Intel Is The First To Officially Support NVMe SSDs For VMware Virtual SAN

Imagine bringing the world’s first NVMe SSDs support for VMware Virtual SAN to datacenters around the world! That's what we have now done - OFFICIAL support of Intel’s NVMe SSDs on VMware’s Virtual SAN. Now that’s some great news for IT administrators around the world looking to implement NVMe SSDs on Virtual SAN!

VMWare certified Intel NVMe SSDs on Virtual SAN HCL:

Model - Part Number Capacity (GB) Form Factor Tier
DC P3600 Series - SSDPE2ME400G4 400 2.5” All Flash Caching Tier, Hybrid Caching Tier
DC P3600 Series - SSDPE2ME800G4 800 2.5” All Flash Caching Tier, Hybrid Caching Tier
DC P3600 Series - SSDPE2ME012T4 1200 2.5” All Flash Caching Tier, Hybrid Caching Tier
DC P3600 Series - SSDPE2ME016T4 1600 2.5” Hybrid Caching Tier
DC P3600 Series - SSDPE2ME020T4 2000 2.5” Hybrid Caching Tier
DC P3600 Series - SSDPEDME400G4 400 HHHL AIC All Flash Caching Tier, Hybrid Caching Tier
DC P3600 Series - SSDPEDME800G4 800 HHHL AIC All Flash Caching Tier, Hybrid Caching Tier
DC P3600 Series - SSDPEDME012T4 1200 HHHL AIC All Flash Caching Tier, Hybrid Caching Tier
DC P3600 Series - SSDPEDME016T4 1600 HHHL AIC Hybrid Caching Tier
DC P3600 Series - SSDPEDME020T4 2000 HHHL AIC Hybrid Caching Tier
DC P3700 Series - SSDPE2MD400G4 400 2.5” All Flash Caching Tier, Hybrid Caching Tier
DC P3700 Series - SSDPE2MD800G4 800 2.5” All Flash Caching Tier, Hybrid Caching Tier
DCP3700 Series - SSDPE2MD016T4 1600 2.5” Hybrid Caching Tier
DCP3700 Series - SSDPE2MD020T4 2000 2.5” Hybrid Caching Tier
DC P3700 Series - SSDPEDMD400G4 400 HHHL AIC All Flash Caching Tier, Hybrid Caching Tier
DC P3700 Series - SSDPEDMD800G4 800 HHHL AIC All Flash Caching Tier, Hybrid Caching Tier
DC P3700 Series - SSDPEDMD016T4 1600 HHHL AIC Hybrid Caching Tier
DCP3700 Series - SSDPEDMD020T4 2000 HHHL AIC Hybrid Caching Tier

Virtual SAN provides us the ability create all-flash architecture, where we can tire NVMe SSD’s for different needs. This allows high endurance caching tier for writes and read-intensive, cost effective capacity tier for data persistence resulting in excellent ROI on an all-flash architecture. There have been questions from few IT vendors on why should I be updating my infrastructure to all flash architecture along with NVMe. My answer has been simple: extremely low latency, endurance, performance and overall lower TCO along with Virtual SAN’s ability to scale when needed approach without disruption and with its simplicity of overall storage management help IT vendors to implement Virtual SAN for applications that are critical, require faster response time.

Applications running on virtualized environment like Virtual SAN are highly storage dependent for effective performance. Let’s take any database application as an example, when the application is running on a VM it makes large number of requests to the storage through compute and if the storage is built on HDDs it ends up acting as a bottleneck to the application’s performance given that HDDs latency are in milliseconds. Replacing HDDs with NVMe SSDs tremendously increases the application’s performance since latency to complete the requests are in terms of microseconds now,that's a huge difference! In an all Virtual SAN flash architecture there is no tiering of SSDs with HDDs instead SSDs are used on both caching and capacity tiers giving a consistent performance for both read and write operations there by proving the end user an overall faster application to work with.

With NVMe SSDs you get higher IOPs performance this along with lower latency provides Virtual SAN the ability to increase user workload thereby increasing the overall VM density with minimal hardware resulting in lower TCO.  Virtual SAN’s ability to scale out without disruption when the organization's workload increases along with low power NVMe SSDs help IT vendors to have smaller datacenter footprint with lower power consumption.

Recently my colleague worked on a case study with the largest grocery retailer in the U.S Kroger Co. on an all flash VSAN architecture with Intel® SSD Data Center Family for NVMe. Based on the case study the charts below illustrates the overall IOPS, latency cost, and data center footprint comparison between FC Hybrid, FC flash SAN and VSAN. From the chart we can clearly see that all flash VSAN has an 8% IOPs performance increase with ~1/5 of the expense when compared to all flash FC SAN array.

IOPS, Cost, and Data Center Footprint Comparison

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Latency, Cost, and Data Center Footprint Comparison

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We can also see that there is a 10x reduction in overall datacenter footprint and the overall latency is within 3% of an all-flash SAN.

Latest version of Virtual SAN supports up to 64 hosts per cluster and each cluster can have up to 6,400 VMs. Intel had the opportunity to build world’s first 64 node all flash Virtual SAN with NVMe SSDs cluster highlighting the ability to run millions of IOPs with very low latency. We recently showcased it at VMworld Europe ’15 in October.

With Intel Optane SSD offering IO wait below 10 microseconds recently demoed in Oracle Open World coming soon I see a very exciting future with Virtual SAN and Intel SSDs!