Virtual Volumes (vVols) Software-Defined Storage

3 Key Reasons Customers Move to Virtual Volumes

With all the buzz around the new Virtual Volumes features announced in VMworld Barcelona, and the huge interest in Virtual Volumes breakout sessions in both Las Vegas and Barcelona (standing room only!) now is a good time to reflect on why customers are moving to Virtual Volumes.

Here are the the top 3 reasons customers I spoke with at VMworld are moving to Virtual Volumes:

3. vVols Delivers Array Native Capabilities to VMs

With Virtual Volumes virtual disks become native objects on the storage array. This means VM operations like clones and snapshots are executed natively by the storage array. Any VM placed onto a vVols datastore gets all of these benefits out of the box.

Some examples of fine-grained operations and services that are delivered to virtual machines by the storage array include:

  • Snapshots – including VADP triggered snapshots used for backups and array scheduled snapshots
  • Clones – both full and linked clones
  • Replication – both active-active metro clustering and active-passive replication (new in vSphere 6.5)
  • Quality of Service – fine-grained control over performance
  • And many more…

This integration enables customers to get the most out of their storage investments, taking full advantage of the differentiated capabilities delivered by their storage vendor. This tight integration removes entire classes of complex operational processes so IT teams can focus on delivering business value.

For example, performing an array native snapshot on a VM with vVols is as simple as right clicking the VM and selecting the snapshot operation. The native integration removes the complex process of coordinating array-native snapshots (potentially across multiple LUNs) for a single VM. Customers can snapshot just the data they want, and get substantial performance benefits over VMFS based snapshots. One of the vVols partners ran a short test comparing VMFS and vVols snapshot with an Oracle workload. Under heavy load snapshot removal was over 150 times faster with vVols.

Customers see faster snapshot operations with Virtual Volumes

2. vVols Removes Datastore Management Headaches

At VMworld many of our larger customers shared their concerns about the overhead of managing multiple datastores and LUNs. The underlying limitation of traditional storage that causes these challenges is that the datastore and its backing device have multiple roles:

  • Provides a pool of capacity for VMs
  • Endpoint for I/O (mounted or attached to the ESXi host)
  • Object that array capabilities operate on

This overloading of roles leads to increased complexity and decreased flexibility. Each additional datastore customers have to manage adds complexity to operations like initial application placement, load balancing, and capacity planning. Features like Storage DRS can help manage some of this complexity but it’s better to address the underlying cause. Virtual Volumes radically simplifies storage management for both vSphere and storage admins. vVols decouples these 3 roles and removes the need to manage and provision multiple LUNs and Datastores to satisfy changing workload demands. vVols enables IT teams to stop wasting time on repetitive storage management.

1. vVols Aligns Storage to Applications

Customers want to deliver the right data services to their applications efficiently and consistently. Virtual Volumes allows them to do that at scale by with a policy-driven approach. VMware pioneered this ability with VMware’s Virtual SAN and have extended it to our storage partners with Virtual Volumes.

VMware’s Storage Policy-Based Management (SPBM) allows customers to:

  1. Create policies for each storage tier they wish to offer
    • SPBM allows vendor specific differentiation to be exposed while providing a common abstraction layer for virtual admins
  2. Apply policies to workloads during provisioning
    • Integrated natively within vSphere’s UI and API as well as PowerCLI, vRealize Orchestrator, vRealize Automation, VMware Integrated OpenStack integrations
  3. Monitor policy compliance
    • Policies are applied at provisioning time and checked for compliance on an ongoing basis

A customer that I spoke with at VMware was having severe challenges with their workloads being deployed as “individual snowflakes” within their infrastructure. With vVols and SPBM they are now able to provide a standard set of policies for their applications and drive simplicity throughout their environment.


Too often the provisioning of traditional storage is misaligned with application provisioning. Virtual Volumes brings storage back into alignment with the application, delivering the right services to applications.

Virtual Volumes adoption is picking up pace rapidly and, with hundreds of array models supporting Virtual Volumes, VMware and our partners are delivering choice to our customers.

Learn More

Try out Virtual Volumes today you can go to VMware’s Hands-On Labs:

More labs from VMworld 2016 will be made available shortly after VMworld Barcelona has completed.

The following blog posts will also help you understand Virtual Volumes and check that your storage is on the VMware Compatibility Guide for vVols:


6 comments have been added so far

  1. Great article, Exactly these are the main three reasons that’s why customers should be move to Virtual Volumes. Vmware has done a lot of improvement on Virtual Volumes. I am agree with you that VVols Delivers Array Native Capabilities to VMs , With Virtual Volumes virtual disks become native objects on the storage array. Now days Customers wants to deliver the right data services to their applications efficiently and consistently and in that kind situation Virtual Volumes allows them to do that at scale by with a policy-driven approach .VVols and SPBM they are now able to provide a standard set of policies for their applications and drive simplicity throughout their environment
    This is really awesome that Virtual Volumes radically simplifies storage management for both vSphere and storage admins . Thanks for sharing. The way you explained each and everything about these three reasons is really great . Thanks once again .

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