What is VMware vSAN? And How to Setup and Configure?

What is VMware vSAN? And How to Setup and Configure?

What is meant by vSAN? VMware vSAN is a software-defined storage solution from VMware to meet additional storage needs using local server memory. Simply put, vSAN breaks up the local space of ESXi hosts and makes one resource use it as shared storage, which is highly optimized. So when you use local space, you don’t need an additional storage box to store files, which also helps to lower the total cost of ownership or TCO.

vSAN is a very easy-to-use solution so that a storage resource can be created and configured with a few simple clicks. vSAN also provides policies such as SPBM or Storage Policy Based Management that can be applied to a virtual machine or a side based on requirements. Many server vendors provide vSAN-ready nodes for VMware optimization and licensing. So you can easily ask your favorite seller to choose the desired solution for use.

VMware vSAN, formerly known as Virtual SAN, is an SDS or software-defined storage product developed by VMware that places directly attached storage devices in a VMware vSphere cluster. It allows the creation of a distributed and shared data warehouse. The user defines storage conditions such as performance and availability for virtual machines or VMs on a VMware vSAN cluster, and vSAN enforces and maintains these policies.

vSAN is part of the VMware ESXi core that runs on industry-standard x86 servers from OEMs, including Cisco, Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Fujitsu, Lenovo, and Supermicro. Since vSAN is a local component that does not require additional software, the user can activate it with a few clicks.

VMware vSAN’s distributed architecture enables storage policy parameters to be enforced despite changes in a virtual machine (VM) workload demands or hardware or network failures. It should be noted that the vSphere Web Client works by managing clusters and implementing storage policies.

vSAN architecture

As you can see the architecture of vSAN in the image above, you will easily understand what vSAN means and how it works. Using a two-tier architecture, vSAN supports hybrid and all-flash configurations. Both configurations use one storage tier and one capacity tier. The storage tier consists of at least one flash device per host. The capacity tier consists of at least one flash device (for all-flash) or one magnetic disk (for hybrid) per host. vSAN pools the storage resources of hosts into a high-performance shared datastore that all hosts can use.
Main features

VMware vSAN includes several core features, although the feature set varies by license type.

Some of the main features of vSAN are:

  • Management based on storage policy
  • Checksum and encrypt data using software-defined software that does not require encryption drives or SEDs.
  • Integrates with vSphere.
  • Flexibility
  • Storage policies
  • Deduplication and compression
  • Remove coding
  • All Flash or a combination

vSAN version 6.6 claims to deliver over 50% more IOPS than previous versions of vSAN due to the lack of storage latency using flash devices on the server side. It also has a new feature that enables the administrator to check at a glance whether the vSAN cluster is healthy or not, and if it detects a problem, it helps diagnose it.

A cluster can have between 2 and 64 nodes. The vSAN 6.6 Enterprise license features stretched clusters with local site protection and other data-at-rest encryption designed to achieve higher security with minimal CPU overhead. Advanced and Enterprise licenses support data encryption and compression erasure data encryption services for all-flash configurations. Erasure encryption can be configured with single or double protection against disk corruption. All vSAN licenses also support Storage Quality of Service (QoS), allowing an administrator to limit the number of IOPS that specific VMs can use.

System requirements to run vSAN

The system requirements for vSAN setup are as follows:

Host hardware:

1 GB NIC: Of course, 10 GB NIC is recommended.
SATA/SAS HBA or RAID controller
At least one cache memory device and one persistent storage disk such as Flash or HDD for each capacity node

Cluster size: minimum two and maximum 64 hosts

Required software:

Any version of VMware vSphere 6.5 EP02 software
Any version of VMware vSphere with Operations Management 6.1 software
Any version of VMware vCloud Suite 6.0 with the ability to update to version 6.5
VMware vCenter Server 6.5

Comparison of standard, advanced, and Enterprise editions

VMware has several licensing options for vSAN. The three main options are Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise. There are also three licensing options for remote office/branch office or ROBO environments, known as ROBO Standard, ROBO Advanced, and ROBO Enterprise, and for virtual desktop infrastructure or VDI environments, which refer to as vSAN, there are three additional Standard licensing options. Advanced and Enterprise are considered. These licensing options offer standard features such as vSphere Replication and all-flash support.

On top of the standard feature set, Advanced and ROBO Advanced licenses are added to support encryption and compression and clear RAID 5 and RAID 6 programming for all-flash environments. The Enterprise version has all the features of the advanced product.

VMware markets vSAN as part of its hyper-converged infrastructure offering that includes vSphere and vCenter. Many hardware vendors, including Fujitsu and Lenovo, sell integrated appliances pre-installed with vSAN and provide full integrated appliance support. Dell Technologies also sells hyper-converged infrastructure appliances, including VxRail, which includes VMware vSAN software. Other hardware vendors work with VMware to certify their x86 servers as vSAN ReadyNodes.

The main competitors of hyper-converged infrastructure equipment are Nutanix and HPE SimpliVity. Virtual SANs may also be created with software products defined through Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct or Red Hat Ceph Storage software.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is meant by vSAN?

VMware vSAN is a software-defined storage solution from VMware to meet additional storage needs using local server memory.

What is vSAN architecture like?

Using a two-tier architecture, vSAN supports hybrid and all-flash configurations. Both configurations use one storage tier and one capacity tier. The storage tier consists of at least one flash device per host. The capacity tier consists of at least one flash device (for all Flash) or one magnetic disk (for hybrid) per host. vSAN pools the storage resources of hosts into a high-performance shared datastore that all hosts can use.