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VMware VVOLs is coming. Will your storage be ready for it? HP 3PAR StoreServ will be!


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


Knock, knock. Who’s there? VMware VVols finally!

After more than three years in development, VMware Virtual Volumes (VVOLs) storage technology is set to ignite the storage array landscape. VMware VVOLs represents a major change in the vSphere storage architecture for shared storage arrays. It provides storage with VM-level granularity by introducing a 1:1 mapping of VMs to storage volumes as well as simplifies storage management through automated policy-based management. Prior to VVols, storage arrays primarily integrated with vSphere at a volume/datastore level using VMware’s Virtual Machine File System (VMFS). Moving forward, you can choose to use VMFS or VVOLs, with VVOLs offering more advanced capabilities as the preferred option. 

HP 3PAR StoreServ: The Fibre Channel reference platform

HP is one of a select number of original design partners that have worked closely with VMware to define, develop and test VVOLs. 3PAR StoreServ Storage has served as the only Fibre Channel reference platform throughout VMware’s development of VVOLs. HP’s early and in-depth development involvement on VVols ensures our 3PAR StoreServ customers get the best VVOLs experience – one that is aligned with the modern architecture 3PAR StoreServ delivers. 

VMware VVOLs - the technical stuff

Virtual Volumes (VVOLs) are part of the vSphere APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA) 2.0 specification, part of that defines a new architecture for VM-level storage array abstraction. VASA 2.0 includes new interfaces to query storage policies that enables VMware’s Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) to make intelligent decisions about virtual disk placement and compliance. 

The VASA 2.0 specification describes the use of Virtual Volumes to provide ease of access and ease of manageability to each VM Datastore. Each Virtual Machine’s Virtual Disk (VMDK) is provisioned as a separate VVol within the array. A single point of access on the fabric is provisioned via a protocol end point from the host to the storage array. These protocol endpoints are rediscoverable using regular LUN discovery commands. The following figure helps depict how VMware VVols works with 3PAR StoreServ arrays. VVols2J.jpg

Benefits of HP 3PAR StoreServ for VMware VVOLs

The new VM-level granularity that VMware VVOLs enables you to finally apply 3PAR StoreServ Storage’s rich array-based data services to specific applications and VMs in the following manner:

  • Use 3PAR Priority Optimization to apply QoS policies to VMs instead of whole datastores to tightly control and ensure specific application performance
  • Automatically reclaim space from deleted or migrated VMs in hardware with the 3PAR ASIC to maintain industry-leading storage efficiency
  • Optimize storage efficiency with 3PAR Thin Deduplication that can be turned on and off on a per-VM basis, as created and managed by the VASA provider
  • Accelerate performance by automatically detecting and moving most – accessed VM’s onto flash extended cache, via 3PAR Adaptive Flash Cache

Using VVOLs with 3PAR StoreServ will be as easy as 1-2-3 ZERO

With VASA 2.0 integration built in to the 3PAR Operating System, 3PAR StoreServ will enable a zero-step configuration for VMware VVOLs. As our VASA provider is being built directly into the storage array there will be no separate plug-in or VM to install, configure, maintain and replicate (for redundancy) in order to use VVOLs. 

Let 3PAR StoreServ do what it does best

VMware VVOLs enables vSphere to offload additional tasks that can be done faster and more efficiently at the storage layer. The tight storage integration enables 3PAR StoreServ storage to present unique capabilities and complete common tasks, such as snapshots, directly on the array to minimize data movement and improve performance. With VMware VVOLs, 3PAR StoreServ will enable deployment and restoration of array-based snapshots on a per-VM basis to different disk tiers than production data, which helps save valuable SSD, FC or SAS capacity. 

Simplify common storage management tasks, like LUN provisioning and management, with automatic integration into VMware’s Storage Policy-Based Management. Eliminate tedious tasks to further reduce administration costs of a virtualization infrastructure using policies to automatically provision LUNs at the time of VM creation—no pre-provisioning of datastores required. 3PAR StoreServ offers the flexibility of being a single storage container for a vSphere administrator to manage and track. 

HP 3PAR StoreServ + VMware VVOLs = a winning combination!

HP 3PAR StoreServ already delivers best-in-class, hardware-assisted integration with VMware vSphere along with guarantees to double your VM density and cut your capacity requirements in half. 3PAR StoreServ integration with VVOLs allows us to extend that even further to allow vSphere to better leverage the native strengths and capabilities of 3PAR StoreServ storage. 

Sounds great! When can I get it?

In July 2014, VVOLs beta was launched in the public next-gen vSphere beta. HP is the exclusive Fibre Channel array used by VMware for VVOLs development and HP 3PAR StoreServ was one of only three storage platforms ready on day one of the beta. We are in lockstep with VMware to support VVOLs. 

Editor’s note: Last paragraph on this blog was updated with a correction.

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Will I be able to take an array based snapshot of a VVOL of VM 1 and present it to VM 2 to mount ? I do this extensively today with RDMs for mysql snapshots. You can see this image as an example.


VVOLs sound cool but I imagine like most things I'll be waiting 6-12 months after they are released before I try to use them. The bulk of our clusters are still ESX 4.1 and I don't have immediate plans to change that.

While VVols is going to be awesome, I'm wondering when a release of InformOS will include "3PAR Thin Deduplication"?
I just read through the release notes for 3.2.1, and there was no mention of dedupe at all...


We just got a 7450 and have been eagerly waiting to test dedupe before we put the system into production, but seeing that 3.2.1 does not seem to include the dedupe functionality we have to wait even longer...


Nate and mb - apologies as I lost track of your comments here.


Nate: While VVols does allow for the import of array-managed snapshots, they are not meant for sharing array-based snapshots between VMs so it is unknown if this will work for your scenario. You will be able to use RDM’s alongside VVols.


mb: Hopefully you reached out to your account team and already got this question answered.  Thin Deduplication was delivered in 3PAR OS 3.2.1 MU1 which was recently released.  I'm not 100% certain how it is delivered but I think you can do it yourself.  Here's a technical white paper that talks about doing upgrades. I'd suggest either talking to your account team or contact HP Support if you want to get 3.2.1 MU1.  

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