Increasingly more innovative technologies have focused on NFS-based datastores in the VMware environment. Hybrid arrays from Tintri to Coho Data focus on the less-appreciated protocol. NetApp has made NFS valuable for VM administrators from day one. Infinio Accelerator focuses on adding scale-out storage acceleration for those running the protocol today. Despite all of the awesome technology developed in the space, the perception remains sticky on how NFS is a less desirable choice over block-level protocols.
Here is a collection of useful links that lead me to three big conclusions around NFS on vSphere.
1. NFS can have multiple paths to storage
Believing that storage misses out of the high availability and load balancing available to other protocols simply because its protocol is NFS is dead wrong. Chris Wahl of Wahl Network digs into the important differences between load balancing and multipathing in NFS environments. Suffice it to say, NFS has you covered.
2. NFS doesn't have a locking problem
Here's the origin of that myth as outlined by VMware in its NFS Best Practices documentation:
Some early adopters of VI3 on NFS created some best practices that are no longer viewed favorably. They are:
1. Turn off the NFS locking within the ESX server
2. Not placing virtual machine swap space on NFS storage.
Both these have been debunked and the following section provides more details as to why these are no longer considered best practices.
If reading it from VMware is sufficient, you now know it's true. If you want to dig into the details, the documentation is great.
3. Microsoft Windows VMs run happily on NFS datastores
In one of the most enduring myths documented well by BlueArc, users sometimes confuse mounting storage on ESX as identical to mounting storage inside the VM itself. No VM knows what type of datastore it's stored on. Microsoft's one bias against NFS datastores is for Exchange support despite experts pushing the company to change its position.
When looking at the benefits versus the costs associated with storage configuration, keep in mind that not everything we hear is true. I hope this helps you keep a more balanced view on the choice at hand.
I would love to hear about what makes you choose one protocol over another these days in the comments below.