Review: VMware Virtual SAN turns storage inside-out

VMware's VSAN 1.0 combines easy setup and management with high availability and high performance -- and freedom from traditional storage systems

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Think global, store local
VMware's Virtual SAN represents a significant step toward the stated goal of a software-defined data center. It's also somewhat of a "back to the future" experience, with storage moving into the local host machines and away from a centralized and dedicated storage appliance. My testing shows that VSAN is capable of delivering respectable performance on moderately priced hardware. Throw in 10GbE networking and you'll see impressive results on even the lowest-end hardware configuration.

Once you get past the initial disk configuration, the installation process is no different than any other VMware setup. Configuring and managing VSAN should be relatively painless for most customers. That said, VSAN is a 1.0 release: Those who need to tweak the settings may have to do some digging, reading, and testing to get what they want. The vCenter tools and the VSAN Observer offer deep insight into what's happening inside the kernel to help diagnose any significant issues. VSAN supports up to 32 nodes and 35 disks per node. If you do the math, you'll find that scales out to a whopping 4.4 petabytes of storage with current disk technology.

Published costs for VSAN start at $2,495 per CPU, which translates into roughly $20,000 for the high-end Supermicro cluster. For the Lenovo cluster, the price of VSAN would be $14,970 or roughly twice the price of the hardware. VMware also sells VSAN at a price of $50 per concurrent or named user for the aforementioned VDI scenario. That makes much more economic sense for smaller deployments. It also makes sense when you get into the higher-end configurations and begin to compare the price of VSAN with that of a traditional storage system from companies like VMware's parent EMC.

The final verdict comes down to economics and implementation. VSAN in the current release has a tightly focused target use case in VDI, where it offers compelling advantages in initial cost and long-term maintenance and support. The use cases for VSAN will undoubtedly broaden over time, but that's not a bad start for a version 1.0.

This article, "Review: VMware VSAN turns storage inside-out," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in virtualization, data center, storage, and cloud computing at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

At a Glance
  • VMware Virtual SAN 1.0

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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