With Virtual Volumes, abstract storage containers replace traditional storage volumes based on LUNs or NFS shares. In vCenter Server, the storage containers are represented by virtual datastores. Virtual datastores remove artificial boundaries of traditional datastores and are used to store virtual volumes, objects that encapsulate virtual machine files.

Watch the video to learn more about different components of the Virtual Volumes functionality.

Virtual volumes are encapsulations of virtual machine files, virtual disks, and their derivatives.

A Virtual Volumes storage provider, also called a VASA provider, is a software component that acts as a storage awareness service for vSphere. The provider mediates out-of-band communication between vCenter Server and ESXi hosts on one side and a storage system on the other.

Unlike traditional LUN and NFS based vSphere storage, the Virtual Volumes functionality does not require preconfigured volumes on a storage side. Instead, Virtual Volumes uses a storage container, which is a pool of raw storage capacity or an aggregation of storage capabilities that a storage system can provide to virtual volumes.

Although storage systems manage all aspects of virtual volumes, ESXi hosts have no direct access to virtual volumes on the storage side. Instead, ESXi hosts use a logical I/O proxy, called the protocol endpoint, to communicate with virtual volumes and virtual disk files that virtual volumes encapsulate. ESXi uses protocol endpoints to establish a data path on demand from virtual machines to their respective virtual volumes.

A virtual datastore represents a storage container in vCenter Server and the vSphere Web Client.

A virtual machine that runs on a virtual datastore requires a VM storage policy.