What’s new with VMware vSAN 6.5?

Given that I’m a VMware vExpert for vSAN, I guess I’m kind of obliged to write about what’s new with the latest iteration of vSAN – 6.5….. =)

vSAN 6.5 is the 5th version of vSAN to be released and it’s had quite a rapid adoption in the industry as end-users start looking at Hyper-Converged Solutions. There are over 5000+ customers now utilising vSAN – everything from Production workloads through to Test & Dev, including VDI workloads and DR solutions! This is quite surprising considering we’re looking at a product that’s just under 3 years old… it’s become a mature product in such a short period of time!

The first thing to note is the acronym change…. it’s now little ‘v’ for vSAN in order to fall in line with most of the other VMware products! =)

So what are the key new features?

1. vSAN iSCSI

This is probably the most useful feature in 6.5 as it gives you the ability to create iSCSI targets and LUNs within your vSAN cluster and present these outside of the vSAN Cluster – which means you can now connect other VMs or physical servers to your vSAN storage (this could be advantageous if you’re trying to run a MSCS workload). The iSCSI support is native from within the VMkernel and doesn’t use any sort of storage appliance to create and mount the LUNs. At present only 128 targets are supported with 1024 LUNs and a max. LUN size of 62TB.

vsan-iscsi

It seems quite simple to setup (famous last words – I’ve not deployed 6.5 with iSCSI targets yet). First thing is to enabled the vSAN iSCSI Target service on the vSAN cluster, after that you create an iSCSI target and assign a LUN to it… that’s pretty much it!

Great thing about this feature is because the LUNs are basically vSAN objects, you can assign a storage policy to it and use all the nice vSAN SPBM features (dedupe, compression, erasure-coding, etc).

2. 2-node direct connect for vSAN ROBO + vSAN Advanced ROBO

Customers find it quite difficult to try and justify purchasing a 10GbE network switch in order to connect together a few nodes at a ROBO site. VMware have taken customer feedback and added a new feature which allows you to direct connect the vSAN ROBO nodes together using a cross-over network cable.

In prior versions of vSAN both vSAN traffic and witness traffic used the same VMkernel port which prevented the ability to use a direct connection as there would be no way to communicate with the witness node (usually back in the primary DC where the vCenter resides). In vSAN 6.5 you now have the ability to separate out vSAN and witness traffic onto separate VMkernel ports which means you can direct connect your vSAN ports together. This is obviously great as you can then stick in a 10GbE NIC and get 10Gb performance for vSAN traffic (and vMotion) without the need of a switch!

vsan_2node_robo

The only minor issue is you need to use the CLI to run some commands to tag a VMkernel port as the designated witness interface. Also the recommended setup would be to use 2 VMkernel ports per traffic flow in order to give you an active/standby configuration.

vsan-2node2nic

It’s also worth noting that the new vSAN Advanced ROBO licenses now allow end-users to deploy all-flash configurations at their ROBO site with the added space efficiency features!

3. vSAN All-Flash now available on all license editions

Yup, the All-Flash Tax has gone! You can now deploy an All-Flash vSAN configuration without having to buy an advanced or enterprise license. However, if you want any of the space saving features such as dedupe, compression and erasure coding then you require at least the Advanced edition.

4. 512e drive support

With larger drives now coming onto the market, there has been a request from customers for 4k drive support. Unfortunately there is still no support for the 4k native devices, however there is now support for 512e devices (so physical sector is 4k, logical sector emulates 512bytes).

More information on 4Kn or 512e support can be found here: https://kb.vmware.com/kb/2091600

5. PowerCLI cmdlets for vSAN

New cmdlets are available for vSAN allowing you to script and automate various vSAN tasks (from enabling vSAN to the deployment and configuration of a vSAN stretched cluster). The most obvious use will be using cmdlets to automatically assign storage policies to multiple VMs.

More info on he cmdlet updates available here: http://blogs.vmware.com/PowerCLI/2016/11/new-release-powercli-6-5-r1.html

6. vSAN storage for Cloud Native Apps (CNA)

Integration with Photon means you can now use a vSAN cluster in a CNA enviroment managed by Photon Controller. In addition, now that vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) is included with vSphere 6.5, you can now use vSAN as storage for the VIC engine. Finally Docker Volume Driver enables you to create and manage Docker container data volumes on vSAN.

For more information about vSAN 6.5, point your browsers to this great technical website: https://storagehub.vmware.com/#!/vmware-vsan/vmware-vsan-6-5-technical-overview

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