VMware's Virtual SAN to address software-defined storage

Storage software turns internally attached server storage into a shared, protected storage pool

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Chuck Hollis, a VMware chief strategist for the SAS business unit, explained:

Being fully integrated with the vSphere kernel brings some notable advantages. One clear advantage is performance and efficiency -- there's no need to traverse multiple VMs just to do IO.

But a potentially bigger advantage is the integration with the vast VMware suite: snaps, replication, vMtion, vCOps, vCAC, SRM, etc. For VMware customers, everything works as one would expect: no plug-ins, no extra work required, etc.

Virtual SAN is currently in beta and has more than 10,000 registered participants putting it through its paces. Because these beta users have been testing it for the past six months, once launched it shouldn't be your typical 1.0 product released by VMware. There's a good chance most of the bugs will have been worked out.

After launch, Virtual SAN is expected to announce at least a 16-node support. Since each Virtual SAN node can support up to 35 disk drives (in addition to up to five SSD or PCI-e flash devices), that equates to 560 spindles in a single Virtual SAN cluster, which brings its raw capacity upward of a petabyte.

Companies who want to deploy Virtual SAN will have two options:

  • Use VMware Virtual SAN Ready Nodes -- For those companies that prefer to use a pre-integrated appliance approach, VMware is working with server partners to create a set of servers that are pre-configured and certified as compatible with Virtual SAN, simplifying the configuration and procurement process, and making sure it is optimized for things like performance and capacity.
  • Leverage a component-based hardware compatibility list -- For those companies that choose to go the route of building a custom solution, VMware is making a Virtual SAN hardware compatibility list available that includes a host of certified and supported flash devices, hard disk drives, I/O controllers, and solid state storage devices.

VMware announced during PEX that Virtual SAN is gaining support from quite a number of companies, including Cisco, Dell, EMC, Fusion-io, HP, IBM, SanDisk, and Seagate to name a few.

At the time of general availability, it is expected that more than 150 components as well as 10 Ready Nodes will be certified with VMware Virtual SAN. VMware said it expects additional components to be certified over time.

We still don't know how much Virtual SAN will cost or how it will be licensed, but VMware has stated that it expects the technology to become GA sometime this quarter, so it shouldn't be much longer until pricing and licensing are officially announced.

More information may soon be forthcoming, as VMware announced an upcoming online event that will takes place on March 6. The company is billing "VMware NOW: Virtual SAN Special Online Event" as a chance to hear "exciting product news." VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger and the company's newly crowned CTO Ben Fathi will deliver the announcements during the hour-long event.

This article, "VMware's Virtual SAN to address software-defined storage," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization and cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.

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