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VMware Announces VSAN 6.1 at VMworld

VMware revealed some of the new features coming to the latest version.

At VMworld 2015, VMware Inc. announced its third release of Virtual San (VSAN), its software-defined storage (SDS) solution. VSAN provides high-performance and scalable storage for virtualized workloads. This latest release, VSAN 6.1, provides some new capabilities that include: stretched cluster; Remote Office, Branch Office (ROBO) support; multi-processor fault tolerance (SMP-FT) support; some new high-performance hardware options, as well as a glimpse to what will be included in future releases. Here's a look at some of the new features:

Stretched Cluster: This feature is available for both hybrid or all-flash VSAN configurations, and is based on the Failure Domain technology introduced in VSAN 6.0. It provides the ability to protect VMs stored on VSAN across geographically separated sites with full copies of the data on two sites with a third site being used as a witness. The witness is deployed as a virtual appliance (vApp) that can be located at a third site or hosted in vCloud Air. There is a maximum of 5ms RTT between data sites and the sites require a 10Gbps interconnect. The witness site can have latency of up to 100ms.

Supporting ROBO Use Cases: VSAN 6.1 supports ROBO scenarios with two VSAN nodes and a witness node. This is similar to the stretched cluster, but it only requires two ESXi hosts to run VSAN. Two of the nodes are traditional VSAN nodes, while the third is a witness node that runs as a vApp. The witness most likely will be located in a company's main datacenter while the two data nodes will run next to each other in the branch office, rather than separate locations like a VSAN stretched cluster.

SMP-FT Support: vSphere 6.0 introduced fault tolerance (FT) for VMs with up to four vCPUs. VSAN 6.1 supports VMs that use FT to protect VMs stored on it. With FT a shadow VM runs in lockstep with a primary VM and if the primary VM goes down, the shadow will take over the execution of code without incurring any downtime. This reportedly can increase the uptime for the VMs and expands the use cases for VSAN.

New Hardware Options: There will be new performance benchmarks for VSAN 6.1, now that it supports Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) and ULLTRADIMM. Both are billed as low-latency storage solutions. NVME connects flash storage directly to the PCI Express bus, and ULLTRADIMM plugs flash directly in to the memory channel via the DIMM slots.

Beta Announcements: VMware also talked about some of the features that will be included in the future versions of VSAN, including:

  • Erasure Coding: Now VSAN only supports RAID0 and RAID1. With the inclusion of Erasure Coding, it will support RAID5 and RAID6. This will be a huge savings in storage and allow more flexible storage policies.
  • Deduplication: This is another feature that we'll be seeing in future versions of VSAN. This should greatly reduce the storage needed to store VMs on VSAN. VSAN seems to be a success for VMware. VMware announced that it has more than 2,000 customers currently running VSAN.

VSAN 6.1 is scheduled to arrive Q3 2015.

About the Author

This article was written by the staff of Virtualization Review.

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