TrueNAS 13.0 RC1 Increases Storage Availability


April 19, 2022

TrueNAS 13.0 reached its Release Candidate milestone today and previews some significant increases in storage availability. TrueNAS 13.0 RC1 piggybacks on the TrueNAS 13.0 BETA and includes new features, quality improvements, and the benefits of more extensive testing. TrueNAS 13.0 is focused on improving the security, performance, and reliability of scale-up storage capabilities of TrueNAS 12.0.

One of the primary goals of storage software and TrueNAS 13.0 is to increase the availability of storage. When storage cannot be accessed, it is unavailable and costs users time and money. In some cases, these costs can be millions of dollars per hour. The typical way storage availability is measured is the amount of time the data can be accessed as a % of the time for each year. For example, “5 nines” is 99.999% availability or less than 5 minutes of downtime per year. Each system should have a target of three, four, five, or more nines.

There are various causes of storage unavailability, and these are summed to determine the actual unavailability of a system in any given year. 

Drive failures: This can be relatively frequent, especially with many drives, but there is no availability impact if you are using ZFS RAID and have configured enough spares.

Component failures: Rarer than drive failures, but component failures do happen and can cause long outages. Redundant controllers, fans, and power supplies can reduce the impact of individual component failures.

Repair times/Hardware Maintenance: Replacing a server takes time and will reduce expected availability to “Three 9’s” unless locally spared. TrueNAS HA (High Availability) systems have the spare controller built-in to enable “Five 9s” of availability.

Network outages: Rare, though these are not normally attributed to storage.  It is ideal to have dual switches and no single point of failure to ensure storage availability.

Power outages: This is a common issue in homes and offices and can be mitigated with a UPS (or a solar battery). Data Centers will generally have two or three power sources/feeds, and these can be connected to redundant power inputs on the storage. Hot-swappable, redundant power supplies are recommended for these environments.

System reboots: Systems may have to reboot in some situations. Reboot times impact availability and should be as fast as possible. Rebooting also requires the ZFS pool to be reimported and the sharing services to be restarted. TrueNAS is well-regarded with respect to the low frequency of reboots and has been demonstrated to be much more reliable than Windows Servers.

Software updates: One of the primary reasons for rebooting is to enable software updates. TrueNAS HA systems reduce this time by having the standby controller already updated and so only the ZFS pool needs to be imported.

TrueNAS 13.0 can’t solve hardware availability issues, but the software can improve storage availability. The iX engineering team has reviewed the reboot and software update times and has found several ways of improving them, particularly for larger systems and HA systems.

The major improvement in TrueNAS 13.0 is the increase in parallelism when importing an OpenZFS pool. Previously, there were parts of the ZFS file system that were single-threaded, with a single process scanning metadata across the entire pool. This serialization extended pool import times dramatically. With OpenZFS 2.1, iXsystems has contributed an OpenZFS patch that parallelizes this process so that ten or more threads can simultaneously work on the task, providing up to a 90% reduction in pool import times for large pools.

For TrueNAS HA systems, there is an automated, multi-step software update process to shutdown the primary controller, activate the secondary controller, move the Virtual IP addresses, import the pool, replay any data in the SLOGs, and then restart the sharing services. Under TrueNAS 13.0, the faster ZFS pool imports will greatly improve failover and software update times. This will be particularly noticeable on systems with hundreds of hard drives, where imports traditionally took much longer. Smaller pools with dozens of drives are expected to see a 50% improvement, but more testing needs to be done for validation. All-flash pools import much more quickly on account of flash media’s much lower latency. The reduction in failover times helps IT meet their system availability goals.

Thanks to a major contribution from WD, TrueNAS 13.0 is also the first release that is going through comprehensive large-scale testing with over 1200 drives on a single HA system. The increased lab space we have added has allowed us to house this good-looking TrueNAS M60 system. These improvements and testing capabilities are also scheduled for TrueNAS SCALE and will mature in future releases.

Another Step Toward TrueNAS 13.0 RELEASE!

TrueNAS 13.0 is progressing through an accelerated delivery of the BETA1, RC1, RELEASE, and UPDATE stages. Because the software changes are less complex, it is maturing faster than TrueNAS 12.0 or TrueNAS SCALE. There is a TrueNAS 13.0 sub-forum on the Community forums for this accelerated process and Community feedback. Hundreds of users have started their testing, and the feedback has been favorable with most users reporting a very normal software update experience.

The new TrueNAS 13.0 documentation is based on the TrueNAS 12.0 docs which were more modular and expandable. The Community is invited to edit, contribute, or simply provide feedback. Please check out the documentation even if you don’t upgrade today. 

TrueNAS SCALE: The Path to Scale-out and Linux Support

TrueNAS 12.0 users also have an option to migrate to TrueNAS SCALE. TrueNAS SCALE also supports Samba 4.15 and OpenZFS 2.1 but is based on Debian Bullseye and not FreeBSD. 

Users looking for scale-out storage capabilities and/or Linux-friendly hyperconvergence with Kubernetes and KVM should look at SCALE. TrueNAS SCALE 22.02.0 hit the RELEASE stage on “Twosday”, 2/22/22.

Users with storage-centric use cases (file, block, object) that are generally satisfied with TrueNAS 12.0 will find that upgrading to TrueNAS 13.0 will result in significant advantages without any major changes to data layout, tools, or user interface.

TrueNAS CORE: Still the Best Free NAS

TrueNAS 13.0 security, quality, and performance improvements should have a positive impact on your systems. If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear them on the community forums, on the TrueNAS subreddit, or in response to this blog. If you need additional information on how TrueNAS can streamline, accelerate, and unify data management for your business, contact us. 

For those with TrueNAS 12.0 installed on your system, you can upgrade to TrueNAS 13.0 RC1 easily. Download TrueNAS 13.0 RC1 and get started. TrueNAS Enterprise customers should wait for the TrueNAS 13.0 RELEASE or one of the UPDATES and contact iXsystems support before updating.


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