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What do I need to know about implementing vSphere VVOLs?

VSphere VVOLs are making a splash in the storage market. Taneja Group expert Tom Fenton answers questions regarding updates to firmware and software.

VSphere Virtual Volumes (VVOLs) are one of the hottest topics in today's data center. According to VMware, 29 different storage companies are working on integrating VVOLs into their storage products.

When vSphere 6.0 (which is required for VVOLs) launched, VMware announced that Hewlett-Packard, IBM, NEC and SANBlaze had arrays capable of supporting vSphere VVOLs. VVOLs have the ability to dramatically change the way business is done in the data center, and some pundits have even gone so far as to suggest that they will eventually replace VMware's longstanding VMFS file system.

VMware is serious about having people implement vSphere VVOLs. All versions of vSphere 6.0 support VVOLs; an enterprise-level version of vSphere is not required nor is a separate license. VMware seems intent on having its customers adopt the technology.

On the storage vendor side, you will need to find out what arrays support vSphere VVOLs and what is involved in implementing them on their systems. To see a list of the arrays that have been certified for VVOLs, go to VMware's hardware compatibility list, scroll to the bottom and click "Update and View Results."

The arrays I have investigated that support vSphere VVOLs also support native (NAS or SAN) storage.

The arrays I have investigated that support vSphere VVOLs also support native (NAS or SAN) storage, so it is not an either-or proposition. However, the arrays I have looked at will need to have their firmware or software updated. Some updates will require a brief outage, while others will not. A few arrays also require an additional virtual machine be installed to handle VVOL functionality. Surprisingly, the vendors I spoke with indicated that VVOLs will be free to their existing customers. A caveat to the free price is that some of the array's capabilities, such as snapshots and clones, will require a license.

Since vSphere VVOLs use existing SAN or NAS protocols for transport, the rest of your storage infrastructure (network interface cards, switches, firewalls and so on) that works with your current arrays should be fine.

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