The Seven Ways Server Virtualization Negatively Impacts the Storage Infrastructure

IT is arguably more aware than ever of the initial performance hit that their storage infrastructure absorbs when they introduce server virtualization into their environment. However server virtualization’s impact on the storage infrastructure extends well beyond this initial performance hit. Rather performance is just one of many new challenges for which the storage infrastructure must be prepared to account for and manage when server virtualization is introduced into the environment.
The seven (7) main ways that server virtualization negatively impacts the storage infrastructure include:

  • Erratic/unpredictable application performance. Attaching more virtual machines (VMs) to a storage system does more than increase the overall workload on it. The applications on multiple VMs place varying, unpredictable and sometimes competing performance demands on the storage system. Workloads that were independent suddenly have an impact on other workloads in a shared storage environment.
  • Impact of storage system maintenance/outages more acute. The more VMs that access the storage system, the more critical it is that the storage system remains available at all times even when “routine” events occur such as applying firmware patches or doing hardware upgrades.
  • Need to effectively scale storage capacity or performance. Storage systems may be able to handle server virtualization’s initial performance hit but as more VMs are added, storage performance degrades requiring costly hardware upgrades or even the acquisition of additional storage systems.
  • Need for multiple storage networking protocols to economically consolidate VMs. Organizations are continually looking to consolidate VMs while using the most economical and efficient storage networking protocols available for each application to access the backend storage system. Storage systems that support a concurrent mix of storage networking protocols (CIFS, FC, iSCSI, NFS, etc.) provide organizations the best opportunity to achieve that objective.
  • Storage allocation/reallocation made even more difficult. Once a VM is connected to the storage system, the storage system needs to provide the flexibility to add, remove and re-appropriate storage as needed without requiring a great deal of time or special skills to accomplish these tasks.
  • Visibility into the storage array. As server virtualization deployments grow, knowing what application data resides where within the storage array becomes more critical to avoid potential performance bottlenecks or troubleshoot them when they occur.
  • Efficiently managing storage growth. More VMs means more data to store with new performance requirements. However scaling storage capacity can be a tricky proposition. IT is often forced to decide between upgrading an existing storage system and acquiring a second one while trying to make sure the new costs associated with powering on these drives do not break the budget.

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