I finally received my new company notebook. I use my notebook as my demo and evaluation lab. Before I was extremely lagging in my labs due to minimal RAM (6GB) and a magnetic none performance HDD. I still can’t believe how patienced I was (cause I normally am not even near patience). But now with a SSD and 16GB RAM (and a supporting virtualization, another plus) I can finally do some VSAN evaluating. So here goes!

What is VSAN?

VMware Virtual SAN or VSAN in short (all capitals for this one), is a new software-defined storage tier. It is simple shared storage specifically designed for virtual machines. By simple it is self tuning, easy provisioning, simple managed and dynamically scalaleble. It works at the cluster layer and presents a single datastore distributed across multiple hosts in a vSphere cluster (that is where VSAN is enabled).

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Architecture

So what are the VSAN components? A model:

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A VSAN Cluster is made out of at least three vSphere 5.5 hosts. A VSAN is activated when a host cluster is created or VSAN is enabled on existing clusters. When enabled, VSAN aggregates all local storage disks available on the hosts into a single datastore (VSAN Clustered Datastore) shared by all hosts (that is, when set to automatic). You can later expand the datastore by adding storage devices or hosts to the cluster. Local storage is at least one empty (that is not formatted with VMFS or other file system) SSD and one HDD (SAS or SATA).

VSAN requires a private 1Gb network, a VMkernel port enabled for VSAN service is added to the vSphere configuration. As a best practice, use 10Gb network and Jumbo frames (end to end). You can add multiple NIC’s for redundancy.

When you use VSAN, you’ll define a virtual machine storage policy, for requirements such as performance and availability. The policy requirements are in place at the VSAN layer when a virtual machine is being created. The virtual machines virtual disk(s) is distributed across the VSAN datastore to meet the policy requirements.

Evaluation

And now for the fun part. VSAN is available as a public beta (personally I find public beta is better then invite only beta’s so hopefully VMware will stay on this road). Want to participate, go to this link: http://www.vmware.com/vsan-beta-register.

My VSAN lab is made of three nested ESXi 5.5 hosts (nested in VMware Workstation 10). These hosts have several networksThe hosts are configured with their required networks with one management VMkernel port, one vMotion and one VSAN. (with several nics in appropriate VSS). The hosts have two virtual disks configured, one standard so SSD is marked (as my notebook has SSD) and one IDE so this is not SSD marked. The three hosts are managed by a vCenter Server Appliance 5.5.

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The hosts are added to a data center. There I have added a new cluster that is DRS, HA and VSAN enabled (This is not the correct order. You actually have to setup VSAN prior to enabling HA). I have set VSAN to automatically claim storage. I added the beta VSAN license to the cluster (that’s were this one goes).

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So host are added, and storage is automatically added. You should see a VSAN datastore setup. You can verify the existing vsandatastore at your datastore view.

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Next one of the important things, setting up the storage policies. You first have to think about your policies. What are your storage requirement scenario’s.  If you just want to try out in a proof of concept, or defaults are good enough, there are also default policies.

Unlike storage profiles that work at the datastore level, storage policies are linked to virtual machine objects. There are applied to one or more virtual machines. Storage  Policies  can  be  found  in  Home  >  Rules  &  Profiles.

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I’m adding a policy to tolerate one failure.It finds my VSAN datastore as a matching provider (fortunately for me).

When creating a VM I can select the storage policy and see my VSANdatastore shows up as compatible. My other VMFS are not (as they are already VMFS provisioned and therefor not part of VSAN).

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I can place a VM on my VSAN.

This concludes the initial setup of VSAN.

One final note; currently VSAN is experimental in vSphere 5.5. VSAN therefor is not for production.

– Enjoy VSAN’ning across the VMware universe!

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