The definition of the term “NAS” is evolving. Initially, the term was coined to refer to file-based ‘network-attached storage’. As protocols and networking technologies evolved, more and more storage began to be accessed over networks, providing file, block, and object storage services, and broadening the definition of “NAS”. The next evolution of NAS provides even more value within the same acronym: Networks, Applications, and Storage.
TrueNAS SCALE was designed around this evolved definition with better support for apps, VMs, and networks. Linux, Kubernetes, and containers provide the key technologies for enabling next-generation NAS.
Embedded Applications within a NAS system give users the ability to consolidate platforms, reduce costs, simplify administration, and accelerate the application performance by eliminating protocol and networking layers. This is the basis for Hyperconvergence, whether it is a single node, HA pair, or a scale-out cluster.
With the pre-Christmas release of TrueNAS SCALE Bluefin on December 13th, the support for Apps for TrueNAS has become even better. TrueNAS users now can build even more sophisticated and powerful systems with traditional NAS functionality and embedded applications. These applications can be either task-oriented like Plex and Nextcloud, or storage-oriented like Syncthing. This blog discusses Apps for TrueNAS SCALE Bluefin and all the tools provided.
TrueNAS SCALE Apps are Powerful
With TrueNAS SCALE Angelfish (22.02.4), VMs and Kubernetes Apps can co-exist. Angelfish features include:
Helm Charts: Apps can be built as multi-container pods with user-configurable parameters.
Graphical App Web UI: Deployment and management of Apps are done with a powerful graphical UI that simplifies operations for users with a Mac or Windows background. The goal of SCALE is to make the otherwise complex functionality of embedded applications simple to operate.
Docker Container Integration: Applications from Docker Hub and other repositories can be downloaded and run with simplicity.
3rd Party App Catalogs: Third-party Catalogs enable the organization of Apps, and have pushed the number of available Applications for TrueNAS SCALE well over a thousand.
GPU Support: Apps like Plex can use integrated or add-on GPUs for transcoding and other GPU-driven tasks.
Reliable updates: An inherent advantage of Docker containers is the management of software dependencies. This simplifies updates and upgrades, and is a major improvement over TrueNAS CORE plugins.
TrueNAS SCALE Bluefin: Apps get Even Better
TrueNAS SCALE Bluefin (22.12) takes Apps on SCALE to the next level with a suite of new capabilities:
OverlayFS: OverlayFS support within OpenZFS enables greatly reduced overhead when running Container workloads.
Wireguard VPN access: A Wireguard App enables other Apps and storage services to be accessible remotely to users running Wireguard clients. This app is in process and is expected to be available in the coming weeks.
Increased GPU support: Alderlake CPU and Geforce-30XX GPUs have been added to the GPU compatibility list.
Bulk updates: All Apps can now be updated with the single click of a button. This feature is only possible because updating Linux containers is inherently reliable.
Docker Compose App: This App enables existing Docker Compose configs to be easily ported to TrueNAS. Additionally, Portainer can also be deployed and used to manage containers. An official version of this App is planned to be available by Q2 of 2023.
Kubernetes API exposure: For Enterprise users, Kubernetes APIs will eventually be exposed so that external K8s management systems can be used with TrueNAS SCALE.
Cluster CSI drivers: Enterprise users can also use a Democratic or Kadalu CSI driver to automatically provision TrueNAS SCALE scale-up or scale-out storage for Kubernetes clusters.
Overall, the Apps functionality of TrueNAS SCALE Bluefin represents a major step forward relative to both Angelfish and TrueNAS CORE 13.0.
TrueNAS Provides Choice
TrueNAS provides a choice between editions, CORE and SCALE, each with its own benefits.
Users with traditional storage-specific NAS requirements (NFS, SMB, iSCSI, and S3) are still advised to choose TrueNAS CORE and Enterprise. These choices have five times more data under management and many more years of operation and stability. Currently, TrueNAS 13.0-U3 (CORE & Enterprise) is the most robust scale-up storage platform for general use. Jails are supported and if necessary, Plugins are available.
TrueNAS SCALE has inherited the storage functionality and automated testing from CORE. SCALE is maturing rapidly, and also offers a more robust Apps environment based on Linux, KVM, and Kubernetes. For that reason, SCALE is generally recommended for new users that need embedded applications.
TrueNAS provides these choices and an ability to automatically migrate storage services and VMs from CORE to SCALE. Plugins and jails can be manually replaced with Apps. We encourage anyone looking for further advice or answers to questions to visit our Community Forums or Discord Channel.