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Which vSAN features improve storage management and performance?

VSAN 6.6 and 6.6.1 boast new features, such as vSAN Configuration Assist, integration with vROps and a streamlined upgrade process to improve storage performance and management.

Software-defined storage must include an array of features that boost storage performance and streamline storage...

resource management. VMware vSAN 6.6 and 6.6.1 provide features that achieve both goals. Let's take a look at some of these vSAN features.

Storage reduction

Storage is expensive -- not only for primary data storage, but also for any mirroring, replication, caching and other storage uses. Any technologies that can help reduce direct storage capacity demands can benefit the business, and vSAN 6.6 supports deduplication and compression. Data deduplication typically works across files and blocks to locate and remove duplicate content, replacing it with a pointer to the single copy. Compression often works within files, using algorithms to replace redundant data portions with simple tokens. Taken together, these vSAN features reduce storage consumption and lower the cost of storage devices. VSAN 6.6 changes how data is handled to reduce the computing overhead needed to handle deduplication and compression. This improves performance and makes storage performance more predictable, especially under heavy disk use.

VSAN Configuration Assist

Proper operation of a vSAN environment depends on solid compatibility among the numerous hardware and software components involved. Compatibility problems -- particularly in heterogeneous infrastructures -- can lead to reduced vSAN performance and additional troubleshooting. Fortunately, there are a few new vSAN features to address these issues. VSAN 6.6 introduces the vSAN Configuration Assist tool to verify hardware compatibility, network operation, vSAN configuration and adherence to vSAN cluster best practices. For example, vSAN Configuration Assist identifies outdated host bus adapter firmware or drivers and offers options to download and install the latest supported software across an entire cluster. As another example, vSAN Configuration Assist identifies missing software components in a configuration and offers to install missing components, while maintaining correct configurations across the vSAN cluster.

VSAN Health and Performance Diagnostics features

There are also new vSAN features and updates to improve health and performance. The vSAN Health feature in the vSphere Web Client has been updated to improve hardware compatibility checks that include details such as controller queue depth, storage device controller identification and so on. VMware also updated monitoring and alerting to include physical disk health, network status, vSAN encryption status, disk balancing and so on. An administrator can search and save storage performance data for specific time ranges, review vSAN resynchronization/rebuild traffic activity and employ new metrics for network performance, such as network adapter throughput, packets per second and packet loss rate.

VSAN 6.6 changes how data is handled to reduce the computing overhead needed to handle deduplication and compression.

VSAN 6.6.1 adds a new Performance Diagnostics feature that analyzes previous performance benchmarks against goals like maximum throughput or minimum latency at specific points in time. The tool can reveal performance issues and suggest possible remediation steps to restore or improve storage performance.

VSAN 6.6.1 also adds storage device serviceability plug-ins that help the administrator service storage devices connected to local servers. For example, the plug-ins can report drive locations within the server chassis by illuminating the drive's LED, which makes it easy for the administrator to find and replace suspect drives.

Integration with vRealize

VMware vRealize Operations (vROps) provides a platform for IT operations management that involves the business's physical, virtual and cloud environments. VROps uses management packs to extend its support for other tools and platforms. VROps users can deploy the vRealize Management Pack for vSAN to add visibility and analytics to vSAN environments. Users can select extensive metrics and correlate performance data from multiple sources to enhance troubleshooting and improve vSAN performance.

Improved upgrade process

In the past, upgrading vSAN clusters was typically a manual, multistep process. VSAN 6.6.1 rolls upgrades into vSphere Update Manager, which eliminates and automates the steps to build and update vSAN clusters. This results in faster vSAN host patches and upgrades with better confidence and fewer errors.

Next Steps

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This was last published in October 2017

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