VMware vSAN Review

We simulated disk, host, and network failures. Virtual SAN had no issues dealing with them.


Video Review:
Watch the full video review here.

Valuable Features

With Virtual SAN we did like the performance, the simplicity, the fact that it’s very easy to manage and upgrade and the integration with all of the VMware technologies that we are very familiar with. Also the fact that it's completely different from the old paradigm of provisioning storage and different storage systems and it's also saving rack space. We use less physical space for the deployment of storage systems.

When we first were shown Virtual SAN, we compared our traditional storage system what we had with the Virtual SAN performance in one of our labs and we showed that the performance was impressive with Virtual SAN. So, we started adding more applications to it and expanded this Virtual SAN Proof of Concept that we had. So, we realized that our performance is comparable to old flash, disk carriage at a much better core structure that we get as cloud providers. So, the fact that it is very fast, very simple and the fact that it's also easy to consume as a cloud provider, this made it a no brainer for us.

Improvements to My Organization

The simplicity to provisioned VMs and applied policy to specific VMs for our customers is one of the most important features for us without having to separate the area of storage like we had before with our traditional storage system. As a cloud provider the biggest challenge with storage is that you get completely mixed workloads. You don't know what the customers will be landing on. So, there is no way to predict the storage performance needs of a customer before they actually start using the systems.

Room for Improvement

There's some features in the future releases that we would really like to see: encryption as part of the offering. The application and compression would be nice to have those features available in the next Virtual SAN releases and also the capability to serve storage through other protocols. Like NSF or iSCSI for other vendors, for other applications that are not VMware. We have some solutions now that we use like Nexenta, in order to do that but it would be nice if Virtual SAN support of this natively. So we have one vendor to deal with.

Use of Solution

Cloud Carib is a cloud provider in the Bahamas, and it’s targeting enterprise customers in the Caribbean. The company started about three years ago and because we're using VMware products since the beginning, working with Virtual SAN on the new storage offering in addition to our vCloud stock which is the Cloud Director, vSphere, and VCNS.

Stability Issues

There’s never been an issue with Virtual SAN over the last year that we've been testing it. Support is really efficient because it's same global support with VMware that we've been with and we are familiar with. As far as I know, some of the highest rated support from any vendors that we use. We did all sorts of tests initially before we deployed in the production environment. We simulated disk failures, host failures, network failures, and Virtual SAN didn't have any issues dealing with all of these failures, so we're confident in that deploy more applications, more VMs in this system.

Scalability Issues

Since the original deployment, we have doubled the capacity of our recent cluster with zero down time. So the more nodes we have the more capacity we get the more performance and there's no downtime. So, it's very easy to scale up, scale-scale out with VSAN and all it takes is a few clicks. It's a very efficient way to upgrade your storage without adding more rack space than you actually need because by having converged storage network in the computer capacity, we don't have to waste rack space which is at a premium where we are in the Caribbean. So we did like the fact that we can scale our compute and our storage at the same time without wasting rack space.

Customer Service and Technical Support

The technical support that we get from VMware is part of our cloud provider contract is very efficient, very quick responses. The support is always knowledgeable and they can resolve the issues. As far as I know it's one of the highest rated support from any vendors that we use and this is very important for our storage system because that's the most critical aspect of customers' data. They need to be able to have confidence that the data is on a solid stable system.

Previous Solutions

So the way that we found out about Virtual SAN, we kept running into performance problems and capacity problems with our current storage that we had before. With all storage that we had and Virtual SAN is a radically different approach. So we were intrigued by that and, after testing it, we realized that all of our requirements were met by this approach. So some of the criteria that we look at when we evaluate vendors is the credibility of the vendor in the industry. The support history that we have with them, customer references.

So with VMware, we know that VMware is already used by everybody in the Fortune 500. Huge companies globally rely on VMware for day to day operations. So, we’re fully con=fident in basically running all of our infrastructure through the VMware technologies.

Initial Setup

We spent quite a bit of time studying the design guides from VMware about the proper implementation and the hardware compatibility list. Ran all of the self-checks that were listed on the website and we used hardware that was certified ATL. And with these requirements- having passed the requirements it was very simple to enable Virtual SAN. So, after the initial, deployment design we're able to implement it in a matter of hours. It was, very, very simple. Much easier than deploying a hardware based storage system.

Other Solutions Considered

The vendors that were directly competing with Virtual SAN for our project were hardware vendors that were providing all-flash systems. This would be the comparison for us. The cost of the all-flash systems was prohibitive for us. We are a relatively small cloud provider in the Caribbean and, with Virtual SAN, we like the fact that we can pay through the VCOM program where we pay for only what we use and this was another huge benefit with Virtual SAN in our use case.

Other Advice

There's no issues that we have with it so far. We're very happy with it. I would highly recommend Virtual SAN for any demanding application that this running on VMware. We have no have reservations at all with Virtual SAN. We recommend Virtual SAN to anybody was has demanding applications.

So a lot of people think that Virtual SAN is a new unproven solution that people might use for testing or development but, what we actually see when we talk with our peers and with what we see with our customers is that people are using it in production and we are using it in production. If it can be used in production for a demanding app environment like cloud provider, then it means that it can definitely be used in production for any company that has storage requirements, demanding storage requirements.

Peer reviews and peer comments are very important factors when evaluating storage solutions or any other priced IT solutions is the raw data that you see from the people that are using it the way that we are going to be using something. It's not media or something that's not tested. So, this has the most weight for us. The most important factor when considering a solution whether PRC.

Full Video:
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We're partners.
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