Virtual volumes has been discussed a lot at VMworld over the last few years, and this year EMC is making VVols (the capitalization police are frustrating here) functionality generally available for the first time from us in the form of a VVols Tech Preview release.
The VVols Tech Preview is a free download of our storage software running on a Virtual VNX with Vvol functionality.
Before you do anything else - go here and start downloading :-)
It is intended for test/dev use cases and is community supported.
This is similar to the Virtual VNX Community Edition that was released at EMC World 2015 in May with a couple important differences:
- The VVols Tech Preview supports VVols, unlike the existing vVNX CE.
- Because the VVols Tech Preview is geared specifically at showcasing the VVols technology, other unrelated features like block and file provisioning are not enabled. Of course, you can expect the vVNX to keep iterating and ultimately the vVNX bits have it all (at the same time that we update the VNXe family with this production code).
- This is an all new version of Unisphere that is intended to be simpler, easier to use, and more intuitive than the existing Flex based GUI in VNXe3200.
Like the vVNX Community Edition, the VVols Tech Preview is completely free to download and use, with no expiration date. The VVols Tech Preview OVA along with setup documentation and videos can be found here.
The idea behind the VVols Tech Preview is to give users an early look at the VVols functionality and give test teams and developers a chance to explore our VVols implementation. While the preview only supports accessing VVols over NFS, the full release next year will also include the ability to access VVols over block protocols.
Here is a short overview of what is supported in the tech preview today:
- Creation of NAS Protocol Endpoints
- This is the data path used by virtual machines to access their VVols stored on the vVNX. Protocol endpoints are created in Unisphere, and then provide VVol access to ESXi hosts over NFS.
- Creation of Capability Profiles
- Capability profiles are user defined lists of array-side capabilities which are exposed to vSphere. Capability profiles define the types of storage that are available for VVols to use on the vVNX. For example, a Unisphere admin could define a capability profile with high performing “Gold” storage and tag this storage as being appropriate for “Exchange” or “OLTP” workloads. Then these capabilities are exposed to vSphere, where the virtualization admin can choose this storage for appropriate virtual machines.
- Creation of VVol Datastores
- VVol Datastores are storage containers created in Unisphere that provide storage from one or more pools, matching capability profiles. This storage is then exported to vSphere and mounted as a VVol Datastore to be used when deploying virtual machines.
- Granular data services
- One of the main benefits of VVols is the ability to leverage array data storage at VM or VMDK granularity. Array snapshots, clones, migrations, FAST Cache, and FAST VP can all be applied on the individual VMDK level, instead of the LUN or file system level as on traditional datastores. For example, cloning a VVol VM in vSphere is completed more efficiently by being offloaded to use the array’s own data copy services.
The demo videos below walk through some of the functionality in the VVols Technical Preview release:
If you are at VMworld this week and want to try out the VVols Tech Preview before downloading it for yourself, you can stop by the Hands on Lab area and take the VVols Tech Preview vLab!
This lab will walk you through all over the array-side and vSphere-side configuration needed to start accessing VVol storage.
If you want to learn more about the VVols Tech Preview at VMworld, we have experts available at the EMC booth who are ready to discuss the VVols technology and answer any questions you might have!
Also - the core vVNX team will be at the main EMC session on Monday August 31st @1:30-2:30: SDDC6642-SPO: "The Bleeding Edge: A face-melting technical smorgasbord of Private, Hybrid and PaaS” - this is the “everything but the kitchen sink” session - jam packed with a ton. But, if you’re an EMC VNX customer - and want to directly connect with the engineering team, come and grab me right after the session is over, and I’ll introduce you to Pierluca and his merry VNX team!
The VNXe has always been about a ton of power in a small package and a small price. The VNXe 3200 is a fully unified multi protocol package that starts at $11,500 - and you can have all flash-configurations that do 75,000+ IOps at price points of around $25,000 - impossible to beat.
Some people want things that are EVEN SMALLER. We’ve introduced the VNXe 1600 - which is block only (FC and iSCSI), but otherwise shares all the features of the VNXe 3200 - and starts at only $8,000 USD. WOW. For those of you who want more - I’ve posted a VNXe 1600 specific blog post here.
It’s available immediately from our EMC Partners, and you can get all the info you want at the EMC Store here.
There’s one more “big picture” thing here. While there is NO question that larger VNX (and similar competitors) are being disrupted by Hyper-Converged Appliances (where VSPEX Blue is a fit) and All-Flash Arrays (like XtremIO) - the VNXe architecture is crazy competitive in the sub $100K price bands, and even more so in the sub $50K price bands. It’s really hard to build a solid hyper-converged stack in the sub $50K bands.
Being able to start really, really small - that’s an incredible strength.
So - people that think it’s all “one thing” (AFAs vs. HFAs, or array+server vs. Hyper-converged Appliances) - well, try building a cost-competitive solution in this sub $50K band - and talk to partners that are in that space, and you’ll hear that this is a vibrant market, with VNXe competing furiously with Nimble, Tintri and others. This is a battle we want to fight and win.
… As you can see - our plans to make Unity (the codebase that the VNXe 3200 and VNXe 1600 are based on) stronger and stronger continues, and the Unity codebase is the future of the EMC family in these markets. We also have a VMworld present for our existing VNX2 (Rockies) customers - a massive software update (codenamed “Platte River”) that I’ve done a post on here.
This is going to keep moving forward through 2016. We’re investing to win - in Entry, in Hyper-Converged appliances, in Hyper-Converged Rack Scale, in AFA, in Enterprise Data Services platforms, in SDS - lots of interesting things in store!