Tuesday, October 23, 2012

VMware Storage Fundamentals

Storage is The Key
As a Tier One Oracle and BCA Specialist at VMware,  I have been stressing the importance of making sure storage is designed, configured, managed and monitored when virtualizing Tier One platforms (business and mission critical).  The statistics show over and over that 80% of issues in a virtual infrastructure are due to the design, configuration and management of storage.

Three Areas of Best Practices
There are three areas of best practices around storage.  They include:
  • VMware Best Practices - VMware has best practices guides around key tier one environments such as Oracle, SQL Server and Middleware.   They are not just recommendations.  The best practice guides have to be looked at in detail.  There are two sets of best practices guides that should be viewed when discussing storage:
  1. Oracle DBA Best Practices Guide
  2. Oracle RAC Deployment Guide
  3. Workload Characterization Study
  4. High Availability Guide
  1. Fibre Channel SAN Config Guide
  2. iSCSI SAN Config Guide
  3. Best Practices for Running vSphere on NFS Storage
  1. VMware Press:  Storage Implementation in vSphere 5.0
  • Storage Vendor Best Practices - VMware works very closely with all their storage vendors to make sure best practices are consistent.  Here are two sets of best practice guides from vendors:
  1. Using EMC VNX Storage with VMware vSphere  Techbook
  2. Using EMC VMAX Storage with VMware vSphere Techbook
  3. EMC ISILON ScaleOut Storage and VMware vSphere 5 - Best Practices Guide
  1. NetApp Storage Best Practices for VMware vSphere (TR-3749)
  2. vSphere 5 on NetApp Data Operating in Cluster-Mode (TR-4068)
  • Organizational Best Practices - This is based upon an organizations internal processes and methodologies for managing their virtualization infrastructure.   Here there are three important factors for success:
  1. Strategic and Tactical assessment:  The strategic assessment is with the VMware Accelerate program.  The Accelerate team will come in and evaluate the business requirements, Key Performance Indicators and define a solution that will drive business value.  Making sure designs are based on requirements and not technology is a very important factor for success. The technical assessment is done with VMware BCA Virtualization services. This includes an advisory workshop, discovery, plan and design, implementation and optimization processes.  The technical assessment does two important things: 1) Makes sure infrastructure is based on a reference-able architecture that is scalable and based on best practices.  2) Helps build the skill set of internal teams to make sure they have the confidence to troubleshoot problems in a virtualized production environment.  
  2. Get the right tools in place:  Using outdated management and monitoring tools that were build for  legacy physical server environments that have additions for virtualization will not work.  Most infrastructure teams would rather get their gums scraped than bring in new software but this is important.  Your organization must have the right tools that have the level of granularity necessary to manage virtual infrastructures and allow the pro-active management of the environment.
  3. People, Processes and Technology:  It's important to develop internal best practices, management processes and guidelines for managing and monitoring a storage virtualization environment.  Make sure your infrastructure management is ready to handle tier one workloads and dynamics.

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