VMware stretches Virtual SAN across clusters  – 5 new features in vSAN 6.1

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vSAN 6.1 now stretches across clusters to pool massive amounts of storage resources with ease.

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Until now, vSAN was limited by the number of storage arrays hooked together within one physical data center. Then came VMware Virtual SAN (vSAN) with a radically simple, hypervisor-converged storage design optimized for a vSphere virtual infrastructure.

That introduced storage virtualization, an easy way to set up storage for VMs. Armed with vSAN, IT could now simplify and streamline storage provisioning and management for vSphere environments.

vSAN used to have its limits

vSAN still had a scalability limit. It could be scaled out in terms of capacity and performance by adding a new host to the cluster. And it could be scaled up by adding new Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) or Solid State Drives (SSDs) to existing hosts. Yet a vSAN was forced to exist within a single cluster – until now.

Stretching vSAN across clusters lowers TCO 

VMware Virtual SAN 6.1 allows IT to stretch the vSAN across clusters. This has a big impact on the bottom line as it enables the creation of larger virtual SANs that pool together massive amounts of storage that can be managed centrally with ease.

How? Flexible, predictable “grow-as-you-go” scaling eliminates large up-front investments. Inexpensive industry-standard server components reduce storage CapEx and give you the flexibility to choose vendors and configurations. OpEx is lowered too, by simplifying storage management with vSphere tools and automating management of storage service levels through VM-centric policies.

The 5 latest features of VMware Virtual SAN 6.1 include: 

1. Stretched Cluster

This allows the vSAN to be stretched across multiple clusters and racks inside a data center. In addition, the latest version makes it possible to stretch the vSAN across data centers lying within metropolitan distance. It does this by synchronously replicating data between two geographically separate sites, creating a Recovery Point Objective (RPO) of less than five minutes.

2. Improved Support

vSAN now includes Support for Multi-Processor Fault Tolerance (SMP-FT) to take advantage of vSphere’s fault tolerance features. Support is also available for Microsoft Cluster Service (MSCS) and Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC).

3. Higher Performance

A number of performance enhancements have been rolled into vSAN 6.1 such as:

  • Support for ScanDisk’s ULLtraDIMMs (flash mounted in DIMM sockets to bring the NAND flash as close to the CPU as possible).
  • Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) support which enables the utilization of the latest PCIe flash cards and data transport protocols.

4. Advanced Management & Troubleshooting

This includes a new health check plugin, as well as full capacity planning capabilities and root-cause analysis within vRealize Operations.

5. Tighter Integration

VMware vSAN integrates with the latest versions of #Site Recovery Manager (SRM)#, #NSX# and #vCloud Air#. This means that data within the vSAN is afforded the highest levels of DR protection and network virtualization.

Its policy-driven control plane automates storage consumption and management. Virtual machine-centric storage policies provide granular control and automation of storage service levels. Self-tuning capabilities automatically rebuild and rebalance storage resources to align with the service levels assigned to each VM. Storage administrators can scale up or scale out capacity and performance.

In total, the combined features of VMware Virtual SAN 6.1 result in a major increase in performance scalability, elasticity and data protection. As Virtual SAN is built into the VMware hypervisor, the I/O data path is optimized to deliver consistently fast response times via read/write caching using server-side flash and NVMe.

Register for our VMworld 2015 highlights webinar

Did you miss a few sessions, or not able to attend VMworld 2015? Our dedicated VMware experts were all over the event. They’re also hosting an upcoming live webinar to share the most disruptive announcements, and how they’ll affect our VMware clients. Register below, and bring any questions you may have!

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Editors note: if you enjoyed this post, we recommend reading the following posts from our VMworld 2015 series:

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About Drew Robb

Drew Robb is a freelance writer from Los Angeles specializing in technology and engineering. He has a degree in geology from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. He is also the author of Server Management for Windows Systems by CRC Press and has written hundreds of articles for publications like Computerworld, Network World and Information Week.