VMware believes vSAN is a very disruptive technology that does not require you to re-architect the environment to integrate it. There are several trends that necessitate virtual storage adoption:
1) The amount of data we are storing
2) The complexity of storage today
vSAN is a very simple product to deploy. Installation involves answering a few questions to get it up and running but does not require zoning or LUN creation. VMware sees three strong use cases for vSAN: Virtual Desktop, Test and Development and Disaster Recovery.
VMware expects people to adopt vSAN organically. For example customers will buy vSAN for a development cluster initially but as it proves itself it will evolve for use in other environments. VMware is targeting vSAN for the mid-tier storage performance requirements as apposed to applicable for all workloads. vSAN will coexist with physical SAN environments in the enterprise.
VMware sees storage as the final piece of the complete Software Defined Datacenter. The challenge for VMware is will their customers see them as a storage vendor? VMware sees a large shift in the performance power of the server platform, from server flash, to multi-core CPUs delivering an enterprise grade hardware platform. In addition storage is becoming less specialized as VMs aggregate workloads on common storage platforms.
VMware believes the hypervisor is in a unique position to understand both workload performance and storage requirements as it is directly in the IO path. Although most people understand the virtualization story with VMware, the company has been innovative in storage technology and management; i.e. VMotion, Storage DRS, Storage IO control for example.
VMware sees three critical areas in Software Defined Storage; the virtual data plane or the aggregating of storage pools, virtual data services such as data protection and performance and finally the policy-driven control plane which allows policy based automation and orchestration. All these layers are necessary to make up Software Defined Storage.
vSAN will ship in as a Virtual SAN Ready node which will come direct from the hardware vendors as well as a Do it Yourself "DiY" option in which you deploy the hardware and apply the software. In a very small 16 node cluster VMware has bench marked 1 million IOPs as part of there testing.
vSAN provides enterprise grade storage performance from server based storage. vSAN makes use of Host based Hard Drives (HHDs) and Solid State Drives (SSDs) installed on the server which are presented as the vSAN datastore. This means that technology such as VMotion are fully supported on vSAN. It does not present LUNs however so Raw Disk Mapping (RDMs) are not supported on the architecture.
vSAN will work with any servers and RAID controllers on the Hardware Compatibly List (HCL) and can make use of SAS, SATA and SSD drives. VMware recommends 10 GBe connections between servers although it will run on 1 GBe.
vSAN writes to cache and then destages to disk. You can scale out vSAN by adding additional servers with additional HHDs and SSDs. It requires VMware vSphere 5.5 and VMware recommends that all servers in the cluster are configured identically.
The ability to assess use cases for vSAN and been built into the VMware Infrastructure Planner (VIP). VMware has announced that the GA release of vSAN will be in Q1 of this year.
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