Note: This is a guest blog by Kyle Grossmiller. Kyle is a Sr. Solutions Architect at Pure and works with Cody on all things VMware.
As we’ve covered in past posts, VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) offers immense advantage to VMware users in terms of simplifying day 0 and 1 activities and streamlining management operations within the vSphere ecosystem. Today, we dive into how to use the Pure Storage leading vVols implementation as Supplemental storage with your Management and Workload Domains.
First though, a brief description of the differences between Principal Storage and Supplemental Storage and how it relates to VCF is in order to set the table. Fortunately, it is very easy to distinguish between the two storage types:
Principal Storage is any storage type that you can connect to your Workload Domain as a part of the setup process within SDDC Manager. Today, that’s comprised of vSAN, NFS and VMFS on Fibre Channel, pictured below. We’ve shown how to use VMFS on FC previously.
Supplemental Storage simply means that you connect your storage system to a Workload Domain after it has been deployed. Examples of this storage type today include iSCSI and the focus of this blog: vVols.
One of the major advantages we have seen with VVols is making a virtual disk a first class citizen on the array. We can restore, copy, replicate them (and their VMs) as storage objects were meant to be restored, copied, replicated etc.
Though one thing about virtual disks is that by default–they are not first class citizens in vSphere, VVols or otherwise. To create one, it has to be associated with a VM.
To retrieve one in PowerCLI (for example) get-harddisk requires a datastore or a VM to return a result:
This post I will talk about using PowerCLI to run a test failover for VVol-based virtual machines. One of the many nice things about VVols is that in the VASA 3.0 API this process is largely automated for you. The SRM-like workflow of a test failover is included–so the amount of storage-related PowerShell you have to manually write is fairly minimal.
A few months back I was reviewing our VMware training for our field (and after some direct feedback) realized it wasn’t really doing what our field needed. It was too nuts and bolts technical–which isn’t really what was needed by the masses. There was more of a desire to understand the value of the VMware product, the value of the integration and the value that we as Pure can bring to it.
The ones that wanted/needed more technical training could get that as needed.
In short, what they wanted to be able to do was have the “I’m staffing a booth at a conference and someone asks me about vRealize Orchestrator”. Not being an expert in the product, how to do I quickly understand the value, so I know if I am chasing the right product/solution and I should inquire further.
One of the first technical benefits users can enjoy around VVols is the use of snapshotting. Snapshots created through VMware of VMs have always been a point of contention which as severely limited their usability (see a post I did around the performance impact of them here).
With VVols, when you right-click on a VM and choose take snapshot, VMware does not create the performance-impacting delta VMDK files that were traditionally used, but instead VMware entirely offloads this process to the array. So the array creates the snapshots and VMware just tracks them.
But since VMs are now a collection of individual volumes on the array (a VVol is just an array volume) you can also snapshot and restore individual virtual disks as well directly on the array.
VVols have been gaining quite a bit of traction of late, which has been great to see. I truly believe it solves a lot of problems that were traditionally faced in VMware environments and infrastructures in general. With that being said, as things get adopted at scale, a few people inevitably run into some problems setting it up.
The main issues have revolved around the fact that VVols are presented and configured in a different way then VMFS, so when someone runs into an issue, they often do not know exactly where to start.
The issues usually come down to one of the following places:
One of the great benefits of vVols is that fact that virtual disks are just volumes on your array. So this means if you want to do some data management with your virtual disks, you just need to work directly on the volume that corresponds to it.
The question is what virtual disk corresponds to what volume on what array?
Well some of that question is very array dependent (are you using Pure Storage or something else). But the first steps are always the same. Let’s start there for the good of the order.
At the Pure//Accelerate conference this year, my colleague Barkz and I gave a session on data mobility–how the FlashArray enables you to put your data where you want it. The session video can be found here: