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Is VDI causing you gray hairs? Virtual SAN and Horizon can help!

Our 2,000+ Virtual SAN customers are deploying VMware hyper-converged systems for all kinds of solutions—from supporting large Oracle databases to powering remote IT rooms to simplifying test/dev environments—but one specific workloads is always among the most popular use cases for VSAN: virtual desktops (VDI).

The struggle to find both high performance and affordable IT infrastructure, especially storage, for VDI is real. A storage system may look great on paper or even in a small POC (proof-of-concept), but hit that N+1 user with a traditional storage system and the productivity of all N+1 users can come to a grinding halt. You are then faced with an expensive, second storage purchase or left to troubleshoot and revisit all your sizing and performance assumptions: task or knowledge workers, virus scan timing, desktop recompose frequency, number/type of drives, etc…

There’s an easier way! VMware’s hyper-converged infrastructure, built on Virtual SAN and vSphere, uniquely addresses the storage challenges that have historically plagued the VDI world. Virtual SAN offers the simplicity, performance and cost needed for successful VDI deployments—both today and as your business scales. Take a look at the following video to learn why Virtual SAN is a great fit for Horizon customers deploying VDI.

Want more details on deploying VSAN and Horizon? Read the latest VMware Horizon and Virtual SAN all-flash reference architecture. For those attending VMworld 2015 next week, you can learn more about Horizon and the Software-Defined Data Center in “Unleashing the Power of SDDC to Accelerate Desktop Transformation” (Session ID: EUC5438).

And remember, if you are a Horizon customer, then you may have Virtual SAN already for free through your Horizon licenses. Give it a try today and save yourself from having to learn and purchase another storage solution (if you know vCenter then you know Virtual SAN)!

You can test-drive VSAN today with a free, online Hands-On Lab (no installation required). If you already have access to a virtualized server, get started by downloading a free Virtual SAN evaluation.

IBM Storage and the Beauty and Benefits of VVol

Once more I’m pleased to offer a guest post from another highly valued partner of ours in the VVol space, and another design partner for Virtual Volumes: IBM.

Today’s post talks about some of the history of how IBM came to realize the promise of VVol, what problems we are all trying to fix, and how IBM helps deliver on the “beauty and benefits” of VVol based storage. Continue reading

Dive into EVO:RAIL at VMworld!

One of the advantages VMworld attendees have is to learn the latest tech trends and VMware product updates.

This includes learning more about VMware EVO:RAIL. At VMworld, you’ll gain knowledge on the business advantages EVO:RAIL can provide, how EVO:RAIL can transform how you consume, deploy, and manage your software defined data center, plus much more!

Take a look at what we have planned for this year’s show:

Key EVO:RAIL Sessions:

  • SDDC6252EVO:RAIL Business Advantage: How VMware’s EVO:RAIL Hyper-converged Appliance enables Just-in-time infrastructure for SDDC8/31 – 8:00 – 9:00am
    • Get an in-depth overview of how the EVO:RAIL Hyper-converged Appliance changes the purchasing and IT processes for building a Software Defined Data Center (SDDC), especially compared to a traditional hardware-based data center.
  • SDDC5749 – Overview of EVO:RAIL – The Radically Simple Hyper-Converged Alliance for your SDDC – 9/2 – 3:30 – 4:30pm
    • Learn VMware EVO:RAIL dramatically transforms how you consume, deploy, and manage your Software Defined Data Center.
  • SDDC4797 – EVO:RAIL 2.0 Deep Dive – 9/2 – 4:00-5:00pm
    • Mike Laverick and Dave Shanley of VMware explain EVO:RAIL’s core prerequisites, how EVO:RAIL works, and what the vSphere environment looks like once the EVO:RAIL Configuration engine has done its work.

#RT2Win Contest

Do you follow @vmwevorail on Twitter? If you want to participate in our #RT2Win contest, you should!

During the week of VMworld US, @vmwevorail will be pushing out tweets on the handle, with the #RT2Win hashtag.

To enter is simple – just retweet the tweets that contain the #RT2Win hashtag for your chance to win some great prizes, including gift cards and EVO:RAIL swag! Winners will be selected through a random drawing.

EVO:RAIL Challenge at VMworld

New this year is the EVO:RAIL Challenge at VMworld!

During the show, we invite attendees to visit the HCI Zone in the Solutions Exchange to compete against each other to configure and deploy VM’s in the fastest time.

Each participant in the EVO:RAIL Challenge at VMworld will receive a T-Shirt.

To keep the competition level high, the top time of the day on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday will receive an EVO:RAIL backpack, along with a Basis Peak wearable!


The top overall time throughout the whole conference will get the chance to compete for a pass to VMworld 2016!

The show is just under a week away and we can’t wait to see you all in San Francisco! Are you Ready For Any? The EVO:RAIL team certainly is. We’ll see you at VMworld.

For more updates around VMware EVO:RAIL, follow this blog and @vmwevorail on Twitter.

Two brand new customer case studies published!

Over the past few months I’ve spoken with many customers about Virtual SAN. These conversations usually result in “unofficial” success stories that are published in the form of a blog post. In addition to these informal stories, businesses that successfully implement Virtual SAN are featured in customer case studies. Below are two new customer case studies that highlight how Virtual SAN transformed their IT infrastructure and positioned their business for future growth.

The first study describes how highway infrastructure concessionary Autopista Vespucio Norte (AVN) has leveraged VMware virtualization solutions since 2008 to reduce capital and operational expenditure. vSphere 5.5 and Virtual SAN was them the next step in this process. The complexity of their project was mainly due the fact that as this was an unprecedented technology in the market: since they were literally one of the first to implement Virtual SAN they could not rely on previous experience or proven success cases to validate the VMware VSAN solution. By converging layers of complexity and delivering over 65TB of storage capacity with just IBM 3 hosts all connected using 10GbE Arista switches they managed to reduce capacity expenditure with 50% and operational expenditure with 60%. Click here to read the full AVN customer case study.

The second case study talks about Keck Medical Center of USC which was in dire need of a new data warehouse for business and medical analytics but didn’t have room for the data in its conventional SAN. The center’s IT team quickly chose QlikView Business Discovery as its data management solution. Unfortunately, they also discovered that the center’s SAN lacked the necessary capacity and horsepower and that adequate funds to expand it were unavailable. With no available SAN capacity, a limited budget, and an impatient cohort of analysts, the Keck team urgently needed a more flexible and affordable storage solution. Storage they could deploy quickly with just the capacity they needed to launch. Storage they could scale easily and affordably as application requirements changed. Storage that would be easy to manage and that wouldn’t lock them into expensive proprietary hardware. The Keck team’s solution was to create a pair of storage clusters, building out existing VMware vSphere hosts (Dell PowerEdge R715 servers) with internal hard drives and Fusion-io flash drives. Click here to read the full Keck Medical Center of USC customer case study.

VMware Compatibility Guide Portal with New Ready Node Branding

new-brandOut with the old and in with the new! In the spirit of simplicity for all things hardware related to Virtual SAN, today VMware released a newly revamped hardware compatibility guide portal.

The portal introduces a new and simplified hardware searching capability that is primarily focused around Virtual SAN Ready Nodes instead of the previous approach focused on individual certified hardware components.

The new portal is designed to deliver a concise, quick, and rich user experience for customers. Now, customers that are looking to identify the latest and greatest suitable hardware options for their respective Virtual SAN use cases can do so with a minimum of six on-screen clicks.

Customers can very quickly select their Virtual SAN architecture of choice, supported release, preferred vendor, hardware generation, performance and storage capacity profile, and lastly server form factor type.


The new portal introduces a new Virtual SAN Ready Node profile branding series that replaces the previous low, medium, and high profile identification. The new profile branding series consist of five different profile across both supported Virtual SAN storage architectures hybrid and All-Flash. The image below illustrates the mapping of the new branding to the previously supported branding model of low, medium, high profiles.


The portal also provides the ability to dynamically generate PDF files that containing the configuration requirements that is inputed into the portal. This PDF can be generated to be utilized as a purchasing reference or to simply keep the record.

While the focus of the new portal points to all things Virtual SAN Ready Node, customers may still pursue building their own solutions with individual certified components.

For the most part it is strongly recommends to use certified Ready Nodes that are validated to provide predictable performance and scalability for your Virtual SAN deployment. If you would still like to build your own Virtual SAN with certified components, then click Build Your Own based on Certified Components.

The new VMware Compatibility Guide portal is the one-stop-shop location for all things related to Virtual SAN ranging from hardware, Virtual SAN Assessment ToolSizing and TCO calculator, and the new Virtual SAN Hardware Quick Reference Guide.

– Enjoy

For future updates on Virtual SAN (VSAN), vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVol) and other Storage and Availability technologies, as well as vSphere Integrated OpenStack (VIO), and Cloud-Native Apps (CNA) be sure to follow me on Twitter: @PunchingClouds

Virtual Volumes: Another round of data center transformation from Dell and VMware

Today I’m able to offer another guest-authored post on Virtual Volumes, this time from my respected colleague at Dell, David Glynn, a highly esteemed Technical Solutions Engineer in their Enterprise Storage division who has spent a great deal of his time recently focused on Dell’s implementation of VVol.  Here David shares Dell’s vision of the benefits of VVol, both to the storage administrators and the vSphere administrators: Explaining how this shift in the way we deliver storage is truly transforming the industry.


dglynnDavid Glynn

August 24, 2015

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Support for non-uniform/heterogeneous VSAN clusters? Yes!

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been asked this question by various field people and potential customers: does VMware support non-uniform / heterogeneous VSAN clusters? The question typically comes during the pre-sales stage and by the sounds of it is one of those myths that competitors use to give their product the edge in a bake-off.

For those who just care about the facts I can be short: Yes we support non-uniform / heterogeneous VSAN clusters. Our very first datasheet has the following statement in it:

Hardware independence – Virtual SAN can be deployed on hardware from any server manufacturer. This gives you the flexibility to build out customized storage systems in heterogeneous hardware environments.

Anyone telling you VMware VSAN does not support non-uniform / heterogenous environments is badly informed, or not being honest. Some of you may say, hold on… I’ve seen posts where people are making a recommendation for uniform clusters. A strong recommendation even in some cases, does that mean VSAN doesn’t function properly when you use a non-uniform cluster? Again, I can be short: No it does not. But why did they make this recommendation?

The reason is simple: lower operational complexity. Just like with vSphere HA and vSphere DRS, balancing resources and doing calculations to see if your cluster has sufficient spare resources to reprotect VMs after a failure is easier when you have a uniform cluster. Not that it is rocket science when the cluster is non-uniform, as you will just need to assume that if something fails it will be the host providing the most storage capacity. Luckily with VSAN the whole cluster acts as “rebuild capacity”, which means that mitigating this risk is relatively easy.

As an architect I usually prefer to avoid risks though, but also understand that situations like these occur and there is no reason to fear them. I spoke with a customer who is managing a rather large non-uniform environment last week. They started with 1U hosts, but for various reasons decided to go with 2U hosts more recently. Using the same cache to capacity ratio per host they’ve had no challenges whatsoever in this environment (they even went with more cache as SSD prices lowered). Performance and management has been a breeze, they are very keen on standardization but the ability to be flexible when needed is actually what they love about VSAN.

New vRealize Operations Management Pack for Virtual SAN 6.0

VSAN-VROPSNew vRealize Operations Management Pack for Storage Devices 6.0.2 released. The new version of the management pack offers full support for Virtual SAN 6.0 by introducing a new set of dashboards that provides global visibility into all aspects of Virtual SAN 6.0 from a centralized location.

The new dashboards present customers with some of the most important and relevant information about Virtual SAN 6.0 right out-of-the-box.

  • Global View
    Get global visibility across Virtual SAN clusters for monitoring and proactive alerts/notifications on an ongoing basis. Proactively monitor multiple Virtual SAN clusters using exploratory out of the box and customizable dashboards for deriving Virtual SAN Cluster Insights, Device Insights, Entity usage, Heat Maps etc. Simplify end to end troubleshooting by leveraging Virtual SAN topology and relationship between VM, Host, Datastore, Disk group, Host Bus Adapter etc. Get device/hardware specific reports, alerts using S.M.A.R.T.S.
  • Health Monitoring and Availability
    Proactively monitor and assess device connectivity issues and failures such as APD (All Path Down), PDL (Physical Device Loss), network congestion, SSD Life (based on S.M.A.R.T.S) and disk failures. Get proactively notified on failures, performance and compliance issues on an ongoing basis, review symptoms and recommendations for a remediation strategyUse exploratory dashboards and heat maps.
  • Performance
    Monitor aggregate performance (throughput in MB/s) and latencies at a disk group and disk level for SSDs and HDDs. Assess how Virtual SAN is keeping up with specific workload by continuously monitoring metrics like SSD Read Cache hit ratio and SSD eviction rateMonitor CPU, memory and network congestion metrics.
  • Capacity
    Monitor disk usage (available and used capacity) on disks across all hosts in a cluster.
    Perform capacity planning based on “what if scenarios” and plan for future hardware purchase based on historic demand and stress trends of Virtual SAN workloads.

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Virtual SAN going offshore

Over the last couple of months I have been talking to many Virtual SAN customers. After having spoken to so many customers and having heard many special use cases and configurations I’m not easily impressed. I must say that half way during the conversation with Steffan Hafnor Røstvig from TeleComputing I was seriously impressed. Before we get to that lets first look at the background of Steffan Hafnor Røstvig and TeleComputing.

TeleComputing is one of the oldest service providers in Norway. They started out as an ASP with a lot of Citrix expertise. In the last years they’ve evolved more to being a service provider rather than an application provider. Telecomputing’s customer base consists of more than 800 companies and in excess of 80,000 IT users. Customers are typically between 200-2000 employees, so significant companies. In the Stavanger region a significant portion of the customer base is in the oil business or delivering services to the Oil business. Besides managed services, TeleComputing also has their own datacenter they manage and host services in for customers.

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Introducing HCIbench: A Free Storage Performance Testing Tool For Hyperconverged

Cleaning GlassThere’s been a lot in the press recently around the subject of testing storage performance on newer hyperconverged architectures.  

Our own experience is that there are big differences in how a given hardware configuration will perform, depending on whose hyperconverged software stack you’re using.

If performance is important to you, you should know what you’re getting before you buy.

With regards to VSAN, we’ve been continually publishing the results of our own internal testing, and done so with enough detail so that someone could reproduce the results if desired (scroll to the bottom of this page for a sampling).  We’ve also supported independent reviewers such as StorageReview.com to share their own unbiased results.

That being said, we’d like to do more — much more.

Wouldn’t it be great if anyone could easily do their own head-to-head testing?

To help customers make better informed choices, we’re introducing a free new tool that makes storage performance testing on hyperconverged clusters much, much easier.

We call it HCIbench, as in “hyperconverged infrastructure benchmark”.  It’s essentially an automation wrapper around the popular and proven Vdbench open source benchmark tool that makes it far easier to automate testing across a hyperconverged cluster.

The people who’ve tried it tell us that it’s a huge step forward in simplicity and repeatability.  Easier testing = more testing + better testing. Continue reading