By Calvin Zito, @HPStorageGuy
Last year at VMworld, VMware did an NDA technology preview for partners about their vision for the future of storage - something they called vVols (virtual volumes). While VMware is allowing partners working with them to talk about it and demonstrate early functionality, I want to be clear - this is still a technology preview and neither VMware nor HP is making any commitments on delivering this. So with that disclosure, let me tell you a bit about what it is.
Intro to VMware vVol
For awhile now, HP Storage has been working with VMware as a design partner to define and develop a VM-granular storage architecture to potentially replace vSphere’s VMFS/datastore model. This new model is called VMware Virtual Volumes (vVols). Virtual Volumes introduces a 1:1 mapping of VMs (more specifically VMDKs or VM LUNs) to storage volumes—in other words, each VM will be associated with its own, unique storage volume. With vVols we could finally have the VMDK representation in vSphere match the representation on storage.
As a result, the storage system could now have the ability to operate at the same level of granularity as vSphere, which means that vSphere could better leverage, and take advantage of, the native strengths and capabilities of modern, intelligent storage arrays, like HP 3PAR.
Again, I want to be clear that this is a possible future technology from VMware. Essentially, vVols could replace VMFS as we know it today and the concept of datastore. The key thing is that a vVol allows for per-VM data services on the storage array and vSphere hosts. Data services that inherently run more efficiently on intelligent storage, which owns and stores all of our critical data, could include:
- and more
I think the big thing VMware and storage partners like HP want to overcome is the inefficiencies and the challenges that exist today as a result of working at the LUN or volume level with vSphere. Despite all the advances that have been made, when a VM and VMDK is the unit of data management, a LUN is too coarse to gain the efficiency and flexibility customers need. The granularity mismatch between vSphere and storage systems needs to be resolved. Enter vVols.
What are the benefits
Here's a summary of what vVols will do:
- Enables VMware to offload per VMDK-level operations to storage systems
- Enables storage systems to provide data services to individual applications and VM’s
- Enables application profile-based provisioning, monitoring and management of VM Volumes via vSphere and VASA
- Levels the playing field in how storage is deployed, regardless of protocol -- with vVols, storage systems create and manage VMDK objects the same way regardless of the protocol frontend (FC, iSCSI, NFS) that is used to export said objects
Seeing is believing
What better way to help you see all this but to share a video demo, so here's a demo showing several things using vVols and HP 3PAR:
- Create virtual volume VM on HP 3PAR
- Clone a virtual volume VM
- Create virtual volume VM snapshot (array-based
- Recover a virtual volume VM from a 3PAR snapshot
- Delete the virtual volume VM snapshot
Here's the video
What do you think about the VMware vVols? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
UPDATE: I'm trying a new communication format - the ATSB eBook. My first one includes screen shots of the vVol demo that I have on video. Check it out and expect more of these in the future.