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Making virtualization, reality

Virtual SAN: New Technology, Big Benefits

Virtual SAN (Storage Area Network), also known as VSAN, is a new technology by virtualization industry giant VMware. The goal of Virtual SAN is to create a high-performance storage tier (optimized for virtual environments) that is simple, resilient and efficient, while still reducing the total costs of ownership.

Traditional SAN vs Virtual SAN

A traditional SAN requires multiple components and resources to connect various data storage devices and data servers. The myriad of hardware needed to hook up the servers to the storage network makes it much more expensive on the front end than a Virtual SAN. Thanks to granular linear scaling, it is possible with Virtual SAN to upgrade performance or capacity only as needed, which greatly reduces the up-front investment.

Virtual SAN is Hardware Friendly

Virtual SAN is not only designed to capitalize on the strengths of virtual environments but can also be deployed on hardware by allowing the use of all of the available storage on in-house servers and combining it into one. The fact that Virtual SAN can be used with servers from any manufacturer provides added flexibility to create highly-customized storage environments.

What it Means in the Real World

Let’s look at an example: Imagine a scenario where a company has two in-house servers that have local disks, but do not have SAN. Virtual SAN would allow this company to aggregate their resources and provide it with a single system that behaves like SAN without the need for additional components or resources.

By using Virtual SAN, a company can expect a number of improvements in its shared storage:

  1. Cost Effectiveness: The flash-optimized architecture and small investment make Virtual SAN a viable solution for companies of almost any size. By being able to purchase only what is needed and upgrading as necessary, a company can easily afford this solution and benefit from SAN technology right away. In the long-term, Virtual SAN can also reduce costs because there is very little equipment that would need replacing, and it requires less technical management.
  2. Efficiency:  Virtual SAN creates an all-in-one infrastructure, easing storage management and expansion. With its built-in safeguards, it also protects data to ensure it isn’t lost should a disk or network fail.
  3. Ability to Use Existing Resources: In the past, if a company had storage available on a server, it was dedicated to that server only and could not be used by other servers. With Virtual SAN it is possible to aggregate all of the available storage and utilize it seamlessly, enabling best performance and scalability.
  4. Simplicity:  Virtual SAN eliminates the need to control storage on multiple components, pushes data to storage more rapidly, and automatically tunes and manages itself.

As with the virtualization of computers, the virtualization of SAN has meant improved performance, automation of tasks and unprecedented flexibility. VMware has certainly met its goals with Virtual SAN and delivers on it promises.