Jan 13 2021

Review: VMware vSAN Simplifies Storage for Government

This robust virtualization solution reduces the cost and complexity of traditional storage.

Virtualization software makes up the backbone of data storage initiatives for agencies and departments across federal, state and local governments. From the largest states to the smallest municipalities, a solid storage virtualization platform boosts an agency’s ability to deliver vital citizen services without delays.

With an effective storage ­virtualization platform such as VMware vSAN, agencies can better manage compute and storage capabilities within an aggregated platform instead of taking the traditional approach of point solutions, which are built to handle specific needs or desired capabilities. A centralized solution like VMware vSAN provides agencies with an affordable approach that simplifies storage as well as access to and use of that data.

MORE FROM STATETECH: How can software-defined everything aid state government? 

A Tool to Enable Dynamic File Sharing

Having used previous versions of vSAN, I was accustomed to the ease of use and intuitive navigation of the platform. However, while testing vSAN 7, one feature that impressed me was the support for file-based persistent volumes for Kubernetes on vSAN data stores. Using this version of VMware vSAN, developers can dynamically create file shares for their applications and have multiple pods share data.

Persistent volumes are important for stateful applications that save ­client data from one session for use in the next session. Kubernetes supports these workloads. vSAN 7 now supports NFS version 4.1 and version 3 protocols while offering integrated file services, so it’s easier for agencies to provision and share files. For example, government users can provision a file share from a cluster via NFS version 4.1 and version 3, reducing the time to stand up a file share.

The need for easy management of increased storage volumes can’t be overstated for agencies. Not only can vSAN 7 offer that but it also supports the speedy delivery of services.

VMware vSAN

The Benefits of Hyperconvergence in Government 

A good example of these benefits is found in a recent case study for the State Bar of Wisconsin, which struggled with preconfigured ­storage units that made it difficult to adapt to big increases in data volume. In this particular situation, expensive new infrastructure was thought to be essential to solve this problem until the organization ­discovered a simpler solution in hyperconverged infrastructure.

HCI, like VMware vSAN, ­combines common data center hardware elements that leverage local storage resources with intelligent ­software that builds flexible data blocks to replace legacy infrastructure. As a result, agencies like the State Bar of Wisconsin can leverage HCI to boost performance while lowering the total cost of ownership. This leads to better productivity within IT teams.

Avoiding a Disastrous Disaster Recovery with VMware vSAN

One of the most vital roles and characteristics of effective data storage is the role backups play if an agency or organization suffers a disaster. Governments have always embraced continuity of operations planning, and protecting data storage has always been a part of that. Any good COOP plan will have a storage component. Thankfully, VMware vSAN integrates disaster recovery into its main platform.

Managed as a core component of a vSphere environment, vSAN is built on an optimized input-output data path in the vSphere hypervisor for exceptional performance. This means that separate administration tools and connections are not required, thereby simplifying management, particularly in locations that have little or no local IT staff, such as a disaster recovery site.

Additionally, features like VMware vSphere Replication provide asynchronous virtual machine replication with recovery point objectives configured per each virtual machine. This enables precise control over which workloads are protected in time increments as short as five minutes. Replication also avoids the need to provide excess capacity at a disaster recovery site to accommodate an all-or-nothing replication approach. Simply set important data to be updated and waiting should disaster strike.

As an example of how efficient vSAN is for COOP planning, when managing four 200-gigabyte virtual machines on a single logical unit number at a production site, disaster recovery protection is needed for only two of the virtual machines. With vSphere Replication, capacity requirements at the disaster recovery site are reduced because vSAN replicates just the two virtual machines needing protection. Array replication, by contrast, replicates the entire LUN, or all virtual machine data. 

For even more protection, a policy rule in vSAN called “number of failures to tolerate,” or FTT, is engineered so that the virtual disk can tolerate one host or disk failure and still be available. FTT works by defining the number of copies of a virtual machine component to distribute across hosts in the cluster. 

For example, if a policy contains the rule FTT=1, and this policy is assigned to a virtual disk, two copies of the virtual disk are maintained and placed on separate hosts. If one host goes offline, the virtual machine disk is still accessible on another host. 

With solutions like vSAN, agencies of all sizes can benefit from reliable COOP backup and planning no matter what happens to the production environment. This will help ensure that governments are back up and running quickly during any crisis.

VMware vSAN

Version: 7.0
Cache: One SAS, SATA solid-state drive or PCIe flash device
Data Storage: At least one SAS or NL-SAS magnetic disk for hybrid; at least one SAS, SATA SSD or PCIe for all-flash
Bandwidth: Dedicated 1Gbps for hybrid configurations; dedicated or shared 10Gbps for all-flash configurations
Latency: 1-5 milliseconds, depending on configuration

VMware