Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) solutions leverage a software-defined storage (SDS) layer and scale-out cluster topology to create a turnkey compute environment that’s easy to deploy, expand and operate. Most HCIs don’t include networking and are sold by the module, not by the rack, making them less appealing for larger environments, like hybrid clouds. VxRack SDDC is designed to address this limitation, combining Dell PowerEdge servers and VMware vSAN SDS with networking components and management software to create what Dell EMC calls a “rack-scale hyperconverged” infrastructure.
Like other SDS solutions vSAN aggregates storage media on each physical host into shared storage pools comprised of disk drives and flash in hybrid or all-flash configurations. Embedded into the hypervisor kernel, vSAN allows for more optimization of the data path and simpler management compared with other solutions that run the SDS software as a VM on each node.
Designed specifically for vSphere clusters, vSAN will scale to the maximum number of nodes that a particular vSphere version supports, currently 64 nodes. VxRack SDDC Manager can support multiple vSAN clusters (or “Workload Domains”) up to a total of 192 nodes in 8 racks. vSAN has inline deduplication and compression, which the company claims can produce up to a 7x space reduction, but it’s only available on all-flash volumes. Software-based, data-at-rest encryption runs at cluster level, without impacting dedupe or compression.
vSAN can be policy driven at the virtual machine level for ease of provisioning and management. The iSCSI Access feature enables vSAN to appear as an iSCSI target, eliminating the need to deploy a dedicated array to provide shared storage capacity for external servers. For more information, see the Evaluator Series Research on VMware vSAN.
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