Deep Dive – Choosing Openfiler for your Home Lab

Hey All, Here we came with the new deep dive topic for choosing the Openfiler as storage for your virtual environment.

Here we are going to setup our lab before we explore anything new. Initially, we are using 4 physical machines to setup our Virtualization lab. Out of these 4 servers or can say workstations, we are going to use one machine for storage purpose as we do not have any storage in hand as of now. Hence we have planned to use OpenFiler for storage purpose which provides a simple way to deploy and manage networked storage.

You can download Openfiler from below given link.

https://www.openfiler.com/community/download

I am writing this blog to share our experience what we discussed last night while installing the Openfiler. Below points we discussed.

Environment: –

  • 4 Physical Machines
  • Out of four boxes, using one box for Openfiler as Storage.
  • Configuration of machine which we are using for Openfiler – i5/16GB/2 TB SATA/250GB SSD/2 NICs

Discussion Point: –

  1. Which Software shall we use for Free NAS purpose?
  2. Should be install Openfiler on each four servers and use virtual environment individually on each server? Or create a centralized storage using a single server as Openfiler box then share volumes with rest environment?
  3. If we are using Openfiler, should it be on VM workstation or install directly on bare-metal machine?
  4. If it will be on VM workstation, then how other Virtual environment exists in different physical servers will access the Volumes?
  5. What is performance impact on accessing the volumes over the LAN on other machines if we are installing Open filer on VM workstation?
  6. What are the performance benefits if we install OpenFiler directly on Bare-metal machine?
  7. Performance output when we access volumes over LAN.
  8. As of now we have two disks available in existing machine which we are using for Openfiler. We are not using any RAID configuring now. Now question was, where do we install it? Should it be installed on SATA or SSD?
  • SATA – 1 TB in Size
  • SSD – 240 Gig in Size

Conclusion: –

Here I am sharing our minutes of discussion.

  • We are going to use Openfiler as free NAS. We will use one server for Openfiler and rest 3 servers will be to create virtual environment I;e ESXi, vCenter, etc.
  • It will be installed directly on bare-metal machine.
  • Installation source will be USB stick, and destination will be SATA disk. We will add SSD disk as an additional volume.
  • While assessing the performance impact, we concluded that there will be definitely slight performance impact in comparison to use individually on each physical server. But as using 24 Port Gigabit switch to connect these all 4 physical servers, hence there won’t be much difference. Altogether we don’t need shared storage for all environment so this only solution left. Let me clear that we are not considering VSAN at this point.

Issues Reported: –

While started the installation of Openfiler directly on bare metal machine on one of the machine, we faced lot of errors mentioned below. To fix this, we had to format the physical disk as raw disk. Used CD Disk rather a USB stick to install the Openfiler.

Installation Stuck while choosing the source media.

Error:

What type of media contains the packages to be installed?

  • Local CD/DVD
  • Hard Drive
  • NFS directly
  • FTP
  • HTTP

Error - Installation of Openfiler

 

We didn’t see any option to choose USB Drive which we had plugged in as source file to install Openfiler. We proceeded to choose the options and we came to know that system is not detecting USB drivers. Hence, we used CD Disk to start the installation and it worked fine.

Please follow below article to Install and Configure Openfiler in your environment.

Step by Step Installation Guide for Using Openfiler

Step by Step Configuration Guide for Using Openfiler

Techies: We are also looking for your valuable inputs here. I invite you all to share your views in comment box for the best practices everyone should follow in such cases.

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