The primary building block for VxRail is the individual node. A collection of nodes are then used to form a VxRail cluster and placed under a single point of management. The nodes can be customized with specific components to support different VxRail cluster types based on business and operational requirements.
The VxRail nodes can be customized to provide all the physical compute, network, and storage resources for the cluster. This is accomplished by using the local disk drives on each node to form a vSAN data store as the primary storage resource for application workload. Alternatively, the nodes can be customized without local disk drives to instead use external data center resources for primary storage.
Cluster with VMware vSAN storage
One type of VxRail cluster is one where the VxRail nodes provide all the physical compute and storage resources to support application workload, and the primary storage resource is VMware vSphere vSAN. For this cluster type, the slots in the nodes are filled with disk drives that meet the performance and capacity requirements for the application workload, and are then formed into a local VMware vSAN data store during the cluster initialization process.
- With a local VMware vSAN data store, operational flexibility can be realized to address scalability and high availability requirements.
- This cluster type is simple to deploy and operate. The initialization process performs all the work to pool all the node resources for ease of consumption.
- This cluster type is not dependent on external resources for storage, so all resources can be administered under a single point of management.
- Additional compute and storage resources can be expanded easily to the cluster through automated node and disk drive addition.
- External storage resources can be configured on the cluster as secondary storage capacity.
- This cluster type may be cost-prohibitive for smaller business requirements. Light workloads, such as those in a remote office, may be a better fit for a two-node cluster or a satellite node.
- This cluster type is located in a single site. It offers support for continuous operations from a failure of components within the cluster, but does not offer zero-downtime protection from a failure of a single data center or site. A stretched VxRail cluster is a better solution for very high availability requirements.
Expansion of a cluster through node addition can potentially lead to stranded assets, where excess compute and storage resources cannot be shared outside of the cluster. For workloads which require a more precise balance of compute and storage resources, a dynamic cluster may be a better fit.
VxRail supports two different vSAN architectures. The first architecture is known as the Original vSAN Architecture and the second architecture is referred to as the Express vSAN Architecture.