I’ve been waiting for a while to be able to implement an all flash VSAN in my lab and now that VSAN 6.2 has been announced, I thought it would be time to upgrade my capacity disks from HDD’s to SSD’s and get cracking..! (note: despite the announcement, VSAN 6.2 binaries are NOT YET available to download. I’m hearing it would be available in a week or two on My VMware though so until then, mine is based on VSAN 6.1 – ESXi 6.0U1 binaries)
As I already had a normal (Hybrid) VSAN implementation using SSD+HDD in my management vSphere cluster, the plan was to keep the existing SSD’s as caching tier and replace the current HDD’s with high capacity SSD drives. So I bought 3 new Samsung 850 EVO 256GB drives from Amazon (here)
All Flash VSAN Setup
Given below are the typical steps involved in the processes to implement All Flash VSAN within the VMware cluster (I’m using the 3 node management cluster within my lab for the illustration below)
- Install the SSD drives in the server – This should be easy enough. If you are doing this in a production environment, you need to ensure that the capacity SSD’s (similar to all other components in your VSAN ready nodes) are in the VMware HCL
- Enable VSAN on the cluster – Need to be done on the web client
- Verify the new SSDs are available & recognised within the web client – All SSD’s are recognised as caching disks by default.
- Manually tag the required SSD drives as capacity disks VIA COMMANDLINE for them to be recognised as capacity disks within VSAN configuration – This step MUST be carried out using one the ways explained below and until then, SSD disks WILL NOT be available to be used as capacity disks within an all flash VSAN otherwise. (There currently is no GUI option on the web client to achieve this and cli must be used)
- Use esxcli command on each ESXi server
- SSH in to the ESXi server shell
- Use the vdq -q command to get the T10 SCSI name for the capacity SSD drive (Also verify “IsCapacityFlash” option is set to 0)
- Use the “esxcli vsan storage tag add -d <SCSI T10 name of the disk> -t capacityFlash” command to mark the disk as capacity SSD.
- Use the vdq -q command to query the disk status and ensure the disk is now marked as “1” for “IsCapacityFlash”
- If you now look at the Web client UI, the capacity SSD disk will now have been correctly identified as capacity (note the drive type changed to HDD which is somewhat misleading as the drive type is still SSD)
- Use the “VMware Virtual SAN All-Flash Configuration Utility” software – This is a 3rd party tool and not an officially supported VMware tool but if you do not want to manually SSH in to the ESXi servers 1 by 1, this software could be quite handy as you can bulk tag on many ESXi servers all at the same time. I’ve used this tool to tag the SSD’s in the next 2 servers of my lab in the illustration below.
- Verify capacity SSD across all hosts – Now that all the capacity SSD’s have been tagged as capacity disks, verify that the web client sees all capacity SSD’s across all hosts
- Create the disk groups on each host – I’m opting to create this manually as shown below
- Verify the VSAN datastore now being available and accessible
There you have it. Implementing all flash VSAN requires manually tagging the SSDs as capacity SSDs for the time being and this is how you do it. I may also add that since the all flash VSAN, my storage performance has gone through the roof in my home lab which is great too. However this is all done on Whitebox hardware and not all of them are fully on VMware HCL….etc which makes those performance figures far from optimal. It would be really good to see performance statistics if you have deployed all flash VSAN in your production environment.
As you may already know by now, VMware have just announced a number of new product versions along with few changes to their Cloud Management product positioning during the online event that took place on the 10th of Feb 2016 (If you missed the announcements, you can watch the recordings here). The announcements were made for products that fall under 2 tracks (Digital workspace & Cloud Management which effective means EUC & Datacenter track respectively).
While I’m not going to cover what was discussed under the Digital Enterprise section (mostly EUC focused, around Horizon Suite and Workspace 1), I’m going to summarize some of the key points mentioned under the Hybrid Cloud track below and the related product positioning changes.
Hybrid Cloud related new Product updates – Summary
One Cloud (Hybrid Cloud with private, hosted and public cloud), Any application, Any device seems to be the new mantra going forward and is fully underpinned by VMware’s software Defined Datacentre (SDDC). VMware are seeing the Hybrid Cloud is playing a major part in the interim future in the industry (I know many customers agree too) and they appear to be seeing user owned kit (housed in an on-premise DC or an off premise hosted DC like Equinix) along with various different public cloud platforms all playing a part of a typical customer datacentre going forward. Each public cloud provider is almost seen as a new Silo in the customers new Hybrid Cloud Datacentre and VMware are focusing on providing a unified management platform across all these Silo’s. To be frank, this is not so much news, as their focus and the subsequent messaging has been the same for a while. But their have now added compatibility with almost all key Public cloud platforms (AWS, Azure, Google, IBM SoftLayer) and stressing the “any cloud” message through this announcement.
Here’s the summary of the related new products announced
VMware VSAN 6.2 Updates
- VSAN 6.2 is announced
- For key 6.2 (new) technical features – Refer to the 2 articles below
- Duncan Epping’s legendary Yellow-Bricks here
- Comac Hogan’s blog here
- VSAN (together with vSphere) is a Hyper-Converged Software Solution (finally…!!)
- All flash VSAN is key and most new features are available on all flash VSAN only – also inline with storage industry trends.
- 2 new VSAN ready node options from Supermicro, Hitachi and Fujitsu (different to legacy VSAN ready nodes)
- Customers can choose to factory install the VMware hyper-converged software (HCS), namely vSphere and Virtual SAN.
- Customers can use their existing vSphere and VSAN licenses, or buy new licenses from the OEM vendor. All OEMs offer the flexibility of perpetual licenses that are node-transferrable, while some OEMs may also offer embedded licenses, which are fundamentally tied to the hardware system
- Customers can continue to purchase support from VMware, or leverage a single-vendor model by getting support for both hardware and software from their OEM of choice
- VSAN is also available for VMware Photon – DevOps & CNA friendly
vRealize Suite Updates
- vRA Version 7.0 (announced in December 2015)
- More cloud endpoint supported: now supports Google, IBM SoftLayer, as well as AWS, Azure & vCloud Air
- vRealize Business 7.0 announced
- vROPS remain the same as version 6.2
- vRealize Log Insight 3.3
- NSX Updates
- NSX is the common networking layer across private and public cloud platforms (including AWS & Azure)
Product Positioning & Packaging Changes – Summary
Number of VMware Product Suite / Packages have been changed to reflect 3 different use cases VMware trying to address with their product portfolio, going forward. These key use cases are as follows,
- Intelligent Operations: Basic, virtualised datacentre use case
- Automated to IaaS: Have advanced virtualisation with additional requirements such as some automation and orchestration and IaaS capability
- DevOps-Ready: True Hybrid Cloud requirement
And the content of these product suites have also changed. A quick summary of the key changes are explained below.
Core Platform – “Naked” vSphere
- Previous: Standard, Enterprise, Enterprise plus (for both the vSphere and vSOM bundles)
- New: Standard & Enterprise plus only – No more vSphere Enterprise!
- For existing vSphere ENT customers, there are 2 choices
- Upgrade to vSphere ENT+ with 50% discount (available till 25th of June 2016) OR
- Stay on vSphere ENT till product end of support
- vCenter list price increased, but now include 25 OSI license for vRealize Log Insight (restricted to do log analysis for vSphere hosts, vCenter & VMware content packs only) in return.
vSphere with Operations Management (vSOM)
- Previous: vSOM Standard, Enterprise & Enterprise plus
- New: Enterprise plus only – No more vSOM STD or vSOM ENT!
- For existing vSOM STD & ENT customers, there are 2 choices
- Upgrade to vSphere ENT+ with 50% discount (available till 25th of June 2016) OR
- Stay on current till product end of support
vRealize Suite (vRS) 7.0
- Previous: N/A
- New: STD, ADV, ENT
- Standard: vRealize Business for Cloud STD, Log Insight, vROPS Advanced
- Advanced (with IaaS capabilities): vRealize Business for Cloud STD, Log Insight, vROPS Advanced, vRealize Automation Advanced (now cheaper since vRealize Configurations Manager is now excluded)
- Enterprise (with DevOps capabilities): vRealize Business for Cloud STD, Log Insight, vROPS Advanced, vRealize Automation Enterprise with Application Automation, vROPS App monitoring. (cheaper now as vROPS ENT & vCM removed from the suite now)
- vRS licenses are now portable (between private & public cloud) – Applies to the Suite licenses only (standalone components don’t qualify)
- On-Premise = per CPU socket
- Public Cloud (vCloud Air,, AWS, Azure) = 15 OSI’s per license unit (portable license unit = 1 cpu socket license)
- 3rd party On-Prem (Hyper-V, XenServer, KVM) = 15 OSI’s per license unit (portable license unit = 1 cpu socket license)
vCloud Suite (vCS) 7 – New Packaging & Licensing
- Previous: version 6.0 in STD, ADV, ENT
- New: version 7.0 also in STD, ADV, ENT. See comparison below.
- All vCS editions now include vRealize Suite & vSphere ENT+
- SRM & vCM both now removed from vCS 7 ENT
- New licensing available from 1st of March (Existing vCloud Suite EOA by 1st of June FY16)
- (Only) vRS Licenses are portable (between private & public cloud)
- Previous Categories (5.5 & 6.x): Standard & Advanced
- New categories (from version 6.2 onwards): Standard, Advanced, Enterprise
Additional info regarding packaging changes and price changes can be found on the following links
Re-Cap and My thoughts
- There appear to be less and less focus on core products such as vSphere and VMware’s focus is somewhat shifting to other management and enablement areas. This makes sense as the hypervisor is increasingly becoming a commodity and the value-add now is in the Cloud Management Software suite that manage the Hypervisor as well as various other Public Cloud platforms.
- In general, cost of basic vSphere will go up for many customers due to the removal of Enterprise edition and most medium to large corporate and enterprise customers will now be forced to buy ENT+ edition, which also just happened to cost a little more than it did before, at the same time.
- New products like VSAN & NSX-v however will increase the sticky-ness of the vSphere customers (both needs vSphere) within the customer’s datacentre still so vSphere is not yet fully done with (for the foreseeable future anyway)
- While all the new VSAN features are really awesome and great, do bear in mind that most of them if not all are going to cost you slightly more as,
- They are only available with more expensive Enterprise edition of VSAN
- They are only available for on all flash VSAN’s. Meaning more expensive SSD drives for capacity too so more expensive hardware.
- All flash VSAN should still be cheaper overall though for the customer compared to having to buy the same servers (without disks) + a separate all flash SAN
- So all in all, except for VSAN 6.2 announcement, not a whole lot of exciting new features. This is not a major announcement but more of a minor change of product positioning, along with a re-pricing exercise, however I do like the direction VMware is heading with their product portfolio.
Note: Slide credit goes to VMware. Note that the NDA on some of these contents have now elapsed (after the general announcement on the 10th of Feb) so I shouldn’t get in to trouble for sharing 🙂