Why upgrade vSAN? Here is a list of features, release by release.

I was with one of our large EMEA customers last week, and we talked quite a bit about the evolution of vSAN. This customer is already one of our larger vSAN customers with very many clusters, and many, many nodes. They have also been a great vSAN reference for us, having first deployed the initial vSAN 5.5 release. One point that hit home was that they found it was quite difficult to determine the various features and enhancements that were introduced in each vSAN release. They mentioned that having a quick reference would be useful as they could use it to find out which release they should aim for, and also justify upgrade activities to the business.  With that in mind, I decided to compose a list of big-ticket items associated with each release of vSAN. I will try to keep this up to date with upcoming releases as well. Hope you find it useful. I believe this captures the major features, but if you spot something that I missed, please let me know. Also, please use the link to the Release Notes for a fuller description of what is in each release.

vSAN 7.0U2 (vSphere 7.0U2)

Link to vSAN 7.0U2 Release Notes

Build number 17694817 (09 MAR 2021).

  • HCI Mesh now allows remote mounting of vSAN datastore from non-vSAN clusters
  • In HCI Mesh, vSAN datastores can support up to 128 remote host mounts
  • vSAN Stretched Cluster now supports 20+20+1 configurations
  • vSAN Stretched Cluster has deeper integrations with DRS for object sync and fail-back
  • vSAN File Services now works on vSAN Stretched Cluster and 2-node vSAN
  • vSAN File Services Scale Increase from 32 to 100
  • vSAN now supports vSphere Proactive HA
  • vSAN supports the new vSphere Native Key Provider
  • A new Health Check History feature has been added
  • Other UI enhancements include the ability to view Performance Top Contributors, as well as detailed networking diagnostics.

More detailed information on vSAN 7.0U2 available here

vSAN 7.0U1 (vSphere 7.0U1)

Link to vSAN 7.0U1 Release Notes

Build number 16850804 (6 OCT 2020).

  • vSAN File Services now supports the SMB protocol – more details
  • vSAN File Services now supports Kerberos and Active Directory
  • vSAN File Services Scale Increase from 8 to 32
  • HCI Mesh introduced for mounting remote vSAN datastore
  • A new Compression Only Data Service
  • vSAN “Shared” Witness Appliance
  • Introducing vSAN Data Persistence platform for cloud native applications in vSphere with Tanzu
  • Increased usable capacity with new capacity management features – more details

More detailed information on vSAN 7.0U1 available here

vSAN 7.0 (vSphere 7.0)

Link to vSAN 7.0 Release Notes

Build number 15843807 (24 APR 2020).

  • Integrated Native File Services (NFS File Shares) – more details
  • Read-Write-Many Persistent Volumes via CSI-CNS and vSAN 7 – more details
  • vSAN Memory performance metric now displayed – more details
  • Shared disks with multi-writer flag no longer need to be Easy Zero Thick on vSAN 7
  • Support for larger 32TB physical storage devices
  • Support for larger 1PB Logical capacity when deduplication and compression enabled
  • Objects immediately repaired when Witness Appliance replaced
  • NVMe hot-plug support

vSAN 6.7U3 (vSphere 6.7U3)

Link to vSAN 6.7U3 Release Notes

Build number 14320388 (20 AUG 2019).

  • Cloud Native Storage
  • Native SCSI-3 PGR for Windows Server Failover Cluster (WSFC) support
  • Improved Capacity Usage views (including block container volumes)
  • Improved Resync insights – ability to see queued but not yet active resyncs
  • Maintenance Mode/Data Migration pre-checks
  • Online iSCSI LUN Resize
  • Improved destage performance with LSOM enhancements
  • Parallel resync operations
  • vsantop command line too for performance monitoring

More detailed information on vSAN 6.7U3 available here.

vSAN 6.7U1 (vSphere 6.7U1)

Link to vSAN 6.7 Release Notes

Build number 10302608 (31 OCT 2018).

  • TRIM/UNMAP Support
  • VMWare Update Manager (VUM) integration for Storage Controller Firmware Updates
  • Maintenance Mode Enhancements and Safeguards
  • New Proactive Network Performance test
  • Historic Capacity Reporting
  • Cluster Creation Quickstart Workflow
  • New Global Advanced Options

More detailed information on vSAN 6.7U1 available here.

vSAN 6.7 (vSphere 6.7)

Link to vSAN 6.7 Release Notes

Build number 8169922 (17 APR 2018).

  • Full support for HTML5 client
  • vRealize Operations support with vSAN license
  • vSAN iSCSI support for Windows Server Failover Cluster (WSFC)
  • Improved Quality of Service on vSAN resync traffic
  • Thin provisioned Swap objects
  • Swap objects adhering to policy settings rather than defaulting to RAID-1
  • Witness Traffic Separation support for vSAN Stretched Clusters
  • Fast Failover for vSAN redundant networks (previously waited for TCP timeouts)
  • Support for Shared-Nothing architectures via host/data locality (RPQ only)
  • 4Kn (native) device support

More detailed information on vSAN 6.7 is available here.

vSAN 6.6.1 (vSphere 6.5U1)

Link to vSAN 6.6.1 Release Notes

Build number 5969303 (27 JUL 2017)

  • Integration with VUM, VMware Update Manager (including health checks)
  • vSAN Performance Diagnostics
  • Improved vCenter and unicast behaviour for cluster membership
  • Improved Device Serviceability – blinking drives LEDs on new controllers

More detailed information on vSAN 6.6.1 is available here.

vSAN 6.6 (vSphere 6.5.0d aka 6.5 EP2)

Link to vSAN 6.6 Release Notes

Build number 5310538 (18 APR 2017)

  • vSAN Data At Rest Encryption (DARE)
  • Local Protection in vSAN Stretched Cluster deployments
  • Site Affinity with FTT=0 in vSAN Stretched Cluster deployments
  • Unicast support to replace multicast
  • More visibility, via UI, into object placement
  • Smart Rebuilds which removed unnecessary duplication of resync traffic
  • Partial Repairs so that even when a whole object cannot be repaired, vSAN will repair some of the components
  • Optimized deduplication and checksum operations leading to improved performance
  • Manual resync throttling introduced
  • Maintenance mode pre-checks
  • Disk group / disk removal pre-checks
  • Easy Install and Config Assist features
  • Online/Cloud Health checks introduced for bespoke notifications and recommendations
  • Partial support for HTML5
  • Degraded Disk Handling (v2) enhanced with intelligent evacuation logic
  • IOPS Limit (QoS) made available to all license versions

More detailed information on vSAN 6.6 is available here.

Note: Direct upgrade from vSphere 6.0 Update 3 to vSphere 6.5.0d and vSAN 6.6 is not supported.

vSAN 6.5 (vSphere 6.5)

Link to vSAN 6.5 Release Notes

Build number 4564106 (26 NOV 2016)

  • All-Flash vSAN made available to all license versions
  • iSCSI support – ability to configure vSAN as iSCSI target
  • Support for 2 node direct connect configurations – no need for physical switch
  • 512e (emulated) device support
  • New PowerCLI cmdlets for vSAN

More detailed information on vSAN 6.5 is available here.

vSAN 6.2 (vSphere 6.0U2)

Link to vSAN 6.2 Release Notes

Build number 3620759 (15 MAR 2016)

  • IPv6 support
  • Checksum
  • Deduplication and Compression
  • Erasure Coding (RAID-5/RAID-6)
  • IOPS Limits Quality of Service feature
  • Performance Monitoring Service
  • Capacity Views
  • Advanced setting for Sparse/Thin Swap Objects
  • Improvements to Degraded Disk Handling (DDH) – Capacity devices and write latency only
  • Support for larger VMDK objects with higher FTT values

More detailed information on vSAN 6.2 can be found here.

vSAN 6.1 (vSphere 6.0U1)

Link to vSAN 6.1 Release Notes

Build number 3029758 (10 SEP 2015)

  • vSAN Stretched Cluster
  • 2-node vSAN
  • vSAN Witness appliance also introduced to support vSAN SC and 2-node
  • SMP-FT supported on vSAN
  • Integrated health-check (plugin no longer required)
  • Degraded Disk Handling (DDH) to auto-unmount problematic drives introduced
  • New flash technology support (NVMe, UltraDIMM)

More detailed information on vSAN 6.1 can be found here.

vSAN 6.0 (vSphere 6.0)

Link to vSAN 6.0 Release Notes

Build number 2494585 (12 MAR 2015)

  • All-Flash vSAN support
  • New on-disk format, based on Virsto technology, resulting in improved snapshots and clones
  • 64 node cluster support, up from 32
  • 9000 components per host, up from 3000
  • 62TB VMDK support, up from 2TB – 512KB
  • Health check plugin
  • Introduction of Fault Domains
  • Proactive re-balancing of components
  • Default VM storage policy
  • Disk Serviceability via UI – flashing LEDs, mark devices as flash, mark devices as local
  • Evacuate data at disk or disk group granularity
  • Introduction of vote quorum mechanism over witness quorum mechanism

More detailed information on vSAN 6.0 can be found here.

vSAN 5.5/1.0 (vSphere 5.5U1)

No specific vSAN 5.5/1.0 Release Notes but vCenter 5.5 U1 and ESXi 5.5 U1 has references to vSAN (Virtual SAN).

Build number (ESXi 5.5 U1) 1623387 (11 MAR 2014)

  • In-Kernel hyper-converged infrastructure
  • Hybrid vSAN support (flash for cache, HDD for capacity)
  • VMs consume RAID-1 Mirroring, Striping, Thick/Thinness as defined via SPBM
  • Scale out (add hosts), Scale up (add disks) on the fly
  • Ruby vSphere Console with vSAN Observer

More detailed information on vSAN 5.5/1.0 can be found here.

I have not included every single patch release, but I do hope this gives some insight into the various enhancements that have appeared with each major release of vSAN, and also the benefits of upgrading to some of the newer releases. There have been many patch release between these major release as well. Check out KB article 2150753 for details on the various build numbers with each vSAN release.

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