Introduction to VMware Virtual SAN Assessment

Overview
Virtual SAN is designed to enable rapid provisioning of storage directly from vSphere Web Client with a few simple clicks, without needing LUNs or volumes. VMware first launched the Virtual SAN Assessment in July 2015 and since there has been huge number of customers trying to analyse if they are ready to move towards the next generation Storage capabilities. This new tool is a one stop shop for everything related to VMware Virtual SAN or simply vSAN. This tool first collects and analyses data from customer’s existing vSphere Storage Array environment. First things first do we need vSAN ? What does it help reduce? What are its benefits ?
According to Gartner , this year 2016 and coming year 2017 will see almost one-third of all organisations deploying vSAN for at least 30 % of their total Storage needs. With vSAN customer saves up to 50% on Opex .

The vSAN assessment uses a SaaS based VMware Infrastructure Planner (VIP) tool to run a free comprehensive analysis of the vSphere Storage environment that collects I/O patterns. In just one week, the vSAN assessment uses the analysis to provide customized reports and the following technical and business recommendations:

  1. Which VMs are suitable candidate for Virtual SAN- Hybrid or All flash
  2. Sizing and hardware recommendations (I.e number of servers, SSD, HDD)
  3. TCO analysis compared to storage arrays

How does vSAN Assessment Tool work?
The Virtual SAN Assessment Tool is based on the below two components, and together they provide data collection and analysing these data sent by the collector and creates these report and presents in the form metrics visualization.

  • Virtual SAN Assessment Tool Portal – The portal is a public web application that receives the I/O traces from customers’ infrastructures and presents the detailed results. It also provides the ability to export the results onto different document types excel, PowerPoint, etc.
  • Virtual SAN Assessment Tool Collector – The tool collector is a virtual appliance (OVF file) deployed in customer environment that collects data and sends it to the portal. The appliance is configured with 4 vCPUs, 8 GB ram, and 200 GB disk space and has a low of overhead while collecting data.2

The assessments provides the complete information that includes environmental infrastructure analysis and financial information of Storage CAPEX savings due to adoption of vSAN

The environmental analysis is performed to identify all the virtual machines that are suitable candidates for Virtual SAN and which architecture is the best fit (Hybrid or All-Flash). This tool will gather I/O patterns from running virtual machines that are hosted on existing vSphere infrastructures with traditional or legacy storage arrays such as NAS/SAN. The tool uses a set of proprietary algorithms to determine whether we can use a Hybrid / All flash for vSAN. The algorithms determine how much cache is required for the virtual machine’s workloads. By adding up the read cache sizes of all the running virtual machines, the tool can identify the cluster’s wide cache requirements and provide accurate Virtual SAN cluster design recommendations.

The Storage CAPEX savings provides a clear picture of CAPEX savings when compared to a traditional NAS/SAN. From within the Storage CAPEX Savings assessment section, the Virtual SAN TCO and Sizing Calculator is accessible using this url : vSAN TCO and Sizing Calculator which will covered in a separate post. Before we begin the VMware SE or VMware Partners will have to be registered in VMware Infrastructure Planner or VIP portal , this is strictly only for partners and Sales Engineers and not for the customers.

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The flow of the Assessment
1The above image has the step by step procedure of vSAN assessment , The VMware Sales Engineer (SE) or Partner will go ahead and Create an a new vSAN assessment and invite the customer, Remember we can can also create a vCloud suite assessment in the same portal.

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Provide the details about the assessments such as customer name , email address etc and make a note of the unique assessment key which is very important

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Once the customer has been invited to the assessment , he will get a welcome mail as shown below and he will be able to check the progress in the assessment.

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Customer will be routed and must confirm all the details and accept the invite that SE or partner sent to them

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Customer then can download the .ova file and deploy in it their existing vSphere environment, while he downloads customer can make a note of the Assessment key which he will have to use after deploying the VMware Infrastructure Planner as shown in the below image

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Choose Clusters or individual VM’s that will participate in the vSAN Assessment activity and choose the approximate Collection duration by default it is set to 7 days

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Provide the vCenter Server details and administrative credentials and we should get a message that collector has been successfully configured.

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After running the assessment for a minimum of 7 days , SE or VMware partner must be able to see all the recommendations such as All Flash/ Hybrid set up and these can be shared with the customer as well.

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