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Got VVOLs? If you have 3PAR StoreServ you do.


ES.jpegBy Eric Siebert, Solutions Manager, HP Storage     @ericsiebert


Find out how you can implement VVOLs in your vSphere 6 environment

In my previous blog on VMware Virtual Volumes (VVOLs), I covered some of the benefits that VVOLs on 3PAR StoreServ provide and touched on the new VASA 2.0 specification. Now that VVOLs is officially going to GA in the upcoming vSphere 6 release, I want to dive a bit deeper into the technical implementation of VVOLs on 3PAR StoreServ. 

The first thing you should be aware of is that your 3PAR StoreServ array already supports VVOLs as long as you have upgraded to the latest 3PAR OS of 3.2.1 MU2 or later. In addition your 3PAR StoreServ array will be certified for vSphere 6 on day 1 of the vSphere GA so you won’t have to wait to begin using this revolutionary new storage architecture. 

Know your VVOLs terminology

To really understand and implement VVOLs, you should know the new terminology that is associated with the VVOLs architecture. Let’s go over some of the key components of VVOLs:

  • Virtual Volume – Not to be confused with HP 3PAR StoreServ LUNs that are also referred to as “virtual volumes” and are not related to VMware Virtual Volumes. A VVOL is a container that encapsulates VM files, virtual disks and their derivatives. A single VM is made up of several VVOLs, including one for configuration data, one for each virtual disk that a VM has, one for VM swap and additional ones for the memory and data from any VM snapshots.
  • VASA Provider – A VASA Provider is the software component that mediates out-of-band communication (control path) for VVOLs traffic between vCenter Server, ESXi hosts and a storage array. The VASA Provider passes information about storage topology, capabilities, and status to vCenter Server and ESXi hosts. A VASA Provider can reside either within a storage array or be external on a physical server or virtual machine.
  • Protocol Endpoint – ESXi hosts do not have direct access to VVOLs on a storage array and instead must use a logical I/O proxy that is referred to as a Protocol Endpoint to communicate with VVOLs. The Protocol Endpoint serves as the data path between ESXi hosts to VMs and their respective VVOLs.
  • Storage Container – Instead of using LUNs that are configured on the storage array, VVOLs uses Storage Containers, a pool of raw storage capacity that becomes a logical grouping of virtual volumes. All VVOLs are created inside the storage container. Storage Containers are not visible via the in-band data path. The VASA Provider manages Storage Containers and reports their existence to the vCenter Server and ESXi hosts via the out-of-band control path.
  • Storage Profile (Policy) - The Storage Profile is a set of rules that define quality of service requirements for VMs based on the different capabilities provided by the physical storage array. These can be used to perform placement decisions, admission control, QoS compliance monitoring, and dynamic resource allocation management of storage resources.
  • Storage Capability - The VASA Provider provides capability information from the storage array to vSphere in the form of specific attributes about physical storage resources. This can include capabilities of 3PAR StoreServ arrays such as RAID level, Thin Provisioning, Drive Type, Zero Detect, Snapshots and much more. These capabilities are then used in Storage Policies to define levels of service that can be used to set performance, capacity, and availability requirements for VMs.

The following diagram illustrates how these components all interact with each other in a VVOLs implementation on 3PAR StoreServ:

figure 2 VVOLs and VASA providerJ.jpg 

It’s important to note that no additional software or plugins are required to use VMware VVOLs on HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage. The VASA Provider for VVOLs is integrated directly into the HP 3PAR OS and ready to use with vSphere 6 with minimal configuration. Before you begin using VVOLs one important prerequisite is that you synchronize time across your ESXi hosts, vCenter Server and 3PAR StoreServ arrays, preferably with an NTP source.

Once you have ensured that your time is synchronized you can get VVOLs up and running in three easy steps:

1. Verify the 3PAR StoreServ protocol endpoint on your ESXi hosts – You can use the vSphere esxcli command to confirm the protocol endpoint (PE) for a 3PAR StoreServ array from an ESXi host as follows: esxcli storage core device list -–pe-only in the storage device list you should see an “Is VVOL PE” value that will be True if the ESXi host can see the 3PAR StoreServ PE.figure 4 verify protocol endpointJ.jpg
2. Register the 3PAR StoreServ VASA Provider in vCenter Server – To do this you will need to know the VASA Provider URL, you can easily find this out by issuing the showvasa command on your 3PAR StoreServ array. Once you have this, in vCenter select the Storage Providers tab and add a new Storage Provider using the URL along with a username and password for your 3PAR StoreServ array.

figure 6 VASA provider setup in vCenterJ.jpg 

3. Create and mount a Storage Container for VVOLs – In vCenter add a new datastore and select VVOL as the datastore type, give it a name and select the ESXi host that can access it.

figure 7 mount 3PAR storage container in vCenterJ.jpg 

After this is complete, the VVOLs Storage Container is now available to use for your new VMs and all the storage capabilities of the HP 3PAR StoreServ array will be known to vSphere. To get the most benefit out of VVOLs you will next want to create Storage Policies that are based on the features and capabilities of your 3PAR StoreServ array such as drive types, RAID levels, thin de-duplication, auto zero detect, QoS and adaptive flash caching. Once created these policies can be assigned to individual VMs to bring powerful storage array features directly to your VMs and applications. Just make sure you enable VM Storage Policies in vCenter on your host or cluster so you can start applying them to VMs.

Getting up and running with VMware Virtual Volumes on 3PAR StoreServ is as simple as that. If you want more information on implementing VVOLs on your 3PAR StoreServ array be sure and keep an eye out for a soon to be published technical implementation guide for 3PAR StoreServ and VVOLs.

 Check out the new video below that walks you through much of the content I’ve covered in this post:



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Great post!  I have my host zoned to the 3PAR, the VASA is configured properly, but I am still seeing "Is VVOL PE: false" on my ESXi 6 host.  What am I missing?




skotsmayer -

I'd suggest contacting support. I've heard that you need an HBA driver, especially if you're using the HP ISO but I don't know the details. 

Calvin Z is correcty. The HP ISO for vSphere6 does not contain the updated HBA drivers needed for VVOL's. They can be obtained from VMware through the VMWare portal. You must update the vib's for your HBA's. 


I just updated the Qlogic HBA's at my DR site yesterday and have the vSphere VVOLS working now.



I ran an update of my HP Hosts to apply the Qlogic patch, as I was using the HP ESX distro. That resolved it. 


All -


 I am up to the point where I have the vVol configuration going, and all 'appears' to be setup properly. However, I do not see the vVols in the 3par console... I do, however, see the directories in the vVol container within vcenter.... Anyone familiar with this?





I have a small issue with the setup of Vvol on my Vsphere infrastructure. Everything runs smoothly up to the registering of 3PAR StoreServ VASA Provider in vCenter Server. Then when I try to create a datastore, the "Backing Storage Container" is always empty.

I'm wondering if it's caused by a license issue.

I have the following license in my 3PAR:

License features currently enabled:
3PAR OS Suite
Adaptive Flash Cache
Autonomic Rebalance
System Reporter
Thin Conversion
Thin Copy Reclamation
Thin Deduplication
Thin Persistence
Thin Provisioning (10240000G)
VSS Provider for Microsoft Windows

I don't have VirtualCopy. Is this preventing Vvol to work?

Thanks a lot.



@gilles_ I asked Eric Siebert to answer this and here's what he sent me:  VirtualCopy is a requirement as vSphere snapshots are all done on the array now but that shouldn’t cause the issue you are seeing. Providing that you have created a Storage Container on the array and followed the necessary steps there usually time sync between the array, ESXi and vCenter can sometimes cause that. Check out both our VVols implementation guide and ESXi implementation guide for complete step by step instructions for setting up VVols.

Here are a couple of white papers to check out:

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