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Reducing the Impact of Virtualization on Storage Needs

Virtualization can be a great boon to an organization’s data center, but it has to be managed correctly

Virtualization can be a great boon to an organization’s data center, but it has to be managed correctly. The fact of the matter is that you can’t simply take servers, virtualize them, and then just expect to meet capacity.

You need to measure, test, and tweak your virtual systems to as to get the maximum impact. There are few areas where this is as evident as in the area of storage.

Yet, scaling storage to meet the demand of virtualized systems isn’t always easy. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to reduce the impact virtualization has, and keep pace:

  • Understand where you’re starting from. Part of the point of virtualization is to make better use of the resources in your data center. Unfortunately, your resources are probably at very different levels of utilization. For example, your servers might be running at 5-10% of capacity. Your storage utilization, however, might be as high as 50%. If you simply begin the virtualization process, you’ll find your storage capacity maxes out long before your server utilization does.
  • Utilize thin provisioning. Thin provisioning is a feature of storage virtualization. This lets you set aside a larger amount of storage for the applications that actually need them, and creates a pool of available storage to be used on an as-needed basis. In other words, if every virtual server were utilizing all of the data it needs at any given moment, you wouldn’t have enough capacity. Because that’s not how utilization happens, however, thin provisioning is a good option.
  • Take into account the I/O implications. Another impact on storage is how storage I/O works. Rather than keeping data on one or even just a few physical disks consider using wide striping technologies to spread the data across many disks. This helps you to avoid I/O bottlenecks while still providing the kind of performance that your virtualized environment demands.

Don’t let virtualization throw your storage infrastructure into a tailspin. Make sure you know what virtualization is likely to do, and then use techniques like wide striping and thin provisioning to address those concerns.

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Unitiv, Inc., is a professional provider of enterprise IT solutions. Unitiv delivers its services from its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, and its regional office in Iselin, New Jersey, USA. Unitiv provides a strategic approach to its service delivery, focusing on three core components: People, Products, and Processes. The People to advise and support customers. The Products to design and build solutions. The Processes to govern and manage post-implementation operations.

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