Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Pat Romanski, ITinvolve Blog, Trevor Parsons, Elizabeth White, 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
“DevOps is really about the business. The business is under pressure today, competitively in the marketplace to respond to the expectations of the customer. The business is driving IT and the problem is that IT isn't responding fast enough," explained Mark Levy, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Serena Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile ...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series dat...
At 15th Cloud Expo, Shrikant Pattathil, Executive Vice President at Harbinger Systems, demos a video delivery platform that helps you do interactive videos. He discusses how Harbinger is accomplishing it in the cloud world, the problems they faced and the choices they made to get around these problems.
In her General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing, at Verizon Enterprise, focused on finding the right mix of renting vs. buying Oracle capacity to scale to meet business demands, and offer validated Oracle database TCO models for Oracle development and testing environments. Anne Plese is a marketing and technology enthusiast/realist with over 19+ years in high tech. At Verizon Enterprise, she focuses on driving growth for the Verizon Cloud platfo...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water,...
15th Cloud Expo, which took place Nov. 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, expanded the conference content of @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit to include two developer events. IBM held a Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held a Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of Bluemix, its services and functionalit...
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by minin...
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Between the compelling mockups and specs produced by your analysts and designers, and the resulting application built by your developers, there is a gulf where projects fail, costs spiral out of control, and applications fall short of requirements. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, will present a new approach where business and development users collaborate – each using tools appropriate to their goals and expertise – to build mo...
There is no doubt that Big Data is here and getting bigger every day. Building a Big Data infrastructure today is no easy task. There are an enormous number of choices for database engines and technologies. To make things even more challenging, requirements are getting more sophisticated, and the standard paradigm of supporting historical analytics queries is often just one facet of what is needed. As Big Data growth continues, organizations are demanding real-time access to data, allowing immed...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your o...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using ...
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial C...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happe...
Log data provides the most granular view into what is happening across your systems, applications, and end users. Logs can show you where the issues are in real-time, and provide a historical trending view over time. Logs give you the whole picture. Logentries, a log management and analytics service built for the cloud, has announced a new integration with Slack, the team communication platform, to enable real-time system and application monitoring. Users of both services can now receive real-...
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
“Will Jaya is a direct source for server integration and storage solutions. If you are looking for any specific configurations for a project we can help you configure based on your needs and requirements," explained Netty Goya, CEO of Will Jaya, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
“The year of the cloud – we have no idea when it's really happening but we think it's happening now. For those technology providers like Zentera that are helping enterprises move to the cloud - it's been fun to watch," noted Mike Loftus, VP Product Management and Marketing at Zentera Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.