Virtual Volumes (vVols) is an integration and management framework that virtualizes SAN/NAS arrays. vVols shares a common storage operational model with vSAN and uses storage policy-based management (SPBM). Descriptive policies are assigned at the VM or VMDK level and are applied or changed within minutes. (vVols) is a storage type for VI workload domains and clusters in VMware Cloud Foundation.

With vVols, an individual virtual machine disk (VMDK) becomes a unit of storage management. The storage hardware gains control over the virtual disk content, layout, and its management.

vVols are exported to ESXi host(s) through a small set of Protocol Endpoints (PE). The storage system provides protocol endpoints that are discoverable on the physical storage fabric. Protocol Endpoints are part of the physical storage fabric, and they establish a data path from virtual machines to their respective vVols on demand. ESXi hosts use Protocol Endpoints to connect to virtual volumes on the storage system. Protocol Endpoints provide uniform access to both SAN (FC, iSCSI) and NAS (NFS) storage, regardless of the storage protocol selected.

vSphere APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA) allow the storage system to become aware of vVols and their associations with the relevant virtual machines. Through VASA, vSphere and the underlying storage system establishes a two-way out-of-band communication to perform data services and offload certain virtual machine operations to the storage system. For example, operations such as snapshots and clones can be offloaded.

Storage Type

Consolidated Workload Domain

Management Domain

VI Workload Domain









Note: vVols supports FC, NFS, and iSCSI storage protocol types.

Prerequisites for vVols Storage

Before using vVols as principal or supplemental storage, review the Working with VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes (vVols) section in the vSphere Storage Guide

  • Prepare the storage system for vVols
    • The storage system or storage array that you use must support vVols and integrate with the vSphere components through vSphere APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA). The storage array must support thin provisioning and snapshots.
    • The vVols storage provider must be deployed.
    • The following components must be configured on the storage side:
      • Protocol endpoints.
      • Storage containers.
      • Storage profiles.
      • Replication configurations if you plan to use vVols with replication.
  • Prepare the ESXi Hosts for vVols
    • A minimum of three hosts marked with the vVols must be in the SDDC Manager inventory. See Commission Hosts.
    • For end-to-end vVols support, HBA drivers need to support vVols-based devices. Review the I/O Devices section of the VMware Compatibility Guide, to verify Secondary LUNID support which enables vVols.
    • Make sure to follow appropriate setup guidelines for the type of storage you use, Fibre Channel, iSCSI, or NFS. If necessary, install and configure storage adapters on your ESXi hosts.
      • If you use Fibre Channel, all ESXi hosts must have access to the Fibre Channel Array. Work with your storage administrator to ensure that Fibre Channel Switch Zoning has been properly configured, and that the ESXi hosts have been registered with the Storage Array.
      • If you use iSCSI, activate the software iSCSI adapters on your ESXi hosts. Configure Dynamic Discovery and enter the IP address of your vVols storage system.
      • If you use NFS, all ESXi hosts must be able to reach the NFS Server from the NFS Network assigned in the IP Pool.
  • A Network Pool that includes details for the vMotion network that will be used for the cluster. See Network Pool Management.
  • Add a VASA Provider.

Procedures for vVols Storage