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Figures 3 and 4 show the output of the Crystal Diskmark tool connecting to a shared drive for FreeNAS and OpenFiler, respectively. Figures 5 (FreeNAS) and 6 (OpenFiler) show the iSCSI performance. While OpenFiler was behind FreeNAS in the setup and management categories, it came out ahead in the performance test. Both the iSCSI and SMB file shares showed higher throughput numbers for OpenFiler.
Figure 3. Crystal Diskmark Results for FreeNAS (Shared Drive)
Figure 4. Crystal Diskmark Results for OpenFiler (Shared Drive)
Figure 5. FreeNAS iSCI Performance
Figure 6. OpenFiler iSCI Performance
FreeNAS allows you to attach an entire physical device to an iSCSI target, which should increase the overall performance you can get. One of the commercial offerings from the OpenFiler group is an iSCSI plugin that is supposed to deliver even higher numbers. We did not obtain this plugin as the goal was to compare the two distributions based on freely available software.
From a management and ease-of-use perspective, the FreeNAS distribution definitely stands out over OpenFiler. Both projects are in active development with new releases coming out at regular intervals. This should provide an extra level of comfort to any IT manager looking at the possibility of going with an open source solution for storage. Both offerings provide a wealth of options and should work well once you get them up and running.