Like many of you, I have an adorable home lab with a few servers, networking and storage. For my storage I have been using for many years now QNAP devices. Currently I have an TS859pro, which is an older 8 bay model with 8x2TB disks in them running raid6. In general I am happy with my QNAP, but when doing tests with virtualization, especially when you start cloning stuff, you need to be a patient person (which I am not!).

I already recently added SSD disks into my ESXi servers, so for my important VMs I get some solid disk performance (what a difference between using 1Gb iSCSI!!).

This week I also found out that QNAP has not been sitting still. With the release of their latest firmware 3.8.2 they now support VAAI (vStorage APIs for Array Integration) and while my model is End-of-Life, QNAP did also make this firmware available for my unit. Besides VAAI, Qnap also ships an plugin for vSphere, so you can directly in your vSphere client create datastores for iSCSI and NFS. While that is nice, the VAAI stuff is really the useful stuff.

I assume that most of you, like myself, just run 1Gb ethernet. This typically is by far the bottleneck for all my I/O. I do use dedicated NICs in the ESXi servers and the 2nd ethernet interface on my QNAP for iSCSI only, but still doing operation like clone/copying VMs take forever.

So I was brave and installed the new Qnap firmware today. Without doing anything else, suddenly the vSphere client was saying that Hardware Acceleration was enabled on my iSCSI datastores. So I took my simple WinXP template (3GB actual data) and tried to “create new VM from template”. In the meantime I was monitoring the traffic monitor on my Qnap. I saw almost no traffic at all and 133 seconds later the new VM was created. This is significantly faster compared to not having VAAI (234 seconds).

Network traffic with VAAI

Network traffic with NO VAAI

 

I did some more test and strangle found that cloning from the same template that was on the NFS of the QNAP to an iSCSI datastore on the same QNAP it only took 104 seconds. I was using ethernet 1 for NFS and ethernet 2 for iSCSI, but find it strange that this copying goes faster then internally just copying the file using VAAI. Clearly QNAP can do some more optimization here.

But for a “home” nas I am really impressed with the QNAPs added functionality. They use a single software code for all their models, so even their smaller unit will have this capability (while not officially supported).

Read more here about the QNAP