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One of the key reasons Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) powered by VMware vSAN is so successful with customers is that it gives them the choice of a wide range of supported hardware platforms and choice of the latest technologies—both of which do not simply happen by chance. Thanks to a world-class ecosystem, vSAN provides the largest storage hardware compatibility list and OEM ecosystem for HCI.

A high performing and resilient hyper-converged system needs the software to extract the most from any underlying hardware and withstand any hardware anomaly. Our mission is to deliver a solution where a customer should not have to worry about hardware either during acquisition or during day 2 operations.

 

One of the lesser known and understood aspects of vSAN is what happens in the software development process to deliver a predictable experience with any hardware. In this blog post, I want to give you a glimpse inside the vSAN ReadyLabs, where a dedicated vSAN engineering team works to ensure a smooth HCI experience with certified vSAN ReadyNodes and to deliver Day 0 support for the latest technologies.

Introduction to VMware vSAN ReadyLabs

vSAN ReadyLabs engineering is responsible for ensuring that the ReadyNode hardware meets the demands of vSAN without compromising data availability, data integrity and product performance; that vSAN algorithms leverage the latest technological advancements in the hardware space; that development efforts go hand in hand in joint planning with all major OEM partners; and finally, that the vSAN engineering team leverages cross-OEM’s relationships to drive the resolution of hardware related issues while building future ReadyNode roadmaps for vSAN.

Every ReadyNode is unique based on the combination of firmware, driver, and devices. The vSAN ReadyLabs team partners with OEM vendors to outline the latest hardware trends and roadmaps. Together we do risk assessment, create tests, debug issues, perform root cause corrective action of certification failures, and guide development of vSAN capabilities accordingly. Once a ReadyNode is through this exhaustive process and fully certified, it is ready for mission-critical use by customers and chances of hitting potential issues have been minimized.

This allows customers to purchase and deploy a vSAN ReadyNode with confidence knowing that it has gone through the certification process of vSAN ReadyLabs and that they can call VMware support should they face any issues with a certified system.

The vSAN ReadyLabs Certification Process

Looking into the process in more detail, vSAN ReadyLabs runs a rigorous certification suite that has been developed over the years and includes various mainstream and corner-case scenarios. Using various node configurations and different high-stress workloads with the combination of SAS/SATA, all flash, and NVMe, dozens of micro-benchmarks are collected and compared against thousands of baseline benchmarks, in order to ensure that the hardware can defend vSAN against latency spikes, performance degradation, and hardware anomalies—all which could impact the customer experience and expectation.

More than 25 man years of investment went in the development of the certification suite. To give you a sense of the rigor, there are 80 unique servers with 280 certifications for any given release of vSAN. We are proud that all of these 280 certifications have been used by vSAN’s growing install base at some point in time. The certification process ensures that the system can withstand hardware aberrations and give the best possible performance with the given hardware. The comprehensiveness and rigor put in by the vSAN ReadyLabs is unparalleled in the industry.

By taking the guesswork out of determining which hardware configuration works for vSAN, it reduces the cost burden and complexity that is often done by a storage administrator in the traditional storage sense. This allows the vSAN user to have the autonomy of managing the converged system in the way that they have always managed virtual machines – as policies.

Day 0 Support for Latest Technology

Another key focus of the vSAN ReadyLabs is delivering Day 0 support for new hardware technologies. This allows OEM platforms based on Intel Technologies to be enabled on Day 0. Specific examples of this include the recent announcement of Day 0 support for the new Intel Optane™ NVMe SSDs built on 3D XPoint technology. Another is the recent Dell 14th Generation (14G) server announcements.

The vSAN ReadyLabs engineering team worked extensively with their counterparts to discuss, plan and test these technologies before announcement and release. With this focus, vSAN is able to support new storage technologies at speeds previously only seen with server refreshes. The six to twelve+ month delay of getting the latest hardware on a dedicated storage system or appliance is gone.

VMware Offers Mutual Support of HCI

Certification of new hardware is both event driven based on customer requests and is a part of OEM collaboration with planning and execution happening on a weekly basis. With the right planning on joint software and hardware roadmaps, vSAN is able to maintain parity with the technology curve on certifications and new architectures such as composable infrastructure.

VMware sees partnerships with OEMs crucial to the success of vSAN. The vSAN ReadyLabs engineers collaborate with technology vendors such as Intel, as they engage in vSAN roadmap execution and through joint development ensure high quality releases on both ends. Should customers encounter any issue, the ReadyLabs team will jointly engage with the OEMs towards a resolution.

With deep expertise in protocols, firmware and driver technologies, the vSAN ReadyLabs engineering drives new technology back into the certification suite, works across OEMs and internal ESX kernel teams, crosses many boundaries of hardware and software and takes on the challenges of ensuring that vSAN customers can rely on the certified ReadyNodes. Finally, the ReadyLabs conclusions feed into vSAN engineering so that the vSAN software itself is more intelligent in working with the hardware by performing thorough health checks and runtime monitoring.

Find out more

You can get the latest information on vSAN ReadyNodes by downloading the vSAN Compatibility Guide. If you are looking for information on VMware product compatibility by version? See the Product Interoperability Matrix.

If you are interested in certifying a new vSAN ReadyNode that is not listed on the compatibility list or you have queries about the vSAN certification process, email vsan-hcl@vmware.com. vSAN Embedded OEM partners include Ericsson, Honeywell and Nokia. You can find more information about vSAN offerings with embedded OEMs at their web pages.