VMware Virtual SAN 5.5 – did its release go under the radar ?

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Many of you will surely have been excited about VMware’s recent release of vSphere 5.5. There were many long anticipated features such as the; 62TB VMDK limit, Big Data extensions and the much-hyped NSX software defined networking. I however believe that the new release of the VSAN 5.5 has as much, if not more potential to transform the Data Centre than any of the other new offerings.

To those of you who are not familiar with VSAN or Software Defined Storage, it is a virtual appliance that lives on an ESX host and abstracts storage functionality away from the underlying hardware. It pools storage capacity across hosts and automates policy and provisioning at the vSphere layer. VSAN uses local disk on the servers and aggregates storage from multiple hosts into a pool of shared storage.

Each server must have at least 1 Solid State Drive and 1 SAS or Near Line Hard drive. The number of these drives can be scaled out. The SSD’s are used as Read and Write cache and can provide massive performance enhancements when compared with legacy storage arrays. When data is “hot” it is stored on SSD and moves to the SAS or Near Line SAS drives when it “cools”. A minimum of 3 hosts is required for redundancy.

There is no concept (or the complexity) of RAID as data is automatically written to multiple hosts by policy for redundancy and all of this managed in the vCentre console. The current limitation is that the VSAN scales to 8 hosts, 120,00 IOPS and 800 Virtual Machines. Which I think will cover most customers’ environments. The product is in Public Beta and VMware and EMC are recommending it for VDI and Test and Dev environments.

I however believe that the implications of this are far greater than just these use cases. Organisations can now build out their VMware clusters without the expense of SANS, using there own servers with SSD’s and Hard drives. All the enterprise features such as: tiering, snapshots, replication and high availability are built in. VMware features like HA, V-Motion and DRS are supported. This is hyper converged infrastructure at its best.

This concept is not new. Innovators like Nutanix and Simplivity have had their own products in the market for 18 months. However they include their own hardware and proprietary software and are priced to suit the large enterprise. The fact that this offering is from the trusted VMware, is fully integrated with vCenter and is approx. $2000.00 per physical CPU makes this a very attractive offering.

For more information, please contact Josh Rubens at jrubens@cloudsolutiosngroup.com.au