Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) is one of the most talked about infrastructure solutions available to IT departments right now, and it seems poised to dominate. This article looks at how VMware vSAN unleashes almost unheard of levels of performance from Software-Designed Storage (SDS) at a fraction of the cost of traditional arrays.
How does vSAN offer such massive performance increases?
Firstly, these solutions reduce a layer of latency by keeping everything in one box; the storage layer is directly alongside the compute resource with no need for external connections such as fibre channel or 10GB Ethernet.
Another factor is that the virtual SAN software is embedded directly in the hypervisor, and this massively reduces storage latency and maximises native performance from the disks. Tailorable fault tolerance settings also offer investment protection with claims of in excess five nines (or 99.999%!) uptime. This level of performance and reliability can be delivered at a TCO saving of up to 50% over traditional hybrid and flash arrays and VMware offer an online tool to estimate TCO savings against adjustable workload parameters.
Furthermore, as the disks making up the virtual SAN are distributed across multiple servers (often referred to as nodes in HCI appliances), the risk of a critical failure taking out a full production system is also much reduced.
The numbers don’t lie
Cost efficiencies are achieved through the use of data reduction technologies such as deduplication and scalable performance. And with capacity of over 6 petabytes and 6 million IOP’s (input/output operations per second), vSAN is a truly enterprise class storage solution. Indeed, in a recent customer deployment, a Port-P designed VMware vSAN solution was benchmarked by the client in their live environment using an iometer to measure the IOPs against their previous traditional fibre channel array. Using industry standard HPE servers, each with a combination of flash and spinning disks, the new vSAN platform delivered a peak performance of 1.6million IOPs compared to 250,000 on their previous array. That's a staggering 6.4 x more IOP’s! Of course, the use of flash based disks will always increase IOPs but, as explored in my previous article, this doesn’t always transmit into cost and performance benefits, hence the mixed approach with this client.
This isn’t just a bunch of smoke & mirrors: HCI has hit the big league. Both legacy and start-up vendors offer solutions; HP-E have recently launched their HCI devices in the 250 and 380 series which are built upon tried and tested Proliant technology and newer vendors such as Nutanix and Simplivity are coming to the fore. Infact, Nutanix have just gone public in the most successful US IPO this year, adding weight to the fact that HCI solutions are in high demand.
If you are looking at your storage roadmap or thinking about hyperconvergence for your business, VMware vSAN could save you lots of money, freeing up your budget to do things that you never thought possible. We will be running a free workshop in the coming months on this topic: to register interest, or to arrange a chat, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org