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VSAN Express Storage Architecture (ESA) is an optional, alternative architecture to vSAN designed to process and store data with all new levels of efficiency, scalability, and performance. This optional architecture is optimized to take full advantage of the latest hardware. It was introduced in vSAN 8 and can be selected during cluster creation. ESA in vSAN 8 is an alternative to the Original Storage Architecture (OSA) in all previous versions of vSAN and the on-demand architecture in vSAN 8.
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For more information on ESA in vSAN 8, listen to the Virtually Speaking Podcast discussing the Express Storage Architecture. For more comparisons between the two architectures, see this post: Comparing Original Storage Architecture to vSAN 8 Express Storage Architecture and the lightboard video below.
Can’t Assign Vsan License To Host 🙁
Yeah! vSAN 8 includes the new Express Storage Architecture (ESA) and Original Storage Architecture (OSA). OSA is the architecture to be used for all onsite cluster upgrades and new cluster installations using hardware unsuitable for use with ESA. ESA can be used for new cluster installations using qualified hardware
OSA in vSAN 8 introduces several new enhancements, including an increase in write buffer limit, vSAN Proactive Insights, HCI-Mesh improvements, File Services improvements, and new network latency improvements. Stay tuned for more information.
I see this version of vSAN Express Storage Architecture requires the use of NVMe based TLC storage devices. Won’t that be more expensive?
No. The architecture and capabilities of vSAN ESA generally make all NVMe-based configurations more cost-effective than clusters running vSAN OSA using SAS devices. Comparatively better TCO comes in three forms: 1.) Elimination of purchasing caching/buffering devices and storage controllers. 2.) Run space-efficient wipe codes without sacrificing any performance, and doing so in clusters as small as three hosts. 3.) Improvements to vSAN’s compression architecture that will likely bring greater capacity savings to existing environments. Items 1 and 2 are often sufficient to make running ESA per Terabyte more cost-effective than running a similar cluster configured with SAS devices and running vSAN OSA.
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Previous versions of vSAN supported the use of all NVMe-based storage devices. NVMe-based storage devices certainly outperform their SAS and SATA counterparts. While the original storage architecture (OSA) in vSAN can provide a fast storage platform, ESA was built with these next-generation devices in mind. When using vSAN ReadyNodes certified for ESA, using ESA exploits the full potential of these storage devices, delivering near device-level performance and consistency, increasing operational simplicity and lowering total cost of ownership.
VMware talks a lot about “efficiency” with its Express Storage Architecture. What does this mean and why is it so important?
VSAN ESA is designed for the capabilities of today’s and tomorrow’s storage devices. All new technologies are emerging that can significantly increase the capacity capabilities of a storage device. Even if a storage system has an extremely fast bus, a system must use a minimum amount of CPU resources per I/O, otherwise CPU resources may be depleted during high loads. Increasing storage densities and new storage techniques can also put a strain on scaling metadata (data-related data). vSAN ESA has been carefully designed to meet these challenges, and as a result, “efficiency” can be one of the most challenging aspects of vSAN ESA and for our customers. An efficient system allows you to do more with what you already have.
No, not in the foreseeable future. We know that many of our customers have invested heavily in a wide variety of hardware and can continue to use vSAN OSA for these configurations with confidence. vSAN 8 is a great example of how VMware continues to make improvements to OSA where we increased write buffer capacity to 1.6TB and made other feature enhancements. Continuing to upgrade your clusters to the latest vSAN version using OSA is a great way to make the most of your existing hardware. New clusters can be configured with ESA in mind, which will reduce TCO while taking advantage of all the capabilities ESA provides.
Vsan 7.0 Witness Appliances Losing Embedded License After Upgrade / New Deployment (79361)
For more comparisons between the two architectures, see this post: Comparing Original Storage Architecture with vSAN 8 Express Storage Architecture.
No. vSAN ESA in vSAN 8 supports high-performance, NVMe-based TLC flash storage devices on vSAN ReadyNodes certified for ESA. The rotating media cannot support the capabilities that make ESA so special. Spinning media devices will continue to be supported when using OSA in a vSAN cluster.
Express Storage Architecture (ESA) in vSAN 8 is available with vSAN ReadyNodes approved for use with ESA and with appropriate licensing. Most of our partners participating in the ReadyNode program will have approved ReadyNodes for use with ESA when it becomes generally available. Clusters using vSAN Advanced or vSAN Enterprise licenses will be able to use this high-performance architecture in vSAN 8. Other license types will be able to use OSA in vSAN 8.
For vSAN 8 and ESA, servers must be vSAN ReadyNodes approved for use with ESA. In this release, ESA does not support a “Do It Yourself” (BYO) configuration.
Vsan Frequently Asked Questions (faq)
Yes. While customers should strive for a relatively symmetrical cluster, we understand that over time market conditions can make it difficult to purchase storage devices of the same capacity. The cluster symmetry recommendations are very similar to using the Original storage Architecture. For more information, see this post: Asymmetric vSAN Clusters – What is Allowed and Intelligent? Initially, vSAN 8 can only be run on vSAN ReadyNodes certified for use with ESA, which naturally invites consistency and symmetry across a cluster.
Customers running previous versions of vSAN and wishing to upgrade their existing clusters to vSAN 8 can perform an in-place upgrade of the cluster as usual. In this scenario, the cluster will be upgraded to vSAN 8 and will use the original storage architecture (OSA). For customers with ReadyNodes approved for use with ESA, a cluster can be created and “vSAN ESA” can be selected during the installation process and continue installing and configuring the cluster as such. Once the configuration is complete, customers can migrate virtual machines using vMotion and Storage vMotion.
For more information on migrating to ESA, see this post: Migrating to vSAN 8 Express Storage Architecture
Yes. Many aspects of Express Storage Architecture are “under the hood” of architectural changes. vSAN will continue to work the same as previous versions. It really remains the software you already know. In some ways, the operational aspects become much easier. vSAN ESA does not use disk groups, so responding to a maintenance issue with a storage device becomes easier with a smaller domain. Storage policy decisions become easier because RAID-5/6 can deliver the performance of RAID-1.
Vmware Vsan 7.0
VSAN Sizer (at https://vsansizer.vmware.com) is an advanced sizing tool that will take you through the process of accurately sizing your performance and capacity needs. vSAN Sizer will be updated to accommodate vSAN running using OSA or ESA. During the sizing process, the desired architecture can be selected.
I see the minimum hardware requirements for the hardware and it shows 25Gb network connection is required. Does ESA use more network resources to process data?
No. While ReadyNode profiles will define 25Gb or 100Gb as the minimum requirement, this requirement reflects ESA’s ability to deliver near-device-level performance of high-performance NVMe-based storage devices approved for use. Providing adequate network resources allows vSAN to take advantage of the full performance capabilities of devices under maximum load. If you’re migrating production workloads from a vSAN OSA cluster to a vSAN ESA cluster, you’ll find that on average less CPU and network resources are used for the same workloads. This is because vSAN ESA uses less CPU cycles and less network resources to process and store I/O compared to vSAN OSA.
For more information on a related topic, see this post: Adaptive Network Traffic Shaping for vSAN Express Storage Architecture.
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ESA in vSAN 8 does not use a dedicated caching device. Express Storage Architecture is a flexible architecture that uses a single layer in vSAN 8, so all performance and capacity needs are handled by the same storage devices.
VSAN 8 ESA removes the concept of disk groups and discrete caching and capacity tiers and replaces it with a “storage pool”. This storage pool consists of all storage devices selected on the host to provide storage resources to the vSAN. since ESA
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