Many enterprises that are not ready to invest in new storage for their virtualization environments look to VMWare vSan.  This option allows enterprises to extend the use of their existing storage while increasing performance in their virtual environments.  Here we will take a look at several things you need to know about vSan and ensuring that proactive monitoring is in place for business success.

 

Why VMware vSan? Software defined storage

VMware vSan is interesting in that it allows a software solution to take existing storage and provide an optimization that allows for overall virtualization performance to improve.  In my opinion here are a couple key use cases for vSan.

 

  • Not ready for a storage refresh – This would come when storage is not end of life, but a performance boost is required for your virtualized environment. Most enterprises will refresh their entire storage platform on a lifecycle of every 3-5 years.  However, some storage may be added annually for growth.

 

  • Application latencies – Your monitoring tool and/or enterprise users may be reporting application latencies where the backend infrastructure is virtualized. Application performance needs can change a lot of the course of 3-5 years especially with application upgrades or increased application usage.  For example, the level of resources required by an application such as Microsoft SharePoint can change a lot over the course of that timeframe.  As an application needs improved performance, this can place a large task on IOPS.  Essentially performance needs increase over time, but the backend storage remains primarily unchanged.

 

There are other use cases, but from the enterprise perspective these are two standouts for me.

 

Getting started with VMware vSan

Not convinced that a software-based product can give your physical infrastructure a boost then there are a couple options that will allow you to give the product a try.  First there are online labs that will allow you to try the solution before introducing it to your enterprise environment.  VMWare has a  vSan Lightening Lab.

 

If you are looking to actually try the solution in your enterprise test environment, then VMWare can assist with obtaining the software.  If you are going this route then here is a list of what you will need to get started:

 

  • 1GB NIC; 10GB NIC recommended
  • SATA/SAS HBA or RAID controller
  • At least one flash caching device and one persistent storage disk (flash or HDD) for each capacity-contributing node Cluster Size
  • 2 hosts – Max. 64 hosts vSAN (HCL)

 

Trying the solution out is the best way to ensure that you will get the outcomes you are looking for prior to deploying to your production environment.

 

Monitoring

If you have decided to move forward with a vSan implementation, then like most software solutions monitoring your product is a critical element to detecting issues.  Consider that fact that many different types of storage can be at play here, having a single solution to help provide factual insights into the actual performance is critical to understanding user impact and overall performance.  Of course, there are out-of-box monitoring options, but typically these can be silo’d and segregated leaving administrators scrambling to see their entire deployment.

 

How ControlUp can Help 

Gaining visibility into vSan to understand how well your virtualized environment is performing is a key element to an administrator’s success.  Here are some ways that ControlUp can provide this visibility.

In the following images, we can see the storage performance in great detail.  Allowing insights into the end-user experience real-time, proactively.  In this example, there is a performance problem that needs to be resolved.

ControlUp vSan

 

ControlUp vSan

 

In the next image, after the issue was identified and resolved we can see that the overall vSan health is in good shape, and through this form of proactive monitoring it is clear that end-user performance is great.

ControlUp vSan

 

Concluding Thoughts

vSan is a great option to boost performance in your virtualized environments, and if this is important to your enterprise be sure to take the time to test and verify the results against your infrastructure.  Also, be sure to include proper monitoring and do not assume that you are getting the performance expected.  This will ensure that your enterprise users are getting the performance they need, but also ensures that as an administrator any issues can be proactively remediated.

 

To learn more about how they can help you monitor your vSan environment click below.

ControlUp

 

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