NETGEAR has announced that its ReadyNAS family of network storage devices is now certified compatible with VMware's ESX 4.0 virtualisation solution. As far as I am aware, NETGEAR's range of ReadyNAS products already comes with inherent support to serve as a Network File System (NFS) storage destination.
This means SMBs now have added assurance that NETGEAR's ReadyNAS family of storage hardware will work well when used with VMware's virtual machines. An alternative probably would entail the use of enterprise-centric equipment, which might be too expensive for a small and medium business.
Advantages of using a NAS as a VM Datastore
A typical deployment scenario involving a VMware virtual machine (VM) and a network-attached storage (NAS) like NETGEAR's ReadyNAS would see the VM containing only the files necessary for booting up and some basic operations. Additional - or user - files could then be accessed over the network via NFS and other network protocols. This strategy allows SMBs to keep their virtual images lean and greatly simplifies backup.
Abstracting storage in such a manner also makes it easier to plan for disaster recovery. Incremental backups could be performed on user files stored on the NAS as opposed to needlessly monitoring all the files in a virtual machine.
I checked out NETGEAR's Web site and spotted a tutorial for configuring ReadNAS NFS share as a datastore. A second tutorial on how to use the ReadyNAS as an iSCSI target should also be made available soon.
There is an undeniable shift toward online storage where backup and archival is concerned - something unthinkable just a few years back. One advantage of storing data in the clouds is that the data could be easily accessed at any time and from any workstation with Internet access. In addition, the cloud makes for an excellent platform for file distribution to large groups of users.
On the flip side, existing bandwidth limitations and latency mean that cloud storage cannot match the near-line performance of a network-attached storage. As such, a system administrator who need to restore the files of a few hundred users fast probably will not opt for online storage.
For now, the disparity in performance is the reason the use of NAS and cloud storage are complementary. And if you intend to use virtualization technology from VMware, NETGEAR's ReadyNAS might be an option you want to consider.