NFS for virtual machines Why?

A lot of shops are using NFS for VMFS datastores.  A lot of custom VMware storage arrays use it too like Tintri.  Why?  Well it brings some advantages to the tables.  In a lot of cases the storage vendor has been able to tweak the protocol to work faster with vm’s.  I won’t get into line speed questions but that is one to consider with 10GB NFS vs 8GB or 16GB fiber channel.

How is NFS different?

  • The file system itself is not managed by the ESXi host, ESXi just uses the protocol.
  • The burden of scaling is not placed upon the storage stack but instead the networking stack.  If networking fails you loose everything.
  • Since NFS uses ethernet multipathing is a complex situation that requires normally static link aggregation or dynamic LACP (802.3ad) (with multi-switch aggregation) You can also use multiple VMkernel networks on separate vSwitches and subnets.

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