VMware Virtual Volumes is an integration and management framework for external storage that provides finer control at the VM-level, streamlines storage operation and offers flexibility of choice.


Virtual Volumes Overview

Virtual Volumes implements the core tenets of the VMware SDS vision to enable a fundamentally more efficient operational model for storage in virtualized environments, centering it around the VM rather than on the physical infrastructure.

Virtual Volumes Benefits

Finer Control

With Virtual Volumes, it is much simpler to deliver and enable the right storage service levels according to the specific requirements of individual VMs. By having finer control over storage resources and data services down to the VM level, the VI administrator can create exact combinations and precisely deliver storage service levels. Over-provisioning is eliminated because each VM will consume the exact resources needed – nothing less, nothing more.

Flexibility of Choice

Virtual Volumes is an industry-wide initiative that will allow IT organizations to leverage the unique capabilities of their current storage investments and transition without disruption to a simpler and more efficient operational model. IT organizations can also manage heterogeneous storage using a common control plane.

Streamlined Storage Operations

For both the VI Admin and the Storage Admin, Virtual Volumes greatly simplifies management over the existing operational model. Virtual Volumes allows separating the presentation from consumption of storage for VMs. In the VMware SDS model with Virtual Volumes, the Storage Admin sets up the Virtual Volumes datastore, which defines the capacity and data services. The VI Admin then uses the capabilities available in the datastore to compose policies. Any service level changes are reflected by simply changing policies. The Storage Admin is responsible for upfront setup, but the VI Admin is self-sufficient after that.

Storage Partner Ecosystem

Virtual Volumes represents the collaboration of VMware and the storage ecosystem towards a new storage operational model centered on the VM. Major vendors participated in the design of Virtual Volumes. The ecosystem continues to grow and strengthen with solutions ready for Virtual Volumes.


Virtual Volumes also integrates with vSphere APIs for IO Filtering to enable software-based data services. Initial partner offerings consist of caching and replication solutions.

Virtual Volumes Key Technical Elements

Flexible Consumption at the Logical
Level Virtual Volumes virtualizes SAN and NAS devices by abstracting physical hardware resources into logical pools of capacity (Virtual Volumes datastores) that can be more flexibly consumed and configured to span a portion of, one or several storage arrays. A Virtual Volumes datastore is a logical construct that can be configured on the fly, without disruption, and does not need to be formatted with a file system. 

Native VM Representation
Virtual Volumes defines a new virtual disk container (Virtual Volume) that is independent of the underlying physical storage representation. This virtual disk becomes the primary unit of data management, eliminating pre-allocated LUNs/Volumes. Virtual Volumes enables storage operations with VM granularity, leveraging native array-based data services and software-based data services. 


Policy-Driven Automation
Storage Policy-Based Management (SPBM) allows capturing storage service levels requirements (capacity, performance, availability, etc.) in the form of logical templates (policies) to which VMs are associated. SPBM automates VM placement by identifying available datastores that meet policy requirements and coupled with Virtual Volumes, it dynamically instantiates necessary data services.

Virtual Volumes Solution Overview