VMware enhances vSAN and previews vSAN beta features

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At VMworld last month, VMware announced new capabilities for vSAN 6.7 and showed off a tech preview of what’s coming in vSAN beta.

VMware vSAN 6.7

Some important features of vSAN 6.7 include:

  • VMC vSAN can use EBS – previously, VMC vSAN required on AWS server DAS to support storage services. With EBS support, customers can now decouple VMC servers from DAS storage and make use of EBS. This opens many more AWS server configurations for VMC.
  • Simplified, streamlined vSAN configuration – vSAN 6.7 provides more automated guidance and health checks during configuration to make sure everything will work properly once deployed to make vSAN configuration more foolproof.
  • Trim/UNMAP SCSI command support – vSAN 6.7 Trim/UNMAP support will allow SSD NAND pages to more easily/quickly be freed up. This should improve SSD endurance and write performance because host deleted data can now be jettisoned rather than moved to fresh NAND pages.

VMware also made some internal changes to support better diagnostic data gathering, more coordinated vSAN code updates (using VUM) and VROps integration.

In addition, VMware together with their hardware partner, Lenovo will be introducing a new line of appliances, similar to the complete converged, VxRail from Dell EMC, but only supplied by Lenovo.

VMware vSAN beta

VMware also showed off a tech preview of vSAN beta with no specific timetable. A few important items to be in beta include:

  • File services – today vSAN supports block storage services. vSAN beta will now also support file services. This would be an NFS data store equivalent with VVol support for vSAN storage.
  • Cloud native (container) storage by vSAN – previous versions of vSAN didn’t support container persistent storage. vSAN beta will support persistent storage for Kubernetes-Docker container apps.
  • More space efficient and standalone snapshots – today’s vSAN snapshots take up more space, new ones will take less and vSAN snapshots can’t be taken off vSAN. Yes, they can be mounted and copied but this is not a snapshot. With standalone snapshots, one can copy vSAN snapshots rather than all the data .
  • JBoF support with RDMA/NVMeoF – today’s on prem vSAN requires DAS SSDs for both caching and capacity tier, with vSAN beta they are showing off support for a JBoF capacity tier and will use RDMA/NVMeoF to access it.

Given all the discussion on Kubernetes/PKS container support, it was only a matter of time until vSAN provided a persistent storage capability to support container apps. Other storage vendors make use of Kubernetes-Docker plug-ins to do the same thing for their storage.

The standalone snapshots could be considered backups of snapshot data without the cost of secondary storage or backup software orchestration. It’s not a complete data protection solution but one can see where VMware is going with this.

File services is the last shoe to drop in VMware storage services. It was only a matter of time. Many customers out there used NFS datastores and this will give them no excuse for giving vSAN a try.

All of the traditional storage industry is moving to NVMe SSDs and NVMeoF host access. vSAN already supports NVMe SSDs but this is the first we’ve seen of possible NVMeoF support and it would make sense to start to use this for the capacity tier.


VMware vSAN has come a long way. At this point, using traditional storage vs. vSAN is purely a customer choice as they have become nearly functionally equivalent and performance has improved so much that it’s no longer a viable differentiator. Moreover, vSAN beta enhancements seem to be hitting all the remaining targets to make the decision to use vSAN vs. traditional storage even harder

Finally, in other news, VMworld seemed to hit on two major themes that differed from prior years: Edge (IOT) processing and Kubernetes container management. There was a lot of talk about IoT and edge processing and VMware announced vSphere support on ARM as a step down the path to conquer the edge. Also, I hesitate to say this but there was barely a peep in the keynotes or analyst sessions on VIC. PKS and standalone Kubernetes appears to be the way forward for VMware.

Silverton Consulting, Inc., is a U.S.-based Storage, Strategy & Systems consulting firm offering products and services to the data storage community.

[This storage announcement dispatch was originally sent out to our newsletter subscribers in September of 2018.  If you would like to receive this information via email please consider signing up for our free monthly newsletter (see subscription request, above right) and we will send our current issue along with download instructions for this and other reports. Dispatches are posted to our website at least a quarter or more after they are sent to our subscribers. Also we have recently updated (May 2019) our SAN Storage Buying Guide and our (April 2019) NAS Buying Guide so if you are interested in purchasing block or file storage, please checkout our Buying Guides available for sale on our website. ]  

Silverton Consulting, Inc., is a U.S.-based Storage, Strategy & Systems consulting firm offering products and services to the data storage community

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