
I want ZFS for my...
I want ZFS for my...
FreeNAS is an open source storage operating system that leverages ZFS technologies, and can serve your stored data in many different ways. Additionally FreeNAS makes storage related tasks very convenient to setup and perform, reducing the time taken to implement, reducing the chance for error, and increasing accessibility to important statistics. These are some noteworthy elements of FreeNAS.
FreeNAS is primarily controlled via a rich Web Interface. While the Command Line Interface is readily available, the Web Interface is so feature rich, it is likely you will prefer it. With this interface you can go from square one, to a fully configured storage system, in no time. Returning to the interface also makes performing maintenance tasks very convenient and efficient.
FreeNAS features a high-performance iSCSI ecosystem. You can serve many different LUNs, at the blazing speeds that ZFS offers. iSCSI services are also rated for VMWare, Windows systems (including clustering), and typically any other system that is iSCSI capable. iSCSI in FreeNAS also benefits from other ZFS features such as compression.
FreeNAS features NFS services to serve to Unix, Linux, BSD or other systems, as well as hypervisors (VMWare, Proxmox, etc). NFS services are also extremely performant, soon including NFS v4.1 to provide pNFS. Many NFS exports can be served by a single FreeNAS storage system, to many different tasks. Your storage can maximize its efficiency when combining NFS with ZFS datasets, freeing up lots of unutilized empty space.
Windows Shares (SMB)
FreeNAS leverages modern versions of samba to serve SMB or CIFS shares to any operating system capable of receiving them. This includes Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, Apple OSX, and more. SMB shares in FreeNAS can also leverage advanced functionality such as Windows ACLs, shadow copies, and more. SMB shares can also leverage many forms of user authentication, to ensure correct access controls.
FreeNAS and ZFS provide many statistics you simply can't get in other storage systems. This includes fine metrics for your storage system, as well as historic network performance, and various forms of client demands. Statistic reporting in FreeNAS is on by default and takes zero effort to start using, it just works. These statistics can help guide future expansion, or addressing any performance issues that may arise.
FreeNAS makes automated tasks extremely convenient to setup and administer. This can include ZFS scrubbing, replication, general cron jobs, SMART testing, or many other things. Once you have your tasks set up in the way you want, you can rest assured they will execute reliably. Such convenience can easily save you time you would rather be spending elsewhere.
FreeNAS can integrate with Active Directory or LDAP domains for user and group authentication. Integrating in such a way can enable you to control access to SMB shares and other data with domain objects, such as groups. This access can be delegated by Unix permissions or Windows ACLs, depending on your preference, and can be done per-share.
FreeNAS can alert you of useful things, when you need it. Such as Pre-Failure Alerts, letting you know if a disk should be replaced in the near future, before it fails. These alerts can help you avoid a critical situation, and enables you to decide how to address such things at your pace. Additionally such alerting can notify you if you actually do encounter a critical situation.
FreeNAS is open source, and developed in conjunction with iX Systems and community contributors (such as LANified! IT Services). Updating of FreeNAS systems can be done conveniently through the Web Interface, front to back. Additionally the updating ecosystem has mechanisms to roll you back in some regards, if issues arise. As an open source technology, updates to FreeNAS are free.
FreeNAS and ZFS provides significant value and performance to many different storage needs, be it residential, business or organizational. LANified! IT Services provides flexible support for existing FreeNAS and/or ZFS systems to clients in Calgary & International regions. We also provide implementation services for new FreeNAS and/or ZFS systems. We leverage FreeNAS and ZFS in our infrastructure and have done so for years. Our clients that leverage FreeNAS and ZFS report to us that the features and performance exceed their expectations, and greatly appreciate the comprehensive coverage we provide to their needs.
If you want our help with your storage needs, all you need to do is reach out to us and we will get back to you promptly.