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Overview 

VMware Virtual Volumes (vVols) is a framework that provides tight integration between the Virtual Machines and the underlying external storage arrays, allowing the latter to expose their full data services capabilities, so that VMware administrators can consume these capabilities in scale and with ease. vVols simplify storage consumption and management through policy-driven automation, enabling agile storage consumption for virtual machines and dynamic adjustments in real time.  vVols further provide VM administrators finer control over storage resources, and native array-based data service instances at the scope of virtual machine. 

vVols allow VM administrators to create, manage, and provision VMs and their virtual disks. They allow users the opportunity to use storage array capabilities for individual virtual machines instead of a whole datastore. vVols contain entire virtual disks, and natively store everything on the storage system. This allows users to use vSphere's virtual storage features without sacrificing the ability to use array-based features.

See https://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/virtual-volumes.html for more information.

vVols on InfiniBox 

The InfiniBox implementation for vVols provides awareness of virtual disk granularity at the level of the storage array, using a VASA provider embedded in InfiniBox systems.

vVols on InfiniBox provide the following features:

  • Storage policy-based management
  • Direct and standard array level integration
  • Strong controls based on infrastructure  

InfiniBox supports vVols using SAN access, via Fibre Channel (FC) and iSCSI:

  • vSphere hosts access vVols using the vSphere standard block access stack, including support for multi-pathing
  • Access to all vVols is done through a special LUN called Protocol Endpoint

Why Use VMware vVols? 

vVols aligns storage to applications

  • vVols allow users to consistently and efficiently deliver the correct data services to the applications as needed. This is done using a policy-driven approach.
  • Users can create policies for each storage level that they want to offer. The policies can be set differently for each vVol. Additionally, specific policies can be applied during the provisioning. The policies that were set during provisioning are continuously checked for compliance.
  • vVols also allow InfiniBox to provide improved data services at the virtual machine level, such as snapshot. All snapshot management is tightly integrated with VMware vSphere, so managed VM snapshots make use of InfiniBox snapshots, and are both instantaneous, space-efficient and do not incur any overhead during I/O.  

Ease of Datastore Issues

  • Traditional datastores require a lot of overhead to manage multiple datastores and LUNs. This is because the traditional datastore usually has to cover multiple roles.
  • The underlying limitation of traditional storage that causes these challenges is that the datastore and its backing device have multiple roles. These multiple roles cause the system to suffer from increased complexity and decreased flexibility. The issues cause issues in application placement, load balancing, and capacity planning.
  • vVols remove the need to manage and provision multiple datastores and LUNs.

vVols Terminology 

Name/Concept

Explanation

Protocol Endpoint (PE)

The PE is a special LUN, which vSphere hosts use to access data of individual vVols (enabling vVols for a vSphere hosts in InfiniBox maps the PE to the host).

The PE does not consume any capacity on its own.

VASA 

vSphere APIs for Storage Awareness 

VASA Provider

Storage Provider

The VASA Provider allows vCenter servers and vSphere hosts access to the InfiniBox system in order to provision vVols, query their status, etc. 

InfiniBox VASA Provider is built-in, and is available for every system running version 6.0 and above. 

Management Path

vCenter and vSphere hosts access the VASA provider using HTTPS to the InfiniBox floating management IP address over TCP port 8084.

SPBMStorage Policy Based Management 
Storage Container

Storage Containers are defined by VMware as allocation units which vSphere can use to create vVols, and each storage container is a vVols datastore.

InfiniBox implements storage containers as pools (of type VVOLS) which contain vVols, and provide storage administrator control over capacity allocations from vSphere.

Clear Governance

Infinidat makes sure that there is a clear division of responsibilities between storage administrators, who are responsible for space allocation for datastores, and VI administrators, who are responsible for creating and monitoring VMs.

Storage administrators are not responsible for new VMs, regardless of the datastore type used: vVols or VMFS.

InfiniBox uses this method to provide excellent data services (e.g. snapshots) at the VM and virtual-disk level, by allowing it to manage the vSphere objects, and enabling the the storage administrator to manage the space allocation and related functions.   

More Information

InfiniBox with VMware Virtual Volumes Best Practice Guide

Configure VMware Virtual Volumes without HPT-VM

Overview of pools

Allowing hosts access to the Protocol Endpoint

Limitations

The following limitations apply to InfiniBox 6.0:

  • InfiniBox implementation for vVols does not support replication
  • Virtual Machines whose names contain non-ASCII characters are not supported
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