Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 6. My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day and their sponsors. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event. Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.
I’ve been a fan of Nexenta for some time, having used the Community Edition of NexentaStor in various lab environments over the past few years, so I was interested to hear what they had to talk about. But firstly, you can see video footage of the Nexenta presentation here. You can also download my raw notes from the presentation here. Finally, here’s a link to the Nexenta website that covers some of what they presented.
Murat Karslioglu presented on SDS for VSAN and VDI, with the focus being primarily on NexentaConnect for VMware Virtual SAN. According to Murat, VMware’s Virtual SAN currently has the following limitations.
- No storage for file
- Data is locked to VSAN cluster nodes
- Limited to 32 nodes
- All ESXi hosts must be on the HCL
- Must have VSAN license
- Every ESXi host contributing storage needs SSD
- SSD is only used for cache
- Does not support SCSI reservations
- 2TB vmdk size limitation [not convinced this is still the case]
- No compression, no deduplication
Murat described Virtual SAN as “more shared scale-out datastore than SAN”.
So what does NexentaConnect for Virtual SAN get you?
- File Storage
- User data
- Departmental data
- ISO files
- Managed through the vSphere web client
- Inline compression
- Performance and health monitoring
- Folder and volume level snapshots
- Maintains data integrity during stressful tasks
- HA File Services via VMware HA
He also mentioned that EVO:RAIL now has file services via Nexenta’s partnership with Dell and Supermicro.
So this all sounds technically pretty neat, and I applaud Nexenta for taking something they’ve historically been good at and applying it to a new type of infrastructure that people are talking about, if not adopting in droves. The problem is I’m just not sure why you would bother doing this with VMware Virtual SAN and Nexenta in this type of combination. The licensing alone, at least from a VMware perspective, must be a little bit awful. I would have thought it would make more sense to save the money on Virtual SAN licenses and invest in some solid infrastructure using NexentaStor.
I guess the other use case is a situation where someone has already invested in Virtual SAN, potentially for a VDI deployment, and just needs to provide some file access to a few physical hosts or some other non-standard client. But I’m struggling to see where that might be the case on a regular basis. All that said though, I work in a different market to the US, and I recall having conversations with people at VMworld this year about the benefits of virtualising workloads, so I guess there are people out there who are going to go for this solution.
Don’t misunderstand, I really like Nexenta’s core product, I’m just not convinced that this takes them in the right direction. In any case, go and check them out if you haven’t already, I think it’s worthwhile.