Sync Up Virtual Servers and Storage


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"In VMware Infrastructure 3.5, there's also the ability to VMotion your data storage," says Ben Edson, president and CTO at VariQ Corp., Washington, DC. "Right now, data storage is still static; you can't move it anywhere unless you power down the server and do a complete move over. VMotion for Storage lets you move the actual Virtual Machine Disk Formats [VMDKs] from one storage device to another."

One of the unintended consequences of VM mobility is when a VM fails over to another physical server. Backups may fail because the schedule expects to see the original host machine rather than the new one. Management and reporting software must be adjusted to move and reschedule these mobility issues (see "VMware and N_Port ID Virtualization," below).

STORServer Inc. has unveiled STORServer Agent for VMware Consolidated Backup, software that manages backups of ESX Servers to IBM Corp. Tivoli Storage Manager servers. And Veeam Software has introduced Veeam Reporter 2.5 for VMware Infrastructure 3. The product now reports on storage capacity and utilization by VM, space allocated for each VM and disk status.

VMware and N_Port ID Virtualization
N_Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) is a

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Fibre Channel (FC) capability for use with virtual machines (VMs) and bladed servers that lets multiple FC initiators share a single physical host bus adapter (HBA) port.

Codified by the American National Standards Institute's Technical Committee T11 and vetted by Emulex Corp. and QLogic Corp., the NPIV standard has enabled server manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp. to allow sharing of a single FC HBA among several blade servers.

With NPIV, multiple N_Port IDs are assigned to a single N_Port, making the single FC port appear as multiple virtual ports. Each virtual port is assigned its own N_Port ID and World Wide Port Name (WWPN), allowing it to have an independent route to the SAN, and enabling LUN masking and zoning for individual VMs or blades.

NPIV capability doesn't apply only to FC HBAs. Switches such as Cisco Systems Inc.'s MDS 9000 family of director-class switches or Brocade's Mi10K must also be NPIV-enabled. And the FC OSes accompanying the switches can't be left out of the loop. Cisco's IOS and Brocade's Fabric OS are NPIV-enabled. VMware Infrastructure 3 supports NPIV, as do Novell SuSE and Red Hat Linux distributions, and Microsoft Windows.

The possibilities NPIV adds to VMs are endless. With NPIV one VM may be remotely mirrored to another VM, while a corresponding VM may back up data to a remote backup server or virtual tape library. Different quality of service levels can be assigned to each WWPN. Traffic errors, packet sizes and other statistics can be isolated to individual VMs, and utilization and IO patterns predicted.

This was first published in February 2008

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