Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Stefan Bernbo, Michel Courtoy, Amitabh Sinha, Mike Wood, Liz McMillan

Blog Feed Post

VMware VVOL's and storage I/O fundamentals (Part I)

VMware VVOL's and storage I/O fundamentals (Part I)

By Greg Schulz

VMworld 2014

Note that this is a three part series with the first piece here (e.g. Are VMware VVOL's in your virtual server and storage I/O future?), the second piece here (e.g.VMware VVOL's and storage I/O fundamentals Part 1) and the third piece here (e.g. VMware VVOL's and storage I/O fundamentals Part 2).

VMware vSphere beta

Some of you may already be participating in the VMware beta of VVOL involving one of the initial storage vendors also in the beta program.

Here is the quick synopsis of VMware Virtual Volumes:

  • Higher level of abstraction of storage vs. traditional SCSI LUNs or NAS NFS mount points
  • Tighter level of integration and awareness between VMware hypervisors (guests and management) and storage systems
  • Simplified management for both storage and virtualization administrators removing complexity to support increased scaling
  • Enable automation and service managed aka software defined storage management across application and storage tiers

Ok, now let's go a bit deeper, however if you want some good music to listen to while reading this, check out @BruceRave GoDeepMusic.Net and shows here.

Taking a step back, digging deeper into Storage I/O and VVOL's fundamentals

Instead of a VM host accessing its virtual disk (aka VMDK) which is stored in a VMFS formatted data store (part of ESXi hypervisor) built on top of a SCSI LUN (e.g. SAS, SATA, iSCSI, Fibre Channel aka FC, FCoE aka FC over Ethernet, IBA/SRP, etc) or an NFS file system presented by a storage system (or appliance), VVOL's push more functionality and visibility down into the storage system. VVOL's shift more intelligence and work from the hypervisor down into the storage system. Instead of a storage system simply presenting a SCSI LUN or NFS mount point and having limited (coarse) to no visibility into how the underlying storage bits, bytes as well as blocks are being used, storage systems gain more awareness.

Keep in mind that even files and objects still get ultimately mapped to pages and blocks aka sectors even on nand flash-based SSD's. However also keep an eye on some new technology such as the Seagate Kinetic drive that instead of responding to SCSI block based commands, leverage object API's and associated software on servers. Read more about these emerging trends here and here at objectstoragecenter.com.

With a normal SCSI LUN the underlying storage system has no knowledge of how the upper level operating system, hypervisor, file system or application such as a database (doing raw IO) is allocating the pages or blocks of memory aka storage. It is up to the upper level storage and data management tools to map from objects and files to the corresponding extents, pages and logical block address (LBA) understood by the storage system. In the case of a NAS solution, there is a layer of abstractions placed over the underlying block storage handling file management and the associated file to LBA mapping activity.

Storage I/O basics
Storage I/O and IOP basics and addressing: LBA's and LBN's

Getting back to VVOL, instead of simply presenting a LUN which is essentially a linear range of LBA's (think of a big table or array) that the hypervisor then manages data placement and access, the storage system now gains insight into what LBA's correspond to various entities such as a VMDK or VMX, log, clone, swap or other VMware objects. With this more insight, storage systems can now do native and more granular functions such as clone, replication, snapshot among others as opposed to simply working on a coarse LUN basis. The similar concepts extend over to NAS NFS based access. Granted, there are more to VVOL's including ability to get the underlying storage system more closely integrated with the virtual machine, hypervisor and associated management including supported service manage and classes or categories of service across performance, availability, capacity, economics.

What about VVOL, VAAI and VASA?

VVOL's are building from earlier VMware initiatives including VAAI and VASA. With VAAI, VMware hypervisor's can off-load common functions to storage systems that support features such as copy, clone, zero copy among others like how a computer can off-load graphics processing to a graphics card if present.

VASA however provides a means for visibility, insight and awareness between the hypervisor and its associated management (e.g. vCenter etc) as well as the storage system. This includes storage systems being able to communicate and publish to VMware its capabilities for storage space capacity, availability, performance and configuration among other things.

With VVOL's VASA gets leveraged for unidirectional (e.g. two-way) communication where VMware hypervisor and management tools can tell the storage system of things, configuration, activities to do among others. Hence why VASA is important to have in your VMware CASA.

What's this object storage stuff?

VVOL's are a form of object storage access in that they differ from traditional block (LUN's) and files (NAS volumes/mount points). However, keep in mind that not all object storage are the same as there are object storage access and architectures.

object storage
Object Storage basics, generalities and block file relationships

Avoid making the mistake of when you hear object storage that means ANSI T10 (the folks that manage the SCSI command specifications) Object Storage Device (OSD) or something else. There are many different types of underlying object storage architectures some with block and file as well as object access front ends. Likewise there are many different types of object access that sit on top of object architectures as well as traditional storage system.

Object storage I/O
An example of how some object storage gets accessed (not VMware specific)

Also keep in mind that there are many different types of object access mechanism including HTTP Rest based, S3 (e.g. a common industry defacto standard based on Amazon Simple Storage Service), SNIA CDMI, SOAP, Torrent, XAM, JSON, XML, DICOM, IL7 just to name a few, not to mention various programmatic bindings or application specific implementations and API's. Read more about object storage architectures, access and related topics, themes and trends at www.objecstoragecenter.com

Lets take a break here and when you are ready, click here to read the third piece in this series VMware VVOL's and storage I/O fundamentals Part 2.

Ok, nuff said (for now)

Cheers gs

Greg Schulz - Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
twitter @storageio

All Comments, (C) and (TM) belong to their owners/posters, Other content (C) Copyright 2006-2014 StorageIO All Rights Reserved

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Greg Schulz

Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.

@CloudExpo Stories
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Massive Networks mission is simple. To help your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions. Improve your customer's experience with outstanding connections to your cloud.
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SkyScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SkyScale is a world-class provider of cloud-based, ultra-fast multi-GPU hardware platforms for lease to customers desiring the fastest performance available as a service anywhere in the world. SkyScale builds, configures, and manages dedicated systems strategically located in maximum-security...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution and join Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader, Sergey Grebnov, in his session at @ThingsExpo, for an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
Because IoT devices are deployed in mission-critical environments more than ever before, it’s increasingly imperative they be truly smart. IoT sensors simply stockpiling data isn’t useful. IoT must be artificially and naturally intelligent in order to provide more value In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Crupi, Vice President and Engineering System Architect at Greenwave Systems, will discuss how IoT artificial intelligence (AI) can be carried out via edge analytics and machine learning techn...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, will examine the regulations and provide insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence a...
FinTechs use the cloud to operate at the speed and scale of digital financial activity, but are often hindered by the complexity of managing security and compliance in the cloud. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sesh Murthy, co-founder and CTO of Cloud Raxak, showed how proactive and automated cloud security enables FinTechs to leverage the cloud to achieve their business goals. Through business-driven cloud security, FinTechs can speed time-to-market, diminish risk and costs, maintain continu...
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics ...
Existing Big Data solutions are mainly focused on the discovery and analysis of data. The solutions are scalable and highly available but tedious when swapping in and swapping out occurs in disarray and thrashing takes place. The resolution for thrashing through machine learning algorithms and support nomenclature is through simple techniques. Organizations that have been collecting large customer data are increasingly seeing the need to use the data for swapping in and out and thrashing occurs ...
As many know, the first generation of Cloud Management Platform (CMP) solutions were designed for managing virtual infrastructure (IaaS) and traditional applications. But that’s no longer enough to satisfy evolving and complex business requirements. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, Embotics CTO, will explore how next-generation CMPs ensure organizations can manage cloud-native and microservice-based application architectures, while also facilitating agile DevOps methodology. He wi...
Historically, some banking activities such as trading have been relying heavily on analytics and cutting edge algorithmic tools. The coming of age of powerful data analytics solutions combined with the development of intelligent algorithms have created new opportunities for financial institutions. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sebastien Meunier, Head of Digital for North America at Chappuis Halder & Co., discussed how these tools can be leveraged to develop a lasting competitive advantage ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
There is only one world-class Cloud event on earth, and that is Cloud Expo – which returns to Silicon Valley for the 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center, October 31 - November 2, 2017. Every Global 2000 enterprise in the world is now integrating cloud computing in some form into its IT development and operations. Midsize and small businesses are also migrating to the cloud in increasing numbers. Companies are each developing their unique mix of cloud technologies and service...
For financial firms, the cloud is going to increasingly become a crucial part of dealing with customers over the next five years and beyond, particularly with the growing use and acceptance of virtual currencies. There are new data storage paradigms on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive financial data around the world without touching terrestrial networks. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Cliff Beek, President of Cloud Constellation Corporation, d...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
Blockchain is a shared, secure record of exchange that establishes trust, accountability and transparency across business networks. Supported by the Linux Foundation's open source, open-standards based Hyperledger Project, Blockchain has the potential to improve regulatory compliance, reduce cost as well as advance trade. Are you curious about how Blockchain is built for business? In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, will discuss th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...