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vSAN: VMware’s First Software-Defined Enterprise Product

Servers, Storage and Networking | Posted on March 31, 2014 by Raksha Kanani

On March 12, 2014 VMware launched it’s first Software-Defined Enterprise product, called VMware Virtual SAN (or vSAN for short). vSAN is a software-based distributed storage solution built right on the hypervisor.

If you’re looking for ways to radically simplify storage tasks like replicating platforms, disaster recovery, and scaling out virtual desktops and storage -this post is for you.

What is vSAN?

VMware vSAN is an integrated storage feature for vSphere 5.5 that pools disk space from multiple ESXi hosts (vSphere’s exclusive system-independent hypervisor). It works by clustering hard disk and solid state drives, creating a flash-optimized, highly resilient shared data store for virtual environments.

Based on a hypervisor-converged distributed architecture embedded in vSphere, vSAN provides optimal data placement and I/O optimizations. Sitting directly in the I/O data path, vSAN delivers high-level performance, scalability and resilience without burdening the CPU with additional overhead.

Why we like vSAN

If you leverage vSAN as a second-tier of storage (to be stacked on top of local storage), you will save money. vSAN’s simplified management system reduces complexities usually inherent when switching to a new system i.e. clients using vSAN are able to use the same tools they already have for VSphere. vSAN is a perfect fit for virtualized desktops, meaning you will not need to purchase another SAN, keeping even more money in your wallet. Lastly, it also offers a single point of management, with automation policies thats work on both virtualized servers and storage.

Who needs vSAN and what are the requirements?

As far as software is concerned, vSAN is designed for organizations operating on vSphere 5.5 (standard edition or above), vSphere with Operations Management 5.5 (any edition) or vCloud Suite 5.5 (any edition) using a vCenter Server 5.5. If you aren’t working with vSphere or vCloud or are operating on an older version, contact Softchoice for a complimentary VMware Licensing TechCheck to determine how best to pursue your interest in vSAN.

On the hardware side of things, you will need a minimum 1GB (though 10GB is recommended), a SATA/SAS HBA or RAID controller (with pass-through or HBA mode). You also need at least one SSD and one HDD for each capacity-contributing node cluster with a minimum of 3 hosts per cluster. Softchoice also recommends your SSD capacity be at 5% of your HDD capacity.

Why you should care

It’s simple, vSAN provides radically simple storage for virtual machines, while significantly reducing your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by up to 50%. The hypervisor-converged storage software creates a high-performance, persistent storage tier which is completely integrated with your VMware stack. Also, flash-optimized architecture gives you premium performance for a very low initial investment. vSAN also lets you “grow as you go” with granular linear scaling of performance, capacity and cost. It rapidly provisions storage and and provides fully-automated, self-tuning, ongoing management with single pane of glass management through vSphere. And, of course, it is backed by VMware support.

What you should do right now

If you are operating on vSphere 5.5 (standard edition or above), vSphere with Operations Management 5.5, or vCloud Suite 5.5, reach out to your Softchoice account manager to book a call with a VMware technical architect, who will help you determine if vSAN is the right fit for you. If you are not operating on one of these VMware services or are operating on an older version of any of the above, a complimentary Licensing TechCheck is in order to help us determine how best to serve you.

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