Managing storage for virtual servers


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The challenges

Virtualization creates new operational headaches. Because many VMs can exist on a single storage LUN, the I/O profile of virtual servers and desktops tends to be more random and unpredictable in nature. The functionality of today’s hypervisors enables large amounts of I/O to be generated when moving virtual machines around the storage infrastructure through the use of features such as VMware Inc.’s Storage vMotion and Microsoft Corp.’s Hyper-V Live Migration. Virtualization may also impact heavily on storage utilization, as virtual machines are copied, cloned or otherwise replicated across the environment.

We must consider the operational structures that have been built up in many large organizations. As IT infrastructure has grown, the component technologies have tended to split into silos covering the disciplines of storage, networking, servers and databases. Once, it was possible for storage administrators to go about their business with little regard for the operation of other parts of the infrastructure. But virtualization has changed that world and made it necessary for those isolated silos to integrate like never before.

Choosing a strategy


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storage management in virtual environments entails meeting two basic metrics: capacity and performance. While this could also be said of nonvirtualized environments, performance is the primary consideration in virtual storage designs as it has more of an impact on the operation of a virtual infrastructure. Slow response times from a single LUN are likely to affect only a single host in nonvirtualized environments; however, poor responses from a large LUN supporting many virtual machines can have a much wider impact. This is especially so with a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). There are a number of strategies a storage administrator should consider.

This was first published in April 2012

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