In the world of virtualization, storage always has been, and will always be, critical. With the rise of Kubernetes, containerized applications, and microservices architecture, storage provisioning and management have become even more important. One of the most significant challenges in this area is achieving efficient storage utilization and simplified management of Persistent Volumes (PV).
VMware vSphere with Tanzu has emerged as a leading platform for running containerized workloads. In this context, vSphere Virtual Volumes (vVols) and vSphere vSAN are very well suited for managing PVs in the Tanzu environment. vVols is a storage management framework that enables granular control over the external storage infrastructure at the VM level. vSAN is VMware’s Hyper-converged storage solution which also provides granular control at the VM level. Below are some key benefits of using vVols or vSAN for CNS (Container Native Storage) Persistent Volumes in vSphere Tanzu.
1. Increased Flexibility: vVols enables granular control of VM or PVs using external storage arrays while vSAN provides similar, native vSphere HCI storage management from the vSphere hosts. Both provide the customer with the ability to create storage policies which provide control of storage capabilities at the VM or PV level. With vVols and vSAN, each VM can have its own unique Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) policy, allowing administrators to fine-tune performance, availability, and other characteristics based on the needs of the workload. This means that storage can be allocated and managed on a per-VM or PV basis, rather than at the Datastore level. This provides greater flexibility and simplifies management by providing central control in vSphere.
2. Simplified Storage Management: Traditional storage management requires significant manual effort and often involves complex provisioning and configuration tasks. With vVols and vSAN, storage management is greatly simplified. vVols and vSAN enable the creation of customer defined, SPBM policies defining the desired storage characteristics of a given VM’s or PV’s storage, such as capacity, performance, and availability. These policies can be applied to existing VMs or automatically to new VMs and PVs using a vVols or vSAN Datastore, reducing the need for manual intervention. With PVs, you can associate a storage class with an SPBM policy. Subsequently, when any PV is deployed with that storage class, the PV will automatically be assigned the correct storage capability.
3. Improved Storage Efficiency: vVols and vSAN support thin provisioning, which enables efficient use of storage resources by allocating storage capacity dynamically as needed. This means that storage is only allocated when it is written to disk, reducing waste and improving overall storage efficiency. Another benefit is there’s no “noisy neighbor” issue because the PVs are not sharing resources. Each PV has its own dedicated vVol or vSAN objects, which are provisioned for a specific PV. PV or First Class Disks (FCDs) are not sharing a volume or LUN. With vSAN you can take storage provisioning a step further. vSAN provides the ability to define RAID levels for each object. For example, if you want to gain space efficiency on your vSAN Datastore, and you have the needed number of hosts and disks, you can define in your SPBM policy RAID5 or RAID6 for the objects. Another benefit of vSAN is storage is distributed across multiple hosts, which can improve availability by providing redundancy and failover capabilities.
4. Increased performance: With vVols and vSAN, by utilizing SPBM policies at the PV level, granular control over the storage characteristics is at the workload rather than the Datastore. This can lead to improved performance by ensuring that the storage is optimized for the specific needs of each PV. With vVols, all storage operations are array-based. Meaning cloning, snapshots, even replication are array-based. With vSAN, storage is distributed across multiple hosts, which can improve performance by reducing storage latency and enabling higher throughput.
5. Enhanced data protection: vVols enable advanced data protection features, such as array-based snapshots and replication, at the PV level. This means that data protection can be applied directly to individual PV, rather than to the entire Datastore. This approach provides greater flexibility and granularity in protecting data, reducing the risk of data loss, and improving overall data protection. Again, vSAN storage is distributed across multiple hosts, thus it can improve availability by providing, not only storage but also host, redundancy and failover capabilities.
As you can see, vVols and vSAN provide a common storage control plane storage management framework that is ideally suited to the requirements of containerized workloads running on vSphere Tanzu. By providing granular control over storage provisioning and management at the PV level, vVols and vSAN enable increased flexibility, simplified management, improved efficiency, increased performance, and enhanced data protection. If you are running containerized workloads on vSphere Tanzu, vVols or vSAN are storage technologies you should definitely consider.