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June 2011

Using NAS for virtual machines

Common wisdom says you need block storage for virtual servers, but with most hypervisors supporting the NFS protocol, NAS may work just as well. By Eric Siebert Shared storage is a requisite for virtualized servers if you want to use any of the advanced features server virtualization offers, such as high availability or the ability to move a running virtual machine (VM) from one host to another. This typically meant you had to invest in an expensive Fibre Channel SAN (FC SAN). But all server virtualization products also support using network-attached storage (NAS) devices, which can provide a worthy, cost-effective alternative to FC SANs for shared storage. Another alternative is iSCSI storage which, like NAS, uses TCP/IP over a standard Ethernet network, but iSCSI is block storage like Fibre Channel and tends to be costlier than NAS. NAS systems generally support both NFS and CIFS file-sharing protocols, but server virtualization products prefer -- or are limited to -- NFS. Inside NFS NFS was developed in the late 1980s and has...

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