VMware VSAN Gathers Support, Launch Imminent

By Pedro Hernandez

The clock is ticking toward the release of VMware's Virtual SAN (VSAN) software platform, and the company is busy lining up partners ahead of the technology's launch later this quarter. VSAN, which the company hails as its first "first Software-Defined Storage product" is currently in public beta.

VMware, a subsidiary of data storage giant EMC, announced that it had wrangled support from over 12 vendors, encompassing over 150 servers and other IT hardware. The news comes on the heels of what VMware vice president John Gilmartin describes as "one of the most successful public beta programs at VMware to date with more than 10,000 registered participants."

The popular VSAN beta helped lay the foundation for what the company clearly hopes becomes an integral part of its software-defined data center ecosystem. Gilmartin added that his company's hardware and storage partners' "commitment to certifying their hardware and storage devices with VMware Virtual SAN will offer our joint customers extensive choice and flexibility for jump-starting their software-defined storage initiatives."

VMware VSAN first debuted during VMworld 2013 San Francisco. The technology pools direct-attached storage under one management umbrella, enabling SAN-like capabilities. "A key building block of the VMware software-defined storage vision, VMware Virtual SAN enables the delivery of storage functionality as software built into the VMware vSphere kernel," said the company in a statement, suggesting deep integration into the industry-leading virtualization management platform.

Internal server-side storage has been gained new prominence in recent years with the increased availability of enterprise SSDs and PCIe flash card solutions that boost application performance. The company joins several other companies, including Sanbolic, QLogic and Virident, in leveraging server SSDs to help data center operators lend their critical applications a performance edge, particularly in heavily virtualized environments.

In January, Nutanix, a San Jose, Calif.-based storage virtualization specialist, announced that it had raised $101 million in what the company called "largest single financing round in the history of the converged infrastructure market."

Several notable vendors are setting up to help VMware make its mark on the buzzed-about software-defined storage trend. According to the company, Cisco, Dell, EMC, Fusion-io, HGST, HP, IBM, Intel, LSI, Samsung Electronics, SanDisk and Seagate will all have compatible wares on the market when VMware VSAN hits the market.

In December, Dell and SanDisk announced that they were teaming up for VSAN-friendly servers that housed the latter's enterprise SAS SSDs. "The combined solution of SanDisk SSDs within the Dell PowerEdge R720 and PowerEdge T620 servers provide a strong platform for VMware Virtual SAN," said Brian Payne, executive director of server solutions at Dell, in a statement.

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

This article was originally published on February 12, 2014