VMware’s has announced that its software defined storage offering Virtual SAN is now on general release following a beta period.
The VSAN 5.5 system integrates with VMware's existing vSphere hypervisor tools, enabling admins to simplify and automate management of storage resources across a server cluster of up to 32 nodes, increasing utilisation of the server-attached hard disks and SSDs which enterprises tend to overlook for primary storage in favour of dedicated SAN or NAS pools.
Through integration with vSphere, VSAN will allow customers to apply a range of VMware data services such as backup, cloning, replication and snapshots to its storage resources, as well as features such as Distributed Resource Scheduler, High Availability and vMotion, and cloud tools such as vCloud Automation Center.
VMware believes that there are three initial workloads which VSAN will be suited, based on feedback from the 5,000 beta testers. The most prevalent use for VSAN during this period was for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployments, said VMware senior product manager, Roy Choudhuri.
“Virtual desktop infrastructure is notorious for being very expensive with storage, so if you can bring a technology to market which radically affects the cost of storage, you can make VDI projects more cost effective, and that could mean companies might start a project which they hadn’t before,” he told ComputerworldUK.
Other use cases include requirements which involve quick provisioning and tear down, such as test and dev, and for disaster recovery, where a tier 1 SAN can be used for production and VSAN systems used for secondary storage purposes.
The system performs two million input/output operations per second (IOPS) on a 32 node cluster, which Choudhuri said enables the kind of performance that most applications will be “perfectly happy with”, though VSAN is unlikely to be used for enterprise applications such as ERP systems.
The VSAN system sees VMware target storage as part of the company’s software defined data centre strategy, which is aimed at extending virtualisation to storage and networking to enable better management and automation of infrastructure.
The move means taking on other companies already operating in the software defined storage space, including VMware partners such as Nexenta and Nutanix, as well as more traditional storage vendors including parent company EMC.
Choudhuri said that VSAN will not see the company face-off directly with EMC, however: “We don’t see it that way – we see it as complementary, as do EMC. The one thing we are both stressing is that this is supposed to work together with existing storage capability - it is not designed to replace it.”
Licensing for VSAN will differ depending on the use case. For VDI deployments, customers will be charged on a concurrent user basis, in a similar manner to its Horizon VDI systems, at $50 per user.
Most other use cases will be charged per CPU in line with most other VMware products, with prices starting at $2,495 per processor. VMware will also offer customers of its vSphere Storage Appliance the ability to upgrade at reduce price for a limited period.
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