vsan-broFor those using and evaluating VMware’s Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) powered by Virtual SAN are reaping the benefits of the next-generation enterprise architecture for a software-defined datacenter that is consistently managed across private and hybrid clouds with the simplicity of vCenter.

With the announcement of the VMware Cloud Foundation, VMware extends the vSphere concepts of abstracting and pooling together distributed infrastructure resources to Virtual SAN, and NSX to manage the consumption of their resources as single entities of consumption – all which have an IP network at the heart to provide inter-connect.

While an IP network can be implemented in many ways, one should remember that vcf2storage is a very critical component to the overall system performance  and ultimately a lifeboat for system resiliency – after all non-volatile storage is the data persistence layer!

The de-factor standard network underlay to support IP traffic in the data center is Layer 2 Ethernet which has been around for decades. Ethernet networks are still to this day being deployed true to many of the original concepts, including Spanning Tree loop prevention and with a need to enter detailed configurations into each and every switch.

On the contrary SAN networks have traditionally been deployed on Fibre Channel technology with the purpose of providing the best possible transport for storage traffic including features such as single point of management and active-active and load balanced links throughout the network with no single point of failures.

With Virtual SAN being the storage solution for VMware hyper-converged infrastructures IP networks play a key role in the value and results that can be provided by these type of infrastructure. While traditional Fibre Channel SAN features with dedicated redundant networks are desirable in a hyper-converged infrastructure Virtual SAN most commonly rely on the same physical network as the VM and other traffic. To support the simplicity of Hyper-Converged and Virtual SAN value proposition the network must be performant and resilient while simple to deploy and operate.


The Brocade VCS Fabric have exactly those properties – build on Fibre Channel SAN in heritage Brocade VCS  Ethernet Fabrics provide a simple to deploy and performant network underlay for VMware Virtual SAN. The network automatically forms when connecting the switches and the network become a single logical chassis with single point of management for ease of operations. You can start small with just a couple of switches and afterwards scale seamlessly in lockstep with your business’ needs.

With the latest enhancements to Virtual SAN in version 6.2, we decided to validate with a Brocade VCS Fabric. The design used was a 5 rack Virtual SAN hyper-converged infrastructure, showcasing the value of Failure Domains at scale, and integration of VMware vCenter with the VCS Fabric for automatic network provisioning. In-line with the management simplicity of both vSphere, Virtual SAN, and the VCS Fabric we also validated. The integration between vCenter, the vDS virtual switch, and the VCS Fabric facilitates virtual port and port group properties to be automatically matched in the VCS fabric configuration. This configuration dynamically follows a VM as it migrates around the network using Automatic Migration of Port-profiles (AMPP) and VM-Aware Network Automation.

To ensure priority for the Virtual SAN storage traffic we configured Auto QoS on the VCS Fabric and Network IO Control on the virtual switch -this ensures in a very simple way- that storage traffic is prioritized on both virtual and physical switches.

For more information and actual process and procedure on how to successfully prepare and configure Brocade VCS Fabric for VMware Virtual SAN be sure to download White Paper I have co-authored in collaboration with Brocade from the link below:

VMware Virtual SAN Network Deployments with Brocade VCS Fabrics

I want to thank to folks at Brocade for their help and collaboration validating and creating this collateral and putting it together for our mutual customers.


For future updates on Virtual SAN (VSAN), vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVol) and other Storage and Availability technologies, as well as vSphere Integrated OpenStack (VIO), and Cloud-Native Applications (CNA) be sure to follow me on Twitter: @PunchingClouds.