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Sep 06 2018

VMware VVols from a customer perspective

What do donuts and nuclear power plants have in common beyond the obvious answer? (hint: The Simpsons) They both are companies that are running VMware VVols! At VMworld this year instead of VMware putting on a VVols partner panel they chose to do a customer panel session instead. This was a great move as it lets you hear direct from customers actually using VVols on their experiences with VVols and the benefits that they found with VVols. Below is my summary of the session and some highlights from it:

Session:  Leveraging Virtual Volumes (VVol) to Simplify Storage Management (HCI2550PU)  (View session recording)

Speakers: Bryan Young, Group Product Manager, VMware – JJ Seely, Sr. Server Administrator, NuScale Power, LLC – Michael Bailess, Infrastructure Technology Manager, Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation

  • The panel was moderated by Bryan Young from VMware who is the product manager for VVols and consisted of 2 customers, J.J. Seely from NuScale Power and Michael Bailess from Krispy Kreme donuts.

  • Bryan first gave an update on where VMware is at with VVols, he showed off the timeline of VVols from it’s initial release as part of vSphere 6.0 in March 2015 to the vSphere 6.5 update in November 2016 which brought the long awaited support for replication and finally to the most recent release, vSphere 6.7 in April 2018 that added a few more VVols enhancements

  • Next he made the point that despite you not hearing too much from VMware anymore about VVols, it is a very active program and growing significantly. Over the last few months they have seen a 2x increase in the number of deployments of VVols and a 3x increase in the capacity of VVols deployments, much of that happening in the last 6 months. In case you are wondering they can track this with vCenter Analytics Cloud data (phone home). The partner commitment around VVols remains strong with many partners working to finishing their VVols 2.0 (replication) solutions. On VMware’s side they are growing their engineering team to support VVols and have a solid roadmap going forward for enhancing VVols.

  • VMware’s partner ecosystem for VVols has been growing and every major storage vendor at least supports VVols 1.0 today. As each partner is at different stages of completing their VVols solutions it’s best to reach out to them and find out their roadmaps for supporting VVols.

  • Bryan reviewed what VMware delivered in vSphere 6.7 around VVols, the big one being support for  SCSI-3 Persistent Reservations. Why is that one big? Because there is no more need for RDMs as VVols can support this natively. Many customers are still using RDMs to support Microsoft Windows Failover Cluster Server which is really the only use case for RDMs. Nobody really likes managing RDMs so it’s great that VVols can do this natively now. I actually know a few customers that have mass migrated their RDMs to VVols.

  • Bryan then highlighted an important aspect of VVols that many people don’t get. VVols & vSAN are not an either/or decision, they work perfectly together as they are both based on the same Storage Policy Based Management engine native to vSphere. There is seamless interoperability between VVols & vSAN and VMs can move freely from one to the other.

  • From that point each customer did a short presentation and there was a lot of Q&A from the attendees. Go listen to the recording and find out what they had to say. You can also listen to a separate breakout session where Michael Bailess from Krispy Kreme went into his experience with VVols in more detail.
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