vSAN Software-Defined Storage

Enabling Remote and Branch Office (ROBO) and Edge Use Cases with VMware vSAN & Cisco UCS E-Series

Co-author Bhumik Patel – Technical Alliances, VMware

Over the years we have seen how virtualization has transformed ROBO (Remote Office Branch Office) computing by fulfilling unique requirements of the branch offices such as providing performance and business continuity, consolidation, energy-savings and meeting compliance mandates. This results in having lower infrastructure and operating costs,  less application downtime and quicker response times and faster times to deploy applications.

In terms of enabling shared storage in ROBO environments, vSAN for ROBO edition was introduced with vSAN 6.1 release in 2015 which provided shared storage with a smaller footprint requirements of having two physical nodes. vSAN made it simple to reap benefits of a shared storage without the cost and complexity of dedicated storage hardware at these sites resulting in reduced TCO. It also allowed for better and scalable remote management of the environment which allows scheduling of maintenance windows easier with features such as vSphere HA, vSphere replication and automating storage services through policies. In addition, a separate ROBO licensing model with a 25-VM pack option allows multiple remote sites with lower consolidation ratios to leverage these services in a cost-effective manner.

This essentially provides customers with a “Branch-Office-in-a-Box” platform that opens up personal customer interactive retail experience for remote office use cases.  We have a large set of retail customers who are looking at deploying HCI in thousands of stores to provide an brick and mortar response to an easy on line experience.  Personal experience is what sets the on-premise experience apart.



What are we announcing today?

To further assist with branch office consolidation ratios and deliver a personal customer interactive retail experience, we have partnered with Cisco in enabling vSAN on the UCS E-series platform on ESXi 6.5 and above. UCS E-Series brings data center-class blade servers to the branch office. Cisco UCS E-series has been a key branch office platform for VMware vSphere for several years providing excellent performance and value for workloads such as network applications, core Microsoft Windows services (AD DS, DNS) and Mission-critical business applications (POS systems, EMR systems).  Furthermore, Cisco Integrated Service Routers provide telecom services (Routing, PBX) in a hardened high MTBF package that can be thrown in a dusty and poorly cooled telecom closest, in a retail store or a train, oil rig, warehouse, water pump station, etc.


What is the hardware that has been certified for vSAN?

The vSAN ReadyLabs team is pleased to announce VMware vSAN Ready Nodes for Cisco UCS E-1120D M3/K9 which is a doublewide module as shown in the figure below.

UCS E-Series M3 Double-Wide Dual-Chassis Model


The vSAN Ready Node configuration for a 2-node hybrid cluster leverages one caching tier SSD and two capacity tier hard drives per node. The RAID controller is LSI MegaRAID SAS 3316 which is certified in JBOD/pass-through mode.

vSAN Ready Node for UCS E-1120D

In addition to the ROBO use case, this solution provides an ideal platform for an IoT/Edge computing use case where data processing needs to happen near the source. Edge computing is a model in which a central device that has computing power, such as a network gateway device, or industrial PC, collects data from other nearby devices for processing and analysis. With Edge Computing, there are generally three places where data can be collected, processed, and analyzed in a typical IoT deployment – cloud or a remote data center, at the endpoint or at an edge computing device. Each of these locations has specific advantages and disadvantages that will usually determine the decision being made. With vSAN support on such platforms, this provides an interesting option for further enabling edge computing use cases in future with VMware Pulse IoT Center.


Why should you care?

 This is an exciting opportunity that opens up a massive new market that has largely been individual POS systems. It shows how customers can benefit from a combined Cisco and VMware solution for the branch office.are deciding on a software stack first and then determining what hardware to use for these use cases.  In addition our broad partner ecosystem can bring these best of breed products together to enable and scale the “Branch-Office-in-a-Box” and IoT/Edge use cases you – our customers.

 If you need any clarifications on these new platforms or have questions regarding the vSAN ReadyLabs program, please send an email to vsan-hcl@vmware.com


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