When is the right time to swap to vSAN?
Some people say: When you refresh storage!
Others say it’s: When you refresh Servers!
They are both right. It’s not an “or” both are great times to look at it. Let us dig deeper….
Amazing ROI on switching to HCI can come from a full floor sweep that is tied to refreshing with faster servers, and newer loss cost to acquire and maintain storage. There are even awsome options for people who want another level of wrapped support and deployment (VxRAIL, HCP-UC).
But what about for cases where an existing server or storage investment makes a wholesale replacement seem out of reach? What about the guy who just bought storage or servers yesterday and learned about vSAN (or new features that they needed like Encryption or local protection today?
Lets split these situations up and discuss how to handle them.
What happens when my existing storage investment is largely meeting my needs? What should I do with the server refresh?
Nothing prevents you from buying ReadyNodes without drives and adding them later as needed without disruption. Remember ESXi includes the vSAN software so there will be nothing to “install” other than drives in the hosts. HBA’s are the most common missing feature from a new server and a proper high queue depth vSAN certified HBA is relatively cheap (~$300). That’s a solid investment. Not having to take a server offline later to raise the hood and install something is instant ROI on those components. Remember with Dell/Lenovo/SuperMicro/Fujitsu vSAN Config assist will handle deploying the right driver/firmware for you at the push of a button.
Some other housecleaning items to do when your deploying new hosts (on the newest vSphere!) to get you vSAN ready down the road.
- See if the storage is vVols compatible. If it is, start deploying it. SPBM is best way to manage storage going forward, and vSAN and vVols both share this management plane. As you move forward into vSAN, having vRA, vCloud Director, OpenStack and other tools that leverage SPBM configured to use it will allow you to leverage your existing storage investment more efficiently. It’s also a great way to familiarize yourself with vSAN management. Being able to expose storage choice into vRA to end users is powerful. Remember, VAIO and VM Encrypt also use SPBM. so it’s time to start migrating your storage workflows over to it!
- Double check your upcoming support renewals to make sure that you don’t have a spike creeping up on you. Having a cluster of vSAN deployed and testedand with hosts ready to expand rapidly puts you in a better position to avoid getting cornered into one more year of expensive renewals. Also watch out for other cost creep. Magic stretched cluster virtualization devices or licensing, FCoE gear, fabric switches, structured cabling for Fibre Channel expansion, and special monitoring tools for fabrics all have hidden capex and support costs. [LOL]
- Look at expansion costs on that storage array. Arrays will often be discounted deeply on the initial purchase but expansion can sometimes be 2-3x what the initial purchase cost was! Introducing vSAN for expansion guarantee’s lower cost per GB as you expand (vSAN doesn’t tax drives or RAM like other solutions).
- Double check those promised 50x dedupe ratios and insanely low latency figures! Often data efficiency claims are made and include Snapshots, Thin Provisioning, linked clones and other basic features. Also, check to see that you’re getting the performance you need.
What happens when my servers were just refreshed, but I need to replace storage?
If your servers are relatively new (Xeon v3/v4/Intel Scalable/AMD EPYC) then there is a good chance that adding the needed pieces to turn them into ReadyNodes is not far off. Check out the ready node bill of materials to see if your existing platform will work. See what it needs and reach out to your server vendor for the needed HBA (and possibly NIC) upgrades to get them ready for vSAN. Your vSAN SE’s and account teams can help!