With Virtual Volumes (VVols), an individual virtual machine, not the datastore, becomes a unit of storage management. The storage hardware gains control over virtual disk content, layout, and management. Horizon only supports VVols with full-clone virtual machines. Virtual Volumes datastores are not supported for instant clone desktop pools.

With Virtual Volumes, abstract storage containers replace traditional storage volumes based on LUNs or NFS shares. Virtual Volumes maps virtual disks and their derivatives, clones, snapshots, and replicas, directly to objects, called virtual volumes, on a storage system. With this mapping, vSphere can offload intensive storage operations such as snapshoting, cloning, and replication to the storage system. The result, for example, is that a cloning operation that previously took an hour might now take a few minutes using Virtual Volumes.

Important: One of the key benefits of Virtual Volumes is the ability to use Software Policy-Based Management (SPBM). However, Horizon does not create the default granular storage policies that vSAN creates. Instead, you can set a global default storage policy in vCenter Server that applies to all Virtual Volume datastores.

Virtual Volumes has the following benefits:

  • Virtual Volumes supports offloading a number of operations to storage hardware. These operations include snapshoting, cloning, and Storage DRS.
  • With Virtual Volumes, you can use advanced storage services that include replication, encryption, deduplication, and compression on individual virtual disks.
  • Virtual Volumes supports such vSphere features as vMotion, Storage vMotion, snapshots, Flash Read Cache, and DRS.
  • You can use Virtual Volumes with storage arrays that support vSphere APIs for Array Integration (VAAI).
Note: Virtual Volumes is compatible with the View Storage Accelerator feature. vSAN provides a caching layer on SSD disks, and the View Storage Accelerator feature provides a content-based cache that reduces IOPS and improves performance during boot storms.

The Virtual Volumes feature has the following requirements:

  • Appropriate hardware. Certain storage vendors are responsible for supplying storage providers that can integrate with vSphere and provide support for Virtual Volumes. Every storage provider must be certified by VMware and properly deployed.
  • All virtual disks that you provision on a virtual datastore must be an even multiple of 1 MB.

Virtual Volumes is a vSphere feature. For more information about the requirements, functionality, background, and setup requirements, see the topics about Virtual Volumes in the vSphere Storage document.