SMB protocol on Oracle OCI: An analysis of the available options

February 15, 2024 | 5 minute read
Marco Santucci
EMEA Enterprise Cloud Solution Architect
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Many enterprise infrastructures still use the server message block (SMB) protocol. Having a clear understanding of the implementation possibilities and the various associated costs on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) is crucial. You can consider several options for implementation and support of the SMB protocol in OCI. In this blog post, we explore five solutions.

Depending on the required business availability and the amount of data to be allocated, it’s important to evaluate which solution is the most suitable for your needs. Let's explore the main options available.

Oracle ZFS Appliance

Oracle ZFS Appliance is a storage solution developed by Oracle. This high-performance storage system is based on integrated software and hardware and designed to provide advanced data management and robust reliability. The acronym 'ZFS' refers to the Zettabyte File System, an advanced file system with data management and snapshot capabilities. Oracle ZFS appliances are designed to meet the storage needs of critical enterprise data, offering features such as data compression, deduplication, snapshots, and replication on a remote site. These systems are often used in enterprise environments, where efficient and secure management of large amounts of data is necessary. ZFS technology enables advanced management of the storage pool, facilitating the creation of scalable storage pools and reducing the complexity of data management. You can use the Oracle ZFS Appliance for various workloads, including databases, business applications, and virtualization environments.

ZFS Appliance is on Oracle Cloud Marketplace currently available in both a single-node free version and a dual node configuration to function in a high-availability, commercially supported mode. ZFS Appliance delivers various protocols, including SMB, and is directly supported by Oracle Support. 

One of the most cost-effective features is the ability to share connected storage volumes between the two instances, avoiding data replication between hosts and preventing cost escalation in environments with high data demands. For more information, see the Quick Start guide.

Oracle Linux Storage Appliance

Oracle Linux Storage Appliance provides a fast and easy way to build network file storage (NFS) and Samba shared storage using NVMe devices or block volumes attached to OCI Compute instances. It utilizes the NFS and Samba features that you’re already familiar with from Oracle Linux packaged in an appliance developed for OCI. The appliance allows you to create NFS and Samba shared file systems using your OCI account with bare metal or virtual machine (VM) shaped instances.

This solution is completely free. You pay only the resource consumption. However, it doesn’t support high availability. For more information on Oracle Linux Storage Appliance, see the tutorial.

High Availability Samba Cluster with Linux

If you have a Linux background or similar technical skills, we have a tutorial for deploying a fully open source solution in high availability that integrated with Microsoft Windows Active Directory to manage users access. The data resides on a shared volume attached between the two instances using the OCFS2 file system. No license and no replication are required between the two nodes. The cost is related only to your consumption based on oCPU and block volume size.

Your organization can gain the following benefits by implementing a clustered SMB file server service:
•    Reliability: The clustered configuration ensures high availability, minimizing the risk of downtime and ensuring constant access to critical files.
•    Fault tolerance: If of a server fails, the clustered setup provides automatic failover, guaranteeing uninterrupted access to files and maintaining business continuity.
•    Resource utilization: Efficient resource allocation ensures optimal utilization of server resources, maximizing productivity while minimizing operational costs.

Microsoft Windows File Server infrastructure

You can deploy a Microsoft file server with the assistance of Microsoft Distributed File System (DFS) if you want to make the infrastructure resilient. Microsoft DFS enables management of files distributed across a network in a seamless manner for users. The primary goal of DFS is to simplify file management and access, enabling users to access distributed file resources as if they were stored in a single logical location.

Microsoft DFS has two main components: Namespace and replication. The namespace itself is split into the following parts:

  • Root namespace: Provides a unified access point for the entire DFS hierarchy. It acts as a universal naming convention (UNC) path that consolidates file resources.
  • Domain-based Namespace: Allows organizing namespaces based on Active Directory domains.

DFS enables data replication between servers, enhancing availability and redundancy. You can configure replication to ensure that data is copied to multiple servers.

Microsoft DFS streamlines file management in distributed environments, improving reliability, accessibility, and data availability for network users. DFS functionality is often used in business scenarios where you need to provide access to files distributed across multiple servers or sites.

The downside of this technology is that the storage necessary for replication in achieving business availability in environments with a high data demand incurs a substantial increase in costs.

NAS Appliances

You can also deploy a network attached storage (NAS) appliance of your choice on OCI. NAs applicances offer the possibility of having the SMB protocol and potentially support integration with Windows Active Directory. One of the most popular in the market is TrueNAS.

Conclusion 

You can implement the proposed options in various types of infrastructure designs, both in native cloud and hybrid cloud environments, following a study on the type of workload to be supported and the necessary network performance tailored to the client's needs. The current File Storage service lacks support for the SMB protocol, but OCI has several viable options for its implementation. The choice of a solution depends on factors such as business availability requirements and the amount of data to be allocated.

Options like the Oracle ZFS Appliance present a high-performance storage system with advanced data management features, making it suitable for critical enterprise data. The Oracle Linux Storage Appliance provides a cost-effective solution for creating NFS and Samba shared storage but lacks high availability support. For customers with a Linux background, the high-availability Samba cluster offers a fully open source solution with clustered configurations, ensuring reliability and fault tolerance.

Alternatively, Microsoft Windows File Server infrastructure, with the assistance of DFS, provides a resilient solution for file management, enhancing reliability and accessibility in distributed environments. However, it comes with increased costs from storage replication.

Finally, deploying NAS appliances, such as TrueNAS, on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure offers flexibility with the SMB protocol and potential integration with Windows Active Directory. Base the choice among these options on careful evaluation of specific business needs, resource consumption, and the desired level of availability and redundancy.

Resources 

Marco Santucci

EMEA Enterprise Cloud Solution Architect


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