I first wrote about vSAN and Encryption here: Virtual SAN and Data-At-Rest Encryption
And then again here: vSAN and Data-At-Rest Encryption – Rebooted (i.e. Part 2)
And then vSAN Encryption went live in vSAN 6.6 announced here: vSAN 6.6 – Native Data-at-Rest Encryption
Today I was asked if vSAN supports Self Encrypting Drives (SED). The answer is No. The vSAN product team looked at SEDs but there are too few choices, they are too expensive, and they increase the operational burden.
vSAN only supports vSAN Encryption, VM Encryption, or other 3rd party VM encryption solutions like HyTrust DataControl.
vSAN is Software Defined Storage so the product team decided to focus on software-based encryption to allow vSAN to support data at rest encryption (D@RE) on any storage device that exists today or will come in the future. When vSAN went live supporting Intel Optane, this new flash device was immediately capable of D@RE. The vSAN Encryption operational model is simple. Just click a check box to enable it on the vSAN datastore and point to a Key Management Server. One encryption key to manage for the entire vSAN datastore. The additional benefits of vSAN Encryption is that it supports vSAN Dedupe and Compression and vSAN 6.7 encryption has achieved FIPS 140-2 validation.
Another choice is to leverage VMware’s VM Encryption described here: What’s new in vSphere 6.5: Security
This is per VM encryption, so you point vCenter to a Key Management Server and then enable encryption per VM via policy. This flexibility allows some VM’s to be encrypted and some not to be. And, if the VM is migrated to another vSphere cluster or to VMware Cloud on AWS, the encryption and key management follows the VM. This requires the administrator to manage a key per VM, and because the encryption happens immediately as the write leaves the VM and goes through the VAIO filter, no storage system will be able to dedupe the VM’s data since each block is unique.
Finally, there are various 3rd party per VM encryption solutions on the market that vSAN would also support. For instance, HyTrust Datacontrol.
I hope this helps clear up what options there are for vSAN encryption and the various tradeoffs.
2 thoughts on “vSAN and Data-At-Rest Encryption – Why SED’s are not Supported (i.e. Part 3)”
I can’t find anything on the VMware site that corroborates this statement. “Today I was asked if vSAN supports Self Encrypting Drives (SED). The answer is No. The vSAN product team looked at SEDs but there are too few choices, they are too expensive, and they increase the operational burden.” The statement makes sense to me, but can you post a supporting link?
The VMware Compatibility Guide for vSAN only lists certified components. It does not list components that are not certified. I wrote this blog post so that people would know that SED’s are not supported and the blog post details why.
The VMware Compatibility Guide for vSAN: https://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php?deviceCategory=vsan
If you scroll down and click the link to: “Build Your Own based on Certified Components.” then you’ll see a list of certified HDD’s and SSD’s. There won’t be any SED’s on the list.