vSAN or VSA – Which is better or both are good?

Charlotte Miller

vSAN or VSA – Which is better or both are good?

VSphere Storage Appliance (or the VSA) allowed organizations to share storage capabilities without investing in shared hardware infrastructure. This allowed the small environments to share storage without any complexities and budget.

At the same time, vSAN, a future release from the same vendor — VMware — allowed enterprises to move into HCI or cloud infrastructure seamlessly. These systems can support 32 nodes (vs. 3 nodes of VSA). Moreover, they required the users to use SSD to read cache (vs. VSA’s inability to support SSD maturely). 

The most significant difference between these technologies is that VSA is designed for small environments whereas the Virtual SAN is designed for enterprise or commercial environments. 

But what are the significant differences between these two technologies? Are both VSA and vSAN the same? Scroll down to find which one is better vsan or vsa. In this guide, we will discuss each storage technology individually and compare it against it at the end. 

Don’t have time? Here’s a quick comparison between the VSA and vSAN: 

vSphere Storage Appliance

vSphere Storage Appliance, otherwise known as VSA, is a technology from VMware that delivers shared storage without having to spend on the hardware. Small businesses and ROBO deployments use VSA to bring all their storage into one single system that allows them to run the applications continuously. The benefit of such a storage solution for small businesses is they do not have to deal with the complexities that come with other aspects of unified storage solutions. 

Here are the primary benefits of vSphere Storage Appliance: 

  • The deployment process is simple:

One of the main benefits of vSphere for small businesses is they can deploy the software with a few mouse clicks. There are no hardware aspects that would otherwise be known to change the organizational processes as well as the people processes. So, when it comes to small organizations there is no better solution than the VSA storage solution. 

  • Cost-effective

One another major aspect of VSA is it gives the best bang for your buck. There are no additional costs required for hardware and overall the cost will be paid with the simplified process and higher network availability. 

  • High availability 

As mentioned, VSA is all about unifying all the storage into one simple and easy-to-access storage that ensures continuous availability of the server. So, you will not have to suffer from the availability of the system. Small organizations will be able to run their processes continuously without encountering any single point of failure within the IT environment. 

  • Simplified and centralized IT environment

Bringing all the storage into one system, the admins can manage all the storage from one vCenter Server Standard instance. This provides one of the simplest ways to troubleshoot problems and manage other aspects conveniently. 

  • Storage resilience 

With over 99.99 uptime and availability, the processes will be enabled continuously. Moreover, admins can avoid a single point of failure by synchronous mirroring of data stores. 

  • Integrate with hardware-based storage solutions

Small organizations looking to integrate with hardware-based solutions can easily and without any service disruption. This allows you to increase storage whenever needed without disrupting the service. Moreover, every aspect of increasing the storage can be managed by the centralized vCenter Server Standard instance.

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Key Features of vSphere Storage Appliance

  • One of the most affordable and cost-effective shared storage solutions available out there. You can access the storage in one single cluster at a lower cost than networked external storage solutions. 
  • vSphere Storage Appliance allows the small organization to cluster up to three nodes. And this is probably one of the biggest differences between VSA and vSAN — given that vSAN allows businesses to cluster up to 32 nodes at a time. 
  • There is an installation wizard that allows businesses to deploy the software within a few mouse clicks. 
  • Organizations can scale VSA up to 16TB of usable storage.
  • A virtual appliance that allows IT admins to manage and troubleshoot problems from one vCenter Server Standard instance.

VMware Virtual SAN

VMware Virtual SAN is a scale-up solution that allows businesses to connect up to 32 nodes. Unlike VSA, Virtual SAN is specifically designed for enterprises and large organizations. The minimum number of host deployments required in the Virtual SAN is three. And as per need, organizations can scale this up to third-two nodes. This means this can assemble a large cluster of data and bring all of these into one storage solution for easy operations. 

Meanwhile, there is SSD caching. This means you can expect high performance and intelligent data performance.

Aside from this big difference, everything else remains similar between Virtual SAN and VSA. You will also find the vCenter-integrated management interface. 

Which is better — VSA or Virtual SAN?

It all comes down to the organization’s size and needs. If your organization is a small one — then VSA is the most affordable and cost-effective solution out there. Of course, the technology is old. For instance, the VSA does not support SSD caching. In fact, it is quite immature when it comes to SSD storage solutions. On the other hand, Virtual SAN is suitable for big organizations. And there is SSD caching. Plus, organizations can scale their needs as much as they want and can connect up to 32 nodes. 


VMware’s Virtual SAN received immediate attention from the business world even in the beta phase. When VMware announced Virtual SAN,  it was technology like no other in the market. While VSA — its previous storage appliance software — supporting three nodes was not harmful in itself. Especially for vSphere’s Essentials SKU, VSA was the right fit. Nevertheless, there were also some significant challenges linked with VSA. For context — VSA systems did not support SSD — at least in a mature way.

Nevertheless, vSAN was a sophisticated storage service from VMware. At the time of its release, the service was capable of supporting eight nodes in a row. However, the service is now capable of supporting up to 32 nodes. Plus, vSAN technology required organizations to utilize SSD in their cluster for the reading cache.

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