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VMware vSAN 6.7 U1 makes it even easier to adopt HCI and build a Digital Foundation. Key areas where vSAN 6.7 U1 provides additional benefits include the simplification of day one and two operations, lowering the total cost of ownership with more efficient infrastructure, and even more rapid support and resolution with ReadyCare. This week on the Virtually Speaking Podcast we welcome Pete Koehler to help us walk through the new features in this release.

Here is the rundown for this week’s episode:

2:00 John’s Hurricane Survival Kit: Before we dive into the goodness of vSAN 6.7 Update 1, John shares his advice for surviving a hurricane.

4:30 VUM enhancements in vSAN 67 Update 1: vSAN 6.7 U1 centralizes all updating of vSAN and associated hardware through VMware Update Manager, or VUM.  This means that all ESXi, driver, and firmware be available for update in a single location.  Additionally, vSAN clusters running specific OEM builds of ESXi can be supported in VUM, as 6.7 U1 will support the use of custom ISOs from these vendors.  For environments that prevent vCenter from accessing the internet, there are now guided workflows to help these environments running vCenter without internet connectivity.  This edition of vSAN also makes the upgrade process more robust should an issue be detected.  The upgrade process will immediately check for issues after the update, and should an issue be identified, the upgrade process will stop, and the host in question will remain in maintenance mode.

8:55 Easy Install and Quickstart: In vSAN 6.7 U1, VMware tackled the task of making the initial setup, as well as an ongoing expansion of a cluster as intuitive as possible.  6.7 U1 introduces a new Quickstartguided cluster creation and extension wizard in vCenter that guides the user through the deployment process for vSAN and non-vSAN clusters.  The vCenter HTML5 UI now provides an easy step-by-step configuration to create and configure a production-ready vSAN cluster.  It covers every aspect of the initial configuration, such as host, network, and vSphere settings.  Quickstart also plays a part in the ongoing expansion of a vSAN cluster by allowing a user to easily add additional hosts to the cluster.  For greenfield environments, The Quickstart wizard would follow the vSAN “EasyInstall” wizard.  Introduced in vSAN 6.7, “EasyInstall” is a part of the VCSA installer, and allows the user to easily build a brand new vSAN cluster starting off with just a single host, and the newly deployed vCenter server living on the single node vSAN cluster.  Quickstart offers the “next step” to complete the process of a multi-node, production-ready vSAN cluster.  vSAN EasyInstall, and Quickstart make for a complete, end-to-end guided installation and configuration experience for the initial and ongoing configuration of vSAN clusters.

12:28 Support Performance views and vSAN Support Insight: Improving time to resolution is a win for both the customer and VMware. VMware has made great advances in improving the customer support experience with recent editions of vSAN.  vSAN 6.6.1 introduced “vSAN Support Insight” which is VMware’s method of automatically collecting vital infrastructure telemetry data about an environment for the VMware technical support engineers in our global support services group.  vSAN 6.7 U1 continues with these improvements, introducing fine-grained, deep level performance graphs for the explicit purpose of issue resolution.  GSS engineers will have new tools for capturing critical network diagnostic data.  These advances help reduce the need to request log support bundles from the hosts, and when they are absolutely necessary, will contain even more critical data for better root cause analysis.

15:46 vSAN Cluster Capacity: Capacity utilization is a top of mind concern to those responsible for day-to-day administration of an environment.  vSAN 6.7 U1 introduces two new features to help administrators better understand the capacity usage of a vSAN cluster.  First, we’ve introduced the ability to see historical data for information such as total capacity used and remaining over the course of time.  An ongoing history of deduplication ratios will also be provided so that a user can understand how changes in an environment may have impacted deduplication ratios.  A new “usable capacity estimator” allows the user the ability to easily see the free space available based on the use of the desired storage policy.  These improvements to vSAN will provide better visibility and comprehension of storage utilization for smarter decision making.

UNMAP - "Because no ones wants to play storage Jenga(TM)"

18:56 TRIM\UNMAP: Modern guest operating systems have the ability to reclaim no longer used space once data is deleted inside a guest operating system.  Using commands known as TRIM/UNMAP for the respective ATA and SCSI protocols, this helps the guest operating systems be more efficient with storage space usage.  vSAN 6.7 U1 now has full awareness of TRIM/UNMAP commands sent from the guest OS, and can reclaim the previously allocated storage as free space.  This is an opportunistic space efficiency feature that can deliver much better storage capacity utilization in vSAN environments.  Administrators may find in some cases, dramatic space savings in their production vSAN environments.

23:45 vSAN Health checks and recommendations: The health check feature of vSAN continues to play a prominent role in its ability to ensure that an environment meets hardware and software configuration requirements.  vSAN 6.7 U1 extends this feature even more, with a more robust way of handling multiple approved firmware levels for storage controllers.  A new Unicast network performance health check and test ensures that proper continuity is achieved between vSAN hosts, and will report network bandwidth results for the tests.  vSAN 6.7 U1 also introduces functionality that is now accessible in the UI.   Health checks can be silenced granularly, directly in the UI, as well as being able to purge inaccessible swap objects that are no longer needed.  These improvements improve the effectiveness of vSAN’s ability to not only recognize issues but remediate them.

26:29 vSAN Beta Programs: VMware is not only excited to share in upcoming efforts to make vSAN better but for you to become a part of the process.  VMware is announcing three private beta programs for initiatives that we look to introduce into future versions of vSAN.

  • The vSAN Data Protection beta will explore ways that we’re looking at simplifying data protection by offering native, policy-based snapshots. This feature will allow users to augment their traditional data protection solutions to achieve lower RTOs/RPOs and protect data that might otherwise have been left unprotected.
  • The vSAN file services beta program will allow users to learn how vSAN may offer up native, file level services for vSAN environments. Customers can extend the benefits of HCI – greater agility, granular scaling, lower cost, and simplified operations – to file services.
  • And finally, the Cloud Native Storage beta looks at how vSAN can provide persistent storage for environments running containers. Something that can be a challenge for containerized workloads.

These are exciting times for VMware and its customers.  Talk to your VMware representative to learn more on how you can sign up for any of these beta programs and help provide input to the future direction of vSAN.

Links Mentioned

The Virtually Speaking Podcast

The Virtually Speaking Podcast is a weekly technical podcast dedicated to discussing VMware topics related to storage and availability. Each week Pete Flecha and John Nicholson bring in various subject matter experts from VMware and within the industry to discuss their respective areas of expertise. If you’re new to the Virtually Speaking Podcast check out all episodes on vSpeakingPodcast.com and follow on twitter @VirtSpeaking.