VSAN 6.0 Part 5 – new vsanSparse snapshots

There is a new snapshot format introduced in VSAN 6.0 called vsanSparse. These replace the traditional vmfsSparse format (redo logs). The vmfsSparse format was used when snapshots of VMs were taken in VSAN 5.5, and are also the format used when a snapshot is taken of a VM residing on traditional VMFS and NFS. The older vmfsSparse format left a lot to be desired when it came to performance and scalability. This KB article from our support team, indicating that no snapshot should be used for more than 72 hours, and snapshot chains should contain no more than 2-3 snapshots, speaks for itself.

This new vsanSparse snapshot format leverages features of the new (v2) on-disk format in VSAN 6.0, VirstoFS. VirstoFS is the first implementation of technology that was acquired when VMware bought a company called Virsto a number of years ago. You can get an overview of this company from this blog post I did prior to the acquisition.

Continue reading

VSAN 6.0 Part 3 – New Default Datastore Policy

One of the most common issues I got questions about in VSAN 5.5 was “why is VSAN deploying thick disks, when all of the documentation stated that VSAN deploys thin disks”?

The answer was quite straight forward, and was due to the fact that the VMs were being deployed without a VM Storage Policy. This meant that it went through the standard VM deployment wizard which offered administrators the option of thin, lazy-zeroed thick (LZT) and eager-zeroed thick (EZT). The default option is LZT, which if you just do click-click-click (just like I do) when deploying a VM, then you end up deploying a LZT format VM, even on the VSAN datastore. I described this issue in this older blog post. Its only when you select an actual VM Storage Policy when deploying a VM that VSAN uses the Object Space Reservation capability, which by default is 0%, meaning that the VM is effectively thinly provisioned. We realized that this was causing some issues for customers so we improved this whole deployment mechanism in 6.0 with the introduction of Datastore Default policies.

Continue reading

Virtual Volumes – A new way of doing snapshots

VVolsI learnt something interesting about Virtual Volumes (VVols) last week. It relates to the way in which snapshots have been implemented in VVols. Historically, VM snapshots have left a lot to be desired. So much so, that GSS best practices for VM snapshots as per KB article 1025279 recommends having on 2-3 snapshots in a chain (even though the maximum is 32) and to use no single snapshot for more than 24-72 hours. VVol mitigates these restrictions significantly, not just because snapshots can be offloaded to the array, but also in the way consolidate and revert operations are implemented.

Continue reading

Migrations and Virtual Volumes – Deep Dive

VVolsRecently I published an article on Virtual Volumes (VVols) where I touched on a comparison between how migrations typically worked with VAAI and how they now work with VVols. In the meantime, I managed to have some really interesting discussions with some of our VVol leads, and I thought it worth sharing here as I haven’t seen this level of detail anywhere else. This is rather a long discussion, as there are a lot of different permutations of migrations that can take place. There are also different states that the virtual machine could be in. We’re solely focused on VVols here, so although different scenarios are offered up, I highlight what scenario we are actually considering.

Continue reading

A brief overview of new Virtual SAN 6.0 features and functionality

The embargo on what’s new in vSphere 6.0 has now been lifted, so we can now start to discuss publicly about new features and functionality. For the last number of months, I’ve been heavily involved in preparing for the Virtual SAN 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 6.0. Later on, I will be following up with more in-depth blog posts on the new features and functionality.

Continue reading

VSAN Troubleshooting Case Study

vsan-vmware-virtual-san-boxI have been doing a bunch of stuff around disaster recovery (DR) recently, and my storage of choice at both the production site and the recovery site has been VSAN, VMware Virtual SAN. I have already done a number of tests already with products like vCenter Server, vCenter Operations Manager and NSX, our network virtualization product. Next up was VCO, our vCenter Orchestrator product. I set up vSphere Replication for my vCO servers (I deployed them in a HA configuration) and their associated SQL DB VM on Friday, but when I got in Monday morning, I could not log onto my vCenter. The problem was that my vCenter was running on VSAN (a bit of a chicken and egg type situation), so how do I troubleshoot this situation without my vCenter. And what was the actual problem? Was it a VSAN issue? This is what had to be done to resolve it.

Continue reading

VMworld 2014 – Storage News Part 2

VVolsI guess the next big tech preview at this year’s VMworld was around Virtual Volumes. Yes, we’ve done this before, but this year there were so many vendors showing demos of their VVol implementation, and so many presentations/sessions on the topic that I believe folks are beginning to realize that we are very close indeed to finally having this feature ready. It’s hard to believe that this was first discussed at VMworld 2011, and I alluded to this when I presented a VVol session that I co-delivered with the folks from Nimble Storage at this year’s VMworld.

This topic is going to be huge, and it is going to change the way storage is designed for virtualization environments. And I think almost every storage partner I spoke to at the show is on-board. In fact, “The Register” asked the question last month if there was ANY storage vendor that wasn’t doing a VVol implementation?

I’m not going to get into any technical details of Virtual Volumes in this post – there will be lots of time for this later. Instead, I’m going to share how we believe VVols will now enable Software Defined Storage (SDS) for SAN & NAS arrays, similar to how we have achieved this already with VSAN.

Continue reading