This content is part of the Conference Coverage: VMware Explore 2023 news and conference coverage

VMware vSAN Max disaggregates storage for hybrid cloud

Early HCI vendor VMware separates storage from compute in its new vSAN offering, targeting enterprise hybrid clouds and seeking to avoid the compute sticker shock.

VMware is decoupling storage from compute through a new vSAN offering, a shift in strategy for the hyperconverged infrastructure vendor.

The new VMware vSAN Max disaggregates storage from the vSphere computing platform, which enables VMware Cloud customers to scale storage separately from compute and eliminates a common cost center for enterprises.

The vSAN Max offering, unveiled Tuesday at VMware Explore, expands the potential uses for vSAN in hybrid data centers, according to Sid Nag, an analyst at Gartner. VMware's willingness to deviate from the monolithic infrastructure it has traditionally sold will enable the company to maintain relevance, he said, especially among customers turning to born-in-the-cloud technologies such as Kubernetes container applications.

"It's a very cooperative world all of a sudden," Nag said. "It's the multi-cloud analogy. Customers have varying technology from varying providers, and they want a way to bridge all that. If you don't do that, you lose business."

VMware also added new features to its Ransomware Recovery managed service, which formally debuted last summer.

Maximizing vSAN capacity

At last year's VMware Explore, the vendor debuted vSAN Express Storage Architecture (ESA) alongside its vSAN 8 update. The ESA feature optimized the vSAN architecture for NVMe-based triple-level cell flash memory, which has become common in on-premises hardware and the public cloud.

VMware vSAN Max builds off ESA by not only decoupling storage from compute, but also adding support for up to 8.6 petabytes of storage per cluster. It targets analytics and AI workloads, according to VMware, enabling storage to expand without increasing compute costs.

The vSAN Max offering will be sold as a standalone subscription service and priced per tebibyte, according to the company.

Providing a more flexible storage service might have been influenced by Broadcom's $61 billion acquisition last year, according to Mike Matchett, an analyst and founder of Small World Big Data. Broadcom is likely looking to expand VMware's data center relevance as customers consider cloud services to store data and run applications.

"The storage should run in all those locations and be as fluid as those apps could be," Matchett said. "VMware is probably saying, 'We could be delivering value [to our customers] more as a service.'"

Virtualized recovery by VMware

At Explore, VMware also unveiled four new capabilities for its Ransomware Recovery managed service to be rolled out in the coming months. These build off the service's existing features such as guided restore point selections, snapshot scanning and a managed isolated recovery environment available on demand.

New capabilities available today include concurrent, multiple VM recovery operations to expedite recoveries, as well as protection for Google Cloud VMware Engine VMs. The service previously offered support from VMware Cloud and VMware Cloud on AWS.

VMware is releasing a new cybersecurity storage feature into a technology preview, which will enable customers to create a digital air gap for snapshots.

Expected to be available before the end of 2023, VMware will enable customers to run production workloads within VMware Cloud during the recovery process.

Recovery capabilities such as these are typically sold by third parties as a service or as individual purchases, but providing a managed bundle can reduce operational headaches for customers, according to Krista Macomber, an analyst at Futurum Group.

"It saves the customer from having to procure those [services separately]," Macomber said. "While we might not think of VMware as a data protection vendor, there's certain cases that fall within their protection."

Tim McCarthy is a journalist from the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.

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