What is most valuable?
Some of the most valuable features of VSAN include the ability to be able to provision and grow your storage as you need to without a very large upfront cost. Also the ability to be able to carry along the licenses as part of a refresh as opposed to traditional storage systems, you end up losing that investment after every single refresh which usually occurs every three to five years.
How has it helped my organization?
The great thing about VSAN in terms of resiliency and recoverability is the fact that with policy-based storage, you can actual decide what level of recoverability you want, what level of redundancy you want. This no longer the case of trying to figure out complex RAID-systems or anything like that. You set the policy, and you will get the level of redundancy and resiliency that you want. Something that has been in the enterprise space for quite sometime, with some of the more expensive arrays, now you can bring it down into the commercial even the mid-market space. That's pretty amazing.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
For scalability of VSAN, I mean, you've seen the blog post out there. They've taken up to four million IOPS. In terms of scalability, we haven't seen any roof, any limit, any ceiling to the scalability there. We are extremely surprised that VSAN has been able to keep up with solutions that are four or five times more expensive.
How are customer service and technical support?
The technical support for VSAN has been really surprising in a good way. In our experience, there are very few vendors that take full ownership of a problem when it occurs. What VMware has done is that whenever there is a VSAN issue or a question, as long as the hardware is on the hardware compatibility list, they took full ownership. They escalate with the hardware vendor. It's really one throat to choke. Where else can you say that?
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We've been a VMware partner for quite sometime. When VSAN was announced, we were actually working with the beta. We decided that this is really the track that we want to follow because we believe in the software-defined data center. Everything is becoming software-defined. For us to not do the same thing with storage when we're doing it with networking and with compute, it just really doesn't make sense. The same kind of savings had been brought by server virtualization, the same kind of flexibility, agility, that can also be applied to storage. So, it just seems like the next natural place to go. For us as a VMware-focused partner, it made sense to get on board with VSAN right from the get-go.
Previously before VSAN, we're using a whole host of different technologies because there were a lot of corner cases where we would have to use an enterprise array. Other times we would end up using something that's a little bit smaller. What VSAN has done is, not only bridge some of the gaps that we had in storage before, but it's allowed us to replace a lot of solutions that didn't really meet the needs perfectly. Here we've got a more custom-fit that we can provide our customers and be able to address about 80% of customer's needs.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
From a cost-benefit perspective, especially in regards to TCO, total cost of ownership, CFOs, CEOs that are looking to really cut down the cost of their storage systems because that's becoming a larger part of their overall IT budget. This uncontrolled cost is running along the same lines with the uncontrolled growth and data. So, you know, when more and more of that IT budget is going to storage, you have CFOs, CEOs looking to try to control those costs. What VSAN allows us to do is give them an enterprise-class array, enterprise-class solution at usually half the cost of the traditional arrays.
What other advice do I have?
I would easily give it a 9, because 10 would be perfect and nothing is perfect. After the next few releases, who knows? Maybe that 10 will happen.
For people who are evaluating bringing VSAN into their environment, one of the most important things to do is really get an idea of what the performance the requirements are and what workloads are going to go into that environment. That's best done with an assessment. Right now, VMware partners are providing a assessment service for VSAN. That's a great jumping off point to make sure that the VSAN implementation is going to go as expected and have an immediate win.