After VMware made the official announcement of VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) the public beta release and the plans for the product general availability there has been a great deal of interest from customers and a magnitude of questions regarding the similarities between the vSphere Storage Appliance (VSA) and Virtual SAN (VSAN).

Because of all the interest and questions I wanted to quickly provide some information about the fundamental differences between the two solutions. Now, while the solutions maybe similar in concept, they are very different in many, many other ways and in fact, VSA doesn’t even belong in the same sentence with VSAN. VSA is a solution with a set of specifically defined use cases that can and should still be used where it fits depending on the requirements. VSAN is an advanced storage solution that can be used for some of the same use cases as VSA, but VSAN provides a greater level of flexibility, scalability, performance, and ease of management. Below you’ll find a brief comparison between the two solutions and some of the fundamental different  between them:


vSphere Storage Appliance

VMware Virtual SAN

Description Low cost, simple shared storage for small deployments Scale-out distributed storage designed for virtualized/cloud environments
Form factor Virtual Appliance Built-in vSphere kernel
Ideal Targets
•Small SMB
•ROBO deployments
•2 to 3 vSphere servers
•Does not scale beyond 3 hosts


•Minimum 3 hosts deployments
•Scale out to vSphere cluster size
Performance No SSD (low performance) SSD caching (high performance)
•Simple install & configure
•Scales up to ~16TB usable storage
•vCenter-integrated management
•SSD caching and intelligent data placement
•Rapid storage provisioning
•Scale-out for large deployments
•Granular scaling
•Storage policy based management

I hope this quick comparison is useful and is helpful for comparing the two solutions. More to come on this topic.

For future updates, be sure to follow me on Twitter at @PunchingClouds

About the Author

Rawlinson Rivera

Rawlinson is a Principal Architect working in the Office of CTO for the Storage and Availability Business Unit at VMware. Focus on defining and communicating VMware’s product vision and strategy, and an active advisor for VMware's product roadmap and portfolio. Responsibilities revolved around connecting VMware's R&D organizations with customers and partners in the field. He specializes in enterprise architectures (private and public clouds), Hyper-converged Infrastructures, business continuity / disaster recovery technologies and solutions including Virtual SAN, vSphere Virtual Volumes, as well as other storage technologies and solutions for OpenStack and Cloud-Native Applications. Rawlinson is a VMware Certified Design Experts (VCDX#86) and main author of the blog