On Wednesday, virtualization giant VMware announced a new version of their virtual SAN (storage area network) product offering, VSAN 6.2. The newest version of VSAN has improved management and monitoring for all platforms, and it expands the set of options that VMware partners have to create more offerings for delivering hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI).

Skip Bacon, vice president of storage and availability products, said that getting HCI right is critical to VMware and it starts with two key goals: Provide the right software and support a broad range of deployment options.

“We’re seeing HCI deployed in pretty much every physical environment you can think of, starting with the enterprise data center but extending all the way out to literally oil rigs in the North Sea and windmill farms,” Bacon said.

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The newest release of VSAN brings with it updates to storage, data services, management, and more. Here is a breakdown of the key updates.

Storage and data services

For starters, VSAN 6.2 brings with it nearline deduplication and compression per disk group level. This will be called “Space Efficiency,” and it will be enabled on a cluster level, according to VMware. It also offers fixed block length deduplication with 4KB blocks.

While these updates are definitely wanted, Gartner analyst David Russell said that IT pros need to be aware that the deduplication is for flash only, not disk.

“We have to assume that VMware will extend deduplication to hard disk drives (HDDs) in the future, but the capacity calculations need to take this into account today when sizing the infrastructure,” Russell said.

Bacon said that VMware went with flash-only for the deduplication processes because they believe it’s the architecture of today and the future, and they believe that the majority of deployments will be all-flash moving forward. Also, he said, features like this tend to work best in all-flash situations.

VSAN 6.2 also added a new storage architecture option to run RAID-5 or RAID-6 erasure coding. Historically, Bacon said, they’ve done mirror copies, and you can continue to do that or you can spread them out on a more granular level with RAID-5 or RAID-6.

Management and monitoring

Another major point of this release was the addition of a reasonable quality of service (QOS) capability that VMware said gives users three key capabilities:

  1. Offers complete visibility into IOPS consumed per VM/Virtual Disk
  2. Eliminates noisy neighbor issues
  3. Allows users to manage performance SLAs: Independent of VM provisioning order

VSAN users also get better VSAN management with a new health service that includes performance monitoring and capacity monitoring. Bacon said that regardless of whether your deployment is hybrid or all-flash, VSAN users will have access to this.

Additionally, Russell said that he was particularly interested in the new pricing bundles and packaging options, such as expanded Ready Nodes, that will be made available with VSAN 6.2. Dell, Fujitsu, and Supermicro will be the first partners to offer new Ready Node options.

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Integrations and networking

To further expand its capabilities, VSAN 6.2 will be SAP ready, and features enhanced Horizon integration as well, which is great news for VMware shops.

In terms of networking, through Virtual SAN Core, VSAN 6.2 will be able to offer pure IPv6 support. Users will be able to operate VSAN in IPv6-only mode, with all network communications through an IPv6 network.

So, why pay attention? Because VSAN is growing quickly and it will be a key component in VMware’s strategy moving forward.

“If you have large VM environments, VSAN has gone from being an experiment to a pretty mature-looking product in a couple of years,” said Forrester’s Richard Fichera. “Should now be on the radar for any storage upgrade to support a VMware environment.”

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. VSAN 6.2 brings new deduplication and compression features, but the deduplication is only available on flash-only deployments. Although some are hopeful that it will expand to disk, VMware’s Skip Bacon said the company sees all-flash as the future of deployments.
  2. New quality of service (QOS) capabilities mean that operations administrators get better visibility and management capabilities, including performance and capacity monitoring.
  3. IT decision makers should be aware that VSAN 6.2 is available in new pricing bundles and packaging options, so be sure to research them before making a decision.