As always – this blog (and the thoughts and opinions expressed) are mine, not an EMC blog. I reiterate this because there will likely be some things in here some of my colleagues will likely disagree with – and I’m sure will conflict with some marketing/positioning. Consider yourself warned :-)
Today brings the official launch of VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) – with the GA date following extremely shortly. IMO – this is going to end up being a “big thing” relatively quickly.
I really want to say in the strongest way I can – I want to offer my personal congratulations to the VSAN team that has brought this to market. For those on the inside or close by – it’s been a long journey (but not abnormal for a distributed persistence layer – one of the harder things in the world to engineer – and I’ve done startups that do that – it ain’t easy). By my reckoning, it’s been about four, maybe five years of hard work from first ideas to reality (the idea of VMware having a native persistence layer dates back to the Diane era). In the last year, the team has been working their tail off – and they should be very proud. They’ve made something that will disrupt the industry, and delight customers.
As with NSX (which made VMware a networking vendor by any way you want to measure it), VSAN makes VMware a storage vendor. I would argue that frankly they’ve been a storage vendor for a while (VMFS is filesytem, aggregates and abstracts block storage devices + vSphere replication + data services like thin, snapshots, linked clones provide a value not dissimilar to storage dedupe and they’ve been in the policy business with VASA and SPBM for a while). Ditto with networking (distributed vSwitches, increasing vSwitch functionality matching some of what customers expect from L2 switches, and frankly less successful past attempts to deliver L4-L7 services).
But – as with NSX, VSAN crosses some sort of “Rubicon”. VMware now participates with an offer in the actual persistence layer itself. In a very real sense VMware is now in competition with the storage ecosystem. More correctly VMware is now in “coopetition” (partnering and competing at the same time) with the storage ecosystem. I think VSAN will disrupt the whole ecosystem. VSAN will disproportionately impact ecosytem players that are: storage only vendors, hyperconverged storage stacks, low-entry (not because it doesn’t scale, but because of economics and adoption), and VMware-only storage stacks.
Rest assured, you’ll start to hear a lot of people talk about what’s bad about VSAN – always a hint that something is going on :-).
So, if there will lot of positioning by both “traditional external storage vendors” (I’m sure there will be from EMC in the field – though the team is working to make sure we support), and positioning (probably some OVER positioning) from VMware (you can see some of it here in Chuck’s blog) – where’s my head?
Here’s a quick summary of my personal opinion:
- It IS NOT an accurate statement to say that VSAN is “better” or “performs better” because it’s embedded in the kernel.
- It IS NOT an accurate statement to say (as a general statement) that VSAN is lower CAPEX than external storage – though it IS accurate that it offers a compelling CAPEX picture in many use cases.
- It IS an accurate statement that VSAN is a quantum leap in simplicity, integrated management and VM-level operations/management.
- It IS an accurate statement that VSAN is an example of a “hyper-convergence” architecture – and these architectures can be compelling in certain use cases.
- It IS an accurate statement that VSAN is a great new option for a lot of customers.
Read on for my 2 cents, and some explanation of my (I’m sure incendiary to some – not my intent to offend) statements!