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The Power of Partnership: All-Flash Virtual SAN for VDI

VMware Virtual SAN™ is a software-defined storage platform that aggregates locally attached disks of hosts to create distributed shared storage solution, and the new Virtual SAN 6.0 gives you the power to design and deploy solutions with 100 percent flash-based storage. To demonstrate the technology and integration points, VMware and our ecosystem partners—Avago, Brocade, Dell, and SanDisk—recently created a reference architecture for implementing Virtual SAN in a VDI environment with all SSDs instead of traditional hybrid configuration.


In this reference architecture, we demonstrate how to design an ultra-fast, cost-effective VDI infrastructure using VMware Virtual SAN combined with the fast storage IO performance offered by SSDs. The combination of Virtual SAN and flash-based storage deliver a high-performance, highly resilient scale-out storage platform at a compelling price point.

As illustrated in the topology below, the design utilizes a 4-node Virtual SAN cluster on Dell R730 servers with SanDisk SSDs and Brocade VDX switches along with  VDI management cluster. This architecture also ensures all the desktops are highly available using Virtual SAN storage protection policy (FTT=1). The FTT (Failure to Tolerate) policy defines how many concurrent host, network, or disk failures can occur in the cluster.

Reference Architecture Topology


The Virtual SAN 6.0 supports the use of flash-based devices for both caching and persistent storage. This architecture uses a write-intensive, high endurance caching tier for the writes, and a read-intensive, cost-effective flash device tier for persistent data storage.


Design Considerations

  • This design requires a 10 Gb network
  • The architecture scales out to a maximum of 64 nodes
  • Flash read cache reservation is not used with all-flash configurations
  • You must mark each flash device so it can be used for capacity (See Virtual SAN Administrator’s Guide)
  • Endurance now becomes an important consideration both for cache and capacity layers

This reference architecture is the result of collaboration between VMware, Avago, DELL, SanDisk and Brocade. The results and details for 4-node All Flash Virtual SAN 6.0 using Dell R730 server hardware will be published soon in the reference architecture paper. Stay tuned for the detailed reference architecture and share your thoughts in the comments below. In the mean time, you can find more information about the new features in Virtual SAN 6.0 on the VMware web site or Duncan Epping’s Yellow Bricks blog. You can also learn more about the All Flash Virtual SAN Ready Node Solution from VMware and on the SanDisk web site.

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  1. Pingback: New All-Flash Reference Architecture for VMware Virtual SAN

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