VMware's vSAN 6.6 First to Debut Native HCI Security

Virtualization king has optimized its wares for the hot hyperconverged, hyperscale and high-performance enterprise markets.


Hyperconverged infrastructure and related software has long since graduated out of the hype cycle and is now reality inside new-gen IT systems. It's almost as though regular converged hardware and software was a Toyota Corolla left in a cloud of dust by a hyperconverged Mazerati.

At 64 percent year-over-year growth, according to researcher IDC, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is that Maserati, and converged infrastructure is a 1 percent YOY-growth Corolla.

A recent example quantifying this happened a couple of days ago when IT industry research Synergy reported that 68 percent of the key cloud service markets are owned by only two dozen major-league service providers--all of which are using hyperconverged systems and have names that include Google, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services.

VMware Refocusing on Cloud Infrastructure, Mobility, HCI

So VMware, looking to shore up its own marketshare as it refocuses on cloud infrastructure and business mobility, has optimized its wares for the hot hyperconverged, hyperscale and high-performance enterprise markets. Since VMware has at least one product or service in about 95 percent of all data centers globally, this is certainly an opportunity to upsell and ride the wave of a legitimate trend.

On April 11, the virtualization kingpin introduced vSAN 6.6, which contains native HCI security--the first of its type in the business, VMware Vice-President of Products, Storage and Availability Lee Caswell told eWEEK.

Native HCI security is a software-defined, data-at-rest encryption solution that features simplified key management and is built to protect against unwanted access to data. vSAN 6.6 managers using vSAN Encryption will have the freedom to select any vSAN-certified hardware to further lower hardware costs by avoiding expensive self-encrypting drives (SEDs), Caswell said.

"What I'm really excited about is that all the new hardware is coming to HCI first," Caswell said. "It comes to servers first. So we announced support for (Intel) Optane, for example. There are over 10 million servers sold per year, but there are less than 1 million storage systems. We're using consumer-grade memory (flash) with server-based hardware CPUs that are now basically coming in to take over the storage market.

HCI Trend is Parallel to Early x86 Days

"Remember back in the early x86 days? Those were chips originally made for PCs that were transitioned to running servers. It completely changed the market; RISC computers were still being made, but all of the volume went to x86. This is what's happening right now; we're taking server-based technologies and using it to disrupt the storage market."

Caswell said that VMware's vSAN 6.6 will help users evolve their infrastructure with minimal risk through native encryption, high-end availability and a wide choice of hardware platforms, including the aforementioned Intel Optane solid-state drives.

vSAN 6.6 is the sixth generation of VMware's enterprise-grade native storage for vSphere. The platform is aimed at use cases that include business-critical and cloud-native applications, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), remote office/branch office (ROBO) and disaster recovery environments.

Other new features, according to Caswell, include:

--Highly available vSAN management: vSAN 6.6 enables monitoring and management of the storage platform in the event VMware vCenter Server is offline.

--Lower TCO with enhanced site protection and intelligent operations: HCI solutions powered by vSAN are positioned to help IT teams modernize their data center infrastructure despite shrinking or static budgets and increasing demands from line-of-business and end users.

--Efficient and economical site protection: vSAN 6.6 has enhanced Stretched Clusters with local protection to provide resiliency against both site and local component failures. These highly available clusters can be deployed for up to 50 percent less than leading traditional storage solutions.

--Proactive cloud analytics: vSAN Cloud Analytics will introduce a new analytics framework that will initially provide real-time support notifications and custom recommendations to help users optimize their vSAN environment. The cloud-based analytics can be continuously enhanced with new checks and functionality without requiring any customer intervention.

--Automated hardware maintenance: Intelligent operations and lifecycle management capabilities will accelerate initial hardware setup, simplify software install and deliver 1-click controller hardware lifecycle management for a more predictable hardware experience-without sacrificing the broadest choice of hardware.

--Faster flash performance: Optimized data service algorithms in vSAN 6.6 accelerate flash performance of business-critical and cloud-native applications by up to 50 percent, Caswell said. In addition to existing support for VMware Horizon, new validated architectures provide support for workloads such as Hadoop, Citrix XenApp, InterSystems Cache and Splunk.

--Support for next-generation hardware: vSAN is architected to support the latest flash technologies enabling vSAN-powered HCI solutions to adopt new technologies as they arrive on the market without delays and forklift upgrades to their infrastructure. For example, vSAN 6.6 will deliver industry-first support for recently launched Optane SSDs, which can help boost the performance of write-intensive applications, such as big data and streaming analytics.

Pricing and Availability

VMware vSAN 6.6 is scheduled to be released by May 5. VMware vSAN list price starts at $2,495 per CPU. VMware vSAN for Desktop list price starts at $50 per user.

For more information, go here.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...