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Hot Spots: Managing storage in a virtual server world

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Troubleshooting. When there's a failure in the data center, determining the actual cause of the outage can be time-consuming and costly. This is also true in nonvirtualized environments. The key to accurately troubleshooting an environment lies in understanding each device and its dependencies on other devices. When an event occurs, SNMP traps are sent from not only the devices that have failed, but from all the devices in that path. This flood of alarms must be sorted out and correlated to determine the most probable cause.

Networked storage. To take advantage of some of the high-availability and data movement features in server virtualization, the virtualized servers need to be on networked storage. For many, this will mean augmenting an existing environment. For others, it will entail designing and building a networked storage environment. Decisions will need to be made about the type of networked storage--NAS or SAN--and if it's SAN, whether it should be Fibre Channel (FC) or iSCSI.

Steps to take
There are some issues storage managers need to consider when server virtualization is deployed, but none of them outweighs the benefits of virtualization. Like any new technology that becomes prevalent rapidly, there's some lag time before the industry adjusts or develops tools to leverage these new capabilities. The following are some things storage managers can do to prepare for managing storage in a virtualized server environment.

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Connectivity. If your company plans to use high-availability and data mobility features:

  • Check your existing SAN environment to see how much excess capacity it has. Do you need to expand your existing FC SAN or will you consider deploying an iSCSI SAN? Is your NAS environment capable of supporting the storage requirements from all of the servers that will be consolidated? Does the IP network have sufficient capacity?


  • If you don't currently have a networked environment, will you deploy one? Plan for enough time to evaluate and test systems that meet current and future needs. Check with your users to determine future requirements.

This was first published in September 2007

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