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What does VMware VVOLs support do for backup software products?

VMware Virtual Volumes make storage array data services available to virtual machines. But what does it mean when a backup software product supports VVOLs?

VMware Virtual Volumes (VVOLs) are designed to abstract storage in a way that allows virtual machine storage to be assigned through the use of policies and profiles. The technology also allows physical storage to be managed at the software level.

Because VMware VVOLs are an abstraction of physical storage, many people would assume there are no special requirements for the backup software products for that storage. However, there are some architectural components that absolutely must be backed up.

To successfully back up VVOLs, products must back up the vCenter Server and VASA Provider. If the vCenter Server or VASA Provider were to fail, there is a good chance the entire VVOLs structure would be lost. If this happened, the storage contents would remain intact and the storage hardware would be functional. However, the logical mappings VMware uses for the storage would be impacted. The end result would be similar to storage corruption because the hypervisor loses access to the VVOLs data store and its contents.

When backup software products claim to support VMware VVOLs, the vendor is saying the software is capable of backing up vCenter and the VASA Provider database. The VASA Provider database contains information about all of the storage capability profiles that have been established and the mappings for the backing storage container. The database also maintains information about the relationships that exist between VVOLs -- for example, VVOLs that are replicas of one another.

In addition, the VASA Provider database contains storage-related permissions. Like other VMware components, the VASA Provider makes use of role-based access control.

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