A closer look at thin provisioning


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Dickinson Wright has 70TB of storage on 13 EqualLogic arrays supporting 140 Windows servers. During beta testing, Hunt found that thin provisioning helped him get around a Windows limitation when booting from a SAN. "You can't extend a volume that's booted without taking it down," he says. "But if you thin provision a boot volume, you can trick it into thinking it has more capacity than it actually has." Hunt is also enamored with EqualLogic's decision not to charge extra for the feature.

Meanwhile, HDS' pricing strategy is unclear. "Pricing will be based on usable capacity of the physical disk pool ... For the first 10 terabytes it is practically free of charge--once you purchase the USP V [Universal Storage Platform V]. From there, it depends on configuration," wrote an HDS spokesman in an email to Storage magazine.

3PAR charges a license fee for thin provisioning based "slightly ahead of what customers are writing," explains David Scott, 3PAR's president and CEO. But this is still better than buying hundreds of terabytes before you actually need it, he says.

When evaluating thin provisioning, users should consider three things: how manual the process is to replenish a thin-provisioned pool of storage, whether an application is thin-provisioning friendly and the scalability of the storage system supporting it. "Not all thin-provisioning systems are created equally," says Scott.

--Jo Maitland

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This was first published in July 2007

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