One of the biggest things I took away from the VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas was the all advancements within the storage part of virtualization. For me, this was the year for storage. One product that really got my attention was the new NAS appliance, VMstore from Tintri. This 3U appliance, well 5U if you count the UPC, is a single datastore with 8.5TB of usable storage. This appliance was a collaboration of some very smart individuals from different companies like VMware, Datadomain, NetApp and Sun. They put their minds together and built this NFS appliance from the ground up with specially engineered file system to work with virtualization. What makes this VM-aware appliance different from other typical storage designs is VMstore uses VM’s and virtual disks as the abstractions instead of the conventional storage abstractions, volumes, LUN’s and files that we have all been accustomed to. Each I/O request will map directly to a virtual disk all while VMstore monitors, controls the I/O and presents disk performance statistics per VM or per VMDK.
One thing I have learned in the time I have spent working in IT is that no software product, out of the box, will do everything that you want it to do. This especially goes for VMware’s vCenter Server. This is a great product but yet still has its shortcoming. vCenter will perform a lot of the tasks that we need to do and has the ability to report on a information we need to know about in our virtual environments but unfortunately not everything we need to know about can be easily found in bulk about multiple servers.
There are a wide variety of problems that can occur the SAN and physical strorage layers of the virtual insfrastructure, all of which can create serious performance problems for applications and users. Tools from Akorri and Virtual Instruments can address these issues in a variety of ways.