Mar 11 2019

Happy 4th Birthday VVols! – Is 2019 the year of VVols?

VMware’s new Virtual Volumes (VVols) storage architecture became available exactly 4 years ago today as part of the vSphere 6.0 GA. The vSphere 6.0 datasheet described VVols in this manner:

Transform Storage for your Virtual Machines – vSphere Virtual Volumes* enables your external storage arrays to become VM-aware. Storage Policy-Based Management (SPBM) allows common management across storage tiers and dynamic storage class of service automation. Together they enable exact combinations of data services (such as clones and snapshots) to be instantiated more efficiently on a per VM basis.

I was very involved in the initial launch of VVols and worked closely with VMware to promote and market it. There was very little ecosystem support for VVols at launch, only 4 vendors supported it on day 1, and looking back over the years VVols has come a long way since it’s initial release.

Last year I wrote that I felt 2018 wasn’t the year of VVols for a number of reasons, this year however I feel that 2019 will be the year that VVols adoption picks up pace and we finally start to get towards seeing mainstream usage. I recently wrote an article on the HPE blog detailing the reason for this, you can go read my thoughts behind that over there. I did want to talk a bit about the dreaded “Chasm” that is typical of technology adoption and how VVols relates to that model.

I recently took a product management leadership course and they covered in detail the stages of product adoption from the early market stage where products are born and launched to the chasm stage which must be crossed before you get to the mainstream stage. The chasm represents a significant challenge for a product or technology for it to cross over from early adopters to more mainstream adoption. The representative user base for any technology product typically includes the following user types:

  • Innovators/Techies – always adopting new stuff right away
  • Early Adopters/Visionaries – trying to stay ahead of the herd
  • Pragmatists – sticking with the herd
  • Conservatives – OK with the status quo and moves only when they have to
  • Skeptics – no way are they moving

The chasm exists between the visionaries and pragmatists which represent a very small percentage of a user base and winning over the pragmatists are the key to the adoption of any new technology and it going mainstream. This illustration that Pete Flecha from VMware used in his VMworld session illustrates this:

In this illustration the chasm looks fairly small and easy to cross but in reality that chasm is very wide and can represent many years to cross. The course I took highlights 2 key deliverables that a product must have to cross the chasm and win over the Pragmatists:

  • Credible customer references from fellow trusted Pragmatists, references from early adopters/visionaries are interesting but not sufficient
  • 100% minimum viable whole product that truly solves the Pragmatists pain point

To date VVols has been lacking in both of these key areas. If you look around you will find very few (if any) customer case studies with VVols. I know in general it’s often very hard to find customers willing to be references and have a case study done. I did have one years ago for VVols that was translated from an Asian language that wasn’t all that great. I don’t think I have seen any other vendors that have published one and VMware has not published any that I’m aware of as well. VMware did do a customer session on VVols last year at VMworld which was good but that doesn’t apply well beyond VMworld and is not easily consumable for anyone looking for VVols case studies today.

I think what VVols desperately needs is a lot more customer references and case studies. I came across a new one internally just last week that is in development and I plan on being very active in that one. What is needed though is for all partners, particularly the ones with larger VVols user bases to identify customers and develop these, the biggest VVols partners today are HPE, Pure, EMC and NetApp. Besides that I believe if VMware itself would publish some it would greatly help all partners as VMware has a larger audience and independent credibility from its partners. For that I’m calling out Lee Caswell who offered to help us promote VVols, having a good case study or two would really help move VVols adoption forward.

On the next point of having a 100% minimum viable whole product, VVols has been largely a work in progress since it’s initial release, this includes both the deliverables from VMware and the deliverables from partners trying to build VVols solutions. I would refer to these as two completely separate products as VMware has a product to deliver for VVols and partners have their own VVols products to deliver. On the VMware side in the beginning there were limitations including compatibility issues and lack of feature support with VVols. Over the years most of those limitations have disappeared, the big one we are still waiting on is SRM support which is finally coming this year. VMware is very near to having a 100% minimum viable whole product with VVols.

On the partner side, many partners have mature VVols solutions today but there are also many that are still playing catch up as well. Scale has been an issue with most partners that have to support many thousands of LUNs with VVols, expect scale to continue to increase as vendors continually optimize their arrays to handle VVols at large scale. How close any partner is to having a 100% minimum viable whole product with VVols is entirely up to each partner, I’d argue a few vendors are very close to being there but there are others that are pretty far off.

Overall I would say VVols is definitely ready for prime time, it’s assuredly ready for use across just about every vendors platform however there may be a “but” involved with some platforms and as long as you understand and accept that “but” you won’t have any issues with VVols. By “but” I’m saying VVols works just fine and does this and this “but” it just doesn’t do this right now. An example of a “but” may be doesn’t support replication or doesn’t scale over 5,000 VVols. If that “but” doesn’t apply to your environment you have nothing to worry about, if it does you can still use VVols to the extent you can while avoiding the “but” scenario and using VMFS for whatever may require it.

The bottom line is I feel 2019 is the year where VVols adoption will accelerate at a faster pace than it has before. From a development perspective it’s in a good place right now, the core VVols product is solid, there is really nothing limiting partners from building out complete VVols solutions right now. Partners will continue to mature and enhance their VVols solutions and SRM support is coming this year. I can’t say that VVols will completely cross the chasm this year but if VMware and it’s partners collectively promote the benefits of VVols and help increase customer awareness it will go a long way towards getting there. It will really take a group effort and that includes customers as well, if you are a customer that uses VVols today please reach out to VMware and/or your storage vendor and tell us your VVols story. Together we can navigate the chasm and climb the mountain to get VVols to be mainstream where it deserves to be.

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Jan 28 2019

Happy Data Privacy Day

I never knew such a day existed but apparently it’s been around since 2007. The origins of Data Privacy Day originated in Europe but in 2009 the US passed a resolution declaring January 28 National Data Privacy Day. The purpose of Data Privacy Day is to raise awareness and promote privacy and data protection best practices. So whether you celebrate it or not, the folks over at Vembu have put together a quick survey to collect your thoughts on the impact of data privacy regulations and how you have implemented data protection in your VMware environment. If you can spare 2 minutes to complete the survey to help support my site I sure would appreciate it. You can also read more about Data Privacy Day at the National Cyber Security Alliance website.

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Jan 27 2019

Top vBlog results

I closed the voting in mid December, we had over 2,000 people that voted this year. I’ve already added up and scored all the voting, I’m just finishing up on the other scoring modifiers, # of posts and blog performance. I should have the full results ready this week and we will be announcing via a live results show in the next week or two so stay tuned!

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Jan 22 2019

VVols update

I’ll be doing a few posts on VVols in the coming weeks right here but I wanted to highlight a recent post on VVols that I did on the HPE Around the Storage Block blog. In that post I highlighted the following:

  • A recent webinar I did with VMware on the benefits of VVols
  • Why nobody was really ready for VVols until recently
  • How VVols is like a foundation for the house and it’s up to each vendor to build their house
  • Why I feel 2019 will be the years that VVols will start to take off
  • Some statistics on VVols adoption
  • What’s new from HPE related to VVols

So go check it out here and stay tuned for a lot more right here.

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Nov 28 2018

Recorded webinar now available: A Farewell to LUNs – Discover how VVols forever changes storage in vSphere

Pete Flecha from VMware and I just finished recording a webinar on VVols where we discuss challenges with external storage, the benefits of VVols along with the latest adoption trends and ecosystem readiness. If you are on the fence about VVols or just want to learn more about it be sure and check it out.


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Nov 24 2018

VMware VVols Today: Part 1 – What VMware has delivered so far

This is a multi-part series covering various aspects of VMware Virtual Volumes (VVols) from support to adoption to benefits to predictions and more. In part 1 we’ll take a look at what VMware has delivered so far with VVols and the VASA specification.

In the first part of this series on VVols let’s do a brief history of the timeline for VMware’s development of VVols:

  • August 2011 – VMware first introduces the concept of VVols at VMworld
  • August 2012 – VMware shows off tech preview of VVols at VMworld
  • July 2014 – VMware make VVols available as a public beta
  • March 2015 – VVols 1.0 makes its initial debute as part of vSphere 6.0
  • November 2016 – VVols 2.0 is released as part of vSphere 6.5 with support for array replication
  • November 2017 – vSphere 6.7 includes minor VVols enhancements
  • August 2018 – VMware announces VVols support for SRM

From this timeline we can see that VMware has been working on the development of VVols for over 7 years and it has been part of vSphere for almost 4 years. That’s a pretty long time but what’s important to note is it’s been a bit of a work in progress as VVols required massive engineering on VMware’s part, to get VVols to work VMware had to request changes to the SCSI T10 specifications and also filed patents on the new architecture.

The initial release of VVols in vSphere 6.0 had some shortcomings, the biggest being lack of support for VVols replication. In addition there was very limited partner support for VVols early, only 2 major storage vendors supported it at launch. vSphere 6.5 brought both maturity for VVols and support for array replication and I consider that to be the release that was ready for prime time. The support for array replication however came with an important caveat, there was no support for SRM and all BC/DR operations had to be manually scripted using PowerCLI which made the solution unappealing.

vSphere 6.7 further enhanced VVols in small ways and today VVols is pretty rock solid from VMware’s side. Now it’s really on the partners to build out their solutions for VVols, the only barriers that exist today for partners to do whatever they want with VVols are their engineering resources. As VVols represented a massive engineering feat from VMware the same is equally true for partners as well. VVols represents a fundamental change in how storage arrays interact with vSphere and the greatly increased number of objects that a storage array needs to support for VVols. As a result this put a pretty hefty burden on partners to engineer their arrays to support this new architecture.

The introduction of VVols also had a ripple impact on other VMware products as well, one of the biggest challenges to VVols adoption has to do with support for VVols across VMware products such as SRM, vROps, vCloud Director and more. As those products were in other BUs from the core storage development team it was up to the other product teams to prioritize their support for VVols. As a result support for VVols in other VMware products has come at varying paces. Today almost all VMware products support VVols, the lone exception being SRM but that is in the works and is expected to come next year.

So what’s next for VVols? As I mentioned VMware is mostly done with the current VASA spec for VVols and there are no longer any limitations or barriers for partners to build solutions. It may seem like VMware isn’t doing that much further development with VVols today but that’s simply not true. While VMware is waiting for partners to play catch up, I have seen the VVols roadmap going forward and there is plenty on it to optimize and enhance VVols further and support some newer storage technologies. I also know that VMware has even beefed up their VVols engineering team.

I feel that VVols is in a very good place today and VMware has done a great job to get to this point as this was no easy feat and represents almost a decade of work on their part. VVols has a bright future ahead of it and at some point I would expect that VMFS will eventually go away much like the old ESX hypervisor did when it was replaced by ESXi. The burden is mostly on partners at this point but continue to look for further refinements from VMware going forward as storage policy based management becomes the de facto standard in the virtual data center.

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Nov 19 2018

Introducing Top vBlog 2018!

It’s that time of year again, well a little later then usual. My annual Top vBlog contest just kicked off and anyone can vote on their favorite VMware & virtualization blogs through 12/15. I first want to introduce our awesome official sponsor of Top vBlog 2018 which is Turbonomic again this year, also special thanks to Nutanix for helping out as well

Last year I added some additional scoring criteria and I believe those worked out well to help better define the Top vBlogs. The total points that a blog can accumulate will be based on 3 factors:

  • Public voting – total points based on how many people voted for you and how they ranked you, weighted points based on ranking (#1 vote = 12 pts, #2 vote = 11 pts…..#12 vote = 1 point)
  • # of posts published – points awarded for how many posts you had in 2017, more posts = more points, aggregators excluded, (# of 2017 posts x 2) (400 max)
  • Google PageSpeed score –  points awarded for how well your blog is designed and how efficient it is which makes for a better experience for readers, the better you score the more points awarded (Google PageSpeed score % * 200 possible points)

Total Points = Voting points + Post points + PageSpeed points

These factors combined make up the total points a blog can score and determines how they end up ranked in the final results. Some other changes and rules this year:

  • Again this year you can pick 12 of your favorite blogs (instead of 10) and also rank them in your order of preference after you pick your 12. The results will be weighted with a #1 ranking getting 12 points and a #12 ranking getting 1 point.
  • Again this last year there is again a minimum blog post requirement to be eligible for Top vBlog voting, any blog that did not have at least 10 blog posts in 2017 is not included in the voting.
  • Again this year we also having voting in special categories to help distinguish certain types of blogs. The choices of which blogs to include in the categories was the result of this survey and my best guessing. The categories are independent of the general voting.
  • Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman stepped down last year, they have both been in the top 10 for many years and have decided to not participate.

So please go vote and show the bloggers your appreciation for the hard work they do!

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Nov 18 2018

Voting now open for Top vBlog 2018!

After a slight delay, voting for Top vBlog 2018 is now open! The number of blogs devoted to VMware and virtualization continues to stay at an amazingly high level, this year there are again almost 300 of them on the ballot. Here’s your chance to show your appreciation to the bloggers for all their hard work by picking your favorites which will determine the Top vBlogs for 2018. Last year over 1,600 people voted from all over the world and when the votes were tallied the top 25 bloggers were revealed. Now it’s time to do it all over again as new blogs are born and old blogs fade away and bloggers move up and down the rankings. When casting your votes please keep the following in mind about the blogs.

  • Longevity – Anyone can start a blog but it requires dedication, time & effort to keep it going. Some bloggers start a blog only to have it fall to the wayside several months later. Things always come up in life but the good bloggers keep going regardless of what is happening in their life.
  • Length – It’s easy to make a quick blog post without much content, nothing wrong with this as long as you have good content in the post that people will enjoy. But some bloggers post pretty long detailed posts which takes a lot of time and effort to produce. The tip of the hat goes to these guys that burn the midnight oil trying to get you some great detailed information.
  • Frequency – Some bloggers post several times a week which provides readers with lots of content. This requires a lot of effort as bloggers have to come up with more content ideas to write about. Frequency ties into length, some do high frequency/low length, some do low frequency/high length, some do both. They’re all good and require a lot of time and effort on the bloggers part.
  • Quality – It all comes down to whats in the blog post regardless of how often or how long the blog posts are. After reading a blog post if you come away with learning something that you did not previously know and it benefits you in some way then you know you are reading a quality post. Good quality is usually the result of original content, its easy to re-hash something previously published elsewhere, the good bloggers come up with unique content or put their own unique spin on popular topics.

So please take all this into account when casting your votes, here are some more details on the voting:

  • Again this year you can pick 12 of your favorite blogs and then rank them in your order of preference. The results will be weighted with a #1 ranking getting 12 points and a #12 ranking getting 1 point. Point totals will be tabulated and from them the top 100 will be determined.
  • Blogs are listed on the ballot with the current top 100 blogs listed first with their current ranking and the rest of the blogs listed below them alphabetically. So please go through the whole list when making your choices.
  • Note that blogs that did not have at least 10 posts in 2017 are not eligible to participate and not listed Also note that Duncan Epping (Yellow Bricks) and Frank Denneman chose not to participate this year.
  • Again this year we also having voting in special categories to help distinguish certain types of blogs. The choices of which blogs to include in the categories was the result of this survey and my best guessing. The categories are independent of the general voting so first pick and rank your top 12 overall favorite blogs and then choose your favorite blog in each category.
  • Voting will run until 12/15, afterwards the results will be determined and announced on a special live podcast.
  • Duplicate vote protection is enabled, we’ll be using geolocation, IP addresses & cookies to protect against duplicate votes. This isn’t Chicago, please be honest and fair when voting, any suspicious votes will be tossed.
  • If you are not familiar with a blog you can click on it in the survey to view it or use my vLaunchpad to see links to them all. Try not to pick blogs based just on names but also take content into account. There are a lot of good blogs currently not in the top 50 that deserve to be there.
  • Also please keep it classy and don’t try and work the voting system to get your blog ranked as high as possible.

Of course all this is made possible by Turbonomic who is the official sponsor for Top vBlog 2018!

So what are you waiting for, head on over and take the survey to cast your ballot and reward the best bloggers for their hard work and dedication by letting them know that you appreciate them.

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