In vSphere 5.0, VMware has released a new storage appliance called VSA. VSA is an acronym for “vSphere Storage Appliance”. This appliance is aimed at our SMB (Small-Medium Business) customers who may not be in a position to purchase a SAN or NAS array for their virtual infrastructure, and therefore do not have shared storage. Without access to a SAN or NAS array, SMB customers are unable to implement many of vSphere’s core technologies, such as vSphere HA & vMotion. Customers who decide to deploy a VSA can now benefit from many additional vSphere features without having to purchase a SAN or NAS device to provide them with shared storage.
Each ESXi server has a VSA deployed to it as a Virtual Machine.The appliances use the available space on the local disk(s) of the ESXi servers & present one replicated NFS volume per ESXi server. This replication of storage makes the VSA very resilient to failures. The NFS datastores exported from the VSA can now be used as shared storage on all of the ESXi servers in the same datacenter. The VSA creates shared storage out of local storage for use by a specific set of hosts. This means that vSphere HA & vMotion can now be made available on low-end (SMB) configurations, without external SAN or NAS servers.
There is a CAPEX saving achieved by SMB customers as there is no longer a need to purchase a dedicated SAN or NAS devices to achieve shared storage.There is also an OPEX saving as the management of the VSA may be done by the vSphere Administrator and there is no need for dedicated SAN skills to manage the appliances. The installation & configuration is also much simpler than that of a physical storage array or other storage appliances.
Link to the VSA Installation Demo