Today VMware announced the general availability of VMware Virtual SAN, a new and radically simple storage solution optimized for virtual environments. This was done during a VMware Virtual SAN online event  of which you can view the replay here. It includes a demonstration of the product, experiences of  beta customers, and highlighted performance and scalability details.

For those of you who don’t know Virtual SAN, Virtual SAN is an object based storage system and a platform for VM Storage Policies that aims to simplify virtual machine storage placement decisions for vSphere administrators. It leverages the local storage from a number of ESXi hosts which are part of a cluster and creates a

distributed vsanDatastore. Virtual SAN is fully integrated with vSphere so it can be used for VM placement, and of course supports all the core vSphere technologies like vMotion, DRS and vSphere HA.

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Scalability

VMware Virtual SAN scales up to 32 nodes in a cluster allowing for linear scalability of performance to 2 million IOPS on read-only workloads and 640,000 IOPS on mixed workloads. 

You will need at least 3 ESXi hosts to deploy Virtual SAN and you will also need at least one hard disk per host and at least one SSD per host. There are a couple of best practices I found online:

  1. VMware recommends at least a 1:10 ratio of SSD vs HDD. When your performance demands increase, you may need to up this ratio 2:10 or 3:10.
  2. VMware recommends as a best practice that all hosts in the VSAN cluster be configured similarly if not identically from a storage and compute perspective.

The choice of SSD is essential to Virtual SAN performance. VMware is providing a HCL which will grade SSDs on performance.

Because you can vary the SSD vs HDD ratio you can simply scale a vSphere cluster with Virtual SAN for capacity or performance.

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Versions & licensing

Staying true to the value proposition of simplicity, VMware uses a per socket based pricing model with no limits on scalability, performance or capacity that make forecasting and budgeting significantly easier without impacting hardware components selection and node configurations.

VMware Virtual SAN is available in three editions/bundles.

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All editions feature the complete set of Virtual SAN capabilities – data persistency, read/write caching, storage policy based management, etc. – and include the vSphere Distributed Switch. This means that customers can take advantage of simplified network management of vSphere Distributed Switch for their Virtual SAN storage regardless of the underlying vSphere edition they use. Data services such as snapshots, clones, linked-clones and replication are available directly through vSphere, and are already available with every vSphere edition (Essentials Plus and above).

For customers seeking to complete their storage solution with backup and recovery capabilities, VMware is offering Virtual SAN with Data Protection. A promotional bundle available for a limited time, it brings together Virtual SAN with vSphere Data Protection Advanced, VMware’s simple, efficient, and robust backup product for vSphere environments.

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The VMware Virtual SAN Design and Sizing Guide can be downloaded here.

If you want a testdrive with VMware Virtual SAN, you can visit the free Hands-on Lab (HOL) which enables you to play and explore all you want.

vSphere 5.5 Update 1 which includes Virtual SAN can be downloaded here.