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What will VAIO filtering do in vSphere 6?

VMware plans to introduce more storage-related APIs to the ESXi hypervisor, opening it up to more data services.

While VMware got some attention when it added software-defined storage features in vSphere 5.5 with its Virtual SAN (VSAN) release. VSAN pools storage from ESXi hosts for use as a data store, which can assist a cost-conscious enterprise by using existing hardware rather than purchasing a new storage array.

The company is poised to add more virtualized storage capabilities in its next version of vSphere, due out some time in early 2015. In addition to an update to VSAN and the introduction of VVOLs, VMware plans to introduce vSphere APIs for I/O (VAIO) filtering.

According to Peter Keilty, VMware senior systems engineer, all I/O operations go through the ESXi hypervisor, making it an ideal candidate for additional storage-related functionality. VMware developed a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) to allow third parties to perform different actions on data as it flows through the filter. Keilty described how one vendor, SanDisk, is using VAIO filtering for server-side caching.

"They're creating a filter driver for read and write caching on the host. No matter what storage it's going to, the I/O goes through the filter, the filter driver picks up that I/O, takes a copy of the block and caches it," said Keilty during his keynote at the VTUG Fall Forward 2014 event. "Now, when it goes to be read, instead of going to the RAID array, it can be read more quickly from the SanDisk [flash device] on the local host."

In addition to boosting I/O performance, VAIO filtering will enable backups to run more efficiently, Keilty said, adding that the VAIO filtering will be part of EMC's RecoverPoint data protection offering.

"RecoverPoint will use this I/O filter to split the write. So when the write is going to the storage, [the filter] will also take that write and write it to an appliance. The appliance will forward that write to a DR site for data protection and disaster recovery," said Keilty.

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