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VMware Virtual SAN: Out of Beta, Now Generally Available

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

VMware has announced the general availability of its first software defined storage (SDS) product called VMware Virtual SAN (Storage Area Network). VMware's VSAN has been in open beta since last September and as of last week it is available for purchase.

VMware Virtual SAN is embedded in the vSphere kernel so it does not require an additional software installation. VSAN pools x86 server based hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs) to create a shared data store that can be divided up and assigned to virtual machines (VMs) and applications, according to quality of service requirements.

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According to VMware, based on internal benchmarks (using  the IOMeter benchmarking tool, February 2014) on a 32 node cluster, VSAN can perform up to 2 million input/output operations per second (IOPS) on a read-only workload and up to 640,000 IOPS on a mixed (70 percent/30 percent Read/Write, 4K 80 percent random) workload.

"Today VMware changes the way that storage has been operated to date. VMware Virtual SAN is a radically simple storage solution optimized for virtual environments that brings an application-centric approach to storage management. Customers that know VMware vSphere know VMware Virtual SAN, and can rely on that familiarity to hit the ground running with VMware Virtual SAN," said John Gilmartin, vice president and general manager, SDDC Suite Business Unit at VMware.

Like their competitors in the storage space, including Nimble Storage, Nutanix, QLogic, Sanbolic, SimpliVity, Tintri, Virident, and others, VMware uses flash storage to speed up performance of the Virtual SAN. VMware stated the software allows customers to add capacity and linearly scale their clusters on demand by adding nodes to a cluster or disks to individual nodes.

VSAN uses storage policy based management that allows for separate service levels based on individual VM policies, down to a single VSAN data store. VMware states that automated provisioning and management will help to meet IT Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

"VMware Virtual SAN enables us to scale our storage infrastructure and gives us the redundancy we require to help bring our solutions to market faster to our Line of Business customers. With VMware Virtual SAN, we use policy based management to automate storage aggregation across a large distributed environment while maintaining the same hardware platforms we know and use today," said Frans Van Rooyen, Cloud Architect at Adobe Systems Incorporated.

Configuring and deploying Virtual SAN only requires two clicks using VMware's vSphere Web Client. Since VSAN is integrated with vSphere, customers also have access to vSphere data services and other features that are available within the Enterprise and Enterprise plus editions of vSphere (for example load balancing, resource allocation, backup, snapshots, etc).

What's more, VSAN is hardware independent and can be deployed on a range of servers. VMware provides a compatibility guide that customers can review to make sure VSAN is compatible with their existing systems. According to VMware, there are currently 150 components and 13 Ready Nodes certified with Virtual SAN.

The pricing for VSAN is $2,495 per processor and $50 per user for the Virtual SAN for Desktop. The company is offering a bundle of VSAN with VMware vSphere Data Protection Advanced (Backup and Recovery solution for vSphere) for $2,875 per processor.  For existing vSphere storage appliance customers, VMware is offering 20 percent off list price for an upgrade to Virtual SAN.

VMware is advertising VSAN as a money saving proposition which lowers the total cost of ownership (TCO) by up to 50 percent for storage. Lowering TCO is a standard claim by most SDS vendors and it is likely true for a variety of reasons.

However, the most important thing is that VMware has baked SDS into one of, if not the, best virtualization platforms available. While it likely will make a few of their partners unhappy, it does bring everyone a bit closer to the Software Defined Data Center and that will lower overall operating and capital costs. The next question now is, how far behind is Microsoft?