At VMworld 2012 San Francisco there was some information publically shared about “vVols” (VMware Virtual Volumes) which is an entirely new and radical concept for VM storage. At VMworld 2012 Barcelona there seems to be a lot more talk about it, as major vendors are now blogging about their future support for vVols and their benefits.
vVols will entirely replace the datastore concept (for both NFS and block storage) and VMFS with what I would call VM-aware storage. The VM now becomes an object that the storage array understands and can apply policies to such as snapshots, replication, and SLAs against. You can manage capacity through capacity pools. Capacity pools can span storage chassis or even datacenters.
No more deciding how big or how many datastores you need to create. No more storage vMotioning a VM to another datastore because you are running low on space. No more wondering how many VMs you can place on a VMFS datastore before you run into contention issues. No more datastore clusters. No more VMFS!
This has the potential to really change how you view and consume storage in a VMware environment. It also will also impact how you do backups, disaster recovery, and manage your storage on a day-to-day basis. In fact, storage should take less management. This also combines the benefits of NFS and block storage into a single way to communicate to the array.
For additional details from various vendors and VMware, check out these links:
HP vVol Demo with 3PAR
VMware Blog/Video on vVols
EMC VPLEX and VMAX vVol Demo
IBM XIV vVol Discussion
Duncan Epping on vVols
Erik Zandoer on vVols
Julian Wood on vVols
Stephen Foskett on vVols
VMworld 2011 EMC/vVol Preview Demo
LogicalBlock on vVols
When will VMware release this technology? Who knows, but my bet is on the next major release of vSphere, probably due out the end of 2013, if they stick to their yearly releases. vSphere 6.0?