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Working in a virtual machine environment: VM-aware storage

Latency caused by random I/O generation is just one of the hurdles when dealing with virtualized environments. Get in-depth information on VM-aware appliances and how one vendor leads the technology trend.


A virtual machine environment conserves energy, makes it easier to consolidate data and reduces the need for physical systems, which is why you can find VMs everywhere these days. But for all of the benefits the technology provides, the rise of virtual servers has presented unique challenges for storage. Thanks to random I/O generated from server virtualization, latency has increased, and mapping LUNs and volumes has become a tedious job. To overcome the problems that come with a virtual machine environment, VM-aware storage has stepped up to the plate.

VM-aware storage was designed with virtual environments in mind. To be considered VM-aware, a product needs to simplify implementation and management with software that manages the data associated with virtual machines. By improving communication between storage and the hypervisor, VM-aware storage doesn't have to rely on LUNs and the extra burden they can bring to virtualized environments.

According to vendors in the space, VM-aware storage can help users dodge the dreaded I/O blender effect, which occurs when the hypervisor becomes too overloaded. By preventing this and other issues associated with LUN and volume use, VM-aware storage allows for better performance and more efficient data migration in virtual environments.

However, the technology isn't a cure-all. There isn't an industry-standard definition for VM-aware storage, so it could be difficult for organizations to decide if what a vendor is selling is what they want. There are even technologies that perform the same function, but go by a completely different name. So how can storage administrators know if a VM-aware appliance can actually fix their virtual server storage woes?

This comprehensive guide offers a more thorough understanding of VM-aware storage. We'll walk through the basics, see how virtual machine-aware appliances compare to other storage products on the market and take a deeper look at one storage vendor that is leading the virtual machine-aware storage pack.

1The basics-

What is VM-aware storage?

With the rise of virtualization over the past few years, there has also been an increase in the products and methods that make it easier to deploy and manage the technology. Virtual machine-aware storage seeks to ease some of the burdens brought on by implementing a VM environment.


Virtual machine-aware storage goes up against modern challenges

The goal of VM-aware storage is to reduce dependence on traditional LUNs and to make storage systems faster and more efficient. However, it comes with its own set of pitfalls. Continue Reading


Where virtualization-aware storage works best

In this podcast, virtualization expert Stephen Foskett explains the advantages of VM-aware storage, what vendors are doing with it and its use cases. Continue Reading


A deep dive into VM-aware data storage and how it works

By improving communication between hypervisors and storage arrays, virtual machine-aware storage is able to better handle complex storage tasks with limited administrative overhead. Continue Reading


Getting started with virtual machine-aware storage

VM-aware storage is still a relatively new technology, so it can be difficult to nail down. This handbook explains what qualifies as virtual machine-aware storage and how it's used. Continue Reading


The benefits of VM-aware storage arrays

When choosing a storage array that helps with provisioning virtualization, consider a virtual machine-aware option. Continue Reading

2Not to be confused with ...-

Hypervisor-aware storage

Hypervisor-aware storage is a category of storage array that provides storage administrators with important information that can aid them in capacity planning and in automating and managing a virtual machine environment. If the technology sounds familiar, it's because the terms hypervisor-aware storage and VM-aware storage are often used interchangeably. But some approaches do vary.


Key hypervisor-aware areas to keep an eye on

To better align vendor virtual roadmaps with your own requirements, it's important to understand the features of evolving technologies. Hypervisor-aware storage is no different. Continue Reading


Are virtual storage environments hypervisor-aware?

As virtual servers become more dominant in the storage space, vendors are racing to ensure their products are up to date. Some have adapted better than others. Continue Reading


How hypervisor-aware storage systems impact server performance

Hypervisor-aware systems have various ways to achieve acceptable virtual server performance when faced with the challenges created by thin provisioning and other techniques. Continue Reading


Hypervisor- and VM-aware storage make VM fixes more accessible

Servers, network devices and storage need to be more hypervisor-aware to combat previously unidentifiable storage problems. Continue Reading

3What about VVOLs?-

Where Virtual Volumes come into play

VMware Virtual Volumes (VVOLs) are a feature in vSphere6 that more efficiently provision storage in a virtual machine environment. While they solve some of the same issues as VM-aware storage, the two approaches are not interchangeable.


Can VMware VVOLs replace virtual machine-aware storage?

Both VVOLs and VM-aware storage were made to combat virtualized workloads that traditional storage hardware couldn't handle. But which technology comes out on top? Continue Reading


Where VVOLs fit in a virtualized environment

Do VMware VVOLs offer any advantages over virtual machine-aware storage arrays? Their ability to create pools of capacity is beneficial, but vendor support could vary. Continue Reading


How VVOLs can give traditional storage a boost

Sick of dealing with LUNs and NAS mount points? The combination of virtual machine-aware storage and VMware VVOLS can help. Continue Reading

4Spotlight on Tintri-

One vendor is dominating the market (for now)

Of the vendors operating in the virtual machine-aware storage space, Tintri has been leading the pack. In this section, catch up on what the company has been doing in the VM-aware storage market and the products they've developed.


Tintri grants persistent storage for Docker containers

By allowing customers to support containers on its arrays, Tintri can enable IT departments to guarantee key performance metrics per container. Continue Reading


Tintri expands VMstore with all-flash T5000 arrays

Joining Tintri's flagship VMstore T800 arrays, the VMstore T5000 arrays hold up to 23 TB of raw capacity and can handle up to 5,000 VMs. Continue Reading


OS upgrades improve Tintri's QoS for mission-critical apps

Tintri updated its VMstore operating system, improving its quality of service, snapshot management and mission-critical app performance. Continue Reading


VM Scale-out software added to Tintri storage

Tintri gave its storage systems an upgrade by introducing higher capacity flash models and software for managing pooled VM-aware storage. Continue Reading


Tintri sets its VM-aware storage roadmap

The vendor detailed its long-term goal to support all types of virtualization to make VMstore a dominant platform for hybrid cloud storage. Continue Reading

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