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  • 2011 top tips: Storage for a virtual environment

    In this compilation, we’ve collected our top five 2011 tips on storage for a virtual environment based on what was most read by you and other storage professionals. Read up on our leading virtual server storage and virtual desktop storage tips, with coverage on vStorage APIs for Array Integration, VDI boot storms, using SSD for memory problems, using virtualization for disaster recovery and Hyper-V data backup.

  • Implementing block virtualization to virtualize storage

    Block-level storage virtualization, one of two primary types of storage virtualization, is the separation of logical and physical storage so that the logical storage can be accessed regardless of the structure of the physical storage. Block storage virtualization is applied at the storage area network (SAN), whether Fibre Channel-based or iSCSI-based. It pools storage devices -- in its truest form, from multiple vendors -- so that they appear as one repository of storage that can be managed collectively. As a result, IT pros have much more flexibility in the way they manage the storage system.

    In this four-part series, Eric Slack examines how to virtualize storage at the block level. Part 1 lays out the main benefits of block virtualization. In parts 2, 3 and 4, Slack addresses how to apply storage virtualization technology, respectively, at the server level, on the storage array and, finally, as a network-based storage virtualization appliances.

  • Everything you need to know about VMware vSphere 5 storage

    VMware Inc. made some significant upgrades in vSphere 5 from vSphere 4, especially from a storage perspective. New VMware vSphere 5 storage features include Profile-Driven Storage, vStorage APIs for Storage Awareness and Storage DRS. At the same time, significant changes were made to existing features, including snapshot and mirror mode enhancements to Storage vMotion, VMFS5 LUN size limit and iSCSI UI support. The company also added NFS support to Storage I/O Control and support for thin provisioning for vStorage APIs for Array Integration.

    Whether you're an IT professional who has previously worked in vSphere 4 and are trying to grasp the new changes or are brand-new to vSphere, we’ve got you covered. For a complete guide to all of the important new, and improved, VMware vSphere 5 storage features, check out the tips below.

  • Complete guide to Microsoft Hyper-V 3 and storage

    The newest version of Microsoft's virtualization platform, Hyper-V 3.0, touts new storage-related features and improvements that aim to simplify the virtualization process and increase flexibility. This guide provides content that will explain and review Hyper-V 3.0 features for storage such as shared-nothing live migration, which eliminates the need for shared storage for live migration, or the replica feature, which facilitates disaster recovery. Below are videos and expert insights providing everything you need to know about Hyper-V 3.0 and storage, including how these features work and specifications needed in order to use them.

  • VDI deployment: Key storage considerations

    In a virtual desktop infrastructure, one of the biggest challenges is storage. The combination of shared system images and high-volume logins can create boot storms, which translate to poor user performance. Building an infrastructure with all-SSD storage systems, which would deliver the needed IOPS, is very expensive, so IT shops often use a combination of spinning disk and SSD. Check out this guide to learn how to choose storage for VDI, how to keep costs down, the best approach to image management, storage efficiency techniques and more.

  • Key questions about storage for VDI

    With storage at the heart of VDI user experience and so many factors to take into account, choosing the right storage platform for a VDI environment, with sufficient performance and capacity, can be a tricky task. The storage platform has to be able to meet I/O demand and at a reasonable cost. Putting the entire VDI environment on SSD will address performance needs, but at such an expense that it's impractical. Other techniques, such as storage tiering, can be used to help mitigate the performance problems without relying completely on SSD. In this guide, storage expert Chris Evans details the key considerations for choosing storage for VDI, including capacity planning, how SAN and NAS compare, persistent and non-persistent VDI, approaches to solving performance problems, and more.

  • Storage monitoring tools aid virtual environments

    Storage monitoring tools can be essential to IT management by pinpointing bottlenecks and performance thresholds. However, because traditional tools look to the operating system to gather information, virtual environments (which use OS emulators and multiple virtual ports within each physical host) can render older performance monitoring tools unreliable. Furthermore, traditional tools may not be able to differentiate virtual machines from actual hosts. To eliminate inaccuracies, tools designed specifically for storage monitoring in virtual environments are becoming increasingly popular. This guide will help you to better understand these tools and see how some of your peers are using them.

  • A guide to Citrix XenServer management

    Citrix XenServer is a virtualization platform comparable to Hyper-V and vSphere, though it's not as widely used. In Citrix Systems Inc.'s latest version, XenServer 6.1, features such as storage live migration and a direct VMware conversion tool are helping the Citrix platform become more relevant in the virtualization market, which is seeing an increase in mixed-hypervisor environments. While the storage in a Citrix environment doesn't necessarily vary from that of VMware or Microsoft, how the storage is managed and the best third-party tools for the environment do differ.

    In this guide, you'll learn about Citrix XenServer management: what tools Citrix and third-party vendors can provide to ease Citrix XenServer storage management; how to enhance storage performance in a Citrix virtual server environment; the common problems that can occur; a description of the Citrix XenServer infrastructure; and how the Citrix XenServer StorageLink option provides a more integrated way to connect your virtualized server to a SAN.

  • I/O virtualization methods and specifications

    The purpose of I/O virtualization (IOV) is to solve performance bottleneck problems by allowing I/O resources to be divided and shared among servers and storage. Administrators can assign resources to certain virtual machines (VMs) to satisfy their individual I/O demands. Implementing IOV is achieved in a number of ways -- in the host or the infrastructure -- and in order to standardize the methodology, specifications have been developed.

    One approach at the infrastructure level uses PCI Express (PCIe), a connection that is implemented at the server level that allows servers to share network interface cards (NICs). With the dwindling number of IOV vendors, those that are left, such as NextIO, are capitalizing on this approach, while vendors such as Xsigo use InfiniBand technology to establish NIC connections.

    In this guide you will find an introduction to I/O virtualization, methods of implementation and specifications that will help to enhance your virtual data center.

  • Using SSD to improve VDI performance issues

    A virtual desktop infrastructure can be great for management, security and ease of use, but these benefits come with a drawback; in instances of high I/O demand -- referred to as "boot storms" -- users often experience painful performance delays. The key to overcoming performance-related VDI issues is using storage powerful enough to handle spikes in I/O that is also cost-effective. Because solid-state drives (SSDs) can handle more IOPS, the technology is a good storage option for VDI environments and is often added to existing storage infrastructures to be used with traditional disks for back-end capacity. Recently, vendors have been selling new storage appliances and bundled stacks containing SSDs that are aimed at virtual desktops, giving managers more options within the solid-state realm to solve VDI issues in their environments. When implementing SSD, managers have to consider how they will use the technology: for example, what specific files will be placed on SSDs and whether the SSD will be used for tiering and caching. This guide provides insight from experts about how SSD can speed up VDI performance, what to consider before purchasing storage for your environment and what SSD options would work best in particular infrastructures.

  • Complete guide to virtual storage appliances

    Virtual storage appliances can be the key to accessing the high-end features of server virtualization without a high-end storage array. A virtual storage appliance runs on a virtual machine and aggregates unused direct-attached capacity into storage pools, creating what looks like shared storage. In virtualized environments, shared storage is typically what grants access to features such as high availability or redundancy, but it requires the use of costly additional hardware. Virtual storage appliances can achieve those same features, but without the hardware requirement.

    Virtual storage appliances (VSAs) vary, scaling for different needs and use cases. They range from Hewlett-Packard's StoreVirtual VSA for SMBs to NetApp's Data Ontap Edge VSA for remote offices to VMware's vSphere Storage Appliance that is limited to three servers.

    In the following guide, find out how VSAs augment existing storage, for what specific purposes they can be used and what vendors have been doing in recent months to improve their products.

  • Hyper-convergence: Complete guide to the market

    Hyper-convergence was born out of the converged infrastructure concept of products that include storage, compute and networking in one box. Systems that fall under the hyper-convergence category also have the hypervisor built in and are used specifically in virtual environments. Storage and compute are typically managed separately in a virtual environment, but hyper-convergence provides simplification by allowing everything to be managed through one plug-in. This has influenced the growing popularity of these systems over the last year. In this guide, you will learn the driving forces behind hyper-convergence and get an in-depth look at the vendors operating in this space.

  • Storage hypervisor tutorial

    The term storage hypervisor is still new, but its function isn't. This storage hypervisor tutorial will explain how they aggregate unused capacity. At a basic level, it does to storage what server hypervisors do to servers -- it makes the most of physical hardware. In the case of a storage hypervisor, it aggregates unused capacity from different physical storage devices into one pool. It can run on dedicated storage, in a virtual machine or inside a server hypervisor. When used with server virtualization, a storage hypervisor provides better storage performance. But products deemed storage hypervisors aren't always the same, and some vendors' offerings may be more effective than others. In this hypervisor tutorial you will learn about the technology's origin, how it's being defined today and get a look at current storage hypervisor products on the market.

  • Jon Toigo on server and storage virtualization

    Server and storage virtualization have both been used for years, though virtualizing servers is the more popular trend.

    Server virtualization got such a jump on storage virtualization that it's sometimes easy to overlook the drastic benefits virtualized storage can deliver in terms of storage efficiency and performance. According to Jon Toigo, CEO and managing principal of Toigo Partners International, and chairman of the Data Management Institute, storage virtualization is easier to implement than server virtualization and, in some cases is a better option than flash to fix the I/O bottlenecks created by server virtualization. In this guide, you'll get Toigo's expert advice on server and storage virtualization with answers to questions regarding common misconceptions about virtualization, what to look for when virtualizing an environment and developments in today's storage and hypervisors.