As reported late February by Rich Brambley and Scott Lowe, a new startup called Fluid Operations has developed an open source driver for the VMFS file system.

At the time, I read their entries and thought it was a really cool project, allowing for more free access in the virtualization arena. I knew that this would have value moving forward, but initially did not grasp the implications of introducing this new technology.However, as I was discussing backup strategies between Dell|EqualLogic storage and VMware, I discovered where this could have significant impact.

When we host VMFS iSCSI volumes on the EQL SAN, we can leverage the Auto Snapshot Manager for VMware to create application-aware snapshots of quiesced Virtual Machines. To date, these storage snapshots have only been for DR or volume-level recovery purposes. We still needed to rely on VCB or third party applications to backup the Virtual Machine files.

With the evolution of this VMFS driver, we will now be able to use that ASM quiesced snapshot to streamline Virtual Machine backups. First, we mount the snapshot to our backup server. Using the open source VMFS driver, we will now be able to browse that snapshot volume and see all of the files within. Backups of this volume can happen directly, without the need to use an intermediary such as VCB or a third party application. Direct backups are faster and less complex, and therefore… easier to manage. And as all SysAdmins know, easier to manage is always better