The most valuable features of vSAN are:
- Instead of having a separate SAN storage, VMware uses all the local storage of the servers to combine its virtualized storage.
- Hyper-converged, an infrastructure system that is software defined: It integrates the computing, storage, and networking into a single platform.
- vMotion: This is one of the best features in this setup. From the name itself, vMotion allows migration without downtime. Others call it live migration. Planed server downtime is dramatically reduced by this feature.
- High availability (HA): This is my favorite. vSAN requires you to have at least three servers. Those three servers are being combined into one platform; that's vSAN. HA actually works during server failure. The server will automatically distribute to other servers in the environment.
- SSD tiering: You can combine a magnetic disk and solid-state drives to have a hybrid drive. This is actually fast because the SSD will be used for caching and the magnetic disk will store the actual data.
The most valuable feature of ESXi is that it is free. I strongly recommend this for those who have a huge development environment. ESXi is the best no-cost virtualization platform in the market right now, where you can consolidate your server into one platform.
Improvements to My Organization:
The virtualization itself really helped me as a network and system administrator with a lot of servers to maintain. That's a pain. A virtualized environment is really easy to manage. Almost everything is in one dashboard. This really gives us more time in our research and innovation, and less time for maintenance or upgrades.
The minimal downtime alone is a winning blow for both the management and the ITs. Unexpected downtime is inevitable. It's been part any organization. Addressing that pitfall really gives an edge (from a business perspective).
Long-term savings in both buying more server in the future and absolutely the power consumption, not to mention the data center space it released or freed.
The mobility, flexibility, and scalability are really amazing and astonishing features.
Room for Improvement:
I would like to see lowered cost. vSAN is very expensive.
Use of Solution:
I have used vSAN for two or three months. ESXi has been with us for around three years.
We are using vSAN 6.2, ESXi 5.5 and 6.0, and vSphere 6.0.
We have not had any stability issues so far.
Scalability is one of its strengths.
We haven't called technical support so far. But the web (Google) actually has plenty of good articles and forums and discussions. The website has also one of the best FAQ and DIY sections; 90% level of technical support.
We did not have a chance to try other virtualization platforms because the first one we tried really gave us a strong enough reason to stay loyal.
Initial setup was straightforward. You'll only have what you want.
Cost and Licensing Advice:
Hopefully, over the next few years the pricing will be dramatically lower.
Other Solutions Considered:
We are biased from the start to use VMware products only.
Study and evaluate your current setup. Conduct a case study to see if the advantages really outweigh the disadvantages. Virtualization really is the future. Especially here in my corner, almost all or most of the data centers are still in bare-metal setup. Because of the big price (CAPEX), most of the time, management will disapprove this project. But, if you help them see the big picture, I'm sure they are going to promote you for providing this project.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.