Virtual Storage Access Network is the latest generation of block-based storage technology that combines the computing and storage of external network-attached storage (NAS) solutions with a software-based virtual SAN architecture. Based on its setup and technical features, vSAN offers many advantages over traditional storage arrays. This technology can be leveraged by organizations to produce flexible storage that can provide up to ten petabytes of capacity per node (10 PB) while delivering more performance and availability than a traditional storage solution.
This article will provide an overview of the basics and advanced features of vSAN, including encryption, LUN and virtual SAN node types, and data and configuration management. So keep reading to know how to leverage these capabilities to deliver a highly available, resilient, and scalable storage environment for virtual, physical and cloud-based deployments.
What Is Special About vSAN?
There are many good things about vSAN. The solution provides benefits such as:
- Fully supported and optimized by Microsoft hardware and software partners, such as Windows Server 2012, Hyper-V 2012, and Storage Spaces Direct;
- Supports a high-density pool of storage by placing virtual SAN nodes on the same physical servers as the host operating system and applications;
- Storage can be deployed as virtual blocks, volumes, or LUNs;
- Virtual SAN nodes can be configured as an active/passive high-availability cluster of servers with a single point of management and security;
- Data and configuration management of all virtual SAN nodes;
- A wide variety of virtual block sizes and throughputs;
- Flexible volume resizing;
- Durable, reliable, highly available storage pool;
- Configurable redundancy and high-performance performance;
- Multiple virtual SAN node types to choose from.
vSAN Network Topologies
The first step in planning any virtual storage deployment is to determine what network topology will be required to achieve your goals. The two most common topologies for vSAN are:
- Single-Tier Cluster – vSAN nodes and datastores are connected to the same network segment, and vSAN can leverage a single vCenter Server for management and troubleshooting;
- Multi-Tier Cluster – vSAN nodes and datastores are connected to different network segments, and vSAN is deployed as a virtual clustered solution.
A single-tier vSAN deployment means that datastores are connected to a single network segment that also connects the vSAN nodes. This configuration does not offer the level of availability or resilience required for mission-critical applications. This topology will be used when:
- The vSAN nodes and datastores are on separate physical servers or in different data centers;
- vSAN deployment must be done by a third-party vendor that is not VMware, as vSAN is not an on-premises solution.
As mentioned in the introduction, vSAN is a software-based virtual SAN solution that combines the storage capacity of a traditional storage array with the compute and management capabilities of a VMware virtual infrastructure. It is designed to deliver flexibility, reliability, and scalability. So vSAN can be deployed on a variety of systems, including:
- Hybrid Systems – vSAN nodes and datastores are connected to a single physical server that supports the host operating system and applications as well as vSAN;
- Multi-Tier Systems – vSAN nodes and datastores are connected to different physical servers and vSAN is deployed as a virtual clustered solution.
Note: In both configurations, vSAN can utilize different network topologies.
vSAN: Cluster Types and Encryption
Storage virtualization enables the data center administrator to manage storage resources more easily and centrally. Data moves from physical to virtual and can be replicated across various data centers. A virtualized storage system enables the administrator to consolidate all the storage into one central data center. vSAN clustering requires specialized hardware. If you decide to deploy the software in a data center that doesn’t have such hardware, you will need to upgrade to one of the cluster types described below.
The vSAN software supports two types of cluster hardware:
- Fibre Channel host bus adapters (fiber channel) – the hardware that directly connects multiple servers to a storage network, and to each other;
- Host Bus Adapters (HBA) – the interface between multiple nodes of the cluster and the host bus adapters (HBAs) connected to a storage network.
You can choose which vSAN cluster type is best for your specific needs. If you choose one of the cluster types, the host servers that host the VMs on your vSAN cluster will need to be upgraded to a later firmware version. Power VMs can be encrypted in any cluster type: the vSAN software is compatible with the Power Systems FMC, p series servers.
With vSAN, a central data center can have multiple storage servers. Each server offers multiple storage volumes and provides access to these volumes to many VMs. The cluster provides centralized management of the storage and storage infrastructure. You can design your own virtual storage infrastructure, and you can use different data center management tools to manage vSAN clusters and their data.
What Does Using vSAN Give to You?
The vSAN software is a highly scalable data center operating system. It can be the foundation for a private cloud solution that enables you to build a virtual data center to store, secure, and access data in real-time. The vSAN clustering technology ensures that your virtual machines (VMs) run efficiently and are protected from host failures.