Know your storage options and designs with Oracle Cloud VMware Solution

March 27, 2023 | 12 minute read
Dev Gawale
Cloud Solutions Architect
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Oracle Cloud VMware Solution provides a flexible, scalable, and customer-managed native VMware-based cloud environment installed within a customer’s tenancy. It offers you complete control using familiar VMware tools previously used on-premises. For a seamless migration, you can move or extend your VMware workloads to the cloud without rearchitecting applications or retooling operations.

Enterprises today have workloads with varying storage requirements, so understanding the storage options available with Oracle Cloud VMware Solution and how it can solve the common requirements of business-critical applications is vital. The Oracle Cloud VMware Solution is a service native to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) that offers flexibility to seamlessly integrate with other various OCI storage services. However, understanding the storage profiles of each application workload is important. Each workload has different storage availability, performance, and cost requirement.

The following list provides storage options and design choices relevant to Oracle Cloud VMware Solution:

  • Native VMware vSAN Storage

  • OCI Block Storage for Oracle Cloud VMware Solution

  • OCI File Storage service for Oracle Cloud VMware Solution

  • vSAN File Share for Oracle Cloud VMware Solution software-defined data center (SDDC) workloads

  • OCI Object Storage Service for Oracle Cloud VMware Solution.

This post summarizes the different storage options that you can use with Oracle Cloud VMware Solution. Learn about the different storage options that Oracle Cloud VMware Solution offers to meet enterprise application demands and how they best align with your organization's business goals.

Native VMware vSAN storage

Oracle Cloud VMware Solution uses OCI bare metal DensIO servers to build the Oracle Cloud VMware Solution SDDC environment. This powerful physical hardware is hyper converged infrastructure (HCI)-certified to run vSAN software-defined storage solutions. vSAN delivers the core storage platform and acts as primary storage for Oracle Cloud VMware Solution management virtual machines (VMs) and mission-critical workload VMs.

The vSAN is an out-of-the-box, consistent, and highly performant storage architecture that uses the NVMe drives from each bare metal DensIO to provide the enterprise storage solution for your workloads. vSAN pools storage from each OCI bare metal instance joined to the cluster into a single distributed datastore, referred to as vsanDatastore. No separation exists between management components and workload VMs for storage placement.

This approach reduces the complexity and time-to-value by supporting the easy lift and shift of the VMs without rearchitecting the storage layer.

Oracle Cloud VMware Solution offers you full administrative control to configure vSAN storage policies for the varying performance and availability requirements of your application. You can also securely encrypt your VM data at-rest and in-transit using native vSphere KMS or external provider.

With Oracle Cloud VMware Solution, you can choose to deploy the various configuration for compute and storage resources. The OCI bare metal instances for Oracle Cloud VMware Solution utilize the Compute shapes to run the VMware SDDC.

Oracle Cloud VMware Solution three-node cluster

Shapes

Intel 52

AMD 32

AMD 64

AMD 128

Total OCPU

156

96

192

384

Total memory (GB)

2304

6144

6144

6144

Total vSAN storage (TB)

122.2

129.8

129.8

129.8

The following image illustrates the high-level architecture of vSAN with Oracle Cloud VMware Solution.

A graphic depicting the architecture for using vSAN with Oracle Cloud VMware Solution.

With HCI, the compute and storage are tightly coupled in the same hardware, allowing you to have vSAN native storage capabilities. However, you can only scale the storage by adding hosts. This solution might not be suitable if the compute resources are low in consumption and incur higher costs to meet the storage demands. With Oracle Cloud VMware Solution, you can scale the SDDC from three nodes up to 64 hosts.

Let’s look at the alternative options to integrate external storage and solve the scaling issue that causes the higher total cost of ownership (TCO).

OCI Block Storage for Oracle Cloud VMware Solution

The OCI Block Volume service lets you dynamically provision and manage block storage volumes. You can create, attach, connect, and move volumes and change volume performance as needed to meet your storage, performance, and application requirements.

Block volumes are tied to the availability domain in the OCI region and therefore the Oracle Cloud VMware Solution. OCI Block Volume provides highly redundant and high-performance storage for Oracle Cloud VMware Solution as one of the external storage options. The block volume is iSCSI-backed storage and supports VMFS mounting of a datastore to the Oracle Cloud VMware Solution environment using native VMware software iSCSI adapter.

Block volume performance includes the concept of volume performance units (VPU). You can purchase more VPUs to allocate more resources to a volume. You can also choose not to purchase any VPUs which can provide significant cost savings for volumes that don’t require the increased performance characteristics. You can also set the block volume performance in autotune mode, which adjusts the volume’s performance automatically between the VPUs specified for default and maximum VPUs/GB. Underpinned by OCI Block Volume, the VMware datastore can use these dynamic performance capabilities, which eventually lowers the overall TCO for the storage-intensive workloads with Oracle Cloud VMware Solution.

A graphic depicting the architecture for integrating Oracle Cloud VMware solution with OCI Block Storage.

The target volume performance of the block volume can be categorized into Balanced, High Performance, and Ultra High performance to offer varying performance characteristics required for your SDDC workloads. You can scale the VPUs from 0–120 VPUs per GB.

A screenshot of the Target Volume Performance section in the Oracle Cloud Console, showing the adjustment of the VPU.

Oracle uses commercially reasonable efforts to make OCI Block Volume available with a monthly uptime percentage of at least 99.99% during any calendar month. However, you can also choose to replicate these block volumes across the availability domain and across the regions to protect your VMware workloads from availability domain and region-level failures. You can also clone the block volumes to back up your VMware SDDC VMs.

From the security perspective, you can use OCI-native KMS and secrets to encrypt the VM data hosted on the iSCSI datastore backed by OCI Block Volume. The option to integrate external storage with native vSAN storage addresses the linear scaling issue and lowers the TCO.

You can use OCI Block Storage with Oracle Cloud VMware Solution for the following use cases:

  • Expand the storage for your VMware SDDC without adding physical hardware

  • Disaster recovery for your Oracle Cloud VMware Solution environment across the OCI regions or across the availability domain (Applicable only for multi-availability domain regions)

  • Cold backups or storage repository options for the backup software to store VMware VM backup files

  • Persistent and durable storage for VMware environment that can scale instantly

Consider the following important information:

  • OCI block volumes are created at the availability domain level and must be created in the same availability domain where Oracle Cloud VMware Solution is deployed.

  • The minimum block volume size is 50 GB, and the maximum is 32 TB.

  • You can create 32 volumes of 32 TB each per availability domain.

  • For ESXi, the only supported method of volume attachment is iSCSI. Paravirtualized attachment is not supported.

  • You can use OCI native keys for encrypting your VM data or can bring your own keys.

OCI File Storage service for Oracle Cloud VMware Solution

The OCI File Storage service provides a durable, scalable, secure, enterprise-grade network file system. You can connect to a File Storage file system from the ESXi host in your virtual cloud network (VCN) where the Oracle Cloud VMware Solution is deployed. You can also access a file system outside the VCN using dynamic routing gateway (DRG) routing.

The Oracle Cloud VMware Solution can use OCI File Storage as a high-performance shared storage option. Storage provisioning is fully managed and automatic. You can scale the file storage from a single byte to exabytes without upfront provisioning.

OCI File Storage supports the Network File System version 3.0 (NFSv3) protocol, and you can mount it as an NFS datastore for your Oracle Cloud VMware Solution environment. This option enables VMware solutions to scale the storage layer of your SDDC without needing to add new compute resources.

You can also use File Storage replication feature, which allows you to replicate your VMware SDDC NFS datastores underpinned by the OCI File Storage system to target file systems in a different availability domain. These targets can exist across multiple availability domains within a region or across different regions in your OCI tenancy.

A graphic depicting the architecture for integrating Oracle Cloud VMware solution with OCI File Storage.

You can use OCI File Storage with Oracle Cloud VMware Solution for the following use cases and benefits:

  • Shared file storage for more scaling and capacity outside of vSAN storage

  • Resiliency against failures in the form of more storage outside of vSAN

  • Lift and shift of VMware applications

  • Backup across the VMware SDDC to shared Oracle storage services

  • Storing structured or unstructured data for big data and analytics

  • More data stores for testing and development purposes

  • Backup storage repository for backup software to store the backup of the VM

vSAN file storage for Oracle Cloud VMware Solution SDDC workloads

If you don’t want to decouple the NFS from vSAN because of the flexibility to offer server message block (SMB) and NFS file share options with the same underlying fast performance storage, you can provide your workloads direct access to file storage without requiring using the external file storage system.

A graphic depicting the architecture for integrating Oracle Cloud VMware solution with vSAN File Share

Use the vSAN File Service to create file shares in the vSAN datastore that client workstations or VMs can access. Any device with access rights can access the data stored in a file share.

vSAN File Service is a layer that sits on top of vSAN to provide file shares. It currently supports SMB, NFSv3, and NFSv4. You can choose between vSAN file share and OCI File Storage to offer a shared file system to your workloads. However, with the vSAN file share, you’re consuming the same underlying capacity of the vSAN storage.

You can use vSAN File Share with Oracle Cloud VMware Solution for the following use cases and benefits:

  • SDDC workloads that require SMB and NFS file shares

  • VDI desktops running in the VMware SDDC requiring a shared file system

  • High-performance file system without any extra cost of providing external file storage system

OCI Object Storage for Oracle Cloud VMware Solution

The OCI Object Storage service is an internet-scale, high-performance storage platform that offers reliable and cost-efficient data durability. OCI Object Storage can store an unlimited amount of unstructured data of any content type, including analytic data and rich content, like images and videos.

With Object Storage, you can safely and securely store or retrieve data directly from the internet or from within the cloud platform.

A graphic depicting the architecture for integrating Oracle Cloud VMware solution with OCI Object Storage.

You can use OCI Object storage in many ways with Oracle Cloud VMware Solution. You can store SDDC workload data in the form of backups and archival copies and use it for your data analytics applications running in the SDDC.

You can use replication to protect your backup and archival data from regional outages offering data redundancy in the cloud. OCI Object storage is an S3-compatible storage in the cloud that offers deep integrations with the most used backup solutions, such as Veeam and Commvault.

You can’t directly attach Object Storage to SDDC workloads to store VM data. OCI Object storage can only store the backup copies of your SDDC workloads.

OCI Object Storage retention rules provide immutable object storage options for data written to OCI Object Storage for data governance, regulatory compliance, and legal requirements. Retention rules can also protect your data from the accidental or malicious update, overwrite, or deletion. The immutable capability of the OCI Object Storage is a key to fight against the ransomware attacks on compromised data.

SDDC workloads can securely access the OCI Object Storage buckets through a service gateway. The workloads can use NAT and internet gateways for accessing the Object Storage bucket over the internet.

You can use OCI Object Storage for Oracle Cloud VMware Solution for the following use cases and benefits:

  • Immutable storage to prevent ransomware attacks on SDDC workloads

  • OCI Object Storage as a remote cloud storage repository to store backup data of an on-premises VMware workloads

  • Cold disaster recovery in the cloud for your VMware estate running on-premises

  • Cold migration of your VMware estate from on-premises data center

  • Local backup repository target for the Oracle Cloud VMware Solution SDDC workloads

  • Third-party backup solutions for VMware and nonVMware workloads that support S3-compatible storage

Conclusion

This blog post summarizes the various storage options and design considerations with Oracle Cloud VMware Solution. Oracle Cloud VMware Solution offers architecture flexibility to integrate with OCI native storage services to satisfy application demands that require enterprise-grade storage capabilities in OCI.

Customers must understand the design considerations when choosing the right storage option for their SDDC workloads, and this blog helps to introduce the various storage options you have when running VMware workloads on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

You can select and combine these solutions to provide cost optimization, workload efficiency, elasticity, and performance for your business-critical applications by avoiding excessive costs on the storage system.

Want to know more ?

For more information on the concepts in this blog post and solutions from Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, see the following resources:

Dev Gawale

Cloud Solutions Architect


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