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Hot Spots: Managing storage in a virtual server world

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Management tools. Some available storage resource management (SRM) products support server virtualization.

  • If you have SRM software, talk to your vendor to see if it supports (or plans to support) virtual server environments. Ask which technologies it plans to support and when.


  • If you don't have SRM software, investigate the products that support virtualized server environments. Make sure the products support your storage environment as well as your planned/existing server virtualization environment.
Hardware solutions. If you have an FC SAN, check out virtual HBA or N_Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) technology. NPIV was originally created for highly virtualized mainframe environments and is now being developed for the open-systems FC market. NPIV will effectively allow HBAs to virtualize worldwide names (WWNs) and associate a unique WWN for each virtual machine. This helps to identify virtual machines and present that information back to the SRM software. This requires HBA upgrades, but ultimately may be an effective path because it will push the HBA vendors to validate interoperability with the various server virtualization vendors.

Manual solutions. Lastly, there's the age-old manual-correlation effort. This consists of filling out spreadsheets to track the actual path from the virtual host to the storage. This is a time- and resource-consuming exercise

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that will be outdated as soon as it's finished, but it only requires existing personnel and spreadsheets.

The momentum surrounding server virtualization can't be ignored because the benefits are too great. The best way to adapt to this change is to make sure you're prepared for it. And the best way to start is by understanding and embracing the value of a virtual server world, while keeping in mind all the potential problems that can (and will) develop. If you can't see it or find it, you can't fix it.

This was first published in September 2007

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