VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) is now available for download. Licensed per CPU or user.

VMware VSAN 5.5 is available for download now.

In order to run Virtual SAN, you need to download vSphere 5.5 U1 (or above). There are no additional binaries required. Virtual SAN does require a separate license, and is available for free 60 days evaluation period along with vSphere. Please note if you plan to use Virtual SAN with VMware Horizon View, you’ll need to download a specific Horizon View version 5.3.1 binary that supports Virtual SAN.

At least three vSphere 5.5 ESXi nodes are required to be able to use VSAN. The maximum number of nodes in a VSAN 5.5 cluster is 32.

As you noticed, the first release of Virtual SAN is named  ‘Virtual SAN 5.5’ . It will be available in two editions and one bundle (temporary offer).

Here is the official announcement on the VMware company blog about the GA of Virtual SAN 5.5. It includes pricing details listed below.

  • Standalone edition is licensed per CPU and costs $ 2,495. It features Persistent data store, read/write caching, policy-based management, virtual distributed switch, replication, snapshot and clones . This edition can run any workload; either virtual servers or desktops.
  • VSAN can also be licensed per user for VDI deployment only. (VMware or Citrix). Concurrent or named. The costs per user is $ 50. The features are the same as the per CPU licending.
  • There is also a softbundle of Virtual SAN and vSphere Data Protection Advanced (VDPA) which costs $ 2875,- per CPU. This is a limited offer which expires September 15, 2014. This is a VERY GOOD deal. The listprice of VDPA is $ 1100,-. So you save $ 720,- per CPU when purchasing this bundle.

There will be some special offers for VSAN:

  • customers using the beta will receive a discount of 20%.
  • customers using VMware Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) will get reduced pricing when they upgrade to VSAN.

VSAN can be installed on self assembled hardware components which are listed on the VSAN HCL. Another option is to buy

VSAN Ready Node and VSAN Ready Block hardware configurations . A Ready Node recommended configuration is a single pre-configured
server for use with VIrtual SAN. A Ready Block recommended configuration is a pre-cofigured set of servers for use with Virtual SAN.

A list of vendors supplying those is listed here. 

Download vSphere 5.5 Update 1 which includes VSAN here.

A large collection of links to blogposts on VSAN here and here

VMware release a new VSAN Design and Sizing Guide edition March 2014 which can be downloaded here.

VMware has a free Hands-on Lab (HOL)available which enables you to play and explorer with VMware VSAN. No need to have hardware, software and licenses. The HOL is running in the cloud.

This is a VSAN license calculator showing costs for vSphere, VSAN, S&S

StarWind V8 Release Candidate Is Available Now!

StarWind Software released the Release Candidate of  StarWind V8. The functionality and architecture of this software is similar to VMware VSAN. It can be installed on both Hyper-V and ESXi and converts local storage to a distributed shared storage.

General availability is expected in Q2 2014


Download the RC here.

It offers three products that share a common engine:

  • StarWind SAN – a unique system that allows you to create a high-performance and fault-tolerant shared storage on commodity hardware, saving $$$.
  • StarWind VSAN – a virtual SAN sharing a server with Hyper-V on parent partition. Convenient and as easy to manage as any Windows software.
  • StarWind VSA – a virtual storage appliance that merges with VMware and runs in a VM, making your system more efficient and convenient to use.

It is scalable to an unlimited number of nodes, optimized for flash as the primary storage, with its own LSFS and upgraded asynchronous replication.

StarWind SAN, the flagship product, runs on commodity servers’ hardware and converts them into high-performance, fault-tolerant SAN at a fraction of the cost and complexity associated with traditional SAN-based storage infrastructures. With its integrated VSA builder and scale-out architecture, StarWind SAN became the first solution running on Windows that creates clusters of multiple hypervisor hosts without separate physical shared storage (unlike SAS (JBOD), FC or iSCSI). With this release, StarWind supports the latest versions of both VMware and Microsoft platforms.

StarWind virtual SAN (VSAN) is a leading software defined storage for Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 and Microsoft Hyper-V 3.0. The functionality and architecture of this software is similar to VMware VSAN. It runs inside parent partitions of hypervisor hosts and turns their directly attached storage (DAS) into fault-tolerant SAN. StarWind VSA follows the VMware VSA concept also, and operates inside a VM on the ESXi host, creating a fault-tolerant shared storage of the hypervisor resources.

StarWind V8 RC presents high-performance caching that allows affordable MLC SSDs to be used as level-2 flash cache and fast RAM to be used as level-1 cache. StarWind utilizes solid-state disks / flash cards as the primary storage with a dedicated flash-aware Log-Structured File System (LSFS).

Another major advantage over multiple virtual storage solutions is built-in asynchronous WAN-replication, which ensures effective disaster recovery. StarWind’s support of WAN-acceleration technologies also enables data replication over slow and cheap connections.

StarWind V8 RC includes a set of powerful experimental features including: LSFS, which eliminates the I/O blender effect; synchronous replication for clustered LSFS devices; and in-memory operation, which creates a HA cluster with one node running on RAM-disk.

VMware VSAN will be general available in March 2014

At VMware Partner Exchange 2014 some interesting details were made public about features of VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) and it general availability.

VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) is a very popular product even when it has not been released yet. It is currently available in public beta. Over 10.000 people joined this beta. More on the background of VMware VSAN in my blog here.

VMware is currently offering beta customers a 20% discount on Virtual SAN purchases.  The discount is available to those beta participants who have joined and downloaded the Virtual SAN beta product.

I guess VMware estimates  the GA of VSAN will lead to a significant growth in sales. VSAN can be used in many customer environments currently running vSphere. It might also boosts vSphere license upgrades as vSphere 5.5 or later is required to run VSAN.  It  promises to become a pretty disruptive technology.

VSAN creates out of local server storage (SSD and HDD) a shared storage solution provinding best performance for lower costs compared to general purpose storage arrays. Host based SSD is used for caching, HDD is used for persistent storage of virtual machine hard disk files.

Benefits of VSAN are:

  • Reduce investment costs by using cheap low cost storage instead of expensive SAN
  • Pay as you grow model instead of large upfront investments. If you need more storage capacity simply add SDD or HDD instead of having to buy a new SAN extension.
  • It lowers operational costs because it is simple to use, does not require a storage administrator and has increased automation

Some more details on VSAN became public in the last couple of days thanks to VMware Partner Exchange (PEX). The information below was extracted from a recent blogpost of Chuck Hollis.

1. VSAN will be generally available in Q1 2014 (confirmed). At March 6 a VSAN webinar is scheduled. This is hosted by VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger and CTO Ben Fathi. These executives are likely to announce some surprises. In the past we have seen announcements of new releases of VMware vSphere at similar webinars presented by the CEO. So a good *guess* would be that at March 6 the GA data of VSAN will be announced.  Maybe March 6 will be the GA date.

2. VSAN will be made available as a seperate stock keeping unit (SKU). This means VSAN is not included in the vSphere license.

3. A VSAN cluster will support at least 16 nodes at GA.

4. VSAN can be installed by customers by buying their own parts like controllers, SDD and HDD. It will also be possible to buy preconfigured servers of IBM, Dell and Cisco. These contain all the VSAN required components which are listed on the VSAN hardware compatibility guide. For example will combine SanDisk SSDs within the Dell PowerEdge R720 and PowerEdge T620 servers to power VSAN.

5. Each VSAN node can support up to 35 disk drives (in addition to up to 5 SSD or PCI-e flash devices). A max of 560 spindles in a single VSAN cluster is supported.

A lot of questions are asked on the pricing of VSAN. Pricing has not been announced yet. Licensing will be based on the number of CPU sockets in the nodes part of a VSAN cluster (unconfirmed).

Duncan Epping has another summary about VSAN here. 



Maxta will demo software defined storage solution at Dutch VMUG

At the first ever NLVMUG event in the Netherlands (March 6 2014 in Den Bosch) Maxta will attend as a silver sponsor. Their software defined storage solution Maxta Storage Platform MxSP will be demonstrated in public for the first time in the Netherlands.

Maxta MxSP can basically be compared to VMware VSAN offering shared distributed storage carved out by using local server storage. While VSAN is embedded in the ESXi kernel and supports vSphere 5.5 only, Maxta MxSP is distributed as a virtual appliance supporting VMware ESXi and Hyper-V.

Also Maxta supports any hardware configuration supported by VMware. VSAN has it’s own Hardware Compatibility List.


The town of Venray is one of the first Maxta MxSP customers in the Netherlands. Venray uses MxSP for their  virtual desktop infrastructure. The announcement can be read here.

Much more technical detail in this post titled Maxta presents software defined storage for vSphere challenging traditional SAN/NAS. Software eats storage! 

VMware releases VSAN Beta refresh update

VMware has released an update for Virtual SAN (VSAN) beta. The software is currently available as a public beta and can be downloaded by anyone. The general availability of VSAN is not made public at the moment. Also pricing and which vSphere 5.5 editions it will support is unknown.

Updated in this Refresh are:

  • AHCI fix. There was an issue with VSAN losing data under certain conditions when certain AHCI controllers were used. This has now been fixed.
  • New Ruby Virtual Console Commands. For depth analysis of the performance of a Virtual SAN cluster
  • A disk group may now contain a single SSD and up to seven HDDs
  • a set of VSAN PowerCLi cmdlets have been released as a fling from VMware R&D

More information here.

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