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VMware's new VSA and the HP P4000 LeftHand VSA

CartoonCalvin100X100.JPG By Calvin Zito, @HPStorageGuy  vmw-vexpert.jpg


Time for another VMware podcast.  Man, I am earning my 2011 vExpert this week!  The subject of this blog and podcast is VSA.  Unfortunately, VSA now has multiple meanings.  VMware introduced their vSphere Storage Appliance at their event yesterday and of course HP has had our HP P4000 LeftHand Virtual SAN Appliance for some time now - it's been shipping for over four years. 


There have already been a number of comments I saw on Twitter and press reports talking about VMware deciding to compete with HP.  Frankly, their decision to offer a low-end VSA validates what we've had with our HP LeftHand VSA.  And there really isn't much overlap between where each VSA fits.  Here are a few points of comparison:


  • HP VSA is iSCSI based; VMware is NFS.  We aren't sure what this implies yet but if we get some information we can share, I will.
  • HP VSA can be added to an existing P4000 SAN; VMware VSA is standalone.
  • HP VSA can virtualize anything on the VMware hardware compatibility list (HCL) for internal storage and also supports VSA on FC and iSCSI storage; VMware VSA only virtualizes drives inside of the server. 
  • HP VSA is extremely scalable - up to 10 nodes; VMware VSA is either 2 or 3 nodes.
  • HP VSA distributes data across all the nodes and each node adds more resources (Disk, CPU, memory, etc); VMware VSA, a volume is always hosted by only one VSA.  The HP VSA scales for performance and capacity and more IOPS.

I think it would be fair to say (my words, not VMware's) that the VMware VSA is for entry-level virtualization customers who don't have any kind of shared storage today.  The HP VSA has full SAN feature set, scale out architecture, interoperability with the HP P4000 LeftHand SAN.  If anyone from the VMware team has a different perspective, please leave a comment.


So with that background, here's the podcast.  In the podcast I talk with Ben Bolles.  Ben has been a part of the HP LeftHand team for 9 years (he knows his stuff when it comes to storage for VMware!).   



You can download the podcast by right clicking here and saving the MP3 file.  Also, as we mentioned in the podcast, you can try a full featured, 60 day trial of the P4000 VSA by going to  Give it a try and let me know what you think.


I have a couple more podcasts to share with you - one will be on the new 2TB RAM limit (that has been a hot topic since the announcement) and the other is our integration of the P9000 Application Performance eXtender with VMware.  In the flurry of all the other things we had to talk about, I forgot to talk about this in the overview podcast we did yesterday.  So come back from more VMware fun!

Labels: podcast| storage| VMware| VSA
Ron Davis | ‎07-14-2011 06:56 PM
You can't really say the HP VSA has all the features of a P4000 SAN, not until it supports Jumbo Frames. This is one feature I think we all expected to see with San/IQ 9 that just didn't materialize.
anon | ‎07-15-2011 10:11 AM

Hp Should lower VSA prices 

| ‎07-15-2011 10:37 PM

Ron - looking into it.  I've heard the issue of jumbo frames might be related to something out of our control but am checking.

Anon - as consumers, we'd all like lower pricing for what we buy.  Heck, I want lower prices too - but we think the pricing reflects the value.   And customers who buy the P4000 hardware get some number of VSA licenses included with their array. 

JK | ‎01-01-2013 03:36 PM

Calvin, with the introduction of SAN/iQ v10.0, the new pricing model and the raising of the artificial capacity limit from 2TB to 10TB....has the maximum number of nodes in a cluster been increased from the 10 that it was with v9.5 ?


I'm assuming since StoreVirtual VSA can be purchased in quantities of 15, 60 and 1000 that there is no longer an artificial cap on the number of nodes ?

| ‎01-02-2013 07:07 AM

JK - the limit for a node has been 10TB (that didn't go from 2 to 10TB with v10.0).  I also think the 10 nodes per cluster is a guideline, not a hard limit but I'll need to ask about that.  The guidelines are usually there because you avoid problems by staying within the guidelines.  We are looking at increasing the 10TB per node in a future release.

Nina Bailey | ‎02-07-2014 06:56 PM

So if the HPVSA uses local storage on each ESX host is it truely highly available?  what if one host goes down? what happens to my luns?  or is it written to both hosts and 4 TB of storage is only 2 TB presented?


I want to use this for some remote sites. but I like to be able to enter hosts in maintenance mode an move my vms over without taking VMs down.


Is this a good solution for me?

| ‎02-07-2014 10:17 PM

Hi Nina,


The HP StoreVirtual VSA uses something we call NetworkRAID - so that data is stripped across nodes.  So if there was a failure, with NetworkRAID you data would still be available.  That's actually one of the strongest value points of StoreVirtual.  We don't ever recommend using a single node because you would be at risk.  And you can expand to more than 10 nodes and use a NetworkRAID 5 as an example so you get better utilization. 


It could be a great solution for you - but it really depends on all your requirements.  Hope that helps!

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