Announcing vSAN 8

We are thrilled to announce vSAN 8 with vSAN Express Storage Architecture, the next generation of hyperconverged infrastructure software from VMware! A revolutionary release that will deliver performance and efficiency enhancements to meet customers’ business needs of today and tomorrow! vSAN 8 introduces vSAN Express Storage Architecture TM (vSAN ESA), a new optional storage architecture within the vSAN platform that enables new levels of performance, scalability, resilience, and simplicity with high-performance storage devices. vSAN 8 will pave a bold new path to make your infrastructure future-ready with software you already know.

vSAN ESA will unlock the capabilities of modern hardware by adding optimization for high-performance, NVMe-based TLC flash devices with vSAN, building off vSAN’s Original Storage Architecture(vSAN OSA). vSAN was initially designed to deliver highly-performant storage with SATA/SAS devices, the most common storage media at the time. vSAN 8 will give our customers the freedom of choice to decide which of the two existing architectures (vSAN OSA or vSAN ESA) to leverage to best suit their needs.

Let’s dive into the newest vSAN release and discover all it has to offer in detail.

vSAN Express Storage Architecture

This new architecture will showcase some innovative ways of processing and storing data. vSAN 8 with ESA will introduce structural changes like a new log-structured file system (vSAN LFS), a new write-optimized log-structured object manager, and a new object format. All these changes will help vSAN ESA achieve near device-level performance and store data and metadata in an extremely fast and efficient way. For more details, check the “An introduction to the vSAN Express Storage Architecture (ESA)” blog post.

Express Storage Architecture capabilities

Performance without tradeoff

Improved efficiency through Optimized Data Handling

Express Storage Architecture will allow VMware to rethink the way data can be stored and processed more efficiently in the stack. The following enhancements will be introduced to make a new powerful synergy: data will be compressed and encrypted at the highest level to minimize process amplification, checksums will be reused in a new approach to minimize duplicate effort, and vSAN ESA will take advantage of the patented LFS that greatly optimizes I/O. 

New high-performance RAID – 5/6 erasure coding

Customers can expect RAID-5/6 to perform equal to RAID-1with vSAN ESA. The new architecture will deliver optimal levels of resilience that are also space efficient while offering the highest levels of performance. All of this can be accomplished using RAID-6 with the assistance of the new log-structured filesystem and object format.

Intelligent I/O traffic management for vSAN network traffic

Thanks to the enhanced levels of efficiency vSAN ESA will bring, storage traffic can be processed through the stack at nearly device-level rates. This higher rate of I/O processing means higher rates of I/O traversing the network. vSAN ESA will adaptively prioritize vSAN-related network I/O during times of network contention to avoid congesting the network when running highly demanding workloads.

Supreme resource and space efficiency

Adaptive RAID-5 to accommodate cluster conditions

When a customer uses a RAID-5 erasure code policy rule, ESA will check for the host count in the cluster and will select the appropriate RAID-5 data placement. vSAN ESA will also have the capability to detect if the number of hosts has changed and will revise the RAID-5 policy rule accordingly. When compared to RAID-1, this new adaptive RAID-5 policy will use less capacity for storing data and make data more resilient and easier to manage.

Storage policy-based compression

Compression has also been redesigned in vSAN ESA and will occur high in the storage stack to minimize CPU costs and network payload. Enabled by default, it can be toggled on a per-VM basis using a simple storage policy, instead of a cluster-based service. The new method of compression will allow for up to a 4x improvement in compression on each 4KB block, when compared with the Original Storage Architecture. The new compression version will be more CPU efficient and can result in less performance impact.

Reduced overhead with high-performing data encryption

Much like compression, encryption will also occur in the upper layers of vSAN. Because the data that needs to be encrypted has already been compressed, the encryption process happens only once, meaning that data flowing between hosts is also encrypted. This enhancement will eliminate previous additional decrypt/encrypt steps and allow for maximum CPU and network efficiency, thus freeing up more resources for VMs.

Intuitive, agile operations

Storage pool construct

vSAN 8 ESA evolves beyond the concept of disk groups, discrete caching, and capacity tiers, enabling users to claim storage devices for vSAN into a “storage pool” where all devices are added to a host’s storage pool to contribute to the capacity of vSAN. This will improve the serviceability of the drives and the data availability management and will help drive down costs.

Simplified deployment and operations of storage resources

vSAN ESA will ease storage management even more by introducing automated checks to determine if ESA is running on approved hardware. This new enhancement will help reduce the chance of potential problematic deployments.

Ready-for-anything resilience

Scalable, high-performance native snapshots

vSAN ESA will enable capturing of point-in-time states of data in a fast and efficient way. Thanks to the intelligence incorporated in these new native snapshots, any number of snapshots can be taken with minimal impact on the VM’s performance, with consolidation times dramatically reduced. The new native snapshot capability will be integrated with vSphere and the 3rd party VADP backup solutions.

vSAN 8 using Original Storage Architecture

Increased maximum capacity on devices in the cache/buffer tier for vSAN OSA

vSAN 8 will nearly triple the logical limit of the buffer capacity from 600 GB to a maximum of 1.6TB.  This will enable Original Storage Architecture users to take advantage of higher density, high-performance devices to deliver improved levels of performance and consistency to their vSAN environments. This additional capacity at the buffer tier means that workloads can run at a higher performing rate for longer periods of time.

vSAN 8 using either architecture

vSAN Proactive insights capability

In vSAN 8, customers will have an added level of compatibility assurance with the proactive insights feature, alerting them of any potential hardware/software compatibility or support gaps, even if they are not enrolled in the Customer Experience Improvement Program. This enhancement will be available in both vSAN architectures – vSAN OSA and vSAN ESA.


vSAN 8 with vSAN Express Storage Architecture will bring innovative updates that deliver supreme performance and efficiency levels, enhanced resilience, simplified operations, and ease of management. We believe the vSAN ESA can help our customers capitalize on the benefits of the latest generation of hardware to run the most demanding workloads with the highest levels of performance and efficiency.

Next Steps

  1. To learn more about vSAN 8, visit the What’s New Page
  2. Take a Technical Deep Dive at core.vmware.com