What You Don’t Know About NFS v4.2

What You Don’t Know About NFS v4.2

Posted in tech

Few elements of IT architecture venture as close to religion as file systems. They are the framework upon which the entire house is built, and as such, are a passion for many of us in IT.

We share those passions at Primary Data, which is why several of our key architects are in fact kernel maintainers. Trond Mykkelbust, a Principal System Architect for Primary Data, is the maintainer for the NFS project, and he is laser focused on continually optimizing NFS for modern data centers. So much so, that under Trond’s leadership, Primary Data has led contributions to NFS since 2013:


Figure 1 - NFS contributions since October 2013, report generated June 22, 2017.

During recent events with many of the industry’s most experienced bloggers, we were surprised to find out that many in the IT community were unfamiliar with some of the recent enhancements in NFS v4.2. The NFS v4 version has had some well-documented growing pains, such as limited bandwidth and scalability, but the latest release addresses the growing pains and delivers many features necessary for the modern, data services-centric enterprise. Trond, other colleagues at Primary Data, and many other contributors throughout the industry have worked hard over the past few years to optimize the latest release, NFS v4.2. Here are some highlights:

It's faster and much more scalable

There is now direct data access from client to storage, allowing your clients to scale linearly with the number of underlying storage devices. In addition, clients can access multiple storage devices in parallel. A new delegations feature increases opportunities for caching on the client without affecting data integrity. And now, compound-operations reduce the number of round trips between storage and the storage server to accomplish the same work.

Greater mobility with live data migration

The Flex Files feature enables live files to be moved without impacting applications by non-disruptively replacing layouts, which enables data access and data integrity to be maintained, even as files are being copied.

Free and accurate performance telemetry

All Linux clients running NFS v4.2 continuously report performance metrics on the underlying infrastructure. Best of all, there are no requirements for additional software to be installed on NFS clients.

Built in support for file cloning

That's right, server-side clone-and-copy enables cloning and snapshots of files by any NFS v4.2 storage server.

Enhanced security

NFS v4 ACLs are compatible with Windows ACLs, greatly simplifying secure sharing of data across platforms. In addition, RPCSEC_GSS can be used for authentication and data access.

Broad support from enterprise Linux distributions

Supported by all the major distributions, including: Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, Oracle, Ubuntu and others.

These are just a sampling of the many capabilities NFS provides. See the Linux NFS wiki for a repository and documentation or your Linux vendor’s documentation for additional information.

NFS v4.2 is one of the foundations for DataSphere. It provides a framework DataSphere uses to virtualize data and perform live data mobility.  Stay tuned for a follow-up blog that will go into detail about how Primary Data’s DataSphere takes advantage of the rich data services provided by NFS v4.2. If you can't wait that long, learn more on our DataSphere product page or email deepdive@primarydata.com to schedule a demo or meeting.


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