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Storage poses special challenges for the enterprise because its proliferation often presents varying levels of reliability and service quality. Storage can be extraordinarily difficult to identify, organize, provision and manage. VMware tackles these challenges with its vSAN product, which provides software-defined storage for the enterprise. The support vSAN provides is a natural complement to an HCI appliance -- VCE VxRail in particular -- and to an HCI environment as a whole. A vSAN-HCI combination can be key to completing your virtualized environment.
VSAN enables an enterprise to virtualize storage into pools and use policy-based provisioning to render storage instances of desired performance levels to any VM. Later, you can reclaim unneeded storage and return the resources to the pool for reuse.
HCI has gained traction as organizations seek to streamline quickly evolving data centers. HCI promises tight integration among computing, network and storage resources. These resources are typically organized into individual, highly scalable modules. The modules are virtualized for rapid, flexible provisioning and managed through a single pane of glass.
This poses a challenge for HCI. Adopting such a modular approach -- and then tacking on more modules later as resource needs grow -- means that every module contains a limited quantity of resources. Discovering resources -- such as storage -- determining the capabilities of those resources and provisioning those resources in a fluid, flexible manner can become problematic in a traditional manual storage provisioning paradigm. A vSAN-HCI combination can recognize that storage, add it to the pool and use it immediately without having to worry about manually creating and connecting logic unit numbers for VMs.
While a hypervisor usually handles virtualized resources, such as CPU, and network adapters, a vSAN-HCI combination completes the virtualization environment for HCI administrators. In addition to a vendor-built HCI appliance, such as VCE VxRail, an enterprise can build HCI modules using white box servers and a suitable software stack, such as vSphere for server virtualization, vCenter Server for vSphere management and vSAN for software-defined virtualized storage. VMware notes that the vSAN ReadyNode program certifies more than 150 different x86 systems that can support such a software stack, turning a white box server into an HCI module.
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