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Will VMware VVOLs affect my virtual data protection strategy?

VMware VVOLs change how virtual machine storage is consumed, allowing data protection features to be managed at the software level.

Once VMware Virtual Volumes (VVOLs) are more widely supported, they have the potential to dramatically impact data protection of VMware environments. VMware VVOLs are best known as a mechanism for changing the way virtual machine (VM) storage is consumed. Previously, VMs were placed on a LUN within a storage array and could only leverage the capabilities within that array. With VVOLs, the storage can be abstracted. Administrators can create policies and profiles that define the storage capabilities and match VMs with storage based on their requirements.

The complete virtualization of storage has enormous potential when it comes to data protection because storage features such as replication can be implemented at the VM level. One of the biggest obstacles to widespread VVOLs adoption is that not all storage hardware works with VMware VVOLs. This is especially true of commodity hardware and aging storage arrays. But some third-party software vendors are trying to work around this problem.

For example, Atlantis Computing's Atlantis USX allows NAS or SAN storage to be virtualized. This means even legacy or commodity hardware can be managed as VVOLs objects.

From a data protection standpoint, administrators can enable and use features such as deduplication, snapshot, cloning, long-distance mirroring and replication. Because storage is software-defined, Atlantis USX allows these and other data protection features to be implemented and managed at the software level even if the hardware does not natively support those capabilities. This should give customers a lot more flexibility in their approach to virtual data protection.

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