Resistance is Futile: VSAN to POWER UP vSphere DAS


Epic blogger and overall rockstar Chris Wahl (Twitter: @ChrisWahl) over at Wahlnetwork.Com recently pondered out loud about VSAN and it’s impact in overall datacenter storage design. This caused a flurry of Storage and infrastructure companies to add their 2 cents worth in the comments section.  I decided I would do the same. Smile


VSAN offers a pretty compelling look into futureimage datacenter design.  The “SAN Less” architectures that some of the young startups like Nutanix and SimpliVity have made an impact (good, bad or indifferent) .  You also have other solutions like ScaleIO that are focused in this space.  Some would say that the Operating Systems guys (Windows, Linux, Solaris) have been adding these features into their architectures over the years and it’s just inevitable that hypervisors do the same.  VMware VSAN is a great example of a OS/Application vendor adding storage features natively into their solution.  How does that effect the young startups? If anything it:

  1. Validates their design, but
  2. Congrats you made the OS vendors validate your strategy and they just baked it into their OS. Oh ya, and
  3. Did you check out Cisco’s recent purchase of Whiptail – sort of further validates this change.  Not to mention Dell….

Think about it this way, while we certainly have spent the last 10+ years trying to remove storage from inside servers and putting them into shared storage arrays, the largest amount of storage inside a datacenter is still the internal drives and flash technology that is being deployed inside the servers (Hello again Cisco+Whiptail !).  For VMware customers they can use VSAN to federate all that stranded space and use it in production as one big pool of storage.

The effect on the overall design of future application deployments is still to be determined but I can tell you for sure, that in VMware Environments, it’s going to be REALLY hard to compete with “Free’ish” or a “Feature” in vSphere.  When the answer to moving away from shared storage arrays or even an answer to federated Direct Attached Storage is a checkbox in vCenter, the barrier of entry is zero. 

I think datacenter design becomes more like shopping for a car is today.  It’s no longer “One size fits all, and is the ONLY solution to deploy”.  Walk into any Ford, Chevy, Dodge dealership etc and you will find all sorts of different model and size cars to fit various different requirements.  If you need a 16 passenger van, they’ve got it.  If you need a Fusion All Electric Car they have it. And, if you need a truck to haul stuff, they have it.  The net-net is very rarely can one size fit all requirements.

In the case of datacenter design you might use VSAN for various applications and storage requirements but you also might bring in an All-Flash-Array like XtremIO, Pure or Nimbus for certain use cases.  You might also bring in a VNX, Isilon or NetApp for a different use case. 

Either way don’t be surprised that things like VSAN start to become a significant player inside the datacenter when addressing all of this stranded vSphere Host storage.   From my perspective I’m already starting to see a shift in design consideration to include all of these different types of technologies and feature/functions!

More to come !


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