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No matter your role in a data center, enhancing storage performance is usually a top priority. This is especially true for enterprise applications that are accessed the most. One common practice when it comes to addressing performance and storage needs is provisioning. According to TechTarget , storage provisioning is the process of assigning storage to optimize performance. When it comes to provisioning, thin or thick is usually the question at hand. There are benefits and downsides to both. Today we will go over the pros and cons as well as some best use cases for thin provisioning and thick provisioning.

First, What Exactly is Thick and Thin Provisioning?

Thin Provisioning: The practice of allocating storage capacity as you go. For example - say you have 4 team members, and you tell them they each have 1TB of storage available to them on an array. Thin provisioning is when those team members don’t have the full 1TB. In actuality, they may only have 250GB of storage. This allows you to allocate storage where needed elsewhere.

Thick Provisioning: The practice of pre-allocating storage capacity when a disk is created. For example - Say you have a 1TB drive that you assign to a specific application. In this case, assume that the application only takes up 500GB of storage capacity. When thick provisioning, the remainder of capacity stays untouched, unlike in thin provisioning.

Benefits of Thick Provisioning

  1. Less latency - thick provisioning can help by offering less latency since all the storage space has been allocated upfront.
  2. Accounts for growth - Since the storage is pre-allocated, IT managers provision larger LUNs to allow applications to grow into the capacity it may need.
  3. Less supervision - Thick provisioning requires larger LUNs, which means you don’t have the hassle of re-doing them when storage capacity needs a boost.

Downsides of Thick Provisioning

If you are budget conscious, the idea of storage capacity going unused may be enough to turn you away from thick provisioning altogether. This process can cause a headache in the sense that drives and arrays have storage available that is going to waste. Another downside to traditional provisioning is the challenge of having to resize a LUN when more capacity is needed. This can take up admin time and resources.

Benefits of Thin Provisioning

  1. Reduces waste - Thin provisioning allows you to allocate data as you need it meaning no storage capacity going unused like with thick provisioning.
  2. Accounts for growth - If you have the foresight and understand trends within your data center you can always go back and add more capacity on an as needed basis.

Downsides of Thin Provisioning

Thin provisioning does not always account for growth. This means that you are still at risk for storage shortages and performance issues. So, those 4 team members that have 250GB that we mentioned before, what happens if they go over that threshold? This could cause a crash among other system issues.

Want to Know More?

As the World’s #1 Reseller of Certified Pre-Owned Storage & Support, we offer in-depth product knowledge and expertise around data storage processes and practices. If you want more help optimizing your storage performance using provisioning chat with us or reach out to a storage specialist at 1.877.227.0828.