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.

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.