Managing storage for virtual environments: Best practices

Virtual server data storage management: Best practices

Managing storage in virtual environments is not an easy task and requires proper planning and dedication. David Davis, a renowned virtualization expert, recommends VM administrators use an application-based approach; this commends IT, administrators, preferably corporates to mainly focus on efficiency and accessibility for particular important applications present on the virtual machine, instead of looking towards managing the whole storage at once. This allows end-users to work at a more productive rate using their own devices, thus increasing efficiency at work. Also, admins could implement shared resource contention, which refers to the conflict when the same resources are shared across several machines, occurs when one component is demanded by more than one machine.

Data storage management in a virtual environment

  1. Understanding VM storage workloads: data storage managers must have a clear understanding of the total data and disk I/O usage of the virtual machine and allocate storage accordingly to favour productivity in the VMs and maintain healthy storage infrastructure
  2. Efficient use of storage: as VMs do not normally have large disk partitions, storage bottlenecks frequently which results in lags and delay in the machine. Thus, to avoid the same, it is recommended that users only load important applications in the VM and use Linked clones for other tasks. Linked clones create a read-only version of the actual virtual storage and also creates delta storage, small in size, until the completion of that particular task
  3. Dynamic storage distribution must be done: IT administrator needs to be fluent with monitoring, allocating and managing their data in accordance to their storage available on the VM. Hyper- V, vSphere and XenServer provide tools and services( such as GUIs) to administer such data which eases the process of storage distribution

Top management difficulties for storage for virtual environments

According to Andrew Reichman, Chief Analyst for Forrester Research, claims that all management difficulties in the virtual storage environments roots from three main focal points:

  • maintaining efficiency: with increasing accessibility and simplicity of software such as Hyper-V, vSphere and VirtualBox, anyone and everyone can generate virtual machines with partitioned disk storage and, when this is done multiple times, it invites multiple errors on the main device also introduces lags and inefficiency during work.
  • Maintaining speed: In the 21st century, everyone leads a fast pace life and it goes without saying, they expect the same with their own devices and VMs. In the era of cloud computing, storage managers need to efficiently allocate storage and applications to VMs to make sure end-users achieve maximum speed and efficiency
  • Dilemma and complexity with virtual servers: this arises with the number of options that are available to store managers when creating virtual environments. They can implement the Fibre Channel, iSCSI, NFS etc. However, the real confusion arises when comparing the performance curve for each system as they vary on various measures.

Examining storage for virtual workload management

Examining storage in virtual machines needs to be followed with clarity upon some questions such as:

  • The administrator needs to make decisions in line with his/her requirements and expectations for their data. For instance, would they (or the corporate) like to store all their data in virtual storages or a part of it? What software would be implemented to make the VMs
  • Storage in VMs needs to be allocated as per its purpose. More applications would mean more storage requirement which would directly affect the VM’s speed. Therefore, admins need to choose between speed or higher storage and examine accordingly

When the admins have these answers, they need to work on selecting the best storage option as per their needs and desires

Best methods for improving storage for virtual environments

Improving storage significantly enhance networking in a storage network in virtual machines. With virtualization technology advancing every day, many vendors now provide third-party tools for monitoring and improving storage in your virtual environments. Nevertheless, other improvements could be:

  • Be fully informed about your applications: storage management and optimization may seem difficult without knowing your I/O demand or the I/O-intensive applications running on your system, or what servers clusters they are operating on.
  • Maximizing available storage: maximizing the available storage on your VMs or making the most of your available storage is extremely pertinent as it is directly proportional to the speed and productivity of the virtual machine. Deleting unwanted programs, features or reconfiguring storage LUNs could be considered as well.
  • Avoiding Partitioning errors: running or creating virtual machines on an older, less optimized version of operating systems often cause result in wrong disk partitioning and cause difficulties in storage management in the VMs. It is always important to align your disk partition which could be done by verifying if the VMDKs implemented are closely aligned with your virtual machine file system (VMFS).

References

http://cdn.ttgtmedia.com/searchStorage/downloads/Storage%20for%20virtual%20environments%20guide.pdf

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