Co-author Bhumik Patel – Partner Architect, VMware


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Today, we are pleased to announce the much awaited support for VMware vSAN on Cisco UCS blade as an All-Flash ReadyNode. This enables a new vSAN blade platform on Cisco in addition to a number of vSAN Ready Nodes already supported on the UCS C-Series rackmount servers.

Historically, Cisco UCS B-series blades have been popular in enterprises for compute heavy environments.  However, the limited amount of storage (just two drive slots) on these blades has been an inhibiting factor in adoption of these servers for vSAN HCI use cases requiring higher storage.  Until now that is.


Storage landscape for HCI on Blades is Rapidly Evolving


The storage landscape for blades is fast changing thanks to recent innovations in software driven by vSAN.

Since the launch of vSAN 6.2 All Flash, we have seen how space efficiency features such as Deduplication & Compression have helped customers reduce TCO by providing a better cost to GB ratio. With these features, up to 8x space reduction can be achieved based on the deduplication/compression ratios of the deployed application.

In addition, Erasure Coding (RAID5/6) provides the same levels of redundancy as mirroring with a reduced capacity requirement. For example, to tolerate a failure of 1, instead of a 100% overhead with 2x replication (RAID-1), a RAID-5 policy will result in a 33% overhead – a significant space saving. And the savings are bigger for policy to tolerate two (2) failures.

An interesting aspect of these space efficiency features is that it now allows vSAN to be supported on blade platforms that typically have limited physical storage drive slots. Without these All-Flash features, any local storage solution will not be able to provide feasible capacity options.


Higher Storage Capacities with Space Efficiency on Blades

Let’s look at the configuration for the Cisco UCS B200 M4 blades that are now supported for Virtual SAN 6.5 in an All-Flash configuration.

With two (2) drive slots, we will be leveraging one (1) drive for caching and one (1) for capacity. The AF-4 configuration certified is with a 3.8TB capacity tier SSD.

For a 4-node cluster, it means 15.2TB total capacity with FTT=0, 7.6TB with FTT=1 (RAID-1) and 10.18TB with a RAID-5 configuration with 4 nodes (3+1). Now these are raw capacities without adding the savings provided by deduplication and compression.  With storage savings, we provide further storage capacity ranging from 20TB – 70TB for a 4-node cluster depending on deduplication and compression ratios for the workload in question. With this combination of higher storage capacity and proven performance of vSAN and Cisco UCS, customers can deploy business critical applications on these blade platforms.


Value Proposition of Cisco UCS powered by vSAN

This is also exciting news for a large set of existing Cisco & VMware customers that can now look at deploying vSAN as their HCI solution and leverage the following joint value proposition:

  • Rapid Provisioning – vSAN nodes can be rapidly provisioned on Cisco UCS by leveraging the service profile construct within UCS that decouples all the attributes of a physical server into a template. These templates can be applied to bring new servers online during initial provisioning or to extend your existing vSAN cluster.
  • Unified Management: UCS Manager provides centralized and policy driven management of blades & rackmount servers. And with vCenter managing vSAN clusters, integrated management of the HCI stack
  • Linear Scalability: vSAN scales-out linearly from 3 nodes up to 64 nodes in a cluster (2 nodes for ROBO). The rapid provisioning capabilities of the UCS platform enabled by UCS service profiles makes the process of scaling out vSAN clusters through node addition seamless.
  • Significant Storage in a Blade Form Factor:  As described above, vSAN on UCS Cisco Blades can provide 20TB-70TB usable capacity (with storage efficiency) in a 4 node cluster.
  • Enable Use Cases for the Modern Data Center:  VDI, Business Critical Apps, Databases, Web Applications



With this breakthrough blade certification that enables high storage capacity points in a four node cluster, Cisco UCS blades powered by vSAN is a great fit for use cases for the modern data center such as VDI, Business Critical Apps, Web Applications etc. 

Customers who have standardized on Cisco blades can now deploy vSAN without having to purchase additional storage only nodes and future proof their hardware investment, not having to move to rack mount storage dense servers to run their applications.

We look forward to engaging with partners and customers as they deploy vSAN on UCS blades.  If you have any questions on this blade platform for vSAN, please feel free to email

Bhumik Patel is a Partner Architect in VMware’s Technical Alliances team focusing on driving joint solutions with strategic partners. Bhumik has over 10 years of experience designing and implementing virtualization solutions for customers globally as a solutions architect and driving integrated solutions with key partners. Bhumik has presented at many leading industry conferences and partner events. Bhumik holds a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Computer Science.  You can follow Bhumik @bhumikp


Rakesh Radhakrishnan Nair has 17+ years of experience in product management, consulting and software development specializing in Software Defined Storage and Big Data. Rakesh currently manages a team of product managers for vSAN All Flash and is responsible for defining vSAN hardware strategy @VMware. Rakesh was previously responsible for Big Data Analytics products at Pivotal. In the past, Rakesh has held various engineering leadership and product management positions at EMC and a series of storage startups in the Valley. You can follow Rakesh on Twitter @MyNameIsNair


6 comments have been added so far

  1. How is 70TB storage possible in a blade environment? Please share the configuration.

  2. With 2x-7x Dedup & Compression with All Flash, you can get higher effective usable capacity in this 4 Node configuration.

    With RAID 5, we get ~10TB in a 4 Node configuration as described in the post. Using 2x-7x (dedup + compression), effective usable capacity range is 20TB – 70TB range based on the workload.

  3. Hey great post! I hope it’s ok that I shared this on my FB, if
    not, no issues just tell me and I’ll remove it. Regardless keep up the good work.

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