May 02 2015

Introducing the Top vBlog 2015 Virtual Coin

The physical Top vBlog 2015 commemorative coins are being mailed out to the Top 50 winners this year. If you don’t have your coin yet you should in the next 1-2 weeks. I’ve had people ask about logos to display on their blogs so I’ve hired a graphic designer to P2V the coins for me. So available now is the official vCoin of Top vBlog 2015 so you can bling up your blog to show your readers how you ranked this year.

P2V-coins-cropYou can download the appropriate coin for your ranking here:

Top 10 – Gold vCoin:19717_vsphereland_logo_S-crop-small

Top 25 – Silver vCoin:

19717_vsphereland_logo_S2 (1)-crop-small

Top 50 – Copper vCoin:


Apr 30 2015

Upcoming webinar: Boosting Storage Performance from the Server Side

Join Infinio and the mad chief scientist from Deep Storage himself, Howard Marks for a webinar on May 7th at 10:00am PST to find out how using compute server resources to accelerate storage access can bring greater levels of storage performance and flexibility to the modern data center while simultaneously helping to keep costs under control.

The always entertaining Howard Marks has decades of knowledge and experience with storage so be sure to give this one a watch to learn more about server-side storage accelerator technology. He also has a rather unique method of simulating a storage failure which you can find all about here.


Apr 26 2015

vBlogger Spotlight: Jason Boche


Top vBlog 2015 is over but I’m still continuing my vBlogger Spotlight series to shine the spotlight on several prominent bloggers in the community to give you some insight into their experiences with blogging. Today’s spotlight is on Jason Boche, a good friend of mine from way back to the days when we were VMTN moderators together. Jason is one of the only bloggers that I know that has a full fledged data center running in his basement to power his home infrastructure services and serve as his home lab for blogging at Jason mentions VMworld 2008 were I convinced him to start blogging, here’s a pic of some of us doing the Community Roundtable podcast way back in the early days live from VMworld and also a pic of Jason after he tried to explain what vMotion is to Danica Patrick.


Jason has a fondness for cigars so if you ever run in to him at a VMware event be sure and pack a few stogies to smoke with him. So without further ado enjoy a Q&A session with Jason Boche:

What year did you start your blog?

[Jason] I started my blog in the year 2008.

What inspired you to start a blog?

[Jason] I gained a lot of knowledge and experience working with VMware products in a large corporate environment as well as in my home lab. I had also spent a lot of time sharing the knowledge that I had gained early on with others in the VMware community forums. Blogging and other forms of social media was gaining popularity as output channels for content and after a discussion with my Eric Siebert at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2008, that seemed to be the next logical step.

Describe your early blogging experiences and how you have evolved over the years?

[Jason] When I got my blog started up in my home lab, my brain was overflowing with blog articles I wanted to get out. Early on I think I was producing many blog articles on a daily basis. That eventually slowed down to a more reasonable and digestible rate but managing an enterprise datacenter with VMware and other infrastructure products still gave me plenty to write about in the coming years. Four years ago I transitioned out of a customer role and moved to the VMware partner side of the world where I work for a storage vendor. My blogging output has dropped considerably during this period. Part of this is due to the lack of operational day in day out hands on VMware products that I used to have, and part of it is due to a personal shift with more time and focus spent on my growing family. Sharing and giving back to the community what I can was and still is very rewarding but it comes with a cost which is a time component. Over the last few years my priorities have shifted from community to family. It’s evident in my blogging and my participation in other social media avenues. I haven’t given up completely, it’s just a re-balance.

What has kept you blogging over the years and not quitting at it?

[Jason] Datacenter architecture and technology is in a perpetual state of evolution and transformation. I still have plenty to learn and in turn share with others. Blogging is one of many facets of community. Community is important to me and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been wired to support others and give back which I have done in many ways throughout my lifetime. The name Jason translated from Greek literally means “healer”.

What was your best experience or fondest memory related to blogging?

[Jason] Positive feedback from others that I’ve helped them or saved their weekend in some way. I’ve been there and I know the feeling of mental and physical exhaustion and eventually overwhelming relief when a problem is solved.

Any advice for others who are new to blogging?

[Jason] Your blog therefore you are in control with your own rules. Don’t get caught up by others telling you what you should and should not do with your blog in terms of content or frequency. When a blog becomes a job, the fun and passion will be sucked right out of it. Monetization may or may not come. Don’t force it. It shouldn’t be a the primary goal if you already have a day job. Use it to cover expenses, not get rich. A genuine, friendly, and modest personality will draw readership. Be approachable but maintain boundaries for life/family balance. Blog output requires just as much or more input – continue learning and the sharing part will come easier.

Apr 25 2015

What’s inside the Config Virtual Volume (VVol) of a VM?

On a VMFS volume a VM is comprised of many files that all have different purposes, the configuration file for a VM (.vmx) is a small text file (<100KB) that contains various information about the virtual hardware configuration of the VM. With the Virtual Volumes (VVols) architecture the configuration information for a VM is stored in a different manner. Before we go there though lets take a look at how a VM is stored on VVols versus VMFS, the below picture illustrates the files that make up a VM on VMFS.


With VVols a VM is still comprised of different object types just like VMFS but many of them have been consolidated so there are fewer objects. A VM on VVols is made up of a minimum of two files, a Config VVol and a Data VVol, once a VM is powered on a Swap VVol is created to support memory over-commitment on a host which is then deleted when a VM is powered off just like with VMFS. There are additional VVols created for each snapshot that is taken of a VM as well as any memory states included with snapshots. So where did all those other files go that are part of a VM on VMFS such as log files, descriptor files, lock files, etc? They all get packing into the Config VVol.

While a config file on VMFS is quite small, with VVols it’s much larger as it’s allocated with 4GB of space by default. It’s allocated thin though so the actual size will be much smaller but it has the potential to grow as the data within it grows. Below is a screen shot from a 3PAR array that shows the Config VVol, you can see that is is provisioned thin (tpvv) and the actual physical space it consumes is around 2GB (1996MB). Also note the Swap file is fully allocated, this is necessary as the file is used for virtual RAM and it will be equal in size to the memory that is assigned to a VM (minus any memory reservations).


So what’s all in the Config VVol, the virtual hardware configuration of a VM of course but it also contains descriptor files for virtual disk and snapshots. With VMFS you always had 2 files that were created for each virtual disk, a small descriptor file and the larger data file, with VVols the Data VVol is the virtual disk and the descriptor is in the Config VVol. You also have all those individual .log files that exist for each VM on VMFS all combined into the Config VVol as well as any lock files that get created.

So there you have it, I don’t know if it’s possible to reclaim space inside a Config VVol like you can within the Data VVol using UNMAP. The max size of a Config VVol is 4GB, as most of the files are small, they probably truncate and remove log files as needed to ensure that it doesn’t exceed that size. Also all of the data inside a Config VVol is mostly text based data, I’m not sure how it’s structured inside the VVol container I’ll have to see if I can get a look inside one to find out.

Apr 24 2015

Is Your Data Replication Solution Aligned with Virtualization?

In today’s virtual world where disk-based media rules and everything is interconnected via the internet there is a very high probability that you’ll need replication for BC/DR to get your valuable VMs protected off-site to another location. Fortunately Zerto makes that simple by offering a virtual-aware, software-only, tier-one, enterprise-class replication solution purpose-built for virtual environments. Unlike traditional storage array replication which requires like brand and model storage arrays at each site to be able to replicate with each other, hypervisor based replication is storage agnostic meaning it operates above the physical storage layer at the virtual layer so it supports any type of underlying storage on each side. Another advantage of using HBR is that it allows you to replicate at the more granular VM level instead of the larger scale LUN level.


It works by using only two components, the Zerto Virtual Manager (ZVM) which is a Windows-based service that acts as the management console and can be accessed via a plug-in to vCenter, the ZVM manages all vSphere replication and keeps track of applications and information in motion in real time. The other component is the Virtual Replication Appliance (VRA) which is deployed as a virtual appliance (VM) on each host and continuously replicates data from user-selected VMs, compressing and sending that data to the remote site. The following diagram shows how Zerto Virtual Replication is deployed across sites as a DR solution:


Zerto does one thing, replication and they do that well, I’ve always admired them and thought that had a great solution. They were founded in 2010 and their product debuted shortly after that and won the Gold in the BC/DR category for the Best of VMworld awards in 2011. It also won Best of Show which means is was chosen as the best product across all the many awards categories. I noticed a quote from Jo Maitland while on Zerto’s website that essentially stated the decision was a no-brainer. As a former Best of VMworld judge myself I know that feeling well as I was involved in a similar situation in a prior year with the product I had picked as the winner in the Security category, HyTrust which also easily won Best of Show.


So if you are in the market for a great BC/DR solution, I highly encourage you to go checkout their replication solution for VMware vSphere environments. One thing to get you started is this great overview and demo video. They have a lot of great and smart folks that work at Zerto that you should follow on Twitter as well, and be sure and read this great post entitled “I am not a booth babe, Ask me a question” by Fara Hain, Zerto’s Director of Marketing.

Key Zerto folks to follow on Twitter:

Apr 24 2015

Another VVols webinar from Taneja Group featuring VMware speakers

Another VVols webinar coming up from Taneja Group who is doing a whole series of webinars on VVols, the first which was on April 2nd and I participated in was a panel discussion with several storage vendors (NetApp, HP, NexGen & Dell) giving their views and opinions on VVols. The next one on April 30th features two speakers from VMware: Juan Novella (Product Marketing Manager) and Ken Werneburg (Senior Technical Marketing Architect). It should be a good and informative session and it is the prelude to some additional Taneja deep dive webinars on VVols from individual vendors. I’ve signed on to represent HP at one which will be held in May. So click the link below and register and find out what VMware has to say about VVols.

Join us for the first in a series of fast-paced and informative 60-minute webinars, as we discuss with VMware one of the hottest topics in the datacenter: VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVol). VVol is the industry’s first solution to enable native virtual machine-awareness across a broad range of SAN/NAS arrays. VVol is packaged as a feature in nearly all VMware vSphere Editions and is being embraced by storage partners at an unprecedented rate. IT professionals, especially those involved in datacenter operations, are showing great interest in implementing VVol in their own environments.

This moderated session features Juan Novella and Ken Werneburg, VVol experts from VMware, who will discuss VVol technology, the rapidly expanding ecosystem, and the impact this game-changing capability will have in the datacenter. Attendees will be encouraged to submit their questions during the session.

Juan Novella, Product Marketing Manager – Storage; VMware
Ken Werneburg, Senior Architect – Technical Marketing; VMware


Apr 20 2015

Turn your Top vBlog 2015 coin into a medal courtesy of Nutanix

I’ve started shipping the Top vBlog 2015 coins that were custom made this year courtesy of Infinio to the Top 50 bloggers. I’m sending them out in small batches due to all the work packing them, printing labels, filling out customs forms, etc. When you receive yours you might find a something little extra in the package courtesy of Nutanix who is providing a coin holder and lanyard so you can proudly wear your coin around your neck. Just imagine how cool you would look wearing it around your house, at the grocery store, in your office or even at VMworld.

So when you receive yours in the mail, give a shout out to Nutanix and Infinio and post a picture of yourself wearing it on Twitter with the hash tag #TopvBlog2015. Bonus points for whoever has the most creative photo.



Apr 20 2015

New webinar from Infinio: Disruptive Innovations: How Storage is Changing in the Enterprise

Scott Davis from Infinio who was a special guest on the Top vBlog 2015 results show is presenting a webinar for technology geeks tomorrow, that sounds pretty cool so go sign up now! Also speaking of cool, Infinio was recently named by Gartner as one of the Cool Vendors in Storage Technologies for 2015, find out what Garnter had to say about Infinio here.

A new wave of disruptive innovations in the storage industry is shaking up familiar architectures and technologies. These innovations promise to drive down costs, simplify storage in the data center and challenge the long-established vendors and data center status quo. Hybrid Arrays are the new normal and All-Flash Arrays and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure solutions are serious contenders in the appropriate use cases.

This webinar will cover disruptive storage technologies and the solutions they are driving. You will learn about:

  • Core storage technology innovations for performance (such as PCI-e and DIMM-based Flash/SSD, and NVMe technologies) and for capacity (such as SMR (shingled) drives)
  • Mobile/cloud application influences on storage including a shift to scale-out architectures, object & cloud storage trends
  • Storage product architectures such as All-flash and Hybrid arrays, Hyper-converged Infrastructure, Software-defined storage & I/O optimization technologies
Register today to learn about disruptive storage technologies and the solutions they are driving.

Apr 16 2015

My VVols guest post on VMware’s storage blog

As I’ve been pretty involved with 3PAR support for VVols during my day job at HP, my VMware storage marketing counterpart contacted me and wanted me to write a guest post on their storage blog on implementing VVols on 3PAR. So if you are interested in that head on over there and give it a read. Thanks to Mauricio Barra and Ken Werneburg for the opportunity.


Apr 14 2015

3 new vendors added to the VMware Virtual Volumes Compatibility Guide

I posted about a month ago that only 4 vendors supported VMware Virtual Volumes (VVols) on Day 1 of the vSphere launch. Now a month later 3 more vendors have completed their certification of VVols with vSphere 6 and have been added to the VMware Hardware Compatibility Guide: NetApp, Hitachi (HDS) and Fujitsu. The following table outlines all the vendors that currently support VVols:

PartnerModelsArray TypeFW/OS Ver.FeaturesVASA Provider
HP3PAR StoreServ 7000 & 10000 StorageFiber Channel3.2.1Internal
IBMXIVFiber Channel11.5.1Multi-VC,VPHA (active-passive)External
NEC iStorage M110, M310, M510, M710Fiber Channel & iSCSI010A
SANBlaze TechnologyVirtuaLUNFiber Channel & iSCSI7.3Multi-VC,VPHA (active-active)
NetAppFAS3200, FAS6200, FAS 8000 SeriesNAS8.2.3External
Hitachi (HDS)NAS 4060, NAS 4080, NAS 4100NAS12.2.3753.08External
FujitsuETERNUS DX100 S3, DX200 S3, DX500 S3, DX600 S3, DX200 FFiber Channel & iSCSIV10

Note: be sure and check the VMware HCG for the latest information

Of the 3 new vendors, NetApp was one of the original VMware design partners of VVols, Dell was also a design partner so its odd that they have not completed certification yet. Also I had thought NetApp had said they would support VVols on all protocols and were the only vendor that supported that right now but they are currently only listed as supporting NAS at the moment.

Be sure and check out my ever growing Virtual Volumes link and information page for all the latest info from each vendor.

Apr 09 2015

Is it VVOLs or VVols?

You have to love VMware’s acronyms and trying to figure out the proper case for them. vSAN or VSAN, vMotion or VMotion, VVols or VVOLs, the only consistency VMware has with case in their acronyms in being consistently inconsistent and every acronym is subject to change (and frequently does).

So when I asked one of the VMware storage product marketing managers for VVols about the proper case for the VVOL acronym back in December when we where developing a technical paper on VVols they had decided on VVOLs so that’s what we used in all of our documentation.

Fast-forward to two  weeks ago when one of our VVols developers asked about this again as he heard it was lower-case now so I checked with Rawlinson and he confirmed that they had changed back to using lower-case VVols for the acronym. I talked to the same VVol marketing manager last week and mentioned it to him and he hadn’t heard that but after checking he confirmed that they internally agreed to use VVol instead of VVOL.


So short answer is use VVol/VVols and not VVOL/VVOLs. Also note that this is an un-official acronym as VMware prefers to spell it out in all of their official documentation. But we all know how the IT world loves acronyms so you’ll probably here it mostly referred to as VVols.


Apr 08 2015

Steve Herrod on blogging

I was digging through some old Top vBlog archives and came across the video that Steve Herrod recorded on blogging and thought I would share it. Years ago I wanted to do something special for the bloggers as part of the Top vBlog results announcement so I contacted Steve Herrod to see if he would be willing to record a short message about blogging and its importance to the community. It’s at the beginning of the Top vBlog Results show from 2010, back then we pre-recorded it and edited it before publishing it. So give it a watch to see what he has to say about blogging and watch the rest of it if you want to see myself, Simon, David and John Troyer do the countdown of the Top 25.


Apr 07 2015

Here’s your chance to help improve Top vBlog

Questions Comments Concerns Customer Support Diagram

I’ve been running the annual Top vBlog voting for the last 6 years and as the process is very time-consuming I’m always looking for ways to improve and streamline things. I was recently reading a post from Rene which had some ideas including using stats to determine who the top bloggers. I don’t really like that idea as it then becomes more like a video game to see who can get the highest score and people will do anything to get it.

There is no doubt that Top vBlog is a popularity contest but isn’t pretty much everything that we vote on in life such as the Presidency, Pro Sports All-star Teams, America’s Got Talent, etc, that’s just the nature of what voting is and that’s really OK as long as it doesn’t get out of control. If we start trying to rank things purely based on statistics you lose the most important element, what the people think and want. The fact of the matter is that the stats will mostly line up with the voting results.

When I open the voting I try to give two key pieces of guidance, first make sure bloggers understand that while this is a popularity contest the intended voters are those that work with virtualization technologies and not everyone in your office or who you are Facebook friends with. Second for voters to be fair and to take the following into account when choosing their favorite blogs: Longevity, frequency, quality and length, you can read more about those areas here.

So I probably won’t be radically changing things but I am open to suggestions to try and make things better. One suggestion that I did like from Rene was on the post counts for the year of each blog. Right now I display blogs in the voting survey alphabetically to keep them all on level ground, but I bold the previous years top 50 so they stand out. I like the idea of sorting them by number of posts so the most active bloggers are near the top and those that hardly post at all are near the bottom. Because there are so many blogs now this will help get the most active bloggers better visibility on the survey. I’ve looked around to see if that could be automated by scrapping blogs and parsing the archives to get the number of blog posts but haven’t found anything that will do that. Andreas manually did this by going to each blog so I can probably leverage some volunteers to divide and conquer and do the math for me.

As far as using other metrics like like if they wrote a book, presented at VMworld and how many people follow them on Twitter I don’t find those as being a good measuring stick to how good and popular a blogger is and it penalizes a lot of the bloggers. So if you have any suggestions put them in the comments, one crazy idea I had was to make it into NCAA Basketball play-off style with the bloggers all facing off to the make it to the Sweet 16 and then the Final Four, but while that sounds cool I don’t think that would play out well. Here are some other things I’d be interested in having feedback on:

  • Should it be open it up to selecting more than 10 blogs?
  • Should categories be optional?
  • Are there any additional categories that might be interesting?
  • Should blogs be displayed on the survey in # of posts order from most to least?
  • Any other ideas or suggestions you have!

I am also looking to implement a database-backed system instead of the current WordPress tables model which is a bear to update, this would make it more of a directory style and would be much easier to work with. I’m looking into a few options for that right now.

Sound off in the comments and look forward to hearing from you.

Apr 07 2015

So VMware Virtual Volumes (VVols) is here, when will people start using it

VVols (1)

After many years in the making VMware’s new storage architecture, Virtual Volumes (VVols) is finally available as part of vSphere 6.0. VVols certainly looks cool but does the old adage hold true, if you build it will they come? In this post I’ll take a look at some reasons why people may want to wait to begin using VVols and some reasons why they might want to start using VVols right now.

Before we begin lets address what VVols is, VMware hasn’t stated this as far as I know but VVols will replace VMFS at some point. VMware never keeps two of any big infrastructure components around as it doubles their development work. They phased out ESX a few years after ESXi was launched, they just killed off their VSA in favor of VSAN and they are still trying to get rid of the vSphere Client in favor of the Web Client, at some point I expect them to phase out the Windows based vCenter Server in favor of the VCSA. So the same will most likely hold true with VVols, at some point VMware will phase out VMFS after it matures and more people start adopting it. Further evidence of this is that VVols is included in every edition of vSphere and it is not an add-on that you only get with certain editions.

Now lets first cover some reasons why you might want to wait before using VVols:

1. No support for storage array replication yet

This is a big one especially for larger enterprises that rely on storage array replication for BC/DR. Storage replication support is not part of the current VASA 2.0 specification so SRM and vMSC are not supported with VVols, for many that’s a show stopper right there. However despite VMware not supporting storage array replication yet some vendor implementations will or do support it now so that could be a workaround but you still can’t use it with SRM or vMSC until VMware builds it into the VASA spec.

2. It’s a 1.0 storage architecture

Yeah it’s been years in the making but it’s still 1.0 and like any 1.0 product there is always growing pains which could cause some people to wait. In addition there is still some feature and compatibility support missing in VVols (i.e. replication) which could prevent some people from adopting it right away. In addition on the storage array side support for it within the array which required a lot of development work from storage vendors is essentially 1.0 as well. A few storage vendors such as HP, NetApp and Dell were design partners and have been developing support for VVols for years so expect them to have the most mature implementations.

3. Not all storage vendors have full support for it yet

There were only a handful of companies (4) that had Day 1 support for VVols in the VMware Hardware Compatibility Guide, expect this to increase as more storage vendors finish their development work and complete the VMware certifications for VVols. In addition storage vendors are still working on broadening their supported features with VVols.

4. Who will win the data center politics game

Remember how it was when you first told your network admins about vSwitches and your networking requirements for vSphere. Yeah they felt they were giving up control and probably put up a fight. The same scenario might play out with VVols, storage admins may not like the fact that they are giving up some control and may push back on it. Resistance has proven to be futile though, the vSphere admins won the networking battle and they will eventually wear down the storage admins as well. To make this easier I encourage you to keep them fully involved, explain what VVols is and how it works and how it will ultimately make their job easier and allow for a much better relationship between VMs and storage.

5. How well does it scale

I have yet to see any performance numbers to show how well VVols does as it scales and a comparison to VMFS. Will it be better than VMFS, the same or worse? I expect it to at least be on par with VMFS, possibly even better, VVols isn’t really about boosting performance over VMFS, it’s about implementing a new VM-centric storage architecture that makes the VM a unit of storage to the storage array. The same held true with RDM’s vs. VMFS, it wasn’t about performance and VMware proved they performed equally as well so I expect the same to hold trued with VVols. It would be nice to have some testing though to back this up and I’ve heard that VMware is working on it.

6. Array features must be licensed

VMware has long tried to mimic storage array features inside of vSphere such as thin provisioning, VM snapshots, Storage vMotion, Storage I/O Control and more. Using many of those features on the vSphere side will not be possible any longer with VVols as everything shifts back to the storage array. So when you take a VM snapshot it will automatically be an array snapshot, same with using thin provisioning, the array will be doing it. This is a good thing as the array is better equipped to handle these functions faster and more efficiently. However this does require you to have those features licensed on your storage array to use them. Some vendors may include these features as part of their core feature set but others may not so check to see how much they will cost.

7. When will the backup vendors get on board

VVols changes the direct to SAN backup model as you now have a Protocol Endpoint and VASA Provider to deal with. I haven’t heard of any backup vendors that support this model with VVols yet but I expect to see support coming soon. Check with your backup vendors to see where they are at with VVol support and what there plans are for it. I expect to see Veeam be one of the first to support VVols as they tend to be ahead of the pack with supporting any new vSphere features.

This may seem like a lot of reasons to discourage you from jumping in and start using VVols but fear not, despite the reasons listed above VVols does provide some great benefits and is the right storage architecture for vSphere. Just like VSAN brings Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) to the VM-level VVols does the same for shared storage. Aligning VMs directly to storage resources and having the storage array visibility to the VM-level is a very good thing to have. So lets now look at some reasons why you should start using VVols right now:

1. It’s not all or nothing with VVols

You can use VVols right along side of VMFS or NFS and you are not having to completely switch over to VVols all at once. VVols simply becomes another storage option that you can choose to put VMs on. You can easily move VMs from VMFS/NFS to VVols and back using Storage vMotion, so you can setup your Storage Container for VVols and then create or move VMs to it at your own pace.

2. Get early experience with VVols

Where you one of those last few people that made the switch from ESX to ESXi then had to struggle to learn the nuances of ESXi compared to ESX? Are you struggling with learning the vSphere Web Client? Why wait and have to learn how to use VVols when you are forced to do it as you have no other choice. Getting early experience and hands-on with VVols will get you ahead of the game and ensure you are ready when others are struggling to learn about it. You can also serve as a SME for VVols and help others learn it as well.

3. Get your disk space back!

This is big one, remember back in vSphere 5.0 when VMware introduced automatic space reclamation via UNMAP and then was forced to make it a manual process as it was causing some issues. They never did figure out how to make it an automatic process again until now, VVols is the answer. With VVols the storage array is VM-aware and knows when a VM is deleted or moved and can reclaim the disk space that it occupied right away. No more having to running a time and resource intensive process using esxcli to try and reclaim space, it’s automatic with VVols. If that wasn’t good enough on top of that UNMAP commands get passed from the guest OS to the storage array with VVols so you get even more granular space reclamation. This will ensure that you reclaim all capacity possible automatically and give you the best efficiency to maintain the smallest footprint on your storage array.

4. It’s available in all vSphere editions

Anyone can use VVols as long as your storage array supports it, there is nothing extra to license in vSphere. The setup for VVols is fairly easy as well so there is nothing stopping anyone from getting started with VVols right now.

5. Start using Storage Policy Based Management

Don’t get left out, get started using the same SPBM that VSAN users have been enjoying for the last year. SPBM allows you to define storage policies that are aligned to storage array capabilities that provide a whole new level of aligning storage array features and resources directly to VMs. SPBM allows you to pick and choose exactly what a VM should have from a storage perspective and it maintains compliance to ensure that the VM has whatever is defined in the storage policy. This is a powerful capability that VMware has put a lot of development effort in to make sure VMs have the best possible alignment with storage resources and that you can apply storage arrays features on an a la carte basis instead of at the large LUN level on many VMs.

6. Let the storage array do what it does best

The storage array is an I/O engine with software that is written specifically to work with that engine which makes it capable of powerful data movement and manipulation. Using VMFS and vSphere storage features you essentially have a 3rd party telling the array what to do which isn’t the best or most efficient way to do things. By letting the storage array do what it was designed to do without handicapping with a control freak that is pulling all the strings it allows for the array to do what it does best which results in the best possible efficiency. In addition array features are more powerful then comparable vSphere storage features and the array has better visibility into storage resources then vSphere has. As a results features like thin provisioning, snapshots and QoS are all more effective and efficient when done by the storage array.

7. Easier for the IT generalists

VVols ensures that IT generalists that may not have strong storage skills don’t have to be storage admins and can spend most of their time in the vCenter console instead of having to go to the storage console. With SPBM and VVols integration into vCenter you get a single unified management tool for storage that combines the best of both worlds, powerful storage array features managed directly from within vCenter.

8. One architecture to rule them all and in the darkness bind them

File or block? NFS, iSCSI, Fiber Channel, who cares? VVols provides a unified storage architecture across all storage protocols and puts them on a mostly level playing field with vSphere. With VVols you don’t have different types of files systems anymore, VMFS for block and NFS for file, you just have VVols and the various components that are universal to any storage protocol. Yes each protocol will still have some of it sown uniqueness still but VVols helps to eliminate some of that and make the protocol that is used less important.

8. The VM is a unit of storage

Saving the best reason for last, this is what VVols is all about, the storage array now has visibility to see individual VMs. With VMFS we only have visibility from the storage array at the LUN level, we could not see inside it and had no knowledge of the VMs that reside on that VMFS volume. Now with VVols that all changes, the VM is a first class citizen to the storage array and can be treated as a unit of storage. If we want to do an array snapshot on just one VM we can, with VMFS we had to take a snapshot of a whole LUN. If you want to assign QoS policies to certain Tier-1 VMs and not others you can, just about any storage array feature can now be done at the VM-level which is awesome. This eliminates the VMFS silo-ed approach which was wasteful and in-efficient from a storage array perspective. We can now provision storage only as needed without allocating huge chunks of it to VMFS datastores. This is the reason why VMware created VVols to begin with.

Everyone will have their own decision to make on when they want to get started with VVols, keep in mind at some point it will not be “if you will switch to VVols” it will be “when will you switch to VVols”. VVols certainly has some great benefits and better aligns storage resources to individual VMs but you will need to look how they fit into your own environment before making the decision to switch to them. I encourage you to get started as soon as you are able to, because you can use VVols alongside NFS or VMFS it makes the decision much easier as you can slowly dip into the pool instead of jumping all in.


Apr 06 2015

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