Two weeks ago I spoke with Anthony Spiteri about Virtual SAN and how he uses it and why he uses it. For those who don’t know Anthony, he is an architect at a service provider called Zettagrid, he is an avid blogger and spends some time on twitter now and then. Make sure to bookmark his blog and follow him on twitter, he is a smart guy. I wanted to chat with him just to understand why they selected VSAN as their storage solution for their Management environment.
Anthony mentioned that when he joined Zettagrid they weren’t using dedicated management clusters. As most of you know who manage larger infrastructures, separating production workloads from the management stack can be very useful. You don’t want your management solution contending for CPU/Memory resources, and you surely don’t want any production outage impact your management cluster… Like for instance a storage outage. Which is exactly what happened in Anthony’s case, a storage outage took out (some of) the management components, which in its turn made it impossible to figure out what was going on, a situation you don’t want to ever encounter as a service provider. Luckily they managed to figure it out relatively quick, but it did made them see a change was needed.
What better time to introduce a new concept like hyper-converged and create a self-contained management environment? Anthony mentioned that he had looked at two different platforms but decided to go for VSAN. The reason was straight forward, they did a large amounts of tests and they simply couldn’t break it. It just worked, and it worked in a dead easy way, which also meant that when this would be taken in to production the learning curve would be tiny for the operational guys.
As a hardware platform Dell FX2 is used, I am a big fan of this platform and fully understand why they picked it. 4 nodes in 2u, which even includes switching, so for VSAN this means you can keep the traffic in the chassis with these smaller “4 node management” pods. Zettegrid decided to deploy 3 of these pods and each of them will run services like vCenter Server, vCloud Director, SQL, AD, Veeam Backup etc. Nice solution if you ask me.
We also spoke about pricing, although not part of my responsibilities it is always interesting to see how a solution works out from a TCO/ROI stance. I still recall exchanging some messages with Anthony about the VSPP pricing, and he mentioned it was on the high side. Needless to say, but the recent pricing changes definitely make VSAN a no-brainer for Service Providers. The points cut in half and the billing is one based on what is “used” versus what is “allocated”, and believe me (actually believe Anthony) that makes a huge difference! Such a big difference, Anthony said that they will definitely be looking at VSAN for their Cloud Resources as well.
Thanks Anthony for taking the time. Always good to hear back from customers.
PS: There is an official VSAN reference story coming out soon as well coincidentally, I will link to that as soon as I have received it.