VMware To Begin Selling VSAN Next Week, But Still Isn't Sharing Pricing

VMware on Thursday said it will begin selling its VSAN storage technology to customers next week, but the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor still isn't addressing the important question of how much it will cost.

Partners are eager to learn this information because VMware has told them VSAN will be significantly cheaper than the cost of hybrid storage arrays, including software and disks.

Sources told CRN that VSAN is expected to cost between $2,000 and $2,500 per socket. VMware partners have differing interpretations of this price range; one partner told CRN this is "fairly reasonable," while another said it's higher than most partners were expecting. VMware declined comment.

VSAN works by clustering storage from server hard drives and solid state drives and letting virtual machines tap into that storage capacity on the fly. And because the technology is built directly into the vSphere hypervisor, VMware says it'll deliver fast performance.

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[Related: VMware Expands Software-Defined Storage With New VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) ]

One VMware partner said the high cost of enterprise-grade SSD drives in VSAN projects could be an issue for some customers. An eight-node, dual-socket VSAN cluster would cost around $40,000, but after factoring in the cost of SSD drives and hard disks, the overall cost would be more than half what hybrid storage array vendors charge, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

On the plus side, VSAN is going to have a lot more capacity than partners and customers were expecting. VMware will ship VSAN next week with capacity for 32 nodes, CTO Ben Fathi said in a webcast.

This is notable because last month at its partner conference, VMware said VSAN would ship with support for 16 nodes, and when it first unveiled VSAN last year, it talked about support for eight nodes.

The expanded capacity also means a wide range of customers will be able to use VSAN. Customers can start with a three-node cluster for remote and branch offices, and scale up to 32 nodes, 4.4 petabytes of storage and 2 million IOPS per cluster, Fathi said.

"This will take care of the storage requirements for pretty much any enterprise out there," Fathi said on the webcast.

VMware also had a partner ecosystem set up around VSAN, with NetApp, Dell, HP, Hitachi, Fujitsu, Cisco, EMC-Intel, IBM, Symantec, Fusion-io and Commvault all taking part.

Deploying and managing storage has long been a pain point for customers, but VSAN will change all that, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said on the webcast.

Policy-based management is one of the key features of VSAN. Storage requirements now can be communicated by the VM on a per-VM basis, and policies can be executed throughout the stack, Gelsinger said, calling this "an entirely new perspective on how storage can be done."