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What is VSAN?

What is vSAN? Among other things, it’s a virtualized approach to software defined network storage that’s easier on administration – and your wallet. If you’re unfamiliar with the technology, this short guide will help.

What Is A SAN? 

To fully appreciate what vSAN is, it’s necessary to answer the question, “What is a SAN?”

A storage area network or SAN is a dedicated high-speed network or sub-network which provides access to block-level storage by interconnecting and presenting shared pools of storage devices to multiple servers. This approach to storage access improves application availability and performance by segregating storage traffic from the rest of the local area network or LAN. So, you have a shared storage pool, held separate from the main body of a network.

Each server on the SAN can access shared storage as if it were a drive directly attached to the server. With a pool of storage capacity available across a range of different workloads, SANs enable enterprises to more easily allocate and manage their storage resources, achieving better efficiency.  

What Is Virtual SAN?

In most cases, a storage area network is assembled from three main components: cabling, host bus adapters (HBAs), and switches attached to storage arrays and servers. Every switch or storage system on the SAN has to be interconnected – and those physical connections must support bandwidth levels that can adequately handle peak data demands on the network. That’s a lot of hardware to monitor and manage.

Virtualization allows software control of processes and connections which were formerly considered hardware resources. Through the creation of logical partitions, it enables traditional IT models to be shifted from legacy proprietary hardware to virtualized environments where software and application migration are possible.

Essentially, virtual SAN is a logical or virtual partition, located inside a storage area network (SAN). This allows network traffic to be isolated within a certain range of the storage area network. So if a problem occurs within a particular partition, it can be dealt with in isolation, without having a negative impact on the rest of the network.

What Is Hyperconvergence?

Hyperconvergence is an IT framework combining storage, computing, and networking into a single system. Multiple nodes may be clustered together to create pools of shared storage and computing resources.

By choosing an integrated hyperconverged infrastructure or HCI appliance from a single vendor, businesses can reduce data center complexity and increase scalability, using an infrastructure that’s designed to be more flexible and easier to manage than traditional enterprise storage. Hyperconvergence can also replicate the agility of a public cloud infrastructure, while allowing administrators to retain control of the hardware on their own premises. HCI may also be achieved via hardware-agnostic hyperconvergence software.

Platforms for hyperconvergence typically include a hypervisor for virtualized computing, software-defined storage, and virtualized networking.

What Is A Hypervisor?

A hypervisor is software that allows one or more virtual machines (VMs) to operate directly on underlying hardware. Also known as a virtual machine monitor, a hypervisor allows one host computer to support multiple guest VMs through the virtual sharing of its resources, such as memory or processing power.

Type 1 or “bare metal” hypervisors run directly on a host server’s hardware, while Type 2 or “hosted” hypervisors run as a software layer on an operating system – just like any other application.

With guest VMs independent of their host hardware, hypervisors allow more of a system’s resources to become available, and provide greater IT flexibility. 

What Is VSAN?

VSAN (vSAN, or virtual storage area network) is a software-defined storage solution that’s implemented on top of a hypervisor. It’s a hyper-converged, software-defined storage (SDS) platform that creates pools of storage using direct-attached storage (DAS) devices. Users can define the storage requirements, such as performance and availability, for virtual machines on a vSAN cluster, and vSAN ensures that these policies are administered and maintained.

A vSAN appliance allows the unused storage limit on virtual servers to be pooled and accessed by other virtual servers as required. VSAN appliances may be downloaded as a software program that runs on a virtual machine (VM). Some storage equipment manufacturers also incorporate virtual SAN appliances into their firmware. Depending on the vendor, a vSAN appliance may be designated either as a software defined storage (SDS) appliance, or a virtual storage appliance.

What Is StarWind Virtual SAN?

StarWind Virtual SAN is a vSAN solution that delivers performance and reliability using commercial off-the-shelf hardware, removing the need for costly proprietary components. StarWind VSAN eliminates any need for physical shared storage by simply mirroring internal hard disks and flash between hypervisor servers. It maintains high performance and high data availability on minimal resources.

StarWind Virtual SAN for Hyper-V installs as a Windows-native application directly in the Hyper-V parent partition. It also integrates with Windows Server management and security tools. 

StarWind Virtual SAN for vSphere is a ready-to-go Linux VM that installs on the cluster nodes. Once installed, Virtual SAN creates a fault-tolerant storage pool available to the entire vSphere cluster. VSAN for vSphere users get unrestricted features and storage capacity, with outstanding cost-efficiency.

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