Reliant TechnologyBy Kyle Christopher

There are times when “Everyone else is doing it” can serve as a good excuse. Especially when you realize that doing something can save you a lot of time, money, space and other valuable resources.

Virtualization.

99 of Fortune 100 companies are currently using virtualization, or VMware, in production. Almost all Fortune 500 companies are using VMware. It saves time and money. It also eases provisioning of servers and management of those servers, making the virtual machine the unit of measure so that we’re no longer asking about hardware servers. We can now measure servers in terms of virtual servers and hosts. Virtualization and storage are interconnected in the same fashion that virtualization and networking are interconnected. If you want to have a successful virtualization rollout, you must have storage capacity and availability. Most of time that means shared storage – either a NAS or a SAN.

There is a good reason virtualization is so popular. Here are the 4 main things you need to know about virtualization.

1) NFS has come a long way. People shied away from Network File Systems (NFS) in the beginning for data stores, but NFS has grown and gained a wide adoption. Security of NFS has also become much better. NFS is now the protocol of choice for virtualization because it thin provisions by default. This is good news in that it ensures that your data stores will remain as small as possible.

2) Enhanced capability. One of the myths of virtualization is that you cannot do things with NFS that you can do with block file systems, things such as vMotion. This is simply not true. In fact, if you’re virtualized, you can do all these things and more with NFS, just like you can with block storage. In addition, with virtualization you have the added bonus of larger data store availability.

3) You Need to Plan. With virtualization, you will need to plan your data stores and how those will fit in your RAID groups based on your I/O profiles. For example, if you expect to have 50 virtual machines that are running a lot of random I/O, make sure these are on a data store that are on a LUN that is optimized for high I/O as opposed to one that is not optimized for high I/O.

4) You Need to Have Alerts. Not having alerts set up is the number one cause of preventable downtime errors. If you are thin provisioning, make sure you have alerts set up in both vCenter and in your storage array so that you get notified when you start running out of space in a particular data store. The last thing you want to have happen is to have plenty of space on your SAN and then run out of space on a particular LUN, effectively shutting down all the VMs on that particular LUN. Having alerts set up is a simple thing you can do to get your virtual storage to a place where it is most reliable and available.

In Conclusion

Should you virtualize? Absolutely. We used to say that virtualization is not for everybody; however, that is no longer the case. Virtualization is for everybody BUT it’s just a matter of the level at which virtualization needs to occur. Most companies can probably virtualize 99% of what they have, even if it requires special hardware adapters. Our in-house storage engineers can discuss with you how to save you time, money and space by virtualizing.

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