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Are VMware VVOL's in your virtual server and storage I/O future?

Are VMware VVOL's in your virtual server and storage I/O future?

By Greg Schulz

VMworld 2014

Note that this is a three part series with the first piece here (e.g. Are VMware VVOL's in your virtual server and storage I/O future?), the second piece here (e.g. VMware VVOL's and storage I/O fundamentals Part 1) and the third piece here (e.g. VMware VVOL's and storage I/O fundamentals Part 2).

With VMworld 2014 just around the corner, for some of you the question is not if Virtual Volumes (VVOL's) are in your future, rather when, where, how and with what.

What this means is that for some hands on beta testing is already occurring or will be soon, while for others that might be around the corner or down the road.

VMware vSphere beta

Some of you may already be participating in the VMware beta of VVOL involving one of the first storage vendors also in the beta program.

VMware vvol beta

On the other hand, some of you may not be in VMware centric environments and thus VVOL's may not yet be in your vocabulary.

How do you know if VVOL are in your future if you don't know what they are?

First, to be clear, as of the time this was written VMware VVOL's are not released and only in beta as well as having been covered in earlier VMworld's. Consequently what you are going to read here is based on what VVOL material has already been made public in various venues including earlier VMworld's and VMware blogs among other places.

The quick synopsis of VMware VVOL's overview:

  • Higher level of abstraction of storage vs. traditional SCSI LUN's or NAS NFS mount points
  • Tighter level of integration and awareness between VMware hypervisors (guests and management) and storage systems
  • Simplified management for both storage and virtualization administrators removing complexity to support increased scaling
  • Enable automation and service managed aka software defined storage management across application and storage tiers
  • VVOL considerations and your future

    As mentioned, as of this writing, VVOL's are still a future item granted they exist in beta.

    For those of you in VMware environments, now is the time to add VVOL to your vocabulary which might mean simply taking the time to read a piece like this, or digging deeper into the theories of operations, configuration, usage, hints and tips, tutorials along with vendor specific implementations.

    Explore your options, and ask yourself, do you want VVOL or do you need it

    What support does your current vendor(s) have for VVOL or what is their statement of direction (SOD) which you might have to get from them under NDA.

    This means that there will be some first vendors with some of their products supporting VVOL's with more vendors and products following (hence watch for many statements of direction announcements).

    Speaking of vendors, watch for a growing list of vendors to announce their current or plans for supporting VVOL's, not to mention watch some of them jump up and down like Donkey in Shrek saying "oh oh pick me pick me".

    Vendors saying pick me like donkey on shrek

    When you ask a vendor if they support VVOL's, move beyond the simple yes or no, ask which of their specific products, it is a block (e.g. iSCSI) or NAS file (e.g. NFS) based and other caveats or configuration options.

    Watch for more information about VVOL's in the weeks and months to come both from VMware along with from their storage provider partners.

    How will VVOL impact your organizations best practices, policies, workflow's including who does what, along with associated responsibilities.

    Where to learn more

    Check out the companion piece to this that takes a closer look at storage I/O and VMware VVOL fundamentals here and here.

    Also check out this good VMware blog via (@CormacJHogan) that includes a video demo, granted its from 2012, however some of this stuff actually does take time and thus this is very timely. Speaking of VMware, Duncan Epping (aka @DuncanYB) at his Yellow-Bricks site has some good posts to check out as well with links to others including this here. Also check out the various VVOL related sessions at VMworld as well as the many existing, and soon to be many more blogs, articles and videos you can find via Google. And if you need a refresher, Why VASA is important to have in your VMware CASA.

    Of course keep an eye here or whichever venue you happen to read this for future follow-up and companion posts, and if you have not done so, sign up for the beta here as there are lots of good material including SDKs, configuration guides and more.

    VVOL Poll

    What are you VVOL plans, view results and cast your vote here

    Wrap up (for now)

    Hope you found this quick overview on VVOL's of use, since VVOL's at the time of this writing are not yet released, you will need to wait for more detailed info, or join the beta or poke around the web (for now).

    Keep an eye on and learn more about VVOL's at VMworld 2014 as well as in various other venues.

    IMHO VVOL's are or will be in your future, however the question will be is there going to be a back to the future moment for some of you with VVOL's?

    Also what VVOL questions, comments and concerns are in your future and on your mind?

    And remember to check out the second part to this series here.

    Ok, nuff said (for now)

    Cheers gs

    Greg Schulz - Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
    twitter @storageio

    All Comments, (C) and (TM) belong to their owners/posters, Other content (C) Copyright 2006-2014 StorageIO All Rights Reserved

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    More Stories By Greg Schulz

    Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

    In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.