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VM-Aware Storage: Everything You Need to Know

Resource contention and bottlenecks can make using virtualised environments a challenge and cause significant performance problems that impact productivity, user satisfaction, and revenue. Fortunately, there’s a way to mitigate these challenges using VM-aware storage, an advanced storage solution built specifically for virtualised environments that can deliver significant benefits in terms of speed, efficiency, and scalability. 

Let's dive deeper into what VM-aware storage is and how it works.

What Is VM-aware Storage?

VM-aware storage is a type of storage solution designed to work seamlessly with virtual machines (VMs) for the sake of delivering the best VM performance possible. VM-aware storage is essentially like having dedicated storage for each VM, an approach that makes it easier to allocate resources to each VM and helps alleviate performance-affecting bottlenecks.

With VM-aware storage, your arrays know about your virtual machines so that they

can answer questions such as: 

  • Which virtual machine is demanding the most I/O operations per second (IOPS) out of the shared storage?
  • Which virtual machine is achieving the best cache hit ratio? 
  • Which virtual machine has the best deduplication rate?

This allows you to quickly identify any storage bottlenecks down to the virtual machine level so you can more quickly take corrective action. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of VM-aware Storage

The primary benefits of VM-aware storage are improved performance, increased efficiency, and better scalability. VM-aware storage is also designed to be easy to manage. VM-aware storage is compatible with all types of virtualisation platforms, such as VMware, Hyper-V, and KVM, and it can easily scale with your organisation's requirements. It’s also designed to work with both traditional storage and flash storage, making it easy to adopt.

The disadvantages of VM-aware storage include possible performance degradation, complex configurations, and vendor lock-in. When multiple VMs are competing for storage resources, it can affect the performance of the entire virtualised environment. VMs can also consume storage resources quickly, which can make it difficult to effectively allocate resources. Also, the storage location of virtual machines can sometimes be difficult to determine, which can make assigning storage policies a challenge.

How VM-aware Storage Works

VM-aware storage works by dynamically provisioning storage resources to VMs, automatically managing the quality of service for each VM by focusing on its input and output patterns and allocating storage based on the VM’s requirements. This results in more efficient use of data storage resources. VM-aware storage can also move data around the storage infrastructure to ensure that the most frequently accessed data is stored in the most optimal location. 

When a VM is created or powered on, VM-aware storage automatically provisions the necessary storage resources, increasing or decreasing them based on the VM’s current needs. VM-aware storage can also automatically reclaim storage resources from VMs as they’re powered down or deleted.

VM-aware Storage vs. Traditional Storage

Traditional storage solutions aren’t optimised to work with virtualised environments, which can lead to resource contention, slow performance, and increasing costs. VM-aware storage, on the other hand, is built specifically for virtualised environments and ensures that every VM has the storage resources it needs, which can result in faster performance and greater efficiency.

VM-aware Storage vs. Data-aware Storage 

Data-aware storage and VM-aware storage are two different solutions designed to provide different benefits. Data-aware storage is optimised for data and can provide features like data compression and encryption. Data-aware storage can be an excellent solution for traditional storage environments, but it may not be the best solution for virtualised environments.

Why Pure for Virtualised Environments

As a VMware Advanced Technology Alliance Partner, Pure Storage works closely with VMware to help customers maximise the synergy between their virtual and physical infrastructure.

Pure Storage integrates seamlessly with VMware, supporting VMware vSphere Storage APIs Array Integration (VAAI) to provide:

  • Block zero feature to accelerate virtual disk initialization 
  • Hardware-assisted locking for large-capacity datastores with enhanced scale of simultaneous operations
  • Space reclamation to ensure efficient use of capacity

Pure Storage® FlashArray™ Storage Replication Adapter integrates with VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM) to provide native array replication and protection policies for simplified disaster recovery and automated data protection. 

Pure Storage also offers a FlashArray vSphere Client Plugin for native management of FlashArray storage directly within the vSphere client and Pure1® VM Analytics, which provides visibility of the I/O path from the VM to FlashArray.

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