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VMworld US 2016 Buzz: Virtual SAN Management Current & Future – STO7904

September 14th, 2016

Adding some more colour to the highlights from my VMworld US 2016 coverage:

IMG_4466_thumbAlthough I’m fairly up to date with the new features of VSAN, I wanted more of a peak into the future. VSAN Architect Christian Dickmann was one of the initial developers for VSAN and has done an incredible job bringing VSAN to market.

As a quick summary of the vision, VSAN is bringing “appliance like experience” on “your choice of hardware” with “different storage policies per VM”.

HCI is the driver for further revolution in simplicity, the next stage for VSAN is to double down on simplification and this wasn’t just for VSAN but for vSphere as a whole. They are questioning every knob in the vSphere + VSAN universe and seeing if they can make it simpler.

The biggest simplification opportunities include:

  • install / upgrade for both software and hardware
  • setup of the entire vSphere stack
  • introducing infrastructure analytics
  • take data centre management to a new level

Christian went on to say they are thinking about this by being able to provide both Choice and Simplicity. You can chose your hardware and yet still get the same simplicity of install and operations.

The theme was not really about just VSAN and this was very good to hear, so much more integration between products planned and a huge focus on automated and simpler deployments.

He then went through 6 demos:

I had written notes but then Duncan posted a blog and wrote about them in more detail.

Have a read through his post for the demo details and I’ll just add commentary:


1st demo: HCI Installer

Basically doing what Nutanix has done bringin automated setup to VSAN and vSphere. When you don’t have a datastore to install a nested vCenter this automated it all for you. This is targeted at POCs / MGMT clusters / isolated deployments. Nutanix by design doesn’t do anything vCenter deployment related but I would think there would be no reason you couldn’t do the same VCSA deployment on any platform, hopefully the steps VMware use to do this will be made available.

2nd demo: Simple VMkernel interface creation

Like this.

3rd demo: Firmware Upgrade

Again, what Nutanix does very well for its own solutions but if you’re using VSAN, there is a far greater hardware choice so good to see this is coming.

4th demo: VUM Integration

VUM is crying out for full integration into the Web Client and simplification of the baselines which can become difficult to manage. Glad to see this is coming to vSphere where you can just say “get me the latest version” and off it goes rather than trying to tie together ESXi version baselines with a hardware baseline as well as patches.

5th demo: Automation

VSAN aiming to be 100% manageable via PowerCLI, I really thought this would have been done already.

6th demo: VSAN Analytics

Cloud Connected VSAN Health looks great. Compare my environment to the KB articles and tell me if I have a problem. This has been far too long in coming. I know a company called Runecast is doing just this already and Cloud Physics can sort of do some of this. I really hope this is extended to everything. I wants alerts when I am affected by any KB known issue. For VSAN Analytics, you can see the alert and then click on the “Ask VMware” button which takes you directly to the KB article.

What is also interesting is VMware is then able to find patterns of issues from the anonymised data sent to Cloud Connected Health from its customers to work out common problems. Phone home functionality may freak out some companies but I’m hoping this can be done in a way that makes it usable for the enterprise so VMware can get ahead of issues (and they’ve had some major bugs recently).


VMware is a bit late to the simplicity party but I’m liking the major focus on it now. It is a major customer pain point and adoption killer. Want to know why only 20,000 of your customers out of 500,000 use vRealize Automation? The complexity is the killer.

I’m surprised this focus across the product suite wasn’t highlighted in the keynote, this would give VMware customers something tangible to hold on to, your implementation difficulties are being worked on. Sometimes it is these small things that make customers more happy and loyal customers rather than the cloudy/containery hype that may seem so far away.

From what I’ve heard  VSAN engineering is one of the stars of VMware at the moment, they’re being very active in not only improving VSAN but getting their hands dirty fixing either deployment issues or manageability issues in other vSphere products. I’ve heard some other BUs have said to the VSAN team a new feature can be done in 2 years and the VSAN team is able to build it much quicker. They are seeing the value of simple installation and management which customers want and forcing the rest of VMware to get on the band-wagon, I hope they continue to shake things up!

This may possibly be slightly unfair on the rest of VMware but we have seen products taking absolutely ages to evolve so if someone is hurrying things up and doing a good job to bash that inertia, I say go for it!

This was an interesting session in that although titled VSAN futures it actually wasn’t much about VSAN but rather the future plans for bringing simplicity into the rest of Sphere that supports VSAN. I hope this cross-product view spreads, good job, VSAN team!

As VMworld2016 has made the recording publicly available, you can view the session here:


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