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How do VSAN compatibility issues affect performance?

Effective VSAN performance requires compatible hardware and software. Review compatibility guides and use diagnostic tools to keep your system updated.

Virtual storage area networks offer powerful, software-defined storage features, but VSAN compatibility issues can limit performance and availability if it is not monitored.

Virtual storage area networks (VSANs) can pool and tier distributed storage resources, automatically provision VM storage through policies, and even scale storage capacity and performance dynamically. The performance and availability of these features can often suffer from compatibility issues due to complex dependencies.

A VSAN is an amalgam of hardware, firmware and software components assembled to deliver a series of powerful storage services. An enterprise service or application depends on certain underlying hardware, software and other infrastructure for proper operation.

This is also true for VSAN software -- such as VMware vSAN. If any of the underlying or associated dependencies are incompatible or not functioning properly, the VSAN might perform poorly or fail outright.

VSAN compatibility problems are commonplace, especially in heterogeneous data center infrastructures in which diverse hardware and software elements routinely require patches or upgrades without a thorough consideration of dependencies.

For example, a new storage driver can cause performance and availability problems if it isn't fully compatible with the VSAN platform. As another example, the VSAN platform might itself require updates or patches. If those changes also alter the VSAN compatibility requirements or dependencies, the platform might experience performance or availability problems until it can meet the changed compatibility requirements.

VSAN functionality relies on thorough maintenance

Make sure that network configurations problems aren't damaging the performance or availability of your VSAN. Use monitoring tools and update relevant drives to make sure your connections are functional. Keep an eye out for security products too, which can block necessary connections if the right settings aren't in place.

The complexity of VSAN's dependencies means that performance issues might extend beyond either compatibility issues or network problems. To achieve the product's full potential, perform thorough checks that take into account the dependencies between a VSAN and its associated VMs or else problems in the former will create performance issues in the latter.

Diagnose VSAN compatibility issues

It's difficult to determine the degree to which hardware or software compatibility might affect the performance and availability of a VSAN. The exact problems often depend on the location and severity of the incompatibility. From a production standpoint, however, the existence of any incompatibility that poses VSAN problems is a serious issue and will require immediate resolution.

It's difficult to determine the degree to which hardware or software compatibility might affect the performance and availability of a VSAN.

There are several ways to identify and address VSAN compatibility problems. First, always review the compatibility requirements of a VSAN release -- such as VMware vSAN 6.6 -- before deploying the platform in production. Even a minor point update might change the VSAN compatibility requirements, which might require a new underlying driver or firmware version.

VSAN vendors typically provide compatibility information in a compatibility guide. If there is any confusion or ambiguity, contact the VSAN vendor for detailed support and guidance.

In many cases, the VSAN might provide an internal diagnostic, which can help you verify the compatibility of hardware components, drivers and firmware with the VSAN platform. For example, VMware vSAN provides the vSAN Health Service, which checks components against the VMware Compatibility Guide.

Health checks not only examine VSAN compatibility with hardware, but also verify the network configuration, VSAN configuration, storage device operation and VMs. You can use the health check to monitor components, flag issues and troubleshoot possible problems.

This was last published in June 2018

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