Notes From the Field – Hybrid or All Flash VSAN?

tier-whatOver the last several months I have been involved in a few customer meetings where the customer has been looking to migrate or move away from a “traditional” storage architecture/array and the subject of Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) seems to come up. Usually the topic covers “one of the big three” in the HCI space, be it Nutanix (XC for us Dell partners), Simplivity, or VMware’s VSAN product.  Recently though I have come across two projects where the customer initial started out looking at VMware VSAN in its Hybrid configuration (SSD for cache/buffer and magnetic disk for capacity) but then switched over to (or at least the conversation) of looking at the All Flash version and its corresponding data reduction technologies in VSAN 6.2 (Deduplication/Compression/Erasure Coding).

For these two scenarios (actual customer scenarios), I was interested in seeing if going All Flash could pretty much be the “standard” deployment model based on VSAN 6.2 enhancements or if cost could be still be a limiting factor. For the pricing models that follow, I used list pricing for both VMware and Dell for the software and hardware. I would not expect one to pay these prices on the street, they were used strictly for a cost comparison.

[Read more…]



Over the last 18 months or so I put together several posts around configuring/designing/implementing VMware’s VSAN hyper-converged product both in my lab and working with customers. Almost a year ago with the availability of support for VSAN to support an All-Flash (AF) configuration, I updated my lab when I could to ditch the spinning disks and move to an all flash model. I thought I was set and was good to go, but like most things you can’t leave good enough alone.  The last few months a made a few tweaks and changes to the lab, added Intel PCIe Flash devices for the write cache tier and moved from using USB drives for ESXi install to SATADOM’s on the hosts.

I Feel the Need…The Need for Speed…

First things first, everyone seems to care about IOP numbers, so we will start with PCIe flash. Smile After doing some research/digging on PCIe cards I settled on using the Intel 750 series card. In an effort not to break the bank and also not needing a large write tier I went with the 400GB cards for each of my three VSAN hosts. While the more expensive big brother of 750 series is on the VSAN HCL ( Intel P3xxx series), these cards worked without issue right out of the box. One thing of note, I did update the inbox driver to a driver provided by Intel that Pete Koehler (blog / twitter) recommended for overall performance gains.

With the drivers updated and a quick reconfiguration of the VSAN Datastore it was time to do some testing. For a testing model I leveraged three VM’s, one on each ESXi host in the cluster, and IOmeter to generate a workload. While synthetic workloads are the best method truly getting “real world” performance numbers, for the details I was wanting to capture IOmeter met those needs. For a workload metric I leveraged a configuration file that was based on 32K block size, 50% read and 50% write. I ran the workload three times on each VM at the same time and the table below details the averages:

[Read more…]

Getting Started with Horizon View Instant Clones

ViewWith the release of Horizon View 7 a few months back, I have been wanting to get some hands on time with the new version and some of its cool features. And for cool features, nothing (in this release) gets better then the Instant Clone technology. If you are unfamiliar with Instant Clones, Horizon View 7 is first product to leverage VMware’s VMFork technology (details HERE) and in very short terms allows for the creation of new desktops in SECONDS! This is a beautiful thing, especially if you have any long term stick time with View Composer and the pro/cons that come along with it.

But while all this is good news, it might not be good news for many. The Instant Clone feature is only available to customers/users who sit at the highest level of Horizon View licensing, Enterprise. The Enterprise bundle is needed to really round out some of the rough edges that Instant Clones introduces. Currently Instant Clones doesn’t support VMware Persona Management, so you will need to leverage VMware UEM or VMware AppVolumes Writable Volumes to redirect/capture user data.Or if going for the “Just in Time” desktop, AppVolumes will be need for application delivery.

With that said, for those who have the licensing or just access to it in a lab environment, lets see how to setup it up and get some desktops created!

[Read more…]

VMware VSAN 6.2–Document Collection

tier-whatWith the announcement last month of VMware Virtual SAN 6.2 and the product finally being GA’ed early this week (kinda hard to not to notice if you paid any attention to the Twitters) there are a few documents every VMware/VSAN administrator needs to have a look at. With new features announced around de-duplication, erasure coding, sparse swap files, etc there are new design elements to pay attention to, new licensing levels, and just a better overall understanding of how the new features function and operate in your environment. Each of the documents below well help address those items along with many more. Happy reading!

VMware Virtual SAN 6.2 – What’s New

VMware Virtual SAN 6.2 – Design and Sizing Guide

VMware Virtual SAN 6.2 – Licensing Guide

VMware Virtual SAN 6.2 – Space Efficiency Technologies