Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Using FreeNAS as a SAN for an ESXi demo

I recently had to do a virtualization demo for a client. The need was to show a particular application stack running under ESXi, using storage mounted from a SAN. This all needed to be portable, inexpensive, and completed quickly. The requirements limited me to stuff I could find quickly, and that would work. As such, I really only considered FreeNAS, OpenFiler, and Windows Storage Server since they were all readily available.

I ended-up using FreeNAS, and was actually quite impressed. FreeNAS runs the FreeBSD distribution, and interestily, like pfSense (another favorite of mine), it too is based on Monowall. What worked really well for me, was that FreeNAS is downloadable as an ESX virtual machine - which meant I could just download it and run as a VM inside an existing ESXi host. After getting it fired-up on "serverA", I stepped through the base configuration, got some storage carved out and exposed via iSCSI, and then just mounted it up inside a different ESXi machine (serverB). After doing do, I was able to copy my pre-configured VM's to the newly created datastore. I fired up my VM sessions on "serverA", they used the FreeNAS storage provided from serverB, and I had my portable demo environment. I'll follow-up with the steps I used to setup and expose the storage.

1 comment:

Tillman Mosley III said...

Have you looked at ATA over Ethernet (AoE)? It sounds like you could have worked with that as well. There are drivers available for Vmware and I believe a third party came up with some for Citrix.