XCOPY Improvement in vSphere 6.0 for Thin Virtual Disks

Here is another “look what I found” storage-related post for vSphere 6. Once again, I am still looking into exact design changes, so this is what I observed and my educated guess on how it was done. Look for more details as time wears on.

***This blog post really turned out longer than I expected, probably should have been a two parter, so I apologize for the length.***

Like usual, let me wax historical for a bit… A little over a year ago, in my previous job, I wrote a proposal document to VMware to improve how they handled XCOPY. XCOPY, as you may be aware, is the SCSI command used by ESXi to clone/Storage vMotion/deploy from template VMs on a compatible array. It seems that in vSphere 6.0 VMware implemented these requests (my good friend Drew Tonnesen recently blogged on this). My request centered around three things:

  1. Allow XCOPY to use a much larger transfer size (current maximum is 16 MB) a.k.a, how much space a single XCOPY SCSI command can describe. Things like Microsoft ODX can handle XCOPY sizes up to 256 MB for example (though the ODX implementation is a bit different).
  2. Allow ESXi to query the Maximum Segment Length during an Extended Copy (XCOPY) Receive Copy Results and use that value. This value tells ESXi what to use as a maximum transfer size. This will allow the end user to avoid the hassle of having to deal with manual transfer size changes.
  3. Allow for thin virtual disks to leverage a larger transfer size than 1 MB.

The first two are currently supported in a very limited fashion by VMware right now, (but stay tuned on this!) so for this post I am going to focus on the thin virtual disk enhancement and what it means on the FlashArray.

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