Anyone that has gone through their server virtualisation journey with VMware comes through the other side clearly seeing the benefits. Those that take the first steps slowly quickly realise that the cost and management savings of virtualising your compute is undeniable, combined with increased flexibility, easier scalability, more robust data protection, once virtualised IT professionals wonder how they ever managed before they did so.
It’s a “lights on moment”. In the early days before mass server virtualisation adoption, many people only realised they had a problem with traditional physical servers after they implemented VMware. In effect, vSphere solved problems they didn’t realise they had, but having uncovered them; they knew they would never go back to the old way.
When you think about Virtualising, your server is only half the problem solved. The other problem that people are living with today but not realising they have, is using traditional fixed storage arrays with there virtualised servers.
A fixed physical storage array is a genuine limiting factor when it comes to unlocking the total benefits of virtualising. A server is nothing without storage. The applications you run on your servers are also inextricably linked to your storage. The net effect is any limitations on the scalability, flexibility and manageability of your storage are ultimately limitations on your servers and applications even if they are virtualised.
The answer is to virtualise your storage as well, by doing so you extend all the benefits of virtualisation to your entire application stack.
VMware vSAN is virtualisation for your “server-side” storage. At a very high level, it makes a virtual pool across all the storage that is inside your ESXi hosts and presents that pooled storage up to all the VMs in your vCenter. Essentially this creates a logical pool of storage that can be allocated, shared and reconfigured from vCenter in seconds across all your Virtual Machines. New storage can be added with no downtime and configuration just by adding storage to an existing host or adding a new host into a cluster. Storage in one physical ESXi host can be allocated to VMs residing in another host with a few clicks. The benefits are enormous.
vSAN Offers New Levels of Agility
Only buy the storage you need today, and only upgrade when you need it because adding new storage is simple with no downtime. Further, you can add the storage you need from SAS to Flash, when you need it. It not just about adding capacity, with such flexibility it becomes easy to allocate performance in the form of IOPs based on the demands of your virtualised applications.
vSAN Offers Incredible Simplicity
There are other options for Software Defined Storage, but only vSAN is built into the VMware hypervisor and completely integrated into your vSphere environment. Implementation is literally accomplished with just a few clicks from the vSphere web client. Even for large complex environments, virtualising massive amounts of storage, from installation to testing to full production can be achieved in a matter of a few days.
vSAN Includes Built-in Security
vSAN has built encryption at rest into the kernel. There is no need to purchase self-encrypting drives, this level of security is built into the core of vSAN, and any drive that is absorbed into the virtual storage pool will have encrypted data at rest.
vSAN Offers the Best Manageability.
The term “virtual aware storage” is used by many storage vendors. The term was created because storage vendors understood that the more “aware” of VMware virtualised machines their storage is, the better integrated the management will be. Storage that is not “virtually aware” requires extra levels of management on an ongoing basis to navigate changes at the VMware level that it doesn’t understand. Quite simply, vSAN is built into the same hypervisor, managed from the same vCenter and integrated into the vSphere environment. Tasks that can take days or weeks of planning with traditional storage can be accomplished by fewer people, literally in a few clicks.
Don’t Forget Total Cost of Ownership
TCO is not just about the cost of the storage hardware. However, let’s start there. vSAN enables you to configure server-side commodity storage and manage it like an enterprise array. That’s a hard saving right there. In addition, due to flexible scalability, you only need to buy storage capacity when you need it. That saving number two. IOPs can easily be moved to meet demand, reducing the need to invest in high-performance storage that sits underutilised, that’s saving number three. Also, the resource and time required to implement, monitor, manage and troubleshoot are significantly reduced which arguably saving number four five and six!
Once you implement vSAN, it will be another lights on moment from which you will never turn back. The great thing with vSAN is that to get started in almost all cases, most of the hardware you need is already in place in the form of your ESXi hosts; implementation is quick, pain-free and surprisingly inexpensive. So what are you waiting for? Free your company from the shackles of fixed physical storage.
For more on vSAN and how it could benefit your organisation, click here.