Why VMware vSAN 6.7 is superior to other solutions

VMware vSAN is the software defined storage solution (SDS) in the VMware universe. This technology transforms your traditional VMware and storage infrastructure in a complete hyper converged infrastructure (HCI) setup. And VMware just released vSAN 6.7 a few weeks ago.

But why do I think it’s superior to other HCI solutions?

Comparison with other solutions

There are some other HCI solutions out there. For example Cisco HyperFlex, HPE SimpliVity, Nutanix Xtreme and some more. All of these solutions are based on a vendor’s standard server platform and offer their customers a hyper converged infrastructure bundle. In general, this is a hardware vendor lock in! Therefore you need to buy more hardware from these vendors if you want to scale out.

VMware vSAN 6.7 takes a different approach. It’s just software that can run on many different hardware platforms. In other words: It’s natively integrated in the ESXi hypervisor, is compatible with the most industry standard hardware and the core functions are already shipped with the VMware vSphere product suite.

Have a look at the vSAN Ready node image from VMware:

vSAN Ready Node

Advantages of VMware vSAN

If you already have a VMware environment it’s really easy to deploy vSAN 6.7. Because it seamlessly embeds in the hypervisor you can enable it with just a few mouse clicks. All you need is a license, free hard disks and compatible hardware (see https://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php?deviceCategory=vsan).

Architecture design (image is from VMware):

VMware vSAN 6.7 architecture

That’s one of the key advantages of VMware vSAN.

Another good reason for this solution is the provided agility. In the storage area there is no “one size fits all” solution. Everything depends on the customer needs, budget and existing infrastructure. And with VMware vSAN 6.7 you are able to meet all these requirements because it’s absolutely flexible in licensing, scaling and infrastructure designs.

Not to forget the total costs of ownership (TCO). VMware offers different licensing models to meet different customer needs. Since no special hardware is required, the existing infrastructure can ideally be reused and the investment costs are eliminated. To calculate the exact TCO, VMware provides a TCO calculator: https://vsantco.vmware.com/vsan/SI/SIEV .

Last but not least: Manageability. An additional administration interface is not required because VMware vSAN is integrated directly into the vSphere Web Client.  As a result, VMware administrators and engineers are already familiar with the user interface.

So, what’s new in VMware vSAN 6.7?

There are a lot of new features and improvements in vSAN 6.7. I just pick some of the most important ones.

HTML5 UI

In versions prior to 6.7, vSAN Management was only possible in the Flash-based vSphere Web Client. This has changed with vSAN 6.7 and the same management functions are now available in the new HTML5 vSphere Client.

vSAN Ready Care & vSAN Support Insight

VMware can now anonymously track, analyze and proactively alert you about the health status of your vSAN infrastructure. In addition, VMware makes suggestions for improving the system performance and system reliability.

Improvements for stretched clusters

One of the new features for stretched cluster setups in vSAN 6.7 is: Witness traffic separation. This means you can use an alternative vmkernel interface for your witness traffic. It is no longer bound to the vSAN vmkernel interface. And this allows for more flexible network configurations.
Another powerful feature for stretched clusters is “efficient resyncs“.  If the network has failed between two locations, it helps to re-synchronize the changes much faster.

Improved failure handling

Fast network failovers” is an improvement for customers who have 2 vmkernel interfaces on different subnets. Prior to vSAN 6.7 you had to wait 90 seconds for a tcp timeout in case of a network failure. Now, the failover happens in a few seconds.
Equally important is the new enhanced diagnostic partition. This partition had a fixed size in the past and was too small for large memory host configurations and the diagnostic information about vSAN. For this reason, VMware resizes the diagnostic partition in vSAN 6.7 automatically for you.

Performance improvements

I think the new “adaptive resync” feature is one of the best performance improvements. Before vSAN 6.7, I’ve seen that the resync process could use all available resources after a host, disk or cache failure. This had a negative effect on the performance of all running VMs. Now, the new adaptive resync is much smoother and more intelligent.
And if you’re tired of waiting for a vSAN host to go in to maintenance mode, you’ll love the new feature “replica consolidation“. In summary, it’s a smart way to consolidate the striped replicas across all hosts for freeing up a host to allow for maintance mode to occur.

Conclusion

For me, VMware vSAN is the best storage virtualization technology. I have been working with it in the cloud provider industry for 3 years and it has always been reliable, stable and easy to use.

And I think it’s very clear that VMware has a strong focus on vSAN. The product development proves this. In each version there are many improvements and new features – always trying to make this solution to the best in the market.

More information about vSAN 6.7

 

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