VMware turbocharges vSAN 6.6 with Intel’s 3D Xpoint flash memory

VMware Inc. on Tuesday took the wraps off a new update for its vSAN software-defined storage platform, highlighting new features like native hyperconverged infrastructure security, enhanced support for Docker containers and Enhanced Site Protection and Intelligent Operations that reduce the total cost of ownership for enterprise users.

With storage, much of the recent focus has been on hyperconverged infrastructure, which can help data center operators reduce costs while simultaneously boosting performance. Other features, including better management tools and baked-in security are also fast becoming a must-have.

VMware claims to meet many of these requirements in vSAN 6.6, which also incorporates Intel Corp.’s new 3D Xpoint flash memory technology. Intel announced its first Optane SSDs built using 3D Xpoint in March, and VMware becomes the first company to support them. It says the new drives are able to boost “sequential-write” application performance by up to 250 percent in some cases.

VMware’s vSAN added support for all-flash arrays, application containers and cloud-native applications last year, and the latest release continues in that vein, with steady improvements to storage performance, native security and something VMware calls “stretched clusters”. The latter refers to a feature that’s able to reduce operating costs by increasing storage availability with “disk group protection” in case of server failures. What this does is to copy data so that workloads would continue running at a second location in the event of a failure.

The new native security features built into vSAN 6.6 are based on the idea of encryption of data at rest, along with key management to prevent any unauthorized access. VMware reckons the approach means companies can save money by replacing costlier self-encrypting drives.

Another interesting update is the addition of a Docker volume driver that allows containerized applications and microservices to treat virtual storage volumes as if they were persistent data containers. The idea is to ease the transition of apps from regular virtual machines to software containers, which are more adaptable and scalable. In addition, the driver allows for existing containerized apps to be connected to Intel’s new Optane storage volumes.

Lastly, VMware is introducing new cloud analytics capabilities that leverage flash memory. The company said its new data service algorithms are able to accelerate flash performance for cloud-native applications, and can support workloads including Hadoop, Splunk and others.

Eric Burgener, Research Director, Storage, at International Data Corp., said the release is timely as many enterprises are looking to modernize their storage infrastructure in order to benefit from more scalability and easier expansion.

“Solutions like VMware vSAN that provide a full complement of enterprise-class data services, including a number of optimizations that take better advantage of optional all-flash performance, offer a highly scalable and resilient storage platform for the next generation of workload consolidation and provide compelling incentives for customers to move more quickly towards the software-defined data center,” Burgener said.

VSAN 6.6 is set to be released on May 5, priced at $2,495 per CPU.

Image: Mohan Rajdurairaj/Flickr.com

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