There are two open-source storage appliances that are based on Oracle's Solaris: EON and NexentaStor. Additionally you could use OpenIndiana, which is based on illumos, a fork of the former OpenSolaris operating system.
As I will stay with OpenFiler for now, I haven't been able to install and test these appliances. Therefor I will also not go into much detail as I don't know enough about them.
Solaris is based on UNIX, just as BSD and Linux are. This makes them comparable, still it is not the same. Additionally there are several different BSD descendants and hundreds of distinct Linux distributions. So every single of these products has its right to exist and also advantages and disadvantages depending on the use case.
This makes it impossible to say if one is better than the other or which one you should use. Personally, I'm just more comfortable with Linux and am much more experienced with it.
Also I found that there is more support available on the Internet as it is very widely-used. So even if they have the same root, Solaris is not Linux-based.
As already mentioned, ZFS was originally developed by SUN Microsystems and was therefor instantly integrated into Solaris. So you can use ZFS natively on EON, NexentaStor and also OpenIndiana and it will work like a charm.
But even if you won't have similar issues to using ZFS on Linux (which is said to be unstable), it is still recommended to have fairly new hardware with a lot of RAM and a fast 64-bit CPU. It would also work on my old servers with only 4 GB of RAM, but I would not really benefit from ZFS rather than running into light performance issues.
As already mentioned, I'm not really familiar with package management on Solaris, so I don't know how it works and which packages are necessary. Still I think it should be easily possible to just install them on OpenIndiana and therefor make iSCSI also work there.
Solaris is made to be a clustering operating system by default, so it should be working fine. You also don't even need additional packages like Corosync and Pacemaker on Linux but just a class of systems. It could also be possible that clustering is only available for enterprise versions and not in community editions.
But what I know is that DRBD is not available for Solaris. As an alternative there are clustered file systems, even I don't know if they exist on Solaris or not. Writing about that I would really like to find this out and test and play with it a while.
As soon as my small cluster is running stable, I will install VMs and check out Solaris a while. I'm really interested into this now. Additionally, if nothing else works, it is still possible to use Xen for doing the replication with Corosync, Pacemaker and DRBD but still store your data on ZFS/Solaris. So you would use the disks inside your XCP hosts instead real shared storage SAN, still you would prevent a SPoF.
EON has no GUI at all, NexentaStor has a web interface and OpenIndiana can be installed with a desktop just like any other operating system. This might be a bit of overload for a storage appliance, so you might be better off by using Webmin instead. Or you would have to abdicate a GUI and just do anything via the CLI.
The web interface of NexentaStor looks very good as it shows detailed performance measures and the like. Still this could be a bit overloaded and therefor difficult for beginners. Also there seem to be endless configuration options available, so great for people who want to control just anything but too complicated for everyone else.
I haven't tested any of these appliances yet so I just don't know anything about their monitoring abilities. As already mentioned, NexentaStor seems to be very good in this.
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