VSAN – The Unspoken Future

This rather tongue-in-cheek title, is a play on Maish recent VSAN – The Unspoken Truth post where he highlights what he thinks is one of the hidden “problems” with the current version of VSAN is it’s inherent non-blade compatibility and current lack of “rack based VSAN ready nodes”.

Of course, this is a reality; If you base your current infrastructure on blade servers, VSAN probably isn’t a good match as it stands today. Chances are that if you are currently running a blade-based datacenter, you have traditional external storage on the back end of that, and that you for quite some time will be running a form factor that VSAN simply isn’t designed for. I don’t disagree with Maish in that conclusion, not a bit.

But what about the next server refresh? One of the things that VSAN is a facilitator for, along with enhancements in the storage industry, is the ability to move to other form factors. Currently Supermicro offers their rather nice looking FatTwin™ Server Solution. If we look at what the SYS-F617R2-R72+ box offers, in the total rack space of 4U (less than most blade chassis), it is clear that the form factor choices will not just be tower or blade, the will also include other new form factors that are currently not in the forefront of peoples minds when designing their data center.

Looking at the Supermicro box again, in a 4U rack footprint, it offers these maximums pr node:

  • 2 x Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600
  • 6x Hot-swap 2.5″ SAS2/SATA HDD trays

So, in 4U, you can get 16 CPU, 8TB RAM and 48 SAS2/SATA bays.  Stick a couple of those in your rack, with a few 10GbE ports, and then try to do something similar with a blade infrastructure!

Now, of course, VSAN isn’t for everyone, nor is it designed to be. In a way VSAN offers a peak to the future of datacenter design, in the same way that it shows us that Software Designed Data Center (SDDC) is not just about the software, it’s about how we think, manage AND design our back-end infrastructure. It’s not just storage vendors that need to take heed and look at what they are offering, the same also goes for “traditional” server/node vendors.

That’s right, a server is becoming a node and which vendors sticker is in the front, might not matter that much in the future.

The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.
— William Gibson

[Header photo credit: www.LendingMemo.com]


  1. I do not get it, why so many people think distributed raid and it’s use case in VSAN/hyperconverged systems is a good technology for a cloud typical scale out architecture? VSAN and hyperconverged are a step back towards monolithic servers and stateful computing.
    A really useful desgin towards the future would have been boxes with mobos just having cpu, memory and 10/40/100Gbit or faster network.
    Storage access via iSCSI or a next gen routable protocol. With storage systems front-ended by an abstraction layer.
    I like to see those folks scaling a VSAN based hyperconverged infrastructure to 1000 servers. A really big $$$ ticket item providing no joy given the amount of DC network bandwidth and cpu cycles it will consume to do storage i/o, encryption and distribution between nodes.
    That stuff seems really good for SMBs. No IT knowledge and jobs requried here…..
    The side effect is that VMware snitches a good share of the storage segment revenue. Realyl innovative…

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