vSphere 6.0, Awsome Virtual Volumes

Written by Mo Elamin. Posted in Blog, VMWare

Virtual Volumes (VVols) is one of the most awesome new additions to vSphere 6.0. VMware has been talking about it for a while. VVols completely change the way storage is presented, managed and consumed and certainly for the better.

Most storage vendors are on board as their software needs to be able to support VVols and they’ve been champing at the bit for VVols to be released.

VVols is all about changing the way storage is deployed, managed and consumed making the storage system VM-centric, VMware likes to use the term “making the VMDK a first class citizen in the storage world”. Personally as both a storage admin and VMware admin, this makes my life a lot easier.  

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Currently most storage is LUN-centric or volume-centric, especially when it comes to snapshots, clones and replication. VVols makes storage VM-centric, With VVol most of the data operations can be offloaded to the storage arrays. VVols goes much further and makes storage arrays aware of individual VMDK files.

To provide the management of VVols, the following concepts are being introduced:
  • Vendor Provider (VP) – management of data operations
  • Storage Containers (SC) – management of data capacity
  • Protocol Endpoints (PE) – management of access control and communications

Vendor Provider (VP)

This is a plug-in that is provided by the storage vendors. The VP uses a set of out-of-band management APIs, VASA (updated to version 2.0). The VP exports storage array capabilities and present them to vSphere through the VASA APIs.

Storage Containers (SC)

Storage containers are chunks of physical storage in which you would create and logically group VVols, these were previously would have been datastores.  SCs are based on the grouping of VMDKs onto which application specific SLAs are translated to capabilities through the VASA APIs. Protocol Endpoint (PE)

Protocol endpoints are the access points from the hosts to the storage systems, which are created by storage administrators. All paths and policies are administered by protocol endpoints. Protocol Endpoints are compliant with both FC, iSCSI and NFS. Obviously this completely changes the way storage is allocated, managed and connected to.

Policy Based Management

Most importantly, this also adds Policy Based Management which is integrated with Virtual Volumes. Policy is one of the key tenants of the SDDC. Policies are set based on application needs for capacity, performance and availability. These are capabilities that the array advertises through the VASA APIs. You define the policies you want and then assign VVols to particular policies and the external storage array automates control of where these VVols ultimately end up.

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