What is most valuable?
It's not a storage array which is a very valuable feature of it and it's maintenance structure isn't paid like a traditional storage array. For me, that's the biggest leap with it is there's a compelling cost with reason to step in to it. You don't have to make a snap decision and get away from where I am. I can keep what I have and dip my toe in VSAN without risking an all-or-nothing decision.
How has it helped my organization?
VSAN is really simple to manage. Its GUI is part of the eco-system so it looks and feels like the rest of VMware. So a VMware engineer or a VMware operations guy's is going to be able to manage the provision storage without having to touch an array, which is generally higher profile so there's a cost reduction through headcount.
VSAN manageability is much easier because it's in and part of the vSphere world, so it looks and feels like any other object that people are used to seeing metrics on and there have been great improvement in management. In 655, there's a little bit of lack information. In the newer system, there's a lot more data about what's going on in that system, in the GUI, easily consumable.
What needs improvement?
The features I'd like to see in future releases of VSAN are around back-up and recovery. There is a great way to replicate data now, but I'd like to see them focus on making recovery from snap shots, off-site, part of the core product.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It's very stable. Once you get it built and you take the time to build the system correctly, do your research, once it's in place it's been very stable and it performs as it says.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
I'm looking at two different ways of scaling that system. One is for speed and one is for mass. It scales into mass based on what size of disc you choose and it scales in to speed based on solid-state drive size. Both of those are two different avenues that work well for us.
How are customer service and technical support?
I haven't had a technical support case open but we do look at the forums and try to avoid issues and problems based on what's in a publicly available space which has always been something that VMware has done really well, which is making issues public so we can avoid them.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We chose it from a cost perspective. In media we are always looking to save money. It's a publicly traded company so the money I give back is smiled on. We saw a way not to pay maintenance for expensive systems and to run it in a system that performs on parallel with what we already own.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
So with a traditional storage array you pay maintenance based on the purchase price for the array plus any software you bought with it so that residual number is high, so if you paid a million dollars for the machine, you may have to pay $200,000 for maintenance at some point in time. With VSAN I'm paying server-based maintenance and that's a much lower number.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
The top criteria we looked at when considering VSAN was performance and cost. We were going to make sure that we could deliver the performance that people are used to and used the system that costs less than a traditional array model. We did not look at other vendors because there really isn't another vendor that's doing this. There are people that are close but with a traditional hyper-converged box, there's a bunch of things I don't need. With VSAN I have the technical backing from VMware to back-stop the product and is doing what I need and no more so there is a cost-savings for not buying features-compute that I don't need.
What other advice do I have?
I would certainly give it an 8 and I would split in to two parts. The initial configuration of VSAN, once the systems in place, it manages and runs without much attention and that's where it's really shining at the moment, is once it's in production, it doesn't require a lot of care and feeding.
My recommendation is make sure you've got a hardware vendor who's promising you that this equipment that you get is on the HCL, so the compatibility list of what VMware supports and VSAN is important to having a successful deployment. Taking the time to do that and install and build the system correctly first will give you years of good results. Not doing that is a headache.
When looking at any new technology, having peer review and having information available about what it's doing, how many people have adopted it and whether or not it's a good technology is critically important. It's good to be on the edge but you don't want to be the first guy to take the blind leap so having that out and having the forms available has been very important.