VMware vSAN is a Software-Defined Storage (SDS) solution integrated into vSphere. Like other virtual SAN products, 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.
Designed specifically for vSphere clusters, vSAN will scale to the maximum number of nodes that a particular vSphere version supports, currently 64 nodes. 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.
The hybrid configuration allows for the use of flash devices as a read cache and a mirrored write buffer, and all-flash configurations allow for both persistent and non-persistent caching. For data protection vSAN uses mirroring between nodes (RAID 10) or single- and double- parity RAID between nodes (sometimes called “network RAID”, but what vSAN is calling “erasure coding”).
Capacity does not have to be uniform for each host node, enabling a failed disk to be replaced with a different sized drive. Administrators can also specify how many failures (host, network, or disk) can be tolerated in a vSAN cluster.
Since vSAN is an integrated part of the hypervisor it leverages the features of vSphere, including High Availability (HA), Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS), vMotion, vSphere Snapshots and vSphere Data Protection. Additionally, vSAN cooperates with VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) and vRealize Automation for cloud deployments and VMware View for desktop deployments.
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