The Virtual Storage Appliance experiment – Part 1

I have wanted to play around with Virtual Storage Appliances (VSA) for a while now.  I have never really had a need to use them though.  I have colleagues tell me about the VSAs they use in their home labs all the time.  I guess I have been fortunate enough to have had expose to enterprise SANs in test and lab environments for many years.

In the current role I’m in I don’t have that luxury.  I manage an overprovisioned vSphere and SAN environment that I just don’t want to mess with.  I guess we tend to take for granted the toys we have in some roles.

I’ve recently been considering pursuing my VCAP certification too.  Storage, iSCSI, multipathing is all a large part of the blueprint guide.  Having a VSA in my home lab where I can creating and test a storage network in vSphere will no doubt help in my study.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to spend the next few weeks researching what is out there in the VSA market.  I don’t have a budget behind me so really just from a free and open source point of view.  My goal is not to find an enterprise ready VSA but rather find a virtual SAN that I can have in my test lab.  An appliance that that is easy to install & setup and able to present data via protocols such as iSCSI and NFS, anything else is a bonus.

The products I have initially planned on testing are Openfiler, FreeNAS, and HP P4000.  The latter being a commercial product but with a trial period.   I’m certainly interested in testing more.  So feel free to comment and leave recommendations on other products worth looking into.

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