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Building your VVols foundation: why 2019 is the year of VVols and why HPE is the VVols market leader

HPE Storage_VMware VVols_blog.jpgThe new year is an excellent time to provide a new update on VMware VVols, covering adoption trends plus HPE 3PAR and Nimble Storage product enhancements we've made to support VVols—and why I feel 2019 is the year of VVols. 

VMware’s next-generation storage architecture, Virtual Volumes (VVols), was first introduced as part of vSphere 6.0 in March of 2015 and has been available for customers to use for almost four years. VVols represents a totally new approach to storage by putting an end to LUN management and providing an automation framework powered by Storage Policy Based Management in vSphere.

The benefits that VVols provides are significant. Instead of going over them again here, I’ll instead point you to a recent webinar we did jointly with VMware.Farewell to LUNs_webinar.jpg

Now let’s talk about adoption

From the beginning VVols adoption has been slow but steady. There are many reasons for this that lead me to believe 2019 is the year that VVols gains momentum. While VVols has been available since 2015, to be frank nobody was really ready for VVols until more recently, this includes partners, customers, and VMware itself.

To understand why, you would need to know the significant engineering investment that VVols represents to both VMware and it’s ecosystem of storage partners. This isn’t just another API that VMware has delivered for partners to support like VAAI. VVols is a framework that enables partners to develop their own unique VVols solutions customized to support the abilities of their specific storage array. Early on, there were some limitations within that framework but VMware has been working hard to eliminate those and make the framework complete. As of vSphere 6.7 no limitations exist that would hinder a partner from building out a complete VVols solution. The below figure highlights how VVols has evolved over the years.VMware VVols timeline.jpgPIcture the foundation. . . 

Another way to think of the VASA framework that VMware has built out to support VVols is picture a foundation that VMware provides that allows each partner to build their own unique house upon. By itself, the foundation is nothing but an empty unusable slab and requires partners to build a house upon it for it to become a functioning solution. All partners have complete freedom to build their house as simple as they want or as big as they want. Some partners may choose to build a simple bungalow on that foundation, while others many build a modest size house or even a huge mansion if they desire. Again it’s up to each partner to decide that based on the engineering effort that they want to put into it to achieve the desired outcome with VVols.

As every partner solution for VVols is unique, this becomes a differentiator as to how powerful its VVols solution is. Or in other words, how big a house can be built on that foundation. Once that house is built, customers can move on in and begin enjoying the benefits that VVols provides them with every customers VVols experience being tailored to what kind of house a partner chose to build.

Now how that ties into adoption is that these houses take time to build, a lot of time and many partners are still building those houses. Others have completed their houses and are adding on new additions to provide even more capabilities with VVols (i.e. replication). Because of this some customers may have moved into some of these houses too early, while they were still being built and as a result may have had a bad experience and ended up moving out of that house.

The bottom line is VVols isn’t a one-and-done thing and early on most partners just weren’t ready for it. At HPE, we have been working on support VVols for more than seven years. As a result of our early and close collaboration with VMware, HPE is positioned as the clear market leader for VVols support. HPE has supported VVols since day one, and we've continually matured and enhanced our support for VVols since then. HPE was also the first vendor to support VVols replication in vSphere 6.5, the only vendor to support it for the first year after it was released, and to this day only one of two vendors that support it.

Other barriers to adoption include a big portion of VMware customers still on vSphere 5.5, lack of knowledge of what VVols is and the benefits it provides, support barriers such as lack of replication and SRM support, lack of maturity of the VVols partner ecosystem and the typical innovation/adoption curve of any new technology. Things have changed though.

 Here is why I feel 2019 is the year of VVols

In summary:

  • Increased maturity of partner VVols solutions, with HPE 3PAR and Nimble Storage uniquely positioned as the most mature and well-developed platforms for VVols.
  • Most support barriers are gone, replication is supported, and support for SRM with VVols has been announced and is coming.
  • vSphere 5.5 is EOS and the majority of customers are now on a vSphere 6 version that supports VVols.
  • Customers are starting to understand the clear benefits and what makes VVols different then the status quo.
  • We’re past the typical chasm of the innovation/adoption curve and VVols will start to be the new standard for customers.

Both VMware and HPE track customer adoption of VVols, VMware does through its cloud-based vCenter Analytics. And at HPE, we track it using our telemetry data provided by Infosight. One important thing to highlight is that both our statistics and VMware’s has shown that since the beginning, VVol adoption and usage has always trended upward. It has never flat-lined or gone downward.

Another statistic that we are proud to highlight is from the data provided by VMware on VVols adoption by partner, HPE is the clear leader with almost 60% of the total market share of VVols deployments among all partners.

Highlights from the HPE telemetry data on VVols adoptionHPE 3PAR_Nimble_VVols stats.jpgWhat's new from HPE for VVols

I’ll conclude with a short update on what’s new from a HPE product standpoint with VVols. A recent 3PAR OS technology update provided the following VVols enhancements:

  • Increased scalability of # of supported VVols and hosts
  • Support for IPv6 (VASA Provider)
  • Support for Dynamic Optimization (changing VM storage type)
  • Granular compression support on a per-VVol basis
  • Adaptive Flash Cache support on a per-VVol basis
  • Support for the brand-new NVMe SCM caching on a per-VVol basis

In our latest OneView for vCenter (OV4VC) 9.2 release, we added the following new functionality related to VVols with 3PAR:

  • View array VASA Provider status and ability to enable/disable it
  • Ability to register/unregister a VVol Storage Provider
  • Ability to create a VVol datastore (Storage Container) on an array
  • View replication information for VVol based VMs
  • View storage path information for VVol based VMs

In our latest HPE Storage Plug-in for vRealize Orchestrator 2.1 release we added the following new workflows related to VVols with 3PAR:

  • Query VASA status and Start/Stop VASA
  • Register/Unregister VASA provider
  • Create/Delete Storage Containers
  • Mount/Unmount VVol datastore
  • Migrate VMs from VMFS datastore to VVol datastore

And with Nimble, we recently announced support for VVols with HPE Cloud Volumes that provide data mobility for VVols-based VMs from on premise to public cloud storage.

Check out the new HPE 3PAR and VVols demo that my colleague Calvin Zito just published.

Some final words of advice when it comes to VVols

  • Don’t be intimidated by VVols. Yes, it uses some new jargon and acronyms but it’s not that complex and you can ease into it at your own pace.
  • If you looked at VVols early on and weren’t impressed or ran into issues give it another try, a lot has changed in four years.
  • Understand every partner solution is unique in terms of how well it scales, how it deploys VVols components and what capabilities the partner supports with VVols.
  • Don’t be afraid to try VVols out on 3PAR and Nimble. It’s super easy to setup. Our VVols components are built within our arrays. It can run alongside VMFS. And  you can easily move VMs back and forth from VMFS to VVols
  • If you want to learn more or see a demo, reach out to us. Either myself personally or your local HPE reps. We’ll be happy to show you all the great stuff you’re missing out on. You can even leave a comment here on this blog and I'll get back to you.
  • Don’t fear change:  Remember: “The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress." – Charles Kettering

Eric Siebert_HPE.jpgAround the Storage Block blogger Eric Siebert, Solutions Manager, HPE.  On Twitter: @ericsiebert 




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Nice post!

I just wanted to mention this little vSphere bug as another past barrier to VVols adoption. It certainly prevented me from recommending VVols for production, until there was a fix for it.

As long as SRM support really does arrive this year, I totally agree that 2019 is the year of VVols.

VVols has had some growing pains like any new product does. It's very different from VMFS and sometimes unanticipated compatibilities with other products do arise. VMware did a good job fixing that one fairly quickly though. I think we're well past the "1.0 blues" now and expect VVols to be very rock solid going forward. I know VMware remains very committed to VVols and we have been working closely with them on the next chapter in VVols. I'm very confident that we will see SRM support this year, I meet regularly with the SRM product team at VMware and know they are excited to deliver the long awaited support for VVols.

Gjermund N

We are eager to start replacing datastores with vvols, but there are some missing features support from HPE.

Support for Dynamic Optimization for vvols.
Support for peer persistence using vvols, preferably in an Active-Active configuration.
Support for SAN Based Backup/Restore. I guess this is not entirely up to HPE to solve.

Please make this a priority.


Gjermund  - sorry for the long delay to reply. The blog was overrun with spam comments and it was a challenge to find the real ones in the sea of spam. 

I'll make sure the team knows about your priorities. Yes, some vVols features require primary support from VMware, others require development on the storage side, but we're working closely with VMware to do exactly that. For example, at VMworld, we were on-stage with VMware talking about the (not to distance future) support for SRM.