Managing storage for virtual environments: A complete guide

Last updated:August 2013

Editor's note

Managing storage for virtual environments can be a difficult task. Virtualizing servers requires storage administrators to understand both the storage and the virtualization infrastructure. Furthermore, virtualization randomizes sequential I/O, which can cause a lag in performance. This makes the ability to properly size storage and report storage statistics for virtual environments critical to the efficiency of the infrastructure.

Performance monitoring, for example, can help administrators pinpoint the location of a host of problems, while using the right management tools for aspects such as capacity planning can help alleviate those pain points before they even happen. Meanwhile, best practices for managing storage in virtual environments can vary depending on the hypervisor, many of which have their own built-in management capabilities.

There is also storage hardware and software technology still new to the market that aims to make management of virtual server environments even easier. Products like VM-aware storage are built specifically to close the gap between the storage and hypervisor, while hyper-converged infrastructures ease installation by packaging the hypervisor and storage in one box.

To help you determine the best way to proceed with data storage management in your virtual environment, we've compiled some best practices, including an overview of storage technologies for VMs, top storage management tools and advice based on an environment's hypervisor type.

1Managing storage for virtual environments: Best practices

Among the difficulties storage administrators can encounter when managing storage for virtual environments are capacity and bottleneck issues. The following tips and best practices can help work around these challenges and run a more efficient virtual infrastructure.

2Top tools for virtual server storage management

When it comes to storage capacity and performance in virtual environments, storage administrators have a number of choices available to them. Some tools, such as those for automated tiering or deduplication, might be built into the storage itself and can help maintain top-notch performance. And there are third-party vendor tools that can provide reports on a per-VM basis. The links below provide examples of some of the most helpful tools available from a variety of vendors.

3Using performance metrics to enhance storage for virtual environments

Performance monitoring is an essential aspect of managing storage for virtual environments. Recently, more storage performance monitoring tools designed specifically for virtual server environments have been hitting the market. These tools can report statistics on a per-VM or per-application basis to help administrators avoid performance problems or easily locate them. The content that follows outlines some of the different performance monitoring approaches for virtual environments.

4Hypervisor-specific data storage management

The latest versions of VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V added new management features and also made improvements to existing ones. From the content below, learn what management features the various hypervisors provide and how to best work with them.