VAAI and VSA: The Benefits are Real
There have been some interesting tweets and conversations about the benefits and advantages of VAAI (vStorage API for Array Integration) when using a VSA (Virtual Storage Appliance). VAAI allows for the offload of functions to the storage layer to relieve the hypervisor of the load when performing those actions.
Using VAAI will let these features and function become faster and more efficient because the storage hardware, or virtual hardware, has proprietary advantages or traditional storage processes handled directly by the native storage capabilities of vSphere.
Can a VSA Still Get the Benefits of VAAI?
This question was raised by Josh Odgers in a recent post that gives some very good insight into what it is that is happening during VAAI offload to the storage. Using Nutanix as an example, Josh clearly illustrates what is happening under the covers there, but luckily he doesn’t just stop there.
As noted in the article, there are also similar efficiencies that can be gained with VSA installations such as the NetApp OnTap Edge. Whether you use the NetApp solution, or others such as VMware’s own VSA, for shared storage, you can most certainly get the bonus features that are provided by VAAI.
Many smaller installations are leveraging Virtual Storage Appliances in order to leverage local storage, but then share to other hosts to add some redundancy to the vSphere environment. While there are still single points of failure in this scenario, there are enhancements for the VM workloads now such as host-level DRS and HA (High Availability) that come with vSphere when paired with vCenter for management.
We will see more hardware storage companies producing VSA equivalents in the time ahead, and the prime reason for that is the ability to use similar features on both hardware and software storage levels. This will mean that your storage can look identical to your virtualized workload whether it is on premises, in a cloud deployment, or when using a single storage server, but acting as a shared storage for multiple hosts.
It is important to know what the feature set is with VAAI, and why it is beneficial, so for that I highly recommend that you read Josh’s great blog article and see for yourself how VSA and VAAI can play very nicely together.