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VMware Unveils New Disaster Recovery and Backup Product Releases; Virtual SAN and Virtual Volumes Featured at VMworld 2014

By Alberto Farronato, director of product marketing, Storage and Availability, VMware

VMworld 2014 will deliver plenty of news, customer testimonials, panels, sessions, demos and more on VMware’s software-defined storage and business continuity products and initiatives. Following are a few show highlights.

Increased DR Capabilities

We’re excited to announce vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM) 5.8 today at VMworld 2014. This new release of SRM delivers next-generation disaster recovery capabilities for vSphere environments.  New capabilities include:

  • 5x the scale of protection – IT organizations can set up recovery plans scalable up to 5,000 virtual machines per vCenter Server using array-based replication to enable enterprise-level protection–five times larger than with previous limits.
  • Enhanced self-service – New integrations will offer customers self-service access to provision predefined disaster recovery protection tiers to new VMs via blueprints in vCloud Automation Center when using array-based replication.

To learn more about vCenter SRM 5.8, don’t miss the following VMworld session:

BCO2394 – “Site Recovery Manager 101: What’s New and Customer Case Study”

Monday, Aug 25, 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM PT

New: vSphere Data Protection Advanced 5.8

We’re also happy to introduce vSphere Data Protection Advanced 5.8. Powered by EMC Avamar technology, vSphere Data Protection Advanced offers simple, efficient, and robust backup capabilities for vSphere environments. The new release delivers:

  • Enhanced support for business-critical apps – customers can now perform backups for Microsoft SQL Server clusters as well as Microsoft Exchange DAGs (Database Availability Groups).
  • Customizable Proxies and Backup Work Streams – customers now have the flexibility of choosing the number of parallel backup workstreams to satisfy Service Level Agreements (SLAs) helping them to increase backup scalability and performance.
  • Enhanced Replication – customers can now restore replicated backups at either primary or disaster recovery site.

Get the details on vSphere Data Protection Advanced 5.8 at the following sessions:

BCO2410 – “BC/DR: Implementing a Holistic Strategy with VMware Solutions – Part 1 Business Overview”

Monday, Aug 25, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

BCO2172 – “BC/DR: Implementing a Holistic Strategy with VMware Solutions – Part 2 Technical”

Wednesday, Aug 27, 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM

Virtual Volumes Technology Preview

Virtual Volumes (aka VVOLs) was unveiled at VMworld 2012 San Francisco as a technology preview. The technology extends VMware’s software-defined storage model to external storage.  VVOLs transforms SAN/NAS into VM-centric devices by making the virtual disk a native representation of the VM at the array level, and enables app-centric, policy-based automation of SAN and NAS based services.

VVOLs has drawn strong interest from our storage partners. Their interest will be readily apparent at this year’s VMworld if you attend sessions or walk the show floor. To learn more about their VVOLs efforts, drop by the following booths:

Dell Booth 1417


Nimble Booth 1521


EMC Booth 1405


Tintri Booth 921


HP Booth 1005


SolidFire Booth 1629


Hitachi Data Systems Booth 905


Symantec Booth 1635


IBM Booth 913




Check out the following sessions to get smart on VVOLs:

STO1963 – “Virtual Volumes Business Overview”

Tuesday, Aug 26, 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

STO1965 – “Virtual Volumes Technical Deep Dive”

Tuesday, Aug 26, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM & Wednesday, Aug 27, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM


What’s New with Virtual SAN

In 2013, VMware Virtual SAN was unveiled and was being readied for a lengthy public beta. Today, Virtual SAN is generally available with more than 300 customers.

Virtual SAN Ready Nodes have helped to jump start Virtual SAN deployments.  Virtual SAN Ready Nodes are pre-validated configurations of servers ready to run Virtual SAN. Today, 40 Virtual SAN Ready Nodes are available for purchase directly from our system vendor partners (view list of Ready Nodes). Hitachi and Huawei are the latest partners to introduce new Virtual SAN Ready Nodes joining Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, IBM and Supermicro.

Additionally, VMware EVO: RAIL was introduced today. It is a hyper-converged infrastructure appliance that streamlines the deployment and scale out of modern IT infrastructure. Virtual SAN is part of the 100 percent VMware software stack included in EVO: RAIL. It offers customers another option to get started with Virtual SAN. Customers can now get started with Virtual SAN by selecting components from the Hardware Compatibility List, relying on pre-configured Ready Node servers or purchasing EVO: RAIL – an all-in-one appliance.

Learn how customers are using Virtual SAN at the following panel and session:

STO2462 – “Virtual SAN – Customer Panel”

Wednesday, Aug 27, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

STO1424 – “Massively Scaling Virtual SAN Implementations”

Thursday, Aug 28, 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM

We want to thank our customers and partners for making 2014 a momentous year for VMware Storage and Availability. We wish you a great show and time in San Francisco.


What is Software Defined Storage? A VMware TMM Perspective

I’m posting this from a train which is currently hurtling its way across the middle of Ireland. I’m on my way to meet our friends at NetApp, whose Insight conference takes place in Dublin this week. We’ll be catching up later to talk about many of the storage previews and visions announced at VMworld 2012. Most of you will know by now that the vast majority of my posts are technical in nature. In this post I will be taking a slightly different slant, and try to explain one of the new concepts VMware has around storage. Some of you who have been following the announcements at VMworld will have heard the references to software defined datacenter. An integral part of this vision is software defined storage. So what exactly is that? I wanted to use this post to share some of what we at VMware envision to be software defined storage.

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Virtual Volumes (VVOLs) Tech Preview [with video]

Disclaimer : This a Technology Preview. This functionality is not available at the moment. It is simply demonstrating the exciting prospects that the future holds for storage related operations within the virtual world.

Following on from some of the major storage announcements made at VMworld 2012 this year, I wanted to give you an overview of the virtual volumes feature in this post. Virtual Volumes is all about making the storage VM-centric – in other words making the VMDK a first class citizen in the storage world. Right now, everything is pretty much LUN-centric or volume-centric, especially when it comes to snapshots, clones and replication. We want to change the focus to the VMDK, allowing you to snapshot, clone or replicate on a per VM basis from the storage array. Historically, storage admins and vSphere admins would need to discuss up front the underlying storage requirements of an application running in a VM. The storage admin would create a storage pool on the array, set features like RAID level, snapshot capable, replication capable, etc. The storage pool would then be carved up into either LUNs or shares, which would then be presented to the ESXi hosts. Once visible on the host, this storage could then be consumed by the VM and application.

What if the vSphere admin could decide up front what the storage requirements of an application are, and then tell the array to create an appropriate VMDK based on these requirements? Welcome to VVOLs.

My colleague Duncan did a super write up on the whole VVOL strategy in his post here. In this post he also directs you to the VMworld sessions (both 2011 & 2012) which discuss the topic in greater detail. What I wished to show you in this post are the major objects and their respective roles in VVOLs. There are 3 objects in particular; the storage provider, the protocol endpoint and the storage container. Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Storage Provider: We mentioned the fact that a vSphere admin create a set of storage requirements for an application/VM. How does an admin know what an array is capable of offering in terms of performance, availablity, features, etc? This is where the Storage Provider comes in. Out of band communication between vCenter and the storage array is achieved via the Storage Provider. Those of you familiar with VASA will be familiar with this concept. It allows capabilities from the underlying storage to be surfaced up into vCenter. VVOLs uses this so that storage container capabilities can be surfaced up. But there is a significant difference in VVOLs – we can now use the storage provider/VASA to push information down to the array also. This means that we can create requirements for our VMs (availability, performance, etc) and push this profile down to the storage layer, and ask it to build out the VMDK (or virtual volume) based on the requirements in the profile. The Storage Provider is created by the storage array vendor, using an API defined by VMware.

Protocol Endpoint:Since the ESXi will not have direct visibility of the VVOLs which back the VMDKs, there needs to be an I/O demultiplexor device which can communicate to the VVOLs (VMDKs) on its behalf. This is the purpose of the protocol endpoint devices, which in the case of block storage is a LUN, and in the case of NAS storage is a share or mountpoint. When a VM does I/O, the I/O is directed to the appropriate virtual volume by the protocol endpoint. This now allows us to scale to very, very many virtual volumes, and the multipathing characteristics of the protocol endpoint device are implicitly inherited by the VVOLs.

Storage Container: This is your storage pool on the array. Currently, one creates a pool of physical spindles on an array, perhaps building a raid across them and then carves this up into LUNs or shares to be presented to the ESXi hosts. In VVOLs, only the container/pool needs to be created. Once we have the storage provider and protocol endpoints in place, the storage container becomes visible to the ESXi hosts. From then on, as many VVOLs can be created in the container as there is available space, so long as the characteristics defined in the storage profiles matches the storage container.

So with that in mind, here is a short 5 minute video which ties all of this together:

Now, this is a project that can only be successful if our storage partners engage with us to make it a success. I’m pleased to say that many of our storage partners are already working with us on the first phase of this project, with many more on-boarding as we speak. And admittedly the video above is more about the architecture of VVOLs and doesn’t really show off the coolness of the feature. So I’d urge you to look at the following posts from some of our partners. EMC’s Chad Sakac has a post here around how they are integrating with virtual volumes, and HP’s Calvin Zito shows how their 3PAR array is integrated with this post. Interestingly, the title in both posts is around the future of storage. I think VVOLs is definitely going to change the storage landspace.

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