Hello from VMworld EMEA in Barcelona. Well, we can finally talk about vSphere 6.5 today. In this post, I want to highlight a number of new and enhanced features that you will find in vSphere 6.5 related to core storage. I am not going to discuss Virtual SAN (VSAN), Virtual Volumes (VVols) or I/O Filter enhancements (VAIO) specifically in this post, although you will no doubt see some new features tie directly into the latter. Instead, I want to talk about those features that are specific to core storage.
In Virtual SAN 6.0, a new snapshot format was introduced called vsanSparse. This improves snapshot functionality by leveraging the new VirstoFS on-disk format used with VSAN 6.0. I had a question recently about what would happen if I migrated a VM with a traditional vmfsSparse/redo log type snapshot. The question was whether or not it would be converted to the new vsanSparse format. Similarly, what if a VM with a vsanSparse snapshot was migrated from VSAN to a traditional VMFS/NFS datastore? Would it also be converted between formats? I decided that the only way was to try it out.
Although most of my time is dedicated to Virtual SAN (VSAN) these days, I am still very interested in the core storage features that are part of vSphere. I reached out earlier to a number of core storage product managers and engineers to find out what new and exciting features are included in vSphere 6.0. The first feature is one that I know a lot of customers are waiting on – NFS v4.1. Yes, it’s finally here.
A short note to clarify something that has come up a number of times in recent weeks here at VMware. There have been a number of discussions about whether or not we support NFS over IPv6 on vSphere 5.x, and again, on whether or not we support the VAAI-NAS primitives in the same context.
VAAI is an API for offloading tasks to the storage array, but for offloading tasks to NAS arrays, storage vendors need to create their own plugins for the ESXi hosts to achieve this. You can learn more about VAAI-NAS by clicking here. So what about IPv6 support and NFS? And VAAI-NAS?
I was in a conversation with one of my pals over at Tintri last week (Fintan), and he observed some strange behaviour when provisioning VMs from a catalog in vCloud Director (vCD). When he disabled Fast Provisioning, he expected that provisioning further VMs from the catalog would still be offloaded via the VAAI-NAS plugin. All the ESXi hosts have the VAAI-NAS plugin from Tintri installed. However, it seems that the provisioning/cloning operation was not being offloaded to the array, and the ESXi hosts resources were being used for the operation instead. Deployments of VMs from the catalogs were taking minutes rather than seconds. What was going on?
During VMworld 2012 in San Francisco, I had a chance to catch up once again with the team from Tintri. My first introduction to Tintri was at last year’s VMworld, where they received runner-up in the ‘Hardware for Virtualization’ category by TechTarget for best of VMworld 2011. Well this year they went one better, and won the Best of VMworld 2012 Gold award in Hardware for Virtualization. And for good reason. Let’s see the enhancements to the Tintri platform over the last 12 months have brought.
VAAI NAS introduced the ability to create LazyZeroedThick & EagerZeroedThick disks on NFS datastores. Without VAAI NAS, one can only create thin VMDKs on NFS datastores. For those of you who are using VAAI NAS plugins, there is an important note in the 5.0U1 release notes that you should be aware of.
ESXi cannot distinguish between thick provision lazy zeroed and thick provision eager zeroed virtual disks on NFS datastores with Hardware Acceleration support