VMware's Virtual SAN Finally Ships

Posted on March 12, 2014 By Pedro Hernandez

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After lining up industry support, completing a six-month beta test program and a March 6 launch event, VMware's Virtual SAN (VSAN) is finally shipping.

Alberto Farronato, VMware's director of Storage and Availability Product Marketing, told InfoStor, "Today is an exciting day for us to finally be able to ship the product." He added that VMware is "excited about the value proposition of the product" and that "early feedback has been extremely positive."

"This launch of this technology is extremely meaningful because of how Virtual SAN changes the paradigm of how you manage storage," added Farronato. Namely, administrators can "manage storage from the virtual machine without focusing on the application and without having to care about the underlying infrastructure," he added.

Describing VSAN as the company's first software-defined storage product, the EMC subsidiary claims that its approach to server-side storage management can yield major performance improvements for virtualized business applications. In a 32-node configuration -- a major step up from previously reported maximums of 8 and 16 nodes -- VMware VSAN can deliver up to 2 million input/output operations per second (IOPS) read-only and 640,000 IOPS under mixed read/write workloads. VSAN can manage a total of 4.4 petabytes (PB).

Key to delivering those levels of performance is the technology's deeply integration with the company's popular server virtualization management platform. "Built directly into the VMware vSphere kernel, VMware Virtual SAN provides a new tier of hypervisor-converged storage," said the company in a statement.

VSAN slots seamlessly into the VMware stack, easing management, ensuring compatibility and allowing current vSphere customers to quickly add data storage services, including backup and replication, to their virtual server setups. And it can deliver those services with minimal additional processor overhead. VMware claims that VMware imposes a modest CPU tax of less than 10 percent.

VMware's home field advantage, of sorts, could help the company make quick gains in the server-side storage market.

In recent years, storage software specialists have been targeting the internal, typically underused internal server storage -- hard drives, solid-state drives (SSDs), PCIe flash in x86 servers -- to boost application performance by pooling this capacity and moving data faster than is usually possible across a traditional SAN. The competition includes QLogic, Sanbolic and Virident. Storage startup Nutanix raised $101 million in January on the promise that its tech can help data centers skip SANs altogether.

Customers can deploy VSAN as preconfigured VMware Virtual SAN Ready Nodes or piece together their infrastructures using components from certified partners. Currently, Dell's PowerEdge T620 server stands alone as the first certified Ready Node, but Farronato assured that within a month, there will be at least 13 servers from a number of vendors as they roll out their official announcements. There are also 150 components (SSDs, HDDs and I/O controllers) from the likes of IBM, LSI, Cisco, SanDisk, and of course, EMC.

As for the future, Farronato played coy in keeping with his company's aversion to issuing roadmaps. "We do have ambitious plans for the platform," he said. "Customers are already asking for specific capabilities, opening up the door for specific use cases."

VMware Virtual SAN is available now. Prices start at $2,495 per processor. Bundles of VMware Virtual SAN with VMware vSphere Data Protection Advanced cost $2,875 per processor for a limited time.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.


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