For vSAN week at vDestination.com, I decided to focus first on how vSAN helps customers change their operational model. With traditional storage management, there is a gap between what the application requires from a performance and service perspective and what can be provided from traditional storage. Traditional storage has evolved over the years to adapt to the changing needs of administrators, from RAID Pools to Storage Pools to All-Flash, however each still has fundamental flaws when it comes to provisioning, capacity management and performance.
The Problem: $$$$$
Storage arrays are usually the most expensive along with one of the more time consuming infrastructure items to plan, architect and implement. Usually months of work goes into planning the application requirements for performance as well as trying to plan how much capacity will be needed to meet the demands of the business over the next 3 or more years. This could also involve the purchasing of multiple arrays, perhaps an all-flash array to meet business critical application requirements as well as a mid-tier array to service the remainder of applications. And after 3 or more years, when the storage array needs to be replaced, this process starts over again and this time there is the daunting task of migrating data from the current storage array onto a new storage array, often referred to as a fork-lift migration.
This is a common situation that still occurs today and while there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this approach, I believe the key to elevating IT within the business is by approaching IT like a service provider, or public cloud. Last time I checked there is only one Facebook, so companies shouldn’t strive to get to that level of depth in providing services, however, businesses should examine what technologies and processes can be improved upon in a manner that allows them to operate more efficiently. Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) is one avenue businesses could be using today that would help them more effectively manage their storage with concern to performance, capacity management and data services.
The Solution: SPBM
Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) allows end-users to assign a policy to a VM based upon performance requirements, capacity and storage data services (deduplication, compression, snapshot, replication, etc.). With traditional storage, If a VM contained multiple disks, each with it’s own set of requirements, you would split that VM across multiple datastores which could include multiple storage arrays. You don’t have that option within vSAN as only a single datastore exists within a vSAN cluster. Again, we move more towards the application and assign a policy to each VMDK and then let vSAN determine the best way to provision the VM across all disk to ensure the policy requirements are met.
While this article focuses on challenges businesses face today with managing storage and how Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) can help alleviate some of those challenges, I didn’t get a chance to get into how SPBM works within a traditional IT environment. The good news is the awesome Technical Marketing at VMware already has a few good articles that dive in deeper than I did within this article (below). I challenge you to examine the way you are provisioning storage today as well as how you are managing capacity and performance and determine if Storage Policy Based Management can help alleviate some of the challenges you may be experiencing today.
For my next article for vSAN week at vDestination.com, we’ll look into how you can get started with Storage Policy Based Management in your environment today, with particular focus on vSAN (it is vSAN week after all).