With Virtual SAN gaining huge momentum, I had a pretty busy VMworld 2016 in Las Vegas, and I didn’t have too much free time this year to immerse myself in the Solutions Exchange. However there were a few folks that I did want to catch up with as I had heard that they have some cool new features added to their product sets. So I made a bee-line to check them out. Let me know if you found anything else interesting. I might have a little more time in VMworld Barcelona to check out the solutions exchange and see what else is going on.
It has been some time since I last looked at Horizon View on Virtual SAN. The last time was when we first released VSAN, back in the 5.5 days. This was with Horizon View 5.3.1, which was the first release that inter-operated with Virtual SAN. At the time, there was some funkiness with policies. View could only use the default policy at the time, and the default policy used to show up as “none” in the UI. The other issue is that you could not change the default policy via the UI, only through CLI commands. Thankfully, things have come a long way since then. In this post, I will look at how Horizon View 7 inter-operates with Virtual SAN 6.2, concentrating mostly on policies. However, Horizon View 7 also has new vmFork/Instant Clone technology and AppVolumes, and I hope to be able to do some posts on those features running on top of VSAN going forward.
If you were wondering why my blogging has dropped off in recent months, wonder no more. I’ve been fully immersed in the next release of VSAN. Today VMware has just announced the launch of VSAN 6.2, the next version of VMware’s Virtual SAN product. It is almost 2.5 years since we launched the VSAN beta at VMworld 2013, and almost 2 years to the day since we officially GA’ed our first release of VSAN way back in March 2014. A lot has happened since then, with 3 distinct releases in that 2 year period (6.0, 6.1 and now 6.2). For me the product has matured significantly in that 2 year period, with 3,000 customers and lots of added features. VSAN 6.2 is the most significant release we have had since the initial launch.
The following is by no means a comprehensive list of all of the new VSAN 6.2 features, but these are the major features, along with a few other features that I feel might be of interest to readers. In my opinion, we now have a feature complete product, and a world-class hyper-converged solution for any application. Read on to learn about the new features that we have added to this latest and greatest version of Virtual SAN.
The storage space has been a very exciting space over recent years. There have been so many new start-ups and new innovations, that it becomes difficult to keep track sometimes. More recently, there has been a lot of news around mergers, acquisitions and IPOs in the storage industry. It got me thinking about a lot of the changes we have seen over the past 3-4 years in the storage market. Just for my own interest, I went back over many of my blogs, and the various conversations I had with people at various VMworld events and VMUG meetings, and tried to see where a lot of these companies/products are now, and what they are currently doing. Now, I am not going to mention every single vendor here. I’m simply trying to highlight the ones that were acquired or merged or indeed IPO’ed (and in some cases are no longer with us) during this period.
Many regular readers will know that we do not do read locality in Virtual SAN. For VSAN, it has always been a trade-off of networking vs. storage latency. Let me give you an example. When we deploy a virtual machine with multiple objects (e.g. VMDK), and this VMDK is mirrored across two disks on two different hosts, we read in a round-robin fashion from both copies based on the block offset. Similarly, as the number of failures to tolerate is increased, resulting in additional mirror copies, we continue to read in a round-robin fashion from each copy, again based on block offset. In fact, we don’t even need to have the VM’s compute reside on the same host as a copy of the data. In other words, the compute could be on host 1, the first copy of the data could be on host 2 and the second copy of the data could be on host 3. Yes, I/O will have to do a single network hop, but when compared to latency in the I/O stack itself, this is negligible. The cache associated with each copy of the data is also warmed, as reads are requested. The added benefit of this approach is that vMotion operations between any of the hosts in the VSAN cluster do not impact the performance of the VM – we can migrate the VM to our hearts content and still get the same performance.
So that’s how things were up until the VSAN 6.1 release. There is now a new network latency element which changes the equation when we talk about VSAN stretched clusters. The reasons for this change will become obvious shortly.
Datrium are a new storage company who only recently came out of stealth. They are one of the companies that I really wanted to catch up with at VMworld 2015. They have a lot of well-respected individuals on their team, including Boris Weissman, who was a principal engineer at VMware and Brian Biles of Data Domain fame. They also count of Diane Green, founder of VMware, among their investors. So there is a significant track record in both storage and virtualization at the company.
With the announcements just made at VMworld 2015, the embargo on Virtual SAN 6.1 has now been lifted, so we can now discuss publicly some of the new features and functionality. Virtual SAN is VMware’s software-defined solution for Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI). For the last number of months, I’ve been heavily involved in preparing for the Virtual SAN 6.1 launch. What follows is a brief description of what I find to be the most interesting and exciting of the upcoming features in Virtual SAN 6.1. Later on, I will follow-up with more in-depth blog posts on the new features and functionality.