An Overview of VMware vSAN

VMware vSAN is a software-defined storage solution that enables organizations to pool together their storage resources and manage them as a single entity. It is designed to work with VMware vSphere, the company's flagship virtualization platform, and can be deployed on commodity hardware or on pre-configured appliances from leading server vendors.

vSAN Architecture

At its core, VMware vSAN uses a distributed architecture that leverages the local storage resources of each host in a cluster to create a shared pool of storage capacity. This eliminates the need for traditional SAN or NAS arrays, which can be costly and complex to manage. Instead, vSAN aggregates the capacity of all the hosts in a cluster and presents it as a single datastore to vSphere, allowing virtual machines to access the storage resources they need without any additional configuration.

vSAN cannot run beyond the VMware infrastructure, it runs at the vSphere cluster level, as it is embedded and tied to it.

An important feature of hyper-converged infrastructure is the horizontal scalability and modular architecture of IT systems. VMware vSphere+vSAN allows you to create a platform based on the same server blocks as hosts or nodes. These blocks combine compute resources, storage devices, and network interfaces.

If you scale up further by selecting a set of virtualization software (for example, using a combination of vSphere, vSAN, and VMware orchestration tools), you can create a software-defined data center (SDDC). However, you will also need dedicated physical network hardware that ensures seamless connectivity between the various hosts in the hyper-converged infrastructure.

The concept of vSAN is that each ESXi host can have 1 to 5 disk groups, which in turn contain:

  • Hybrid configuration: One to seven magnetic disks and a minimum of one SAS/SATA SSD, or PCIe flash disk is required. The magnetic disks are used for data storage and the SSD, or Flash, is used as a data cache.

  • All-flash configuration: all drives in a group can be used for both cache and data storage.

vmware vsan

Benefits of Using VMware vSAN

One of the key benefits of VMware vSAN is its flexibility. It can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid environment. It also supports a wide range of hardware configurations, including all-flash, hybrid, and all-NVMe configurations, allowing organizations to tailor their storage infrastructure to their specific workload requirements.

Another key advantage of VMware vSAN is its ease of use. Because it is fully integrated with vSphere, it can be managed using familiar tools and interfaces, making it easy for IT teams to get up and running quickly. It also includes features like automated storage tiering and data deduplication, which help to optimize performance and reduce storage costs.

The solution also offers a low total cost of ownership (TCO). VMWare vSAN can be deployed on low-cost x86 servers, reducing initial costs. In the long run, the highly scalable infrastructure and rapid deployment of requirements changes make it a cost-effective but efficient storage solution.

Finally, VMware vSAN delivers enterprise-class reliability and availability. It includes features like erasure coding, which protects against data loss by encoding data across multiple disks in a cluster and stretched clusters, which enable organizations to replicate data across geographically dispersed sites for added redundancy. This makes it an ideal choice for mission-critical workloads that require high levels of availability and data protection.


VMware vSAN is a powerful and flexible storage solution that can help organizations simplify their storage infrastructure, reduce costs, and improve performance and availability. With its distributed architecture, ease of use, and enterprise-class features, it is an ideal choice for organizations looking to modernize their storage infrastructure and take advantage of the benefits of software-defined storage.

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author: Martin Evans
published: 05/22/2023
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