VMware vSAN - hyper-convergence versus dedicated storage is a great alternative
October 04, 2019

VMware vSAN - hyper-convergence versus dedicated storage is a great alternative

Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with VMware vSAN

We started using VMware ESX in a typical dedicated host and dedicated storage model using Dell hosts and Nimble Storage arrays several years ago. We figured out a few years back that a hyper-converged model seemed to make more sense for lower budget SMB users like us. Researching hyper-convergence led us to VMware vSAN. We currently are using vSAN in four datacenters and in several other locations leveraging their vSAN Robo product across our entire organization. vSAN seems to give us more flexibility in upgrades to our environment related to storage, compute, and RAM.
  • We are using VMware vSAN in our primary datacenters using relative in-expensive flash storage drives. This allowed us to really increase our storage performance over dedicated storage at a much lower overall price.
  • By buying ESX hosts that were only partially loaded with drives, we have great flexibility in adding additional capacity without much effort.
  • The volume management versus dedicated storage was greatly simplified. Each ESX cluster acts as one single large volume rather than having lots of carved up volumes all over the place as we did with dedicated storage.
  • Management is integrated directly into the vSphere client rather than having to go elsewhere.
  • We were a fairly early adopter of VMware vSAN and as such experienced several growing pains.
  • We experienced a few bugs that took a few software versions upgrades to go mostly away.
  • The biggest issue we had overall was with host drivers. Even with vSAN ready node compatible hosts, you have to be very careful that the drivers for NIC and RAID controllers are right.
  • The ROI for VMware vSAN seems very positive. We have yet to need to upgrade since we put it in a few years ago, but without the heavy cost of dedicated storage, we have already seen reduced hardware maintenance costs and reduced management time spent.
  • With the cost of dedicated storage and its separate maintenance costs, all this is rolled back into the hosts. The hosts cost more with drives in them, but not near as much as the separate dedicated storage did.
  • Before VMware vSAN, you had hosts and storage devices aging out, running out of capacity, or underperforming. With vSAN you only have to worry about the hosts.
VMware vSAN is the only hyper-convergence product we have used, but it replaced multiple dedicated Nimble storage arrays. Nimble had a vCenter plugin which made it much easier to use, but VMware vSAN is baked right into the vCenter. vSAN also really doesn't require much if any management after it is setup and running which wasn't the case with the dedicated storage array.
VMware as a whole isn't our favorite at providing support. They seem generally hard to get help from and don't seem very responsive. The bright exception to this is a product they have called AppDefense which we've experienced great support around. VMware vSAN, in general, has followed the overall VMware trend. Luckily VMware mostly just works and you don't need a lot of support. vSAN is much the same. The few times we have used support it was generally not great, but ultimately got us passed the issue.

Do you think VMware vSAN delivers good value for the price?

Yes

Are you happy with VMware vSAN's feature set?

Yes

Did VMware vSAN live up to sales and marketing promises?

Yes

Did implementation of VMware vSAN go as expected?

No

Would you buy VMware vSAN again?

Yes

For an SMB, vSAN and other hyper-converged products seem to provide a cost-benefit especially as it relates to future growth and reduced management. VMware vSAN is not, however, a simple-to-understand product. It can be easy to set up and deploy with the proper understanding, but there are serious complexities that need to be understood and mitigated for you to be successful and very happy with its long term care and operation.