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IXsystems aims for the enterprise with latest OS updates

IXsystems brought performance and feature updates to TrueNAS and TrueNAS Scale in a major update that the vendor hopes will make it more attractive to the enterprise.

IXsystems made major updates to the software for both its NAS and scale-out, hyper-converged operating system, aiming to position itself with other mainstream enterprise storage vendors.

The vendor upgraded TrueNAS Core and Enterprise editions to version 13.0 with a performance improvement claim of up to 20% and a reduction in system restart and failover times. TrueNAS Scale, the hyper-converged infrastructure version of the software released in October 2021, received its first update, which allows for more complex deployments. The updates for TrueNAS Core, Enterprise and Scale are available at no cost.

IXsystems' TrueNAS 13.0 aims to make it more appealing to the enterprise with better performance and more mainstream features, according to Mike Matchett, an analyst at Small World Big Data. He added that TrueNAS is now more Tier 1-ready than ever before.

"Now [IXsystems] is saying [TrueNAS] is ready for the big time," Matchett said. "Now it can compete with other solutions from big vendors."

TrueNAS has a significant user base on Core, its free product, Matchett said. Companies might be using Core for testing or R&D, but if companies are using TrueNAS in several places in the organization -- and if IXsystems continues to add enterprise features -- some companies might decide to use it everywhere, he said.

A closer look at 13.0

The last major update, 12.0, saw the merging of FreeNAS and TrueNAS into a single storage OS and a name change to Core, the community or free version, and Enterprise, the highly available, paid version.

Version 13.0 brings the operating system, FreeBSD, from 12.0 to 13.0 and enhances performance up to 20%, which includes an improvement to scheduling threads, according to Morgan Littlewood, senior vice president of product management and business development at IXsystems.

By updating OpenZFS, an open source file system, to 2.1, the vendor reduced startup and failover times for high-availability systems by more than 80%, Littlewood said.

"When OpenZFS boots up, it must scan all the drives to bring in metadata and start up the file system," Littlewood said. "We've made that a parallel process, where it used to be serial."

TrueNAS also received a 400% performance increase in NFS technology using nconnect, which enables multiple TCP connections in parallel, Littlewood said.

Scott Sinclair, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, a division of TechTarget, said IXsystems is hardening the heart of its technology. This is needed as more organizations adopt open source technology for Tier 1 functions.

"IXsystems is saying, 'Everything we did before, we do it stronger, better, faster,' rather than, 'Here's new features we've never done before,'" Sinclair said.

TrueNAS 13.0 dashboard showing storage pools
A look at IXsystems' TrueNAS 13.0 storage pools.

More mainstream with scale

TrueNAS is IXsystems' scale-up product, which adds storage but not more performance to the user's NAS. But IXsystems also has a scale-out product, TrueNAS Scale, which adds both storage and performance. Last week, the vendor made its first update to TrueNAS Scale.

The major updates include easy migration from TrueNAS 12.0 or 13.0 to TrueNAS Scale for companies that need to scale out; they can effectively use their NAS with Core on it and convert it to Scale without moving the data, Littlewood said. After migration, users can access TrueNAS Scale.

TrueNAS Scale has also improved its use of apps. Previously, TrueNAS Scale used Jails for OS-level virtualization.

"Jails are very good, but they're not as popular as Docker and containers," Littlewood said. "TrueNAS Scale includes Linux technology, which is Kubernetes, and can run Docker containers and Kubernetes pods as well."

IXsystems also added stronger virtualization support with a KVM hypervisor, Littlewood said.

Features like these make TrueNAS Scale more appealing, Matchett said, as Docker and Kubernetes are more widely used in the enterprise than Jails.

Much like TrueNAS, the messaging around TrueNAS Scale will most likely shift to indicate that it is now more ready for the enterprise and has more mainstream enterprise features.

Building up the community

The major update comes on the heels of another big announcement for IXsystems: It just passed a $100 million revenue run rate, according to Mario Blandini, vice president of marketing at IXsystems.

IXsystems has relied on its community for years, Blandini said. Through an upgrade to Jira Cloud, a collaborative tool used for software development and customer service, feature requests are easier for users to make and for the vendor to track.

While the TrueNAS documentation is in the open, IXsystems has added an online collaboration feature so that users can work together on documentation around TrueNAS.

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