iXsystems’ New TrueNAS X10 and FreeNAS v11.0 Briefing Note

The software defined data center does not mean data centers are free from vendor lock-in. It just means vendors moved the lock from hardware to software. While the software may (not always) provide the organization the ability to mix and match storage hardware, it often means the software must come from a single controlling entity; the vendor. Open software defined storage is the alternative but it has the reputation of being very much a science project the modern data center doesn’t have the time for. iXsystems thinks they have the solution to the problem.

Software Defined Storage Redefined

The first step to a practical solution is an open source software defined storage solution like FreeNAS. Open source technology is less expensive than the turnkey proprietary systems vendors provide. It is also less costly than the cloud. Most importantly support costs are relatively low since much of the support comes from a community of users.

FreeNAS is a software based unified storage solution organizations can install on their existing servers, certified appliances or buy turnkey from companies like iXsystems’ TrueNAS. FreeNAS hits all the NAS check boxes. It provides both NFS and SMB protocol support as well as block services. It has snapshots and replication built into the software.

FreeNAS also has several unique features like backup services, silent data corruption prevention and encryption. Backup services supports the backup of an unlimited number of files through Windows backup, rsync, Apple Time Machine and TrueOS Life Preserver. Silent data corruption prevention works by continuously checking all data for corruption and repairing it if necessary. Data at rest can be optionally encrypted ensuring unreadability if a drive is removed from a system.

FreeNAS 11 – Get Your Converged On

Version 11 of FreeNAS is all about convergence. First, it unifies even more services including SAN, NAS, object storage and virtual machine services. Protocols include NFS, SMB, AFP, iSCSI and S3 APIs. S3 is particularly interesting because it gives organizations a cost-effective, on-premises alternative to Amazon. Its advanced Web GUI further simplifies the management and monitoring of storage and virtual machine services.

The big news is FreeNAS storage servers can now also run virtual machines for operating systems such as FreeBSD, Linux, TrueOS, NetBSD and Windows. The ability to run the virtual machines directly on the FreeNAS server delivers hyperconvergence at a very affordable price. It also has an advantage vs. competing architectures.

Most hyperconverged systems expect IT to throw out its investment in storage and only use the internal storage for the environment. And the storage within the hyperconverged architecture can typically only be used just for that architecture. FreeNAS breaks the mold. It can integrate existing storage resources AND can share its storage with the hyperconverged architecture, while sharing storage with other applications and use cases.

New TrueNAS Hardware

Not every IT professional wants to, nor has the time, to download software, select hardware, install the software on that hardware and test to make sure the combination will perform as expected prior to deploying in production. Sometimes the pressure is on to get something in production as fast as possible. For those circumstances, iXsystems provides a series of turnkey TrueNAS appliances ranging from cost effective to high performance all-flash.

The latest addition to the iXsystems portfolio is the TrueNAS X10, an entry level enterprise-grade unified solution. It can support 36 hot swap SAS drives for a total capacity of 360TBs. The TrueNAS X10 is powered by an energy efficient, but high performance Intel system-on-a-chip processor. It includes the complete FreeNAS feature set including in-line compression/deduplication, file and block protocols, flash-assisted read & write caching, non-disruptive software upgrades, snapshots, clones, replication, thin provisioning, self-healing file system, online capacity expansion, RAID protection, S.M.A.R.T. monitoring, GUI, CLI, and REST API, enclosure monitoring.

The low $/GB of the TrueNAS X10 makes it a key part of a disaster recovery (DR) infrastructure. It is designed for core-edge configurations and enterprise workloads like file sharing, backups, and replication.

Like all the other solutions in the TrueNAS product line, there is a dual storage controller option to support high availability allowing for 5 9’s uptime.

The X10 can be replicated across the TrueNAS portfolio, making it an ideal edge device. Like the rest of the TrueNAS portfolio, iXsystems builds, burns and tests each system before shipping it to the customer. After the sale, iXsystems provides complete “white glove” support and service.

StorageSwiss Take

Forget for a moment that the TrueNAS solutions are potentially the least expensive enterprise class storage systems on the market today. Even if the solutions were in the same price range as their competitors, they’d be worthy of consideration. They have a very complete feature set; more complete than many startups. They also have a unique capability when it comes to hyperconvergence, leaving no storage behind and locking no application out. Now remember, this is potentially the least expensive storage system on the market today, and it makes for a very compelling solution worthy of consideration for data centers large and small.

Eight years ago George Crump, founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal. To educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is and a heavily sought after public speaker. With 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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