Essential Guide

Managing storage for virtual environments: A complete guide

Explore the top tips and tools for virtual server storage management and get hypervisor-specific management advice.


Managing storage for virtual environments can be a difficult task. Virtualizing servers requires storage administrators to understand both the storage and the virtualization infrastructure. Furthermore, virtualization randomizes sequential I/O, which can cause a lag in performance. This makes the ability to properly size storage and report storage statistics for virtual environments critical to the efficiency of the infrastructure.

Performance monitoring, for example, can help administrators pinpoint the location of a host of problems, while using the right management tools for aspects such as capacity planning can help alleviate those pain points before they even happen. Meanwhile, best practices for managing storage in virtual environments can vary depending on the hypervisor, many of which have their own built-in management capabilities.

There is also storage hardware and software technology still new to the market that aims to make management of virtual server environments even easier. Products like VM-aware storage are built specifically to close the gap between the storage and hypervisor, while hyper-converged infrastructures ease installation by packaging the hypervisor and storage in one box.

To help you determine the best way to proceed with data storage management in your virtual environment, we've compiled some best practices, including an overview of storage technologies for VMs, top storage management tools and advice based on an environment's hypervisor type.

1Tech overview-

Storage technology options for VMs

Today's storage vendors recognize the unique provisioning and performance challenges that virtualizing servers puts on storage systems. And that means administrators no longer need to stick with a traditional SAN or NAS to satisfy those requirements. Technologies such as VM-aware storage and converged infrastructures are examples of storage for virtual environments today that make integration and performance less problematic for administrators.


Hyper-converged systems package hypervisor, storage together

A hyper-converged infrastructure product includes storage, servers and networking in nodes and could make virtual server storage provisioning a bit easier. Continue Reading


Top VM storage options available today

Providing capacity for a virtual environment doesn't have to stop at SAN or NAS – today's options include everything from traditional arrays, to cloud, to virtual storage products. Continue Reading


Converged infrastructure can take the pain out of VM provisioning

Converged infrastructure options pre-configure storage and server components to make installation easier on the administrator. Continue Reading


Cloud storage offers low cost VM storage option

Cloud infrastructures offer benefits such as the ability to quickly scale up or down, easy setup and a flexible architecture. Continue Reading


Evolution of purpose-built storage for virtual environments

Vendors are crafting storage systems specifically engineered for virtual server environments with an approach that's fundamentally different from SAN or NAS. Continue Reading


VM-aware storage systems suite highly virtualized environments

VM-aware storage promises easier provisioning, simple scalability and better performance in virtual environments by communicating directly with the hypervisor. Continue Reading


Tips for selecting the right virtual server storage technology

With so many different architecture options, it's important to keep these four considerations in mind before settling on a storage technology for your virtual environment. Continue Reading

2Top Tips-

Managing storage for virtual environments: Best practices

Among the difficulties storage administrators can encounter when managing storage for virtual environments are capacity and bottleneck issues. The following tips and best practices can help work around these challenges and run a more efficient virtual infrastructure.


Virtual server data storage management: Best practices

Expert David Davis explains how storage administrators can avoid some common obstacles in managing virtual server storage. Continue Reading


Best methods for improving storage for virtual environments

Virtual server storage operations can have a profound effect on the storage network. Here are 10 ways to help ensure that your storage yields its best I/O for the virtual machines (VMs) it supports. Continue Reading


Using VM images to simplify provisioning

By creating images of a virtual machine, a storage administrator can automate some of the management and deployment tasks in a virtual environment. Continue Reading


How to recover-in-place from a backup VM

When using recovery-in-place in a virtual environment, there are two main steps in failing back to the primary VM. Continue Reading


Be aware of flash wear in virtual environments

Features such as deduplication and caching, which are essential to performance in a virtual environment, can also cause more wear on flash storage. Continue Reading


Top tools for virtual server storage management

When it comes to storage capacity and performance in virtual environments, storage administrators have a number of choices available to them. Some tools, such as those for automated tiering or deduplication, might be built into the storage itself and can help maintain top-notch performance. And there are third-party vendor tools that can provide reports on a per-VM basis. The links below provide examples of some of the most helpful tools available from a variety of vendors.


How storage capacity planning tools work in virtual environments

Because virtual servers are easy to create, delete and move, and their storage needs grow rapidly and unexpectedly, you need to stay on top of storage capacity planning issues. Continue Reading


Improve storage efficiency of virtual environments with capacity planning

Poor provisioning and a lack of effective capacity management tools lead to underused storage systems for virtual environments, but new tools can make storage efficiency a reality. Continue Reading


Using specialized tools for managing storage for virtual environments

Virtualization and storage management still present challenges, but nowadays server virtualization provides tighter integration and more effective management tools. Continue Reading


Software, application integration alter virtual machine management

Learn how resource management tools and network and application integration help managers reduce complexity when supporting a large number of VMs. Continue Reading

4Performance monitoring-

Using performance metrics to enhance storage for virtual environments

Performance monitoring is an essential aspect of managing storage for virtual environments. Recently, more storage performance monitoring tools designed specifically for virtual server environments have been hitting the market. These tools can report statistics on a per-VM or per-application basis to help administrators avoid performance problems or easily locate them. The content that follows outlines some of the different performance monitoring approaches for virtual environments.


Storage for virtual environments needs better performance monitoring

Infrastructure performance monitoring is important when it comes to managing storage for virtualized data centers. New tools are combining monitoring with analytics. Continue Reading


Avoid these four performance-stealing mistakes

There are simple settings in any given virtual environment that can put a strain on performance just by being activated. Continue Reading


Performance monitoring for virtual server storage takes application approach

Storage performance monitoring is moving from siloed tools toward overall system-health offerings. But some proven tools are needed in complex virtual environments. Continue Reading


Using virtualization-aware storage for per-VM statistics

Virtualization admins will have less of an opportunity to blame storage for unidentifiable problems thanks to the advent of hypervisor-aware storage. Continue Reading


The hypervisor's impact on storage performance

It's not always the storage that puts a wrench in performance of your virtual environment -- the hypervisor could be what's causing the I/O blender effect. Continue Reading


Tools used to monitor the performance of storage for virtual environments

Storage performance monitoring ensures you're warned of low storage capacity and that you’re up to date on storage usage trends for virtual environments. Continue Reading

5Hypervisor considerations-

Hypervisor-specific data storage management

The latest versions of VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V added new management features and also made improvements to existing ones. From the content below, learn what management features the various hypervisors provide and how to best work with them.


Storage management updates in vSphere 6

Feature upgrades in VMware vSphere 6 include vMotion, high availability, data protection and replication. Continue Reading


VMware VVOLs provide easier VM allocation

VVOLs are a new feature in VMware that allow administrators greater control over capacity and resources devoted to individual virtual machines. Continue Reading


Examining the Storage QoS update in Windows Server 2012 R2

The latest version of Windows Server includes Storage QoS, which allows policies to be set on a per-VM basis to regulate the consumption of IOPS. Continue Reading


Managing storage in Hyper-V and vSphere

Find out how storage management differs between VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V implementations. Continue Reading


Best practices for managing storage in a virtual Citrix environment

In this podcast, find out how Citrix XenServer storage management functionality compares with other virtual environments. Continue Reading


Understanding storage management with vSphere 5 implementations

VMware vSphere 5 storage enhancements include the vSphere Storage Appliance, expansion of the file system and increased integration with VMware vSphere Storage APIs for Storage Awareness. Continue Reading