Why VMware IT Made vSAN the Backbone of Our Hyperconverged Infrastructure Strategy

by: VMware Senior Director, Engineering Chanh Chi; VMware Staff II, VMware Cloud SRE Architect Tom Ralph; VMware Director, Cloud Infrastructure Operations Zaigui Wang; and VMware Senior Manager, Cloud Operations Larry Wong

VMware vSAN™ enjoyed tremendous customer adoption since its release, especially in large-scale deployments. Naturally, customers wanted to know if VMware uses vSAN in its own mission-critical environments. The answer is absolutely, and then some. Originally, we only implemented vSAN in larger hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) production deployments, but once the time came to upgrade our hardware and software licenses, we standardized on vSAN, including every mission-critical system.

Here’s why we did it.

Fast configurations for development/test

VMware product development faces the same challenges as other development shops: giving developers easy access to environments so they can build and test code. We tackle this problem by using a virtualized infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform, an internal private cloud built by our engineers for orchestrating ongoing build deployments for development, testing, quality assurance (QA), and other activities.

Previously, capacity restrictions on logical unit numbers (LUNs) made configurations difficult to execute. Storage configurations were customized to each project. Now vSAN offers the full aggregate space of the entire cluster. This offers a lot more flexibility for our users as they can now access the storage resources they need, as they need them.

Our IaaS platform is based on a self-service model. Developers can rapidly select and deploy configurations directly from the build repository. Configurations can be as small as a single virtual machine (VM) or as large as an entire cluster of hosts for system testing. By running the configuration on vSAN our developers can very quickly and easily deploy VMs on-demand. vSAN has helped eliminate infrastructure as a bottleneck and relieved the capacity management burden.

Increased flexibility

IT has used vSAN for many different deployment options, including software do-it-yourself (DIY) projects and engineered appliances. Examples include: (1) critical infrastructure services such as log management, telecom, voice over IP, MySQL, and Oracle databases; (2) footprint infrastructure services, such as DNS, DHCP, network security, LDAP, syslog, Active Directory domain controllers; and (3) network intelligence and other monitoring software.

Supporting the private cloud

vSAN has proven a powerful component of VMware’s cloud environment, too. It supports both development/test and private lab space as well as public-facing workloads—education/training services, Global Support Services, internal VDI, and especially our Hands-on-Labs (HOLs). Initial testing with all-flash vSAN for the HOLs delivered the scale and the stability that was needed. Tests blew away everything else we had tried at that point. The traditional legacy configuration of discrete components offering about 150,000 IOPS at peak was replaced by an HCI running vSAN and delivering more than 620,000 IOPS in an on-premises environment. The HCI environment not only scaled across multiple private and public cloud instances, it delivered faster, more stable performance.

Scale and performance

Today, the vSAN footprint includes more than 33,800 VMs and 12.3 PB of vSAN capacity provisioned. This growth was only possible thanks to vSAN’s proven ability to support highly critical systems in large production environments. By deploying early releases of vSAN in large HCI environments, IT can identify issues that R&D can fix before the product is generally released. This helps our customers have confidence in using vSAN in their large-scale deployments.

Learn more

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