VVOL update: Are any vendors NOT leaping into bed with VMware?

It's not yet been released but everyone thinks it's the dog's danglies

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After a first look into suppliers’ widespread support for VMware's VVOL, further explorations under the VVOL bedcovers have revealed Dell, IBM, Nexenta, Nimble Storage, Tegile and Violin have also joined the VVOL train. Here’s what they say about it.


Bob Fine, Dell’s storage director, said Dell is enthusiastic about VVOLs when The Register asked him about it.

The Register: Which Dell storage systems will support VVOLs?

Bob Fine: The Dell Storage PS Series arrays (EqualLogic) and the Dell Storage SC series arrays (Compellent) will support VVOLs.

The Register: Is there a timetable for this?

Bob Fine: The Dell PS Series will support VVOLs upon the VMware release planned for Q1 CY15. The Dell Storage SC Series arrays will include support in 2015.

The Register: Will it involve a storage array software update?

Bob Fine: Yes, both the PS and SC series arrays will require firmware upgrades to support VVOLs.

The Register: Will it involve a storage array controller hardware update?

Bob Fine: No, The VVOLs upgrade will be firmware only and will run on all currently supported Dell PS and SC series hardware and firmware. These updates, like other Dell VMware integrations, are available at no additional charge for active customers.

The Register: How will it impact virtualised server to storage array interaction?

Bob Fine: VVOLs will blur some of the lines between servers and storage array interaction as VVOLs eliminate many of the manual tasks that VMware/Storage admins had to perform in favour of in-box automated tasks using API calls. In addition, Dell will be able to capitalise on unique virtualised storage array features such as moving storage tiering from a per datastore level to a per VM level.


Spokesperson Michael Zimmerman said: “We've demonstrated it with XIV at Edge 2013 and again this past May at Edge 2014. We've also had demonstrations at the last four VMWorld conferences. As part of the demo at Edge 2014, for example, we showed XIV delivering scalable VM storage management and low-risk automation, via XIV inherent consistent performance and reliability; and instant, capacity-efficient VM snapshots and fast VM cloning. In addition, we showed Storwize family support for real-time compression for VMs and dynamic, seamless migration of VM storage.

He was asked about VVOL support with other IBM storage arrays and confirmed that SVC, XIV and Storwize arrays would support VVOLs: “Also, here's a site we just launched to invite clients to participate in a beta program for the new solution.

That means that the DS8000, DS5000, DS3000 and FlashSystem (on its own) have no VVOL support planned right now.


Software-defined storage supplier Nexenta is keen to add VVOL support to its NexentaStor software. Mike Letschin, Nexenta’s Director of Product Management, told us about it.

The Register: Which of your systems will support VVOLs?

Mike Letschin: NexentaStor, the software defined storage platform, is planning to support VVOLs in the next major release

The Register: Is there a shareable timetable for this?

Mike Letschin: We will deliver support for VVOLs following VMware's GA release, which is expected in 2015, initially with NFS support. Nexenta has found that the majority of our virtual customers are primarily users of NFS and that is the initial focus area of our VVOL planning.

The Register: Being a software-only platform, do you expect this to work across hardware platforms?

Mike Letschin: Nexenta has been working with numerous hardware vendors to support the NexentaStor platform and we expect to continue the trend of providing robust reference architectures on all the major hardware vendors.

The Register: How will this policy-based management affect your users and the way they utilise storage?

Mike Letschin: VVOL is the next iteration in a model that moves from a tiered array strategy to one that is truly policy and business driven. Many of our customers have already made the transition from a technology for technology sake infrastructure to a business driven one. The transition to software defined storage and away from software based has made that clear. End users expect that the IT solutions work for them, not the other way around. Providing a software based model that is business process driven is completely in line with the Nexenta model.

Nimble Storage

Post-IPO hybrid array vendor Nimble has its own VVOL plans.

The Register: Which Nimble storage systems will support VVOLs?

Nimble: The Nimble operating system which runs on all Nimble platforms will support VVOLs at the time of release. Thus all Nimble storage systems will support VVOLs.

The Register: Is there a shareable time table for this?

Nimble: We are looking to support this close on the heels of VMware GA-ing VVOLs and before the end of CY2015.

The Register: Will it involve a storage array software update?

Nimble: Yes, there will be a new software release supporting VVOLs that will be non-disruptive upgrade for customers.

The Register: Will it involve a storage array controller hardware update?

Nimble: No, there will be hardware controller upgrades involved.

The Register: How will it impact virtualised server to storage array interaction?

Nimble: VMware (and Nimble) will support the traditional datastore approach as well so customers will have a choice of either leveraging VVOLs or not. If the customer chooses to deploy VVOLs, a vCenter plug-in and storage UIs would be available for the new workflows.


Tegile is a fast-growing hybrid array startup and it has VVOL support in its sights. Rob Commins, Tegile’s marketing veep, described its VVOL initiatives.

The Register: Which Tegile systems will support VVOLs?

Rob Commins: All of Tegile’s systems will support VVOLs, block and file access

The Register: Is there a shareable time table for this?

Rob Commins: Yes, it's the first half of calendar 2015.

The Register: Will it involve a storage array software update?

Rob Commins: Yes, it will involve a storage array software update.

The Register: Will it involve a storage array controller hardware update?

Rob Commins: No, it will not involve a storage array controller hardware update.

The Register: How will it impact virtualised server to storage array interaction?

Rob Commins: It will take a simple vMotion move to migrate to VVOLs.

Violin Memory

All-flash array vendor Violin is firmly on track with its VVOL support.

Steve Willson, Violin’s EMEA veep for technical services, said: “We currently are scheduled to release VVOL support later in 2015. As we have just released our major Comprehensive Data Management Services to include, snaps, clones, replicas, CDP, sync-mirroring etc, VVOLs will naturally evolve from those features, giving vDISK granularity in reporting, and managing virtual machines. Of course, VVOLs are specific to VMware, so we also need to prioritise new capabilities for Hyper-V and RHEV as examples.”

“Clients tell us they will evolve to VVOLs when they become available, but this will not be an overnight transition. DR workflows in particular have been knitted into the fabric of client operations, and change control is extremely tight. We anticipate VVOLs starting to become mainstream in 2016 for green-field sites, with existing implementations transitioning in tune with an ESX upgrade or potentially a storage technology refresh.”

Other vendors

We’re still checking with Fujitsu, X-IO and others. It certainly looks that, come mid-2015 the numbers of supplier arrays supporting VVOLs will be well into double figures and VVOL access will become an effective standard, cementing VMware’s place in the data centre. ®

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