Virtual Volumes (VVOLs) On Horizon to Deliver Software Defined Storage for vSphere

By Suzette Pereira-Beardsley, Solutions Marketing Manager, VMware Solutions

While virtualization has provided many efficiency and cost saving benefits, it has also created challenges with storage management by creating an abstraction layer on top of the virtual disks. This layer pushes storage management to the datastore level and all vdisks are treated the same within that datastore. There is no ability to provide granular virtual machine (VM) management.

VMware set out to remedy this issue with Virtual Volumes, or VVOLs for short.  VVOLs are setting the stage to fundamentally change how storages arrays manage VMware virtual machines (VMs).  In simple terms, VVOLs provides granular VM management, allowing VMs to be individually configured.  Storage operations for a VM will be offloaded from the esxi host to the storage array. Now, key storage services, such as snapshots, quality of service, and disaster recovery  (replication and recovery) can all be defined and applied by the storage array.  

VVOLs are a true manifestation of software-defined storage.  With VVOLs, a storage level objective (SLO) is defined and a profile created (see image above).  Those of you familiar with this technology may be wondering what role vSPhere storage APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA) will play.  Today, VASA collects information on storage topology, capability and state and passes this information from onto the vCenter. However, the passing of the information of is a one-way street and vCenter does not send any information back. With VVOLs, information sent via VASA will allow vCenter to evaluate all the profiles and pick the SLO that fits the VM needs.   Now you can easily provision VMs using the storage profiles that were previously created. The VM admin selects the profile that matches the  storage requirements and then vCenter asks VASA to create the virtual disks (VVOLs) and voila a VM has been provisioned.  VVOLs take it a step furthers by always checking to ensure the profiles are in compliance. In the event they are not, an alert is provided to the admin and the reason for the out of compliance. 

VVOLs bring new levels of automation and scalability to VM provisioning that drastically improve simplicity and efficiency. VVOLs are not available today, but if you are interested in seeing it in action, you can join the VMware NetApp VVOL beta program.   NetApp is a key design partner for vVols, and has been working hard with VMware to deliver an integrated solution that delivers on the vision. 

Please click here to access the Virtual Volumes Beta Program Community and instructions on how to join the program.